The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly suspended four Maharashtra Navnirman Sena members for four years on charges of
assaulting Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi, who took the oath in Hindi against their party leader Raj Thackeray's diktat, and misbehaving with a woman legislator.
The resolution for their suspension, moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Patil, was adopted by a voice vote with Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance members abstaining.
Patil described as "most condemnable" the conduct of the newly elected MNS MLAs--Shishir Shinde, Ram Kadam, Ramesh Wanzale and Vasant Gite--and said it was against the highest tradition of the house. "This act had tarnished the image of the august house and hence amounts to breach of privilege," Patil said.
MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar took objection to the resolution and said it was Azmi who had provoked his colleagues and demanded action against the SP leader. Nandgaonkar said the MNS had highest regard for women and that its members had "not misbehaved" with any woman MLA. The MNS leader said he was offering an apology if any action of his party MLAs had hurt any woman member of the assembly.
Peasants and Workers Party MLA Minakshi Patil, who was present near Azmi when the MNS members assaulted him, was allegedly pushed in the melee.
MNS MLA Shishir Shinde described the resolution for suspension as "unjust". "Indira Gandhi's example is before me. She too was suspended from the Parliament by sheer force of majority. But, she ruled the hearts of Indians and rode back
to power from Chikmaglur. I will win again by over one lakh votes," Shinde asserted. Shinde was not present in the house when his name was called thrice for taking oath as member.
Eknath Khadse, the BJP group leader, called for a sympathetic view of the entire incident. "Nobody supports what happened today. But, there is nothing wrong in checking the footage again to verify the MNS claim that it was Azmi who had provoked them through his body language," he said. Khadse said since it was the first day of the new house, a lenient view should be taken.