Five Congress MLAs on Wednesday were suspended from Maharashtra assembly for two years for causing injury to governor C Vidyasagar Rao and two senior legislative officers while trying to block him from entering into the House to address a joint sitting of the bicameral legislature.
The governor sustained minor injuries in the heckling.
A resolution moved by the parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Mehta seeking to suspend Rahul Bondre, Abdul Sattar, Amar Kale, Virendra Jagtap and Jaikumar Gore was passed by the the House by voice vote. The MLAs were banned from entering the premises of the legislature in Mumbai and Nagpur.
The MLAs were protesting against "unconstitutional" manner in which the motion of confidence in the Devendra Fadnavis government was passed by voice vote instead of a division vote.
By terming the protest an act of 'belittling the image of the legislature and derogatory to its dignity', the assembly had constituted a five-member committee led by Speaker Haribhau Bagade to probe the incident.
The panel included the Leader of Opposition Eknath Shinde, Congress legislature party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, senior PWP legislator Ganpatrao Deshmukh, Prakash Mehta and BJP MLA Girish Bapat.
The committee will probe the incident and submit its report next month. The decision on whether to continue or revoke the suspension will be taken during the winter session of the state legislature in Nagpur, also beginning next month.
Governor Rao was blocked by the Opposition party MLAs at the entrance of the Vidhan Bhavan and later in the porch amid protest and chanting of slogan 'governor chale jao' (governor go back) when he reached the assembly for the address.
The Shiv Sena MLAs blocked his way and stopped his vehicle at the main entrance. The Congress MLAs, who were sitting on a dharna at the door of the assembly, did not allow the governor to enter the building for more than ten minutes. The MLAs urged the governor not to address the legislature as the formation of the government was unconstitutional, they alleged.
The security at the aseembly had to use force to make way for the governor to enter the building. Revenue minister Eknath Khadse said two officials of the legislature were also injured in the melee.
"Governor's left hand was injured. The issue does not end with an apology. This should not be tolerated," Khadse said before the motion for suspension was moved. The entire incident delayed the address by ten minutes.
Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said there was no intention to hurt anyone but he was prepared to apologise. State Congress president Manikrao Thakre denied that the governor was manhandled and said the punishment was harsh and needed to be reconsidered.
"The MLAs were protesting and presenting their side to the governor. There was no deliberate manhandling,"Thakre said.
NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, RR Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal said the matter should be put to rest after an apology, if the report of governor getting injured was true. Wednesday was the first day of the new assembly and it should not start on a bitter note, they said.
Revenue minister Eknath Khadse, while moving the motion in the assembly said that the act by the Congress MLAs maligned the image of the soverign house and the stricter action against them was inevitable.
He added that the misconduct by the MLAs was captured on the 29 CCTV cameras on the premises of the building and about 15 MLAs were identified. Khadse said since it was the first session of the government, they have taken a lenient stand and initiated action against five only.
(With inputa from agencies)