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Maha winter session begins on stormy note, Oppn stages walkout


Nagpur : The winter session of Maharashtra Legislature started on a stormy note today as the opposition members led by Congress and NCP staged a walkout when the Chair disallowed an adjournment motion moved to protest the hardships faced by people in the wake of demonetisation.

As the House assembled on opening day of the winter session of Legislature, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (Congress) raised the issue in the state Assembly and drew the attention of the treasury benches, saying the entire opposition was “with the government to support the measures to tackle corruption”.

But at the same time, the common man was “suffering” due to scrapping of higher currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, he said.

Patil claimed the farmers were distressed as there was no money to procure seeds and fertilisers as the Rabi sowing was in full swing.

It was a painful sight to witness long queues outside banks and ATMs and some people died while waiting to withdraw cash, he added.

Vikhe Patil said it was unfortunate that when the BJP and Shiv Sena were in opposition, they held the then ruling Congress-NCP responsible for farmers’ suicides and demanded filing of an FIR and registering offences under section 302 (murder) of IPC.

“Now, the situation has completely changed and those accusing the Congress and NCP of farmers’ suicides were in the government. Should we lodge FIR against the ruling party?” he asked and later moved an adjournment motion.

The LoP also claimed that the rural economy was on the “verge of collapse”. The co-operative sector was worst hit. The district co-operative banks, rural banks and co-operative societies were facing cash crunch. The prices of vegetables have crashed to an all-time low since there were no buyers for want of currency notes.

Group Leader Ajit Pawar (NCP) also raised concern over the “poor management” of currency notes its and subsequent affect leading to problems being faced by the poor, small-time vendors and farmers.

Pawar, the former Maharashtra deputy chief minister, said some bank employees have been caught allegedly changing old currency notes without following the proper procedure.

He claimed that nearly 60 people met with untimely death due to “mismanagement” of the demonetisation policy, adding that the situation in villages and semi-urban areas was “pathetic” and the rural economy has come to a grinding halt.

The NCP leader further said that a person supporting the demonetisation move was described as “loyal” to country and those raising their voice against sufferings were labelled as “traitors”. “This is unjust,” he said.

State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar defended the demonetisation move and said the decision was “historic”, a comment which the treasury benches greeted by thumping of desks.

Mungantiwar said the state government has initiated several measures to supply new currency notes and have pressed into service vehicles, helicopters and deployed police to transport cash in every nook and corner of state.

The decision of demonetisation was not taken with an eye on vote bank, Mungantiwar said in the House, drawing huge applause and thumping of desks by the treasury benches.

Ganpatrao Deshmukh (Peasants and Workers Party) also criticised the “poor implementation” of the Centre’s decision.

Later, Speaker Haribhau Bagde rejected the adjournment motion following which the entire opposition protested and raised slogans. The opposition leaders trooped into the Well before staging a walkout from the House.

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