Mumbai, March 30 (IANS) A total of 14 opposition legislators - 13 of the Shiv Sena and one of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - were Friday suspended from the Maharashtra legislative assembly for a year after they stalled proceedings.
The members were protesting the government's failure to nab the culprits who stole a 1.50 kg gold idol of Lord Ganesh from the Diveagar temple in Raigad district last Saturday in which one security guard was killed.
The ruckus started this afternoon when some Shiv Sena members, sporting caps and saffron robes, carried a silver-plated idol of Lord Ganesh inside the house, playing cymbals and chanting "Ganpati Bappa Morya, Ganpati gele chorila, laa nahi sarkala (Lord Ganesh has been stolen, but the government has no shame)" inside the house.
Later, when party legislator Pratap Sarnaik got up to speak, Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil asked him to remove the cap and saffron robes before addressing the house.
The member responded by singing a Ganesh prayer (aarti) and other Sena legislators joined in chorus, forcing a 30-minute adjournment.
Later, when the house re-assembled, the Shiv Sena members gathered near the speaker's podium, prompting Deputy Speaker Vasant Purke to admonish them for carrying the idol inside the house and ordered them back to their seats.
Nationalist Congress Party member Shashikant Shinde, slamming the Shiv Sena members for "politicising" the issue and treating the state's most revered deity in such a manner, termed it as "an insult of the lord and house".
"I want an inquiry into whether the idol has really been stolen or found and hidden by somebody," Shinde said as the opposition raised a roar of protest.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan Patit moved a resolution seeking the suspension of the members following the two adjournments which was passed by a voice vote.
The suspended members are Sarnaik, Mahadev Babar, Vijay Shivtare, Eknath Shinde, Vinod Ghosalkar, Rajan Vichare, Dyanraj Chougule, Sanjay Gavande, Sujit Minchekar, Abhijit Adsul, Balaji Kinikar, Chandrakant Mokate and Daulat Daroda (all Shiv Sena), and Ram Shinde (BJP).
Slamming the government, Leader of Opposition, BJP's Eknath Khadse and Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai alleged that the action against the legislators was initiated as the government wanted to avoid a discussion on several corruption issues that were slated later in the day, including Subhash Ghai's Whistling Woods case involving union minister and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Adarsh Society scam and the Kripashankar Singh cases.
"Though the protest was not appropriate, I feel the punishment has been too harsh," Khadse remarked.