Raj’s MLAs assault Azmi for taking oath in Hindi

The first day of the newly formed state assembly was expected to be eventful. It turned out to be historic, shamefully historic.

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Raj’s MLAs assault Azmi for taking oath in Hindi

The first day of the newly formed state assembly was expected to be eventful. It turned out to be historic, shamefully historic. Your netas were supposed to take the oath of office on Monday. Instead, some of them decided to swear at each other. If that wasn’t enough, they even resorted to physical assault.

The legislature may have witnessed some embarrassing moments in the past, but Monday’s session was “perhaps one of its kind in the history of the nation”, said the speaker of the house as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLAs stirred up a ruckus that would make even Marathi-loving voters cringe.

In the eye of the storm was Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and MLA from Shivajinagar-Mankhurd Abu Asim Azmi, who was physically attacked by MNS MLAs for taking the oath in Hindi instead of Marathi. The four netas involved in the incident were later suspended from the Vidhan Bhavan for four years.

The events unfolded when Azmi’s name was announced for oath-taking. MNS MLAs started demanding that he speak in Marathi. Azmi, however, started off in Hindi, prompting Ramesh Wanjale of the MNS to approach the dais and uproot the podium.

Other members of the party followed suit, pushing Azmi aside; one MLA, Vasant Gite, even raised a slipper at Azmi. The MNS members tried snatching the papers from Azmi and asked him to step down without taking the oath. Banners were displayed and abusive slogans chanted.

Had MLAs from the ruling parties not come to Azmi’s rescue, the consequences could have been worse. While giving his ruling later in the day, on a resolution moved by the state government, protem speaker Ganpatrao Deshmukh suspended Shishir Shinde, Ramesh Wanjale, Ram Kadam and Vasant Gite for “maligning the dignity of the supreme house by their shameful and highly condemnable act”.

Congress members Arif Naseem Khan and Baba Sidique and  PWP MLA Meenaxi Patil helped Azmi take the oath without a microphone, by standing beside the speaker’s chair.  

In her endeavour to calm down the situation and protect the constitutional rights of Azmi, Patil had to face the wrath of the MNS MLAs, with even banners being thrown at her.

More drama was waiting for Azmi when he was on his way back to his seat. MNS leader Shishir Shinde tried to attack him from the back, while his colleague Ram Kadam hit Azmi from the front and even slapped him twice. The MNS members were so violent that they did not even pay heed to the repeated appeals made by chief minister Ashok Chavan, deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal and senior minister Ajit Pawar. While the members from the ruling party escorted Azmi to his seat, the speaker adjourned the house for 30 minutes.

Soon after the oath-taking ceremony was completed, parliamentary affairs minister Harshavardahan Patil moved a resolution for the suspension of the four MNS MLAs for four years. “The members have not only disrupted the business of the house, attacked and abused a fellow member, misbehaved with a lady MLA but have also refused to follow the orders of the speaker of the house. The members deserve to be suspended for four years for their condemnable and shameful behaviour,” he said.

The resolution was passed by a majority. The MLAs, following the suspension, are not allowed to enter the premises of the Vidhan Bhavan during the sessions held in Mumbai and Nagpur for next four years. However, they have not been deprived of their remuneration and local area development funds.

Earlier, the state government termed the episode as condemnable and shameful. Chavan said, “The state has no tradition of physical fighting and manhandling over the differences between two parties. We expect the business of the house to be conducted in parliamentary ways. I demand stern action against the members responsible by the speaker. The acts of challenging law and order situation in the state would not be tolerated.”

BJP leader Eknath Khadse termed this incident as unprecedented while Sena leader Subhash Desai demanded stern action against the culprits.

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