The winter session of the state Legislature started on Wednesday with a tussle between the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government and the saffron alliance in the Opposition.
The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-led Opposition, seeking a compensation package for farmers affected by recent unseasonal rains, did not allow the Legislature to function.
Day one of the session, the first for Prithviraj Chavan’s government, was marked by disruptions and sloganeering. A Sena legislator was suspended for lifting the mace of the Speaker and arguing with the Assembly’s presiding officer.
The proceedings began with Chavan introducing his new cabinet to the House. Sena and BJP legislators rushed to the well demanding a compensation for farmers just as Chavan started his address.
NCP legislator, Jitendra Awhad, alleged that Sena members insulted the Constitution of India by throwing a copy of it from the secretary’s table to the floor. “We want the Opposition to apologise for insulting the Constitution and its architect, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.”
In the Council, the Opposition chose not to participate in a discussion on the issue, demanding the package be announced first.
Heavy rains have damaged crops in many parts of the state. Opposition leader in the Assembly, Eknath Khadse, demanded that farmers be given Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 per hectare as compensation. The ruling side showed willingness to discuss the issue. “Let suggestions come from all members before finalising the package,” Chavan said. The Opposition was unwilling and resorted to sloganeering. Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil had to adjourn the House thrice. When it reconvened, Sena legislator Sanjay Rathod climbed on the podium and lifted the mace, a symbol of the prestige of the House. He and some members also tore papers placed on the table of Assembly secretary, Anant Kalse.
The government passed a resolution suspending Rathod for the entire session. Parliamentary affairs minister, Harshwardhan Patil, said the ruling side also wanted action against a few other Sena legislators and would raise issue today.
In the Council, chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh cancelled the business before the House to discuss the issue. Opposition leader, Pandurang Phundkar, demanded a package first and when that led to commotion, deputy chairman Vasant Davkhare adjourned the House for the day. “There is no point in waiting to discuss relief measures. The CM said the government has received a preliminary report on damage to the crops. It should give compensation immediately,” BJP legislator Vinod Tawde said.