The controversial book rocked the assembly. However what set many tongues wagging was that Home Minister R R Patil asked his party legislator Jitendra Awhad to retract the same statement that R R Patil had made in the house in the assembly session of 2004. As expected the James Laine book created uproar in the ongoing sessions of the Maharashtra State Assembly. However what set tongues wagging and created ruffles within the NCP was that Home Minister R R Patil asked his party MLA to retract from making a statement that R R Patil too had made way back in 2004. It happened when NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad slammed the members of the opposition for changing their stance. He said that in 2003, the BJP was not as aggressive as today. He said that the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had said that it was not correct to bring a ban on any book. The former Prime Minister had stated that “vicharon ka muqabla vicharon se hona chahiye” meaning that issues like ban on books need to be debated and tackled with exchange of ideas. This statement of Awhad triggered a huge uproar from the BJP members in the assembly. To pacify them, Home Minister R R Patil, also of the NCP, asked Awhad to retract his statement. He also requested the speaker that the statement be not recorded. However what was interesting was that R R Patil himself referred to this very statement by Atal Bihari Vajpayee on March 14, 2004, and asked the then speaker to put it on record. At that time R R Patil had said that he would not have quoted Vajpayee had he not said these words at a public meeting in Mumbai. His statement is documented in the assembly library. On the other hand in the state council too, NCP leader Vinayak Mete reminded the members of Vajpyee’s comments. The BJP members objected, saying, “He is speaking out of context.” However, Mete’s statement was recorded. The fact that R R Patil has Awhad to retract from his statement has created a rift between the leaders with many fuelling Awhad by saying that if R R Patil can quote Vajpayee then why not Jeetendra Awhad. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.
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