19 Maharashtra MLAs suspended, opposition says 'murder of democracy'
In a drastic move, 19 opposition legislators were on Wednesday suspended till December 31 by Maharashtra Speaker Haribhau Bagade for creating ruckus over farm loans in the house on Saturday.
The combined opposition cried foul over the move, terming it "an unconstitutional step and a murder of democracy" and later met Governor C.V. Rao.
The house, which reassembled after three days, adopted a resolution moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat, seeking suspension of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislators who disrupted Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar's budget speech that day.
The resolution was adopted with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and ally Shiv Sena members voting in favour after which the Speaker issued the suspension orders.
On Saturday Mungantiwar presented the budget for 2017-18 amid chaos and unruly scenes as the combined opposition continued its demand for a complete waiver of farm loans.
The Speaker's suspension order was greeted with protests, a silent sit-in outside the legislature by opposition legislators wearing black bands.
They alleged that the government took the step to avoid defeat over a cut motion which requires voting in the house.
Condemning the move, Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil accused the government of being insensitive to the farmers' plight and attempting to muzzle the opposition by resorting to undemocratic measures.
Later, Vikhe-Patil led an all-party opposition delegation to Governor Rao and submitted a memorandum demanding his directions to the government to revoke the suspension.
They also urged him to direct the government to issue directives for announcing writing off all farm debts to bring relief to the farmers who were committing suicide.
Among the legislators suspended for nine months include nine from the Congress and 10 from NCP who are also barred from entering the legislature precincts at Nariman Point.
They include several heavyweights as well as former ministers from both parties including Bhaskar Jadhav, Vijay Vaddetiwar, Jitendra Awhad, D.P. Sawant, Abdul Sattar and Avdhoot Tatkare.
They were were among the opposition members who raised slogans in the house that day, carried banners, sang bhajans and later made a bonfire of budget copies.
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