The Maharashtra state Assembly witnessed uproarious scenes on Monday when members of the ruling Democratic Front alliance tried to hijack Mumbai’s Indu Mill land issue that led to the suspension of five ruling coalition members Chandrakant Handore and Prashant Thakur (both Congress), Nawab Malik, Jitendra Avhad and Shashikant Shinde (all NCP).
The issue was raised by the vocal NCP member Jitendra Avhad and others immediately after the House condoled the demise of former legislator Gangaram Kochekar of Konkan.
Shouting slogans and displaying banners in the House, the five ruling coalition members demanded that the Indu Mill land be immediately allotted to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar memorial at Chaitbhumi in central Mumbai.
The ruling coalition was at the receiving end when the issue was raised by the RPI splinter groups in the recent past and on Monday they even tried to stall the local trains -- the lifeline of Mumbai. On December 6, the Republican Sena activists led Anandraj Ambedkar, stormed into the mill premises and installed the busts of Ambedkar and Buddha. It was followed by another violent agitation by the supporters of RPI leader Ramdas Athavale outside the mill over the issue last week.
Seemingly, the ruling coalition members raised the issue in the House to avoid further embarrassment as it could antagonise the dalits ahead of the municipal corporation elections in the state in February 2012 as almost all the political parties have been demanding that the mill land be allotted for constructing a Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar memorial. This is for the first time that the ruling alliance members have vociferously raised the issue.
The MLAs continued to shout slogans and wave banners demanding handing over the Indu mill land to them for building the memorial, despite a warning from the Assembly speaker Dilip Walse-Patil that led him to suspend the five members.
Earlier, the speaker adjourned the house for half an hour when the members refused to budge. When the House re-assembled, the members again raised slogans and continued to wave banners in support of the demand.
The opposition demanded their suspension and the ruling party members demanded land for the memorial. Parliamentary affairs minister Harshawardhan Patil tabled a one-line resolution about the suspension of the five members involving in disturbing the proceedings of the House and displaying banners there.
The Assembly adopted the resolution of the suspension of five members for the day through a voice vote. Deputy speaker Vasant Purke later announced the suspension and adjourned the House for an hour.
A belligerent opposition grilled the Maharashtra minister for Public Works Department (Public Undertaking) Jaydutt Kshirsagar in the state Assembly on Monday for alleged corruption in toll tax recovery in Mumbai, Thane and Nashik.
Raising the issue in the House during question hour, leader of the Opposition, Eknath Khadse and senior BJP member Devendra Fadnavis, demanded a high-level inquiry into the alleged Rs 5,000-crore corruption in toll tax recovery in the state.
The minister’s insistence about no irregularities and no need to set up a committee to probe the matter, the House witnessed uproarious scenes and even several BJP members trooped to the well of the house and shouted slogans against such an "illegal" tax.
Khadse and Fadnavis pointed out that there is corruption amounting to over Rs 5000-crore in the toll tax recovery and the chief minister should pay personal attention and appoint a high-level committee to probe the matter, they said.
As the House witnessed noisy scenes and allegations and counter allegations, the speaker Dilip Walse Patil suspended question hour and adjourned the house till the time stipulated for question hour.
Earlier, Kshirsagar, in his reply made it clear that there is no issue to stop toll tax collection because it is yet to be completed. All the collection is going on under terms and conditions of tenders and under the guidelines of central government. The contracts have been given for 15 years after calculating the cost of the projects and the interest rates, he added.