Monday was a historic day for the Maharashtra legislature. It was a day when the government shied away from no question,however uncomfortable.
From the plight of farmers in Vidarbha to dance bars,no issue was left untouched as it went all out to show the world how to govern.
Only that the government was opposition.
Members of BJP,Shiv Sena,MNS and Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) stayed up late Saturday night doing in the House what the government should ensuring all issues are addressed to protest a government gag on raising controversial matters.
While Home Minister R R Patil is still absorbing the shock of the Supreme Court decision to lift the ban on dance bars in the state,his counterpart Nana Patole of BJP promised a review in court. He took effeciency a step further,promising a rehabilitation package for bar girls.
The applause was istant and thunderous as Patole said in all seriousness: We may have taken a beating in court on dance bars but that will not deter us from imposing the ban.
Senior BJP MLA Chainsukh Sancheti,who slouched in his chair with eyes closed as other issues were discussed,spoke with a lot of conviction when his turn came. He laid stress on key words and tried to explain the issue at hand to the satisfaction of the House.
After all he was playing Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
The business unusual followed business as usual. The House assembled at 11 am but by lunch,it was adjourned after Deputy Speaker Vasant Purke dismissed an Opposition demand for suspension of Question Hour to facilitate a debate on the irrigation scam.
BJP,Sena,MNS and PWP members,however,stayed put in the Assembly breaking only for lunch,tea and supper,which were served in the lobby.
Leader of Opposition Ekanth Khadse said,The demand to revoke suspension of MNS MLA Praveen Darekar and allow a debate on the irrigation scam was turned down by the government. The government wants to wind up the session.
State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis urged Opposition members to sit through the day in the House in protest.
He said,We have come to Assembly to work. If the government cannot heed our legitimate demand for a debate on irrigation,it will have to explain. All those who are supporting the fight against injustice should stay in the House. We will stage a mock Assembly.
Soon,almost 50 per cent of Opposition members occupied the treasury benches left vancant by ruling Congress and NCP members who walked out after the House was adjourned for the day.
They constituted a small cabinet,with Eknath Shinde of Sena playing Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.
Order was in place even before senior BJP MLA Girish Bapat donned the role of Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil and Fadnavis that of the Deputy Speaker.
Other Opposition members,including Pankaja Munde (BJP),Ravindra Waikar (Sena),Ram Kadam (MNS),came into their own as they dipped words in sarcasm to raise the issue of alleged disproportionate allocation of funds in the state budget to ruling members.
Sudhir Mungantiwar of BJP held forth on injustice to members of the Opposition.
The mock Assembly that went on for hours saw members debate issues ranging from budget,floods in Vidarbha,plight of farmers to dance bars,even as a banner in the House protested the alleged government gag.