As villagers affected by the proposed oil refinery in Konkan’s Nanar village took to the streets in Nagpur on Wednesday, Shiv Sena MLAs protested against their own government, causing the Assembly to be adjourned for the day.
Sena MLAs Rajan Salvi, Sadanand Chavan and Pratap Sarnaik and Congress MLA Nitesh Rane went up to the Speaker’s chair in the Assembly and tried to lift the mace, leading to an altercation between them and the marshals. Amidst the chaos, Speaker Haribhau Bagde adjourned the House.
Speaking to the media outside the Assembly, Sena group leader Sunil Prabhu said the party was firm on its stand against the refinery. “Sena MLAs lifted the mace to register our protest against not letting them speak on the issue,” Mr. Prabhu said. Mr. Salvi said that as the MLA from the area where the project is coming up, he had the right to express the sentiments of the locals.
Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, who was present in the Assembly, did not react.
Later, a Sena delegation of MLAs and MLCs participated in the protest organised by villagers outside Vidhan Bhavan. Ashok Walam, president, Konkan Refinery Project Virodhi Sangahrsh Sanghatana, said, “We have only two demands. Cancel the notification issued to acquire land for the project, and do not bring up this project anywhere in Konkan.” Mr. Walam said the delegation had sought a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, but was not given an appointment.
Earlier, in the Assembly, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil had moved for adjournment on the issue, but Mr. Bagde rejected the motion. As Mr. Vikhe-Patil sought time to speak, the Speaker asked him to do so after ministers finished replying to questions on the farm loan waiver.
During the ministers’ reply, Sena MLAs demanded that they be allowed to speak about the villagers’ protest first, which the Speaker refused to do. During the ensuing chaos, the House was adjourned thrice.
After the House regrouped, Mr. Rane, too, demanded to speak on the Nanar debate, and barged into the well. He was joined by the Sena MLAs. The four MLAs tried to snatch the mace from the marshal, who fell, and the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.
The Congress said the Sena MLAs’ actions were a stunt to hide the party’s failure to scrap the project. “Sena MLAs could not utter a word when the CM was supporting the project in the Council on Tuesday,” Mr. Vikhe-Patil said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Fadnavis had told the Council that the project would not move ahead until residents were taken into confidence, but had said it would bring in investment worth Rs. 3 lakh croreand create jobs.
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