The Maharashtra Assembly suspended 19 Congress and NCP MLAs on Wednesday for violating norms and disrupting the budget presentation in the House. The suspension will be on till December 2017.
The decision evoked sharp reaction from BJP’s alliance partner Shiv Sena, which pleaded with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to reconsider the quantum of punishment and also the number of members suspended. The Congress and NCP leaders met Governor CH Vidyasagar Rao to complain against the suspension order.
Last week, during the budget presentation by Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Congress and NCP members walked into the well of the House holding huge banners and played cymbals to disrupt the budget presentation.
The Opposition members, including senior leaders, also burnt copies of the budget speech on the premises of Vidhan Bhawan.
The opposition’s unruly act was part of the protest against the state government for not conceding to their demand for immediate loan waiver for farmers.
The MLAs suspended are Amar Kale, Jeetendra Awadh, Abdul Sattar, Bhaskar Jadhav, Vijay Wadettiwar, Madhusudhan Kendra, Harshwardhan Sapkal, Kunal Patil, Jaykumar Gore, Sangram Thopte, Deepak Chavan, Rahul Jagtap, Datta Bharne, Sangram Jagtap, Amit Zanak, Narhari Thevar, Vaibhav Pichad, Avadhit Tatkare and D P Sawant.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Girish Bapat mooted the suspension proposal against the Congress and NCP members in the Assembly. The government wanted to take similar action against 10 Congress and NCP members in the Legislative Council too but it was adjourned even before Bapat could moot the proposal.
Bapat said: “The decision against the Congress and NCP members was taken as per legislative norms. They not only created an uproar in the Assembly and Council but also burnt budget copies. The members, despite warning from Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde, continued to play cymbals making a mockery of the budget presentation.”
Justifying the action, the minister said: “In the past when Ajit Pawar was the finance minister and we were in the opposition, the Congress-NCP government had suspended nine BJP members. We had not even left our respective seats. But action was taken against us for protesting during his speech.”
In the present case, the opposition members flashed huge banners, which is not allowed inside the Assembly. They tried to block the budget presentation. The high-pitched clash cymbals were played, which are not allowed inside the Assembly.”
The BJP minister said since they were not in majority in the council, it was not possible to get the suspension order against ten of its members. In the state council, chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar adjourned the House for the day.
The Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “The decision is undemocratic. We were just demanding loan waiver for farmers. The government action is politically driven.”
Sena ministers Ramdas Kadam and Diwakar Raote, along with party members described the action as harsh. He said: “The suspension should be only for this session and not till December 31. Also the number of MLAs suspended is very high.”