Maharashtra assembly in turmoil over AG’s Marathwada demand

Mumbai, March 21 : The Maharashtra assembly was thrown into turmoil on Monday over state Advocate General Shrihari Aney’s demand for a separate state of Marathwada, with the ruling BJP’s ally Shiv Sena as well as the opposition seeking action against him.

Amid the ruckus, slogan-shouting and noisy scenes created by legislators of all parties, the house was adjourned thrice on Monday afternoon.

Many legislators demanded to know if the government would consider a ‘sedition’ charge against Aney.

The issue was raised at the start of the day’s proceedings by the members of the Shiv Sena, opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party who raised slogans and demanded Aney’s removal from the post.

While Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik called Aney the ‘Owaisi of Maharashtra’, NCP’s Dilip Walse-Patil demanded his sacking failing which, he added, it would be construed that the BJP-Sena government was supporting him.

Sena leader and Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam later announced that his party legislators will neither participate in the assembly proceedings nor attend cabinet meetings until Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took action against the state’s top law official.

Later, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse assured of “time-bound action” in the legislative council.

At a function in Jalna on Sunday, Aney allegedly said that Marathwada had borne more injustice than the Vidarbha region and should therefore be made an independent state.

He urged the people of Marathwada to launch a movement for a separate state.

State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant demanded to know whether “Aney was functioning as an agent for dividing the state”, while legislator Nitesh Rane condemned the advocate general and legislator Sanjay Dutt demanded Aney’s sacking.

Dhananjay Munde, NCP’s leader of the opposition in the legislative council who initially moved an adjournment motion, sought a clarification from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Aney’s removal.

“First, he spoke of a separate state of Vidarbha; now he wants a separate Marathwada; tomorrow, he will demand Khandesh and then want Mumbai to be separated from the state,” Munde remarked.

When the opposition demanded Aney’s resignation earlier, Fadnavis supported him and he got the courage to go a step further, Munde added. He demanded his removal and a clarification from the chief minister.

Lok Bharati’s Kapil Patil said Aney’s statement was tantamount to treason and wanted to know if the government would invoke legal provisions against him.

Last year, after Aney sought a referendum on Vidarbha, Fadnavis said there was no need for the AG’s resignation as he had spoken at a private function.

Moreover, the chief minister said, the creation of a separate state fell in the domain of the Centre and parliament.

At that time, Fadnavis mollified the Shiv Sena by saying that Aney’s statement did not amount to insulting the 105 martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement.

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