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Ajit’s remark plunges legislature into chaos

Special Correspondent
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VENTING THEIR IRE: BJP supporters demonstrate against MaharashtraDeputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in front of the Vidhan Sabha on Monday.— Photo: Vivek Bendre
VENTING THEIR IRE: BJP supporters demonstrate against MaharashtraDeputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in front of the Vidhan Sabha on Monday.— Photo: Vivek Bendre

With the Opposition in Maharashtra remaining resolute on its demand for Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s resignation over his ribald comments, both Houses of the legislature adjourned on Monday amid chaos.

Mr. Pawar’s comments on April 6 at Indapur provoked widespread criticism and the chorus for his resignation is getting louder. The Opposition was not satisfied with his apology on Sunday and his apology again in both Houses on Monday.

The Assembly proceedings began with Girish Bapat of the BJP and others seeking Mr. Pawar’s resignation, leading to the first of many adjournments.

Mr. Pawar was constrained to read out an apology, which could barely be heard above the din. He said the State was very serious about tackling drought and helping the affected people and this was its topmost priority. He reiterated that his remarks on April 6 were not about the drought-affected and he did not intend to hurt anyone. However, he accepted that he should have spoken a little more responsibly. He hoped that his words would not hamper the fight to tackle drought. If his words had hurt the sentiments of the House and the State, he said he would like to humbly apologise for it.

He assured people that the government was committed to ensuring water, fodder and fee waivers for students in the drought-hit areas and would extend whatever help was required .

However, the Opposition dismissed the apology and members chanted that it was not enough to say sorry and he had to resign. Before the final adjournment in the Assembly, Nawab Malik, who was presiding, tried to bring some order, saying the Minister had apologised and the House should conduct its business for the day. Opposition members tore up papers and threw them in the air and shouted slogans and thumped tables, demanding Mr. Pawar’s resignation. Mr. Malik, despite all the racket, managed to push through the budgetary demands for four departments and even table a Bill.

Leader of the Opposition Eknath Khadse said the notice for the adjournment motion at least had to be read out before it was rejected. This was the death of democracy. Mr. Pawar had insulted the people of the State and this issue must be discussed in the House. Mr. Pawar had made other offensive statements saying that due to frequent load shedding the population was increasing. Once again, Mr. Khadse said, Mr. Pawar’s uncle Sharad Pawar had to apologise. “This cannot go on, every time Ajit Pawar says something, someone else has to apologise on his behalf. He has to resign.”

The Council too witnessed noisy scenes and demands for Mr. Pawar’s resignation before it was finally adjourned for the day.

Apologises again

Speaking to reporters in the evening, Mr. Pawar apologised again, saying his insensitive statement was one of the biggest mistakes he had committed in his political life.

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