EVEN as the Uddhav Thackeray-led government won the floor test in Maharashtra Assembly on Saturday, two MLAs from Pune district stood out among the proceedings and received a big round of applause from the new MLAs.
Dilip Walse-Patil, the seven-time MLA from Ambegaon who served as the pro-tem speaker, got a big round of applause when he rebutted the contentions of BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Dilip Walse-Patil asserted that no illegality was committed and the House session was not unconstitutional. Rejecting Fadnavis’ claim of an ‘illegal session’, Walse-Patil said,”It is being held as per the governor’s directions.”
MLA Sanjay Jagtap, who won from Purandar seat in Pune district, also drew applause after he announced that he was the 145th MLA in favour of the government. His announcement gave the government a simple majority and the final figure of 169 gave it a decisive mandate in the House.
“Walse-Patil stole the show today. His experience was a big advantage for the Maha Vikas Aghadi. He put Fadnavis in place by putting the factual position before the House, which showed that there was no violation of the rule,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant also said Walse-Patil as the pro-tem speaker was the appropriate choice as he is a former Assembly speaker. Leaders of the city Congress said the opposition, led by Fadnavis, had put up a show or nautanki. “The people of Maharashtra witnessed nautanki from the opposition, led by its leader Devendra Fadnavis. The drama was created deliberately to get public attention. They tried to raise issues which happened outside in the presence of the Governor,” said Congress spokesperson Ramesh Iyer.
The Congress said the ministers took oath in the name of God and their leaders. “What is wrong with that? The opposition made feeble attempts to present itself as a formidable front, but the pro-tem speaker gave them a befitting reply,” said Iyer. The Congress said Walse-Patil, a former speaker, knew the nitty-gritty of the House proceedings. “And that is why the BJP was trying to oppose his appointment. His rebuttal to points raised by Fadnavis made them leave the House,” said Iyer.
Criticising the behaviour of the opposition, Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne said, “The way the opposition conducted itself… showed that the ouster of the BJP from power has hurt it badly… They are not able to digest the fact that they are not calling the shots.”
“Fadnavis had a great opportunity to undo the wrong he did last Saturday. He could have made amends…he could have wished the government, shook hands with the new chief minister… the people of Maharashtra would have forgiven him. But he lost it all,” added Barne.
Fadnavis tweeted on Saturday evening: “Registered my strong protest in the Legislative Assembly against the illegal and unconstitutional way of calling this Maharashtra Assembly Session.” NCP state spokesperson Ankush Kakade said, “It is shocking that a man who last week trampled upon the Constitution and democratic norms was seen raising issues of violation of Constitution… Don’t know what he was trying to prove…”.