Mumbai, (The Hindu): Claiming that the Opposition was not interested in hearing the ruling alliance’s side about the issues raised by them, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena staged a boycott of the Legislative Council on Thursday.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat told reporters that the coalition has decided not to participate in the Council proceedings since the Opposition, which has larger numbers in the Upper House, did not want to hear the government’s response.
“We are here to make laws that govern the State. We need to follow rules and precedents,” said Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, addressing the Opposition members. The ruling party had staged a walk-out on Wednesday as well.
Dhananjay Munde, Leader of the Opposition in the Council, slammed the government for walking out. “The ruling coalition decided to boycott the Council when we started raising uncomfortable issues such as the corruption allegations against Housing Minister Prakash Mehta and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) vice-chairman Radheshyam Mopalwar,” he said.
Mr. Munde said the government had been elected on the promise of transparency. “Where is your transparency now? We will not let you walk out without answering questions about Mr. Mehta and Mr. Mopalwar,” he said, reiterating the demand to sack Mr. Mehta from the State Cabinet and suspend Mr. Mopalwar from government services.
As the House commenced the day’s session, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis informed members of the government’s decision to remove Mr. Mopalwar from his post in the MSRDC until the inquiry against him was over. “We have already announced that an inquiry will be conducted into the allegations against Mr. Mehta. If the Opposition continues to raise the issue, then there is scope to say that the allegations are political in nature,” he said.
An aggressive Opposition continued with its demand, which resulted in uproar in the Upper House. The Council was then adjourned till Friday.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Munde said the Opposition will not let the House function until Mr. Mopalwar was suspended and Mr. Mehta resigned.
Mr. Mehta has been accused of tweaking the rules to provide undue benefit worth hundreds of crores to a developer. Mr. Fadnavis claimed that since his actions have been cancelled, no actual scam has taken place.
Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, said that the government was applying double standards to former Minister Eknath Khadse and Mr. Mehta. “Mr. Khadse was asked to resign even though nothing was proven against him, only on the basis of allegations. Who is stopping the Chief Minister from taking Mr. Mehta’s resignation?” he asked.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Jayant Patil said the BJP was divided into two factions.
“The one supported by Amit Shah is preventing Mr. Mehta’s resignation. In this battle between the two factions, the transparency promise made by the BJP seems to be losing steam,” Mr. Patil said.
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