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Protests over Pawar`s remarks refuse to die down, legislature stalled

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 16:19

Mumbai: Notwithstanding repeated apologies by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, his controversial remarks on drought and load shedding kept the Maharashtra legislature on the boil with an outraged Opposition disrupting the proceedings for the second day on Tuesday demanding his ouster.

Meanwhile, a farmer whose protest against water shortage had prompted Pawar`s insensitive comments, tried to force his way into Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan`s official residence but was whisked away by the police.

Uproarious scenes were witnessed in the two Houses of legislature which saw repeated suspension of proceedings before being adjourned for the day.

The Opposition created a ruckus in the Assembly when it sought to bring a censure motion against the Deputy Chief Minister which was rejected by Speaker Dilip Walse Patil.

Branding Pawar`s remarks as "derogatory", Subhash Desai (Shiv Sena) sought to move the censure motion which was promptly rejected by the Speaker, who said since the NCP leader had apologised the matter stood closed.

The rejection of the motion triggered noisy scenes with Sudhir Mungantiwar (BJP) and others wanting to speak on the issue but disallowed by the Chair. NCP legislators led by Shashikant Shinde and Jitendra Awhad were seen standing in the aisle protesting Opposition`s insistence on bringing the censure motion despite the Speaker`s ruling.

Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse (BJP) demanded Pawar`s dismissal, saying "mere apology will not do".

"He should quit his post. The Chief Minister should come to the House to make a statement, apologise and sack Ajit Pawar from the ministry," Khadse said, adding with his comments Pawar had insulted women and Maharashtra.

Amid acrimonious scenes, the proceedings were suspended twice for brief periods before being adjourned for the day.

Similar scenes were witnesses in the Legislative Council when Leader of Opposition Vinod Tawde, Sena group leader Diwar Raote, PWP`s Jayant Patil and others demanded Pawar`s resignation and a debate on his conduct.

Bedlam broke out as Chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh rejected their demand, prompting him to suspend the proceedings twice before adjourning the House for the entire day.

"If there is no water in the dam...Should we urinate into it?," Ajit Pawar had said in an insensitive comment at Indapur near Pune on Saturday that set off a controversy in the state reeling under severe drought.

The NCP leader had followed it up with another remark poking fun at load-shedding in the state, saying, "I have noticed that more children are being born since the lights go off at night. There is no other work left."

As anger mounted over his crass humour, Pawar tendered an apology late Saturday evening. He again expressed his regret in a statement he read out in the two houses yesterday before calling it the "biggest mistake of my political life", in a chat with reporters.

Earlier in the day, a farmer Prabhakar alias Bhaiyya Deshmukh along with some others tried to force their way into the Chief Minister`s residence "Varsha" at Malabar Hill to protest water scarcity but was swiftly removed by the police which said they were not allowed to go in as Chavan was not present and that they were not detained.

Deshmukh`s prolonged protest at Azad Maidan here had prompted Pawar`s remarks which created a huge controversy.


First Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 14:29
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