The state government saved itself some severe embarrassment by knuckling to the belligerent demand of legislators clamouring for suspending Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryavanshi on Monday, MiD DAY has learnt.
Legislators cutting across party lines had decided to boycott proceedings of the ongoing budget session of the state legislature in case the government did not yield to their demand of suspending the traffic cop, who was thrashed by MLAs in Vidhan Bhavan on March 19.
API Suryavanshi had earlier fined MLA Kshitij Thakur for speeding on the sea link, resulting in the face-off. The brawl rapidly ballooned into an issue where the prestige of legislators was seen to be at stake, with members repeatedly disrupting house proceedings over the matter.
For five days after the incident which saw two MLAs suspended the day after - the question of status and self-esteem of legislators hijacked all business in Vidhan Bhavan. The government had to finally succumb to the pressure from MLAs and MLCs. “Had API Suryavanshi not been suspended, the entire police force would have celebrated it as a victory where five of our colleagues were suspended for beating the cop,” said a senior MLA from Congress.
The lawmakers are foaming that despite 23 circulars issued by the state till date, directing government employees and police to give due respect to legislators and MPs, their bearing remains unchanged. Most legislators were seen complaining against babus and cops for being rude and heedless. On Monday morning, all-parties members decided not to participate in the proceedings of the state assembly and state council if the government rebuffed their demand.
“The legislators had kept their decision to boycott proceedings under wraps, except communicating it to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Home Minister RR Patil and Minister of Cooperation and Parliamentary Affairs Harshwardhan Patil,” an MLA said. “We did not want the government to face any ignominy by making the decision to skip the budget discussion public,” he added.
According to him, the state administration and the police just do not care about them. It was only after an initiative by Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse Patil that the state issued a comprehensive circular with clear guidelines in June 2011, merging the 22 circulars that preceded it since June, 1964.
The 10-page guidelines contain the dos and don’ts, and prescribe punishment for dereliction of duty. “Despite the latest circular, most legislators continue to face insults by babus and police routinely,” the MLA said.
Senior NCP MLA Shashikant Shinde, who represents Koregaon, Satara said, “Even senior officials such as collectors show scant respect towards elected representatives. It hurts an MLA who represents a constituency with a population of three to four lakh people.”
After a slew of complaints by legislators about insults and unfair treatment meted out to them by state officials including government and semi-government employees and the police, the state legislature’s committee on privileges took a serious note of the matter. It suggested a few guidelines that state departments must follow and inculcate in trainees:
>> The employees will treat legislators and MPs in a good manner
>> They will show respect for the issues put forward by legislators and help resolve them
>> They will accord priority for appointments and meetings
>> Legislators, MPs will be invited for all the official functions. Their letters will be duly acknowledged by senior officials and ministers. The final reply should be given within two months
>> Any failure will invite disciplinary action