Both the Houses of the state Legislative Assembly and Council were adjourned for the day following protest from Shiv Sena, demanding withdrawal of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against anganwadi workers to deter them from resorting to strike.
Sena’s aggression lead to repeated disruption in both the Houses, leading to adjournment. Sena expressed anger against women and child development minister Pankaja Munde for not adequately addressing the concerns of the anganwadi workers. Amidst the uproar, budgetary demands were put to vote and passed in the Assembly.
The day was marked by high-drama as Sena members climbed the Speaker’s podium and raised slogans to highlight their demands. Sena (MLA) Dyanraj Chougule walked away with the Speaker’s mace. He returned the mace after Speaker warned he would be suspended for his unruly act. Sena (MLA) Vijay Auti said, “The government has hiked anganwadi workers honorarium from Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,500 But the government resolution was not issued till date. When they seek their rights, government threatens to invoke MESMA.”
Pankaja Munde said,”The government has already given substantial hike to the Anganwadi workers. MESMA was implemented to dissuade them from going to strike as it would affect the nutrition of infants and children.”
She said, “Now, once the Act is enforced it cannot be withdrawn. Last time when anganwadi workers went on strike there were 125 deaths. If something goes wrong with the children, will you take the responsibility.”
Opposition leader (Congress) Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil too slammed the government, whereas, NCP senior leader Ajit Pawar said, “On March 8, you celebrate International Women’s Day, but adopt a dictatorial attitude when it comes to addressing the concerns of the anganwadi workers.”