Home / Politics / Policy /  Maharashtra: 19 opposition MLAs suspended for ‘insulting the House’

Mumbai: Maharashtra legislative assembly speaker Haribhau Bagde on Wednesday suspended 19 legislators belonging to the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for “insulting the sovereign legislature by displaying banners on the floor of the House, burning copies of budget on legislature premises, creating ruckus, and disrespecting the Speaker’s authority" during the presentation of the state budget on 18 March.t

Among the 19 legislators suspended till 31 December, 10 belong to the NCP while 9 are from the Congress.

The Maharashtra legislature is in its budget session till 7 April. Both the houses of the state legislature have transacted little business since the session began on 6 March as the opposition parties have forced a number of adjournments demanding a farm debt waiver. On Wednesday too, the legislative council was adjourned for the day soon after proceedings began as opposition parties pressed their demand.

Maharashtra’s parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat from BJP moved a resolution immediately after the legislative assembly resumed proceedings on Wednesday morning, recommending suspension of 19 members.

The speaker accepted the resolution and ordered suspension of these members from the legislative assembly from Wednesday to 31 December. Soon after the resolution was moved and accepted, leader of the opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil condemned suspension and led a walkout. Vikhe-Patil said the government was not sensitive to the farmers’ plight and it wanted to muzzle the opposition’s voice by resorting to undemocratic means like suspension.

On 18 March, the opposition members were demanding farm debt waiver immediately and tried stalling the budget presentation by creating ruckus. Despite several requests by the speaker to stop the din and remove banners from inside the House, the opposition members continued to raise slogans through the budget speech.

Maharashtra finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who on 18 March read out the budget amid an unprecedented chaos in the House, reminded the Congress and the NCP that their government had taken a similar action against opposition legislators three years ago. “The suspension has been recommended well within the constitutional norms and to maintain the dignity of the House. If the opposition wanted farm loan waiver announced in the budget, they should have listened patiently. You can’t call suspension unprecedented because you had taken a similar action three years back," Mungantiwar said.

Later in the day, a delegation of the opposition parties met Maharashtra governor Vidyasagar Rao and demanded that the suspension be revoked and a farm debt waiver announced. Talking to reporters, Vikhe-Patil countered the finance minister’s claim that the Congress-NCP government had carried out a similar suspension of legislators when they were in power. “Some MLAs were suspended only for a week in 2011 on some other issue and not three years back as the minister said. This time though, we were protesting on a much serious issue of farm debt waiver," Vikhe-Patil said.

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