Nana Patole-babu row: Ajit Pawar, Devendra Fadnavis broker peace
Speaker Nana Patole summons Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta to House for ignoring serious issues raised by legislators; withdraws it later
Speaker Nana Patole dropped a bomb in the lower house on Monday by declaring that Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta would have to appear in the House and apologise to the members for the state administration cold-shouldering legislators who raised several issues of propriety.
He said as the administration hadn't bothered to answer the MLAs within a stipulated time, he was holding the CS responsible and summoning him to the Assembly. However, when Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis urged him to withdraw the harsh order, Patole acquiesced but with a rider that he would not tolerate the administration's insensitive approach henceforth.
Nana Patole. File pics
"Several Assembly members have raised points of propriety in the last session and in the ongoing session. Answers were expected from the administration, but the officers did not bother to take note of the serious issues," he said. Point of propriety is a legislative tool that members use to draw the government's attention to issues that need immediate attention. The members route their submission through the Speaker who allows suitable queries and tells the government to act on them and communicate to the members concerned. The Speaker's directives must be followed.
According to Patole, of the 83 attempts members had made with his permission in the previous sessions and the current one, only four were responded to. "I received many complaints and wrote to the government to remind them. I also wrote to the CS and even called him up. The CS wrote back saying work was going on," he said.
Taking suo motu cognizance of the MLAs' ire, Patole blamed the CS, the chief of administration, for dereliction of duty and disrespect shown to elected representatives.
"I hereby summon the CS to that door [facing the presiding officer's seat] to apologise to the House," he said. The action taken was akin to breach of privilege of the members.
Following the Speaker's shocker, Pawar intervened, saying the decision was extreme and needed to be reviewed. "I fully understand yours and the MLAs' concerns, but I think this hasn't happened in the history of the House. On behalf of the government, I express deep regret and assure the Speaker and the House that I will immediately convene a meeting of bureaucrats," he said. Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis supported Pawar's stand and requested Patole to withdraw the sentence.
When mid-day asked about the matters that had gone unanswered, the legislative officials concerned said they were not allowed to share that information.
A principal secretary-level officer said the sentence, if not withdrawn, would have resulted in a cold war between lawmakers and administration. "It would have also led to the CS's resignation in protest. In the first place, the route taken by the Speaker was against procedure. He could have asked the Assembly's privilege committee that investigates MLAs' complaints and recommends sentences," said the officer.
The ruling and Opposition benches, too, were surprised by the Speaker's suo motu action which wasn't discussed with them. Patole had stunned the House in the previous session, too, by moving a resolution to recommend the census of other backward classes in the state. At that time, too, stakeholders were unaware of his move. However, the resolution was passed and sent to the National Census Office, which turned down the request.
Attempts MLAs made in the previous and current sessions
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe