The Budget session of the state legislature began on a stormy note on Monday, with the Congress and NCP-led opposition parties boycotting Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s address to the joint sitting of both Houses to voice their protest against his recent remarks on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Earlier this month, at an event at Ramtek in Vidarbha, Rao had described the RSS as one of the “most secular” and “inclusive” organisations.
He also lauded the social work of the organisation in diverse fields and said it has always respected the right of individuals to practice their own faith.
Condemning the remarks, the opposition members skipped Rao’s annual address at Central Hall and staged a demonstration on the steps of Vidhan Bhavan. The opposition members also shouted anti-government slogans.
Claiming that the Governor’s post was above party and politics, senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “…When you have a governor proudly declaring his RSS links and generously praising the organisation, it is highly condemnable.”
Leader of Opposition in the legislative council, Dhananjay Munde, said they decided to boycott the address because they “were doubtful if it will be the governor’s address or that of a RSS person”.
“Ideally, governor’s post is always constitutional. But here we have a governor who openly supports the RSS. So, we were wondering whether his joint address to the state legislature on Budget session would be in the interest of Maharashtra or for taking the RSS agenda ahead. Since we were not sure, we decided to boycott (the address),” he said.
The boycott invited sharp rebuke from the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena leaders. Senior BJP leader Raj Purohit accused the opposition parties of undermining the constitutional post of the Governor “by not attending the joint address. They are trying to play politics and unnecessarily dragging the Governor by citing his speech out of context”.
On Sunday, opposition parties had boycotted the customary tea party hosted by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the eve of the interim Budget session.
They said the state government should not announce any “populist” or policy decisions during the six-day session.
The vote-on-account, which will have budget provisions till July 31, will be tabled on February 27.