The proceedings of the state legislature were disrupted on Tuesday by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) opposition demanding immediate sacking of the dairy development minister Mahadev Jankar, following a case filed by the police against him for allegedly pressurising an election officer in connection with the civic polls.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis turned down the demand saying that the allegations against Jankar were yet to be proved. The angry opposition members then resorted to sloganeering, which disrupted the proceedings of both the houses of the Legislature.
The state Election Commission has filed a case against Jankar for allegedly pressurising a returning officer appointed for a civic poll in Gadchiroli district. The action was taken after a video clip showing Jankar asking the returning officer to disqualify a Congress nomination for the election to the civic body’s president’s post went viral. Jankar was also seen asking the officer to allot a specific symbol to an independent candidate.
The Opposition created a ruckus demanding the ouster of the minister, who belongs to Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, an ally of the BJP.
In the Assembly, former chief minister and senior Congress legislator Prithviraj Chavan demanded that Fadnavis should sack the minister immediately as he was caught misusing his position as a minister in the government to influence the election machinery. “It is the moral responsibility of the chief minister to oust the minister. Else his party’s public stance over corruption won’t have any meaning,”he said. Senior NCP legislators Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse-Patil also pointed out that Jankar had violated his oath as a minister that he would not favour anybody. “Fadnavis is supposed to have clean image which will get tarnished if he shields Jankar,”remarked Jayant Patil.
In reply, Fadnavis said the case filed against Jankar was a non-cognisable offence and it will be investigated if he is guilty of pressuring the returning officer. “The case is filed under Section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the court has powers to decide if the minister misused his position. He is a gentleman and it will be an injustice to him if we sack him before he is proved guilty,” Fadnavis said. Speaker Haribhau Bagde said he will examine the precedents and then decide on what to do next.
The Opposition was not impressed and shouted slogans which led to three adjournments. The proceedings were wound up without discussing the other topics on the day’s agenda. The ruling side, however, got the supplementary demands of five departments and two bills cleared amidst the din. The proceedings of the upper house were wound up amidst the disruption too. The council also saw a verbal exchange between the chairman of the House, Ramraje Nimbalkar, and senior Congress legislator Narayan Rane, after the latter was denied permission to speak on the issue.