Oppn stages walkout

Parties protest re-induction of Ajit Pawar, his appointment as Leader of House

Opposition parties in the Maharashtra Legislative Council staged a walkout on the first day of the winter session here on Monday protesting against the re-induction of Ajit Pawar into the Cabinet as Deputy CM, saying it was not a constitutional post and his appointment was "illegal".

As soon as the House assembled, Chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh took up the listed business that included appointment of Pawar as Leader of the House, but Leader of the Opposition Vinod Tawde argued that 'deputy chief minister' was not a constitutional post, and technically the very appointment of Ajit Pawar was illegal.

Pawar was re-inducted into the state Cabinet recently and appointed as Deputy CM without any portfolio. Joining the issue, Jayant Patil of Peasants and Workers' Party too supported Tawde and demanded that the announcement of the Leader of House be postponed, which received support from the entire Opposition.

Patil cited the arrangement in the Lok Sabha where the Prime Minister has not been considered for the Leader of the House post since 1991 Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is currently Leader of the House in Lok Sabha. The objection raised by the Opposition held up the introduction and subsequent appointment of Pawar as Leader of the House for about half an hour.

The chairman later overruled the objections, citing a judgment of the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court in 1998, which had found the appointment of deputy CM as legal. He also pointed out that Chhagan Bhujbal had held the post of Deputy CM three times, Vijaysingh Mohite-Patil two times and R R Patil and BJP's Gopinath Munde were Dy CMs earlier. Deshmukh allowed Parliamentary Affairs Minister to make announcement about Ajit Pawar's appointment as Leader of the House.

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