Legislators of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra objected to the Bharatiya Janata Party's move to organise a 'parallel session' and use loudspeakers in the state Legislature premises in Mumbai on Tuesday, a day after 12 MLAs of the opposition party were suspended for alleged misbehaviour.
Members of the Legislative Council asked how some former legislators could enter the Vidhan Bhavan premises amid COVID-19-related restrictions and sought a report on the matter.
Later, security officials stopped the BJP members from using loudspeakers even as they shouted slogans against the state government.
The 12 BJP MLAs were on Monday suspended from the Assembly for one year after the state government accused them of 'misbehaving' with presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav in the Speaker's chamber.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis had termed the allegation as false and said Jadhav's account of the incident was 'one-sided'.
On Tuesday, several BJP legislators squatted on the stairs of the Legislature building and shouted slogans against the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-comprising the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress) government.
The opposition MLAs, led by Fadnavis, organised a 'parallel session' in the Legislature building as a mark of protest.
Fadnavis announced BJP MLA Kalidas Kolamkar as the 'speaker of the (parallel) House' and proposed to hold a discussion.
The former chief minister, while addressing the opposition MLAs, claimed the 12 BJP legislators were suspended on the basis of false allegations.
"Today, I propose a resolution against this government here and I request the members to start a discussion on the proposal," he said.
Inside the Assembly, NCP leader and state Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik said presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav was getting threats on social media, and demanded security for him.
He also asked how former MLA Raj Purohit could make political comments in the Vidhan Bhavan premises and distribute papers.
Shiv Sena legislator Sunil Prabhu asked how the opposition members were provided loudspeakers without the permission of the Chair.
Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal said he had not given permission for the use of loudspeakers (outside the House) and ordered security personnel to confiscate them.
Malik wondered why the Vidhan Bhavan marshals did not come to take away the opposition MLAs who had on Monday "gheraoed" presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav in the Speaker's chamber.
State Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil said adequate security will be provided to Jadhav.
Earlier, Jadhav asked the Chair to direct Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab to request the opposition members to participate in the Assembly proceedings.
"The government is going to table a draft agriculture bill on Tuesday and the opposition's feedback is also necessary," Jadhav said.
Ministers Sunil Kedar and Dhananjay Munde demanded action against security officials who allowed the loudspeakers to be used in the Legislature premises.
Senior Congress leader and former CM Prithivraj Chavan said, "The 'parallel Vidhan Sabha' is being telecast live and this is an insult of this august House."
When presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav took the Speaker's chair, he ordered security officials to seize the loudspeakers and stop news channels from telecasting the 'parallel session' live.
Malik complained that despite the directives, news channels were telecasting the mock session live.
State Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil said when they were in the opposition, they also held 'parallel session' as mark of protest.
"But, we never had the guts to use loudspeakers," he added.
Meanwhile, in the state Legislative Council, members of the ruling parties sought a report on the 'parallel session' and asked how some former legislators could enter the Vidhan Bhavan premises when the RT-PCR test is mandatory for all members.
NCP MLC Shashikant Patil said the opposition members set up tables and used mikes and loudspeakers, leading to a large gathering amid COVID-19-related restrictions.
"I would like to ask whether everyone's RT-PCR test was conducted. I would like to seek a report on this and also a report from the council chairman on what action has been taken in this regard," said Patil.
He said if such incidents are encouraged, it will raise questions about the dignity of the House.
Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap rose to speak on the issue, but the opposition members started shouting slogans.
Council Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar then adjourned the House for 20 minutes.
When the House reassembled, Jagtap again rose to speak.
In his submission, he said the incident witnessed outside the House has tarnished the image of Maharashtra.
"We are taking a lot of precautions here in the wake of COVID-19, but there is information that some former legislators also entered the (Vidhan Bhavan) premise. Was the RT-PCR test conducted on everyone?" he asked.
However, Leader of Opposition in the Council Pravin Darekar criticised the state government for 'suppressing the opposition's voice in the House'.
"I condemn the state government for murdering democracy," he said.
The Council chairman assured the members that a detailed report on the matter will be tabled in the House.