The winter session of Maharashtra assembly began on a stormy note on Monday with Opposition parties joining ranks to criticise re-induction of senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister.
Pawar had resigned in September in view of irregularities in irrigation projects in the state only to make a comeback last week.
As soon as the proceedings began, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse raised a point of procedure on re-induction of Pawar.
During first 30 minutes, the lower house witnessed animated debate, with the Opposition claiming that the post of deputy chief minister does not have a constitutional sanctity while citing a ruling of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court in this regard to target the ruling Democratic Front over Pawar's comeback.
Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil after initially declining permission to members to speak on the point of procedure later allowed Khadse, Subhash Desai (Shiv Sena), Sudhir Mungattiwar (BJP) and Bala Nandgaonkar (MNS) from Opposition benches and Home Minister R R Patil, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Nawab Malik -- all NCP -- to express their views but withheld the ruling.
The Opposition's argument that the post of deputy CM was "unconstitutional" was countered by R R Patil and Nawab Malik saying that even the NDA during its rule in Maharashtra had appointed BJP leader Gopinath Munde for the post.
To this, Khadse recalled the speeches that had been delivered by R R Patil and Dilip Walse Patil on floor of House criticising Munde when he had sworn in as the deputy chief minister.
Opposing Pawar's reinstatement, Khadse referred to the high court ruling which ruled out the scope for creating deputy CM's post. Khadse was backed by his colleague Sudhir Mungattiwar and Subhash Desai of Shiv Sena.
The opposition leader demanded adjournment of proceedings saying it is a disrespect to the House as Pawar is holding the post of deputy chief minister.
Bala Nandgaonkar backed Khadse's demand.
NCP on its part wheeled out heavyweights like R R Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal and Nawab Malik to take on the combative opposition.