abu-azmi-2The Abu Asim Azmi incident at the first session of the state assembly elections saw a huge drama enfolding with the MNS party workers creating havoc in different parts of the city. Even Navi Mumbai saw the impact of this incident where the effigy of Abu Azmi was burnt at Sanpada. In an unprecedented incident, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena attacked Samajwadi Party legislator Abu Azmi inside the state assembly for taking oath in Hindi and not in Marathi marking a violent debut for Raj Thackeray’s party in the House. The three-year-old MNS, which returned 13 members to the House, all first timers, unleashed chaos during the oath taking by the new MLAs in a turbulent start to the maiden session of the 12th state Assembly. The proceedings in the backdrop of the so-called diktat by Raj Thackeray that all members must take oath in Marathi or face consequences went on smoothly until Azmi’s turn came. Ram Kadam allegedly slapped and hit Azmi on the chest and shoulders while Ramesh Vanjale snatched the microphone and uprooted the podium as a result of which the paper from which he was reading out his oath fell. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Patil and State Energy Minister Ajit Pawar rushed to calm the frayed tempers. Speaking to reporters outside the House, an unfazed Abu Asim Azmi defended his decision of taking oath in Hindi and said he had done nothing to warrant such action by the MNS MLAs. Abu Asim Azmi also demanded suspension of MNS members for the entire five-year term and arrest of Raj Thackeray. But an unrepentant Ram Kadam, Shishir Shinde and Bala Nandgaonkar justified the MS action saying Azmi’s insistence on taking oath in Hindi betrayed his lack of respect for Marathi language and people. The MNS members’ fury, which was in full flow as Azmi took oath, was, however, missing, as some members, including former minister Baba Siddiqui, took oath in languages other than Marathi. Siddiqui, Congress MLA from Bandra, took oath in English. Girish Mahajan, BJP member from Jalgaon, took oath in Sanskrit. Baba Siddique said that he took the oath in English to make a point that no one can be dictated to do anything in a democratic set up. He further added that MNS was fooling the Marathi people. When questioned why MNS did not oppose him, Baba Siddique said that it was because MNS MLAs sent their own children to English Schools. The incident evoked widespread condemnation across the political spectrum with demands being made for stern action against the erring MNS MLAs. Stung by what Chief Minister Ashok Chavan called as “goondagardi” or hooliganism by MNS never witnessed in the House, the Assembly acted tough and passed a resolution suspending four MNS members from the House for four years within hours after the chaos. The MLAs were also accused of misbehaving with a woman MLA. The resolution moved by parliamentary affairs minister Harshvardhan Patil to suspend Shishir Shinde, Ramesh Vanjale, Ram Kadam and Vasant Geete was approved by voice vote. Stating that hooliganism will not be tolerated, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan addressed the media after suspending the four MNS MLAs. Prior to the commencement of the first day of the assembly Rak Thackeray had come to visit his MLAs and had a word with him outside Vidhan Bhavan. He reportedly addressed and guided his MLAs on how to react if any MLA took oath in any language other than Marathi. This report has also reached the Chief Minister who did not rule out action against MNS Chief Raj Thackeray saying that action will be taken if the video footage of his reported comments outside the Assembly showed he had instigated his party MLAs. The continuous division of Maharashtra in the name of language is slowly having a deep impact on the progress of the state that has started scaring away foreign investment from Maharashtra. Whatever transpired inside the assembly on the first day is “most condemnable” and against the highest tradition of the Sacred House but has also taken politics of regional chauvnism straight to the Assembly tarnished the image of the august House. It is also the failure of the Congress-NCP government who knew that the MNS wanted to create a ruckus but did not take enough measures to avoid what happened inside the assembly. Even they are party to bringing democracy to shame inside Vidhan Bhavan – the temple of democracy of the state. With cameraperson Abhay Prasad, Dhiraj Mishra, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.

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