Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde’s remark on the Congress’ “culture” triggered a wave of protests in the House, with the NCP also joining in the uproar and backing the grand old party.
As protests mounted, the speaker clarified that he didn’t mean to disrespect anybody.
The speaker passed the remark in response to certain gestures made by Congress MLA Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan who was trying to draw the attention of the Chair to some issue.
Objecting to the gestures, members of treasury benches said they amounted to insulting the Chair, to which Bagde remarked: “This is the culture of Congress”.
Joining the issue, Ajit Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party) said the speaker’s remark was objectionable since the Congress’ contribution to the freedom struggle and nation-building cannot be ignored.
“I was also associated with the party earlier,” he said.
To this, Bagde said he did not mean any disrespect.
Unhappy with the speaker’s explanation, the MLAs led by Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil climbed the speaker’s podium and shouted slogans against him.
Amid din, presiding officer Yogesh Sagar took up the calling attention notices for discussion.
During a discussion on a motion on the killing of tigress ‘Avni’ by a shooter in Yavatmal district recently, NCP MLA Jayant Patil said the calling attention notice seems to have been given to enable state Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to give an explanation on the controversy.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat (BJP) and presiding officer Yogesh Sagar asked Patil to withdraw the remarks, saying they cast aspersions on the post of Speaker.
In his reply, Patil said he would take back his words provided the speaker also withdraws his remarks against the Congress party.
When Sagar said Patil’s remarks will be expunged from the proceedings, the NCP leader said he would repeat his comments.
In the meantime, speaker Bagde took the chair and said the issue was between him and MLA Khan.
“I will check the proceedings and if found to be objectionable, the remark would be expunged,” he said.