Nagpur: Maharashtra Assembly on Thursday witnessed heated exchanges between ruling coalition partners BJP and Shiv Sena on the issue of carving out a separate Vidarbha state over which the two parties have long been at loggerheads.

The spark for the din was contributed by the recent remarks of state Advocate General Shreehari Aney on holding a referendum on creation of separate Vidarbha, which has triggered strong reaction from Shiv Sena.

Aney had also expressed confidence that the referendum would be 'in favour' of a separate state comprising Vidarbha by bifurcating Maharashtra.

Pratap Sarnaik (Sena), whose privilege motion against Aney was rejected by Speaker Haribhau Bagde, raised the issue again in the Lower House and soon his party colleagues joined him to move into the well of the House denouncing Aney. This provoked BJP members from Vidarbha region including Vikas Kumbhare, Sudhakar Kohle (both from Nagpur) and Mallikarjun Reddy (Ramtek) to get up from their seats and raise pro-Vidarbha slogans, which was countered by Sena with 'united Maharashtra' slogan.

Sensing that the members were not in the mood to listen at that juncture, the Speaker adjourned the House for 10 minutes but members from both the parties continued to raise slogans in support of their respective stands on the issue.

Jayant Patil from opposition NCP at this juncture accused Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of undermining the status of the Assembly by making a statement in the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

Patil said that the Assembly is sovereign and by clarifying on what Aney had said, he has insulted the elected members of Lower House. He objected to Speaker Bagde's remarks that it makes no difference if the CM had done so in the Legislative Council.

Patil said that he would move a privilege motion against the Speaker but withdrew that statement soon.