Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Nana Patole on Monday said that a two-day session of the legislature was “not feasible in democracy”. Echoing the line of Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis, Patole said, “Justice cannot be given to the issues concerning citizens in a two-day session.”
He was addressing the Legislative Assembly at the start of the curtailed winter session of the state legislature. With official business listed on the agenda, the two-day session will end on December 15. While the treasury benches have cited the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to justify a two-day session, the Opposition has accused the government of “running away from a discussion in the legislature.”
Before the proceedings began, Opposition legislators squatting on the stairs of the Vidhan Bhavan protested against the government’s “lackadaisical attitude” towards various citizen issues, including farm losses due to cyclonic storm and unseasonal rains and floods, and the Maratha quota issue among others. “In a two-day session, the government has brought as many as 10 Bills. This only means that it wants to rush through official agenda without any debate,” Fadnavis said. Later in the House, BJP’s Sudhir Mungantiwar also raised a point of information objecting to the listing of so many Bills in the curtailed session.
Speaking on the issue, Patole directed the ruling and opposition benches to formulate guidelines to ensure that a “regular legislative session can be held the next time around.”
Meanwhile, proceedings of the House began on a stormy note with an Opposition MLA trooping into the well wearing a banner and raising slogans against the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition over farmers’ strife. After the ruling benches objected to the manner of protest, Patole ordered the MLA to move out of the House and instructed marshals to ensure that “no legislator is allowed to enter the House carrying or wearing banners henceforth.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab and Mungantiwar were also locked in a war of words, after the latter protested against the government’s move of disallowing Opposition leaders from convening official meetings in the garb of Covid-19, alleging that the ruling benches were “trying to muzzle democracy”. Countering the offensive, Parab asked Mungantiwar to urge Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to announce the much-delayed nominations of 12 legislative council members from the Governor’s quota. The government and the Governor have been at loggerheads over the nominations.
There was drama even outside the House. BJP MLC Gopichand Padalkar tried to enter the Vidhan Bhavan beating drums and carrying a stand on his back with multiple placards, highlighting various pending demands of the Dhangar (shepherd) community. He was stopped by the police.
The two sides also locked horns over the stay on the Maratha reservation in education and jobs. While BJP MLA Ashish Shelar questioned why the government had fallen short of convincing the court on vacation of the stay, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar accused the BJP of taking up the issue in desperation. “The government is doing all it can to get the stay vacated. The Opposition is desperate following the stinging-loss in the recent legislative council polls,” Pawar said. Public Works Department Minister Ashok Chavan also hit out at the Opposition for resorting to “political gimmicks.”
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