The budget session of the Maharashtra legislature began on a stormy note on Monday with opposition parties boycotting Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s address to the joint sitting of both Houses to voice their protest against his recent remarks on the RSS.
In remarks made in Nagpur earlier this month, Rao described the RSS as one of the most secular and inclusive organisations and said it has always respected the right of individuals to practice their own faith.
Expressing displeasure over the remarks, opposition members stayed away from the Central Hall where the governor delivered his address to the joint sitting of both the Houses on the first day of the budget session.
The leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said they decided to boycott the address because they “were doubtful if it will be the governor’s address or that of an RSS person”.
“A governor’s post is constitutional. We had doubts whether his speech was going to be in the interest of the state or the RSS. Hence, we decided to boycott it,” he added.
NCP’s group leader in the Assembly Jayant Patil told reporters outside the House that the opposition had taken the decision to protest Rao’s support to the RSS, “which sows the seeds of divisiveness”.
“A governor’s post is constitutional and his remarks were unwarranted. The governor supports the RSS. The promises made by the governor have remained unfulfilled, so we have decided to boycott his speech,” Patil said.
Before the governor could begin his speech, opposition parties staged a protest against Rao’s remarks at the steps of the Vidhan Bhavan.
Some opposition members also raised slogans against the BJP-led state government.
On Sunday, opposition parties boycotted the customary tea party hosted by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the eve of the interim budget session.
They said the state government should not announce any “populist” or policy decisions during the six-day session.
The vote-on-account, which will have budget provisions till July 31, will be tabled on February 27.