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19 MLAs suspended: Opposition boycotts Maharashtra legislature, terms decision unconstitutional

Following the nine-month suspension of the legislators, the Opposition parties boycotted proceedings of the assembly which led to the adjournment of both the houses of the Maharashtra legislature.

mumbai Updated: Mar 22, 2017 16:35 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
The MLAs also burnt the copies of the budget at the legislature on Saturday.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are on a collision course after the speaker suspended 19 legislators for disrupting Saturday’s budget presentation in the Assembly. Following the nine-month suspension of the legislators, the Opposition parties boycotted proceedings of the assembly which led to the adjournment of both the houses of the Maharashtra legislature. Terming the suspension unconstitutional, they said they will lodge a protest with governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao.

Opposition leaders protest against the government at Vidhan Bhavan on Wednesday. (HT)

Demanding loan waiver for farmers, Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from opposition parties created ruckus inside the assembly on Saturday as state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar presented the annual budget on Saturday. They also burned copies of the budget outside the legislature. Taking cognizance of their unruly behaviour, the government moved a motion to suspend 19 MLAs on Wednesday when the budget session resumed.

Among the suspended MLAs are former ministers Vijay Wadettivar, Bhaskar Jadhav,Abdul Sattar and Jitendra Awhad as well as young legislators Amit Zanak, Amar Kale and Avdhoot Tatkare. They are from the Congress and the NCP. The suspended MLAs have been banned from even entering the premises of the legislature till December 31.

Meanwhile, the lower house was adjourned for the day after the Opposition boycotted house proceedings. The government tried to convince the Opposition, in brief meetings held during two adjournments, to participate in the house business, but failed to break the logjam. The house business also came to standstill in the legislative council.

Opposition leaders alleged that the action was taken by the ruling side to avoid defeat over a cut motion which requires voting. Opposition leaders Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Jayant Patil alleged that the action was taken because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was afraid of a defeat on the floor of the assembly as the opposition parties were planning a cut motion on farm loan waiver during the discussion on budget.

“The government was afraid that even Shiv Sena MLAs would have voted against it over the issue of farm loan waiver. Hence to save the government, our MLAs were suspended,”alleged Jayant Patil of the NCP. The government has to resign if it is defeated during the voting on any motion in the assembly

In the suspension motion moved by the government on Wednesday, parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat said the opposition continued their unruly behaviour despite repeated warnings by the speaker. On Saturday, the suspended lawmakers had entered into the well of the lower house and chanted slogans, demanding a loan waiver for farmers when the budget was being presented. Besides sloganeering, the MLAs waived banners and sang bhajans for about two hours. The copies of the budget were also burnt outside the legislature.Taking a serious note of the uproar, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had on Saturday condemned the act.

The house proceedings have hardly taken place in the past nine ten days owing to a string of disruptions over the issue of a complete loan waiver to farmers. With the Opposition up in arms against the government, uncertainty looms over the budget debate which will take place over the next few days. It remains to be seen how the government breaks the deadlock.

READ: Oppn burns Maharashtra budget, Shiv Sena stays calm

First Published: Mar 22, 2017 12:04 IST