All hell broke loose on the first day of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly session on Monday after 13 members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) went wild with rage when Samajwadi Party member Abu Azmi took oath in Hindi.
In an unprecedented act on the floor of the Assembly, MNS legislators physically attacked Mr. Azmi, vandalised equipment, hurled papers and banners and stalled proceedings. A woman member became the target of the onslaught.
The act comes after MNS president Raj Thackeray’s open letter to party legislators asking them to take oath in Marathi, and his veiled warning in a press statement against using any other language.
Condemning the incident as shameful and deplorable, the House passed a resolution suspending four MNS legislators — Shishir Shinde, Ramesh Wanjale, Ram Kadam and Vasant Geete — for four years. They were banned from entering the premises of the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai and Nagpur.
The rampage began the moment Mr. Azmi went up to the dais and uttered his first word mai (I).
At this, Mr. Wanjale stormed to the pulpit and pulled down the podium and the mike, amidst protests from his party MLAs. The MNS members rushed to the well, and attempted to pull down Mr. Azmi from the podium. Among them were prominent MNS leaders Mr. Shinde and Mr. Geete.
The MNS members paraded banners propounding the use of Marathi and threw papers, of which one hit Meenakshi Patil, a legislator, in the face. Ms. Patil had gone up to the podium to help Mr. Azmi. She managed to catch a banner, which flew in her direction seconds later.
There were attempts to throw slippers at and slap Mr. Azmi.
In the melee, Mr. Azmi rattled off his oath in Hindi, standing close to the Speaker’s chair and dodging the menacing attempts of the MNS to take hold of him.
When Mr. Azmi finally stepped off the dais, Mr. Shinde gave him a heavy push. Mr. Kadam hit Mr. Azmi on the head with some sheets of paper. A security guard arrived on the scene and quickly whisked Mr. Azmi away.
The House was adjourned for half an hour.
The resolution charged the four MNS members with attempting to lift the podium and snatch the mike, trying to pull Mr. Azmi off the dais, attempting to beat legislators, throw slippers and swearing on the floor of the Assembly.