Mumbai: The monsoon session of the state legislature may have been short in duration but was long on drama. The concluding day on Tuesday was marked by a formal session in two Houses of the state legislature while a parallel ‘mock’ session, replete with mic and speakers, was held by the opposing Bharatiya Janata Party at the entrance of the Vidhan Bhavan to protest the suspension of 12 of its MLAs and the government’s ‘gag’ on their speech. BJP legislators from both Houses boycotted the proceedings, choosing to participate in the parallel session and shout slogans.
Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis 'anointed' BJP MLA Kalidas Kolamkar as the speaker of the mock session and proposed a discussion on the subject of the suspension of 12 BJP MLAs on the basis of false allegations.
“Today, I propose a resolution against this government here and I request the members to start a discussion on the proposal,” he said. He declared that the party legislators would speak against the functioning of this ‘tyrant government’. “We want to expose this ‘vasooli’ (extortionist) and corrupt government,” he declared.
On the other hand, in the state assembly, members of the ruling benches including Bhaskar Jadhav, Sunil Prabhu and minister Nawab Malik took strong objections to the parallel session and urged the chair to stop it immediately. Jadhav, who was allegedly manhandled by BJP legislators on Monday, asked who had given them permission to use a mic and speaker, while Malik demanded a probe.
“What is happening? A ‘parallel session’ is being held and how is it being telecast? It is an insult to this House. How can this happen?” former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded of the chair.
Malik said Presiding Officer Bhaskar Jadhav was getting threats on social media and demanded security for him.
He also asked how former MLA Raj Purohit could make political comments on Vidhan Bhavan premises and distribute papers.
Shiv Sena legislator Sunil Prabhu asked how the opposition members were provided loudspeakers without the permission of the chair.
Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde demanded action against security officers who had allowed the loudspeakers to be used on the legislature premises.
In the meanwhile, Independent MLA Ravi Rane entered the assembly and tried to snatch the mace (rajdand) from the Speaker’s table. However, Jadhav, who was in the chair, asked the marshal to escort Rane out of the House.
Zirwal thereafter asked the secretariat to remove the mic and speakers and clear the entrance. Security officers stopped the BJP members from using loudspeakers, even as they continued their anti-government sloganeering.
Fadnavis told reporters that the government could not stop the BJP from raising its voice against the ‘high-handedness’ of the ruling dispensation.
“Has the government imposed Emergency?” he asked. “This is a black chapter. This is murder of democracy,” he claimed.
Thereafter, the BJP continued its parallel session in the area reserved for the press and media. Fadnavis proceeded to launch a scathing attack against the MVA government and targeted the forest department held by CM Uddhav Thackeray, alleging that corruption was rampant in that department. He also criticised the government on a range of issues including the farmers’ plight, government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the rise in crime and the foodgrain scam.
Meanwhile, after the completion of the offical proceedings of the legislature, Thackeray said the BJP’s behaviour during the session had been anti-democratic. Further, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar also slammed the BJP, saying the sanctity of the legislature should be maintained.