Opposition flays deputy speaker, walks out
Opposition Shiv Sena-BJP members in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Thursday walked out of the House condemning Dy Speaker Pramod Shende's refusal to allow a poll on budgetary demands of social justice and rural development departments.
Soon after Rural Development Minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil and Social Justice Minister Chandrakant Handore finished replying to a discussion on the demands, held yesterday, Leader of Opposition Ramdas Kadam and BJP group leader Eknath Khadse demanded poll.
However, Shende announced that the demands have been pased by a voice vote. On repeated pleas by the opposition leaders, Shende said he had `personally counted the number of ruling coalition members present in the House and was satisfied that their number was more than the opposition members' strength'.
Accusing Shende of `siding with the government', some opposition members shouted slogans against him. Shende's statement that he did not hear the opposition asking for a poll took even some senior ministers by surprise as the entire House had heard the opposition leaders making that demand.
The discussion on the budgetary demands went on till 8.30 pm yesterday and the opposition had insisted that the ministers reply immediately and the demands put to poll.
However, presiding officer Sudhakar Paricharak rejected the plea and put off the ministers' reply to today.
Kadam and Khadse had told reporters that if a poll were to be held at that time, the government would have faced a technical defeat as the number of opposition members present in the Hous then was 16 more than that of ruling benches.