Monday, November 9, 2009

Pandemonium in Maharashtra assembly as Abu Azmi takes oath

MNS protests as Abu Azmi takes oath in Hindi

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) members on Monday attacked state Samajwadi Party chief Abu Azmi inside the legislature after he insisted on taking his oath as a legislator in Hindi.
The day's proceedings started smoothly with several members taking oath, wary of a so-called 'open letter' by MNS chief Raj Thackeray this morning urging all 288 legislators to take their oath in Marathi.

However, Azmi had declared that he would not be intimidated by such threats by "extra-constitutional authorities" and announced that he would take the oath in the national language Hindi.

"If they try to stop me, they could attract privilege proceedings," he declared, minutes before stepping inside the high security Maharashtra legislature at Nariman Point.

When his turn came, Azmi got up to take the oath in Hindi. Even as he uttered the first few words, MNS members, all of them first-timers in the House, sprang up from their seats, shouted slogans and rushed towards Azmi.

As Azmi continued to take the oath in Hindi, MNS's Ramesh Banjle uprooted the microphone and threw it away.

Other MNS members came and surrounded Azmi, pushed and punched him and one member Ram Kadam was seen on live television slapping and hitting him on the chest and shoulders.

Stunned by the goings-on, several members, including newly-appointed ministers like Congress' Rajendra Darda, Nationalist Congress Party's Ajit Pawar, Peasants and Workers Party leader Meenakshi Patil, and several others, rushed to shield Azmi from the MNS members' wrath, but even they were pushed around.

The Protem Speaker Ganpatrao Deshmukh immediately adjourned the House for over half an hour.

However, the MNS members continued their aggressive stance, indulging in sloganeering, displaying banners and damaging the fittings inside the assembly.

Chief minister Ashok Chavan, who was present when the MNS members created the ruckus, termed the incident as "regretful" and urged that the legislators should be dealt with very strictly.

Defending the actions of the party legislators, MNS spokesperson Shirish Parker even argued that Hindi was not the national language of the country.

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