House disrupted as MLAs ask for suspension of cops

Legislators across party lines on Thursday demanded the suspension of API Sachin Suryavanshi, beaten up by MLAs in Vidhan Bhavan on Tuesday, and two Crime Branch officials who entered the state council premises the day after to arrest the members suspended for the incident.

The state assembly yesterday witnessed four adjournments without transacting any business, after legislators from all parties supported a breach of privilege motion against media, particularly electronic, which they said used derogatory terms while airing news of Tuesday’s incident. NCP member Shashikant Shinde moved the motion, which had signatures of all parties’ group leaders.

Senior members like Industries Minister Narayan Rane and Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse vocalised the resentment of the members, who were peeved with how they had been portrayed in the aftermath of the episode.

Rane, who attended the legislative proceedings for the first time during the ongoing budget session due to his illness, said TV channels cast aspersions on Speaker Dilip Walse Patil and held him responsible for delaying arrests of the suspended MLAs Kshitij Thakur and Ram Kadam. He also slammed attempts by Crime Branch to arrest the MLAs at Vidhan Bhavan. Khadse said that the media reports made the entire house look like it was full of ruffians and goons, and flayed the coverage.

Their comments resonated with MLAs Ganpatrao Deshmukh along with Nitin Sardesai and Pravin Darekar (MNS), Subhash Desai and Ashish Jaiswal (Shiv Sena), Shirish Kotwal (Independent), Jitendra Avhad (NCP) and Abu Azmi (Samajwadi Party), who joined them in blaming the media. The Speaker cleared his side referring to rule 289 of the state legislature, which prohibits issuing summons or legal action to MLAs by police without the speaker’s permission. “I did not summon any police official for any meeting. They (policemen) called the meetings.

There have been attempts to malign the image of the legislature and break the system,” Walse Patil said. “Media should adhere to the Laxman rekha and avoid confrontation.” He added that despite the fact that Dr Sanjay Kute and Abhijit Adsul were not involved in the beating of the API, they were named as participants.  When he said he would seek clarification by media persons concerned before admitting the motion, members put their foot down for the motion to be admitted right away. 

After the speaker gave in to their demand, the members asked for immediate suspension of API Suryavanshi and Crime Branch officials Yashwant Vhatkar and one Nigde.  Amidst the din the house saw four adjournments disrupting business for the entire day. Meanwhile, Home Minister RR Patil announced Nigde’s suspension in the state council, where a similar motion was moved by Congress MLC Arjun alias Bhai Jagtap. 

All-party legislators panned media coverage of the episode and demanded a code of conduct for the reporting of house proceedings. All efforts to soothe tempers failed even after prolonged meetings with senior leaders of all the parties with the speaker, the chief minister and the home minister. 

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