Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut’s alleged ‘chormandal’ (body of thieves) remark for the legislature sparked chaos in the Maharashtra Legislative Council on Wednesday, leading to house adjournment amid allegations and counter-allegations by the ruling and opposition parties. Earlier in the day, talking to reporters in Kolhapur, Raut allegedly called the “vidhimandal” (legislature) a “chormandal” (a body of thieves), upsetting lawmakers cutting across party lines. His remarks also disrupted proceedings in the assembly.
In the Upper House, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said, “Sanjay Raut did not call any person chor (thief), he used the word 'chormandal' for the legislative body. Raut and Shiv Sena (UBT) faction’s leader Uddhav Thackeray are also legislative house members. (As per Raut's terminology) He also becomes a member of the ‘chormandal’.”Fadnavis said Maharashtra legislative house is described as the best in the whole country. “It has not been shaped up by one party, it has become so over a period of time. It carries the legacy of Maharashtra’s first chief minister Yashwantrao Chavan,” he said.
Referring to the breach of privilege motion moved by an assembly member against Raut, Fadnavis said it is to maintain respect for the house. “He (Raut) is not an ordinary person, but a respected member of the Rajya Sabha. If we are not going to condemn his comments jointly irrespective of the party line, then there will be thousands of Sanjay Rauts in society who will disrespect the house every day,” he said. The ruling BJP-Eknath Shinde bloc in the state currently does not have a majority in the Upper House.
“If the deputy chairperson does not want to accept the privilege motion, it is your decision. I am standing here to protect the decorum and respect for the house. If a BJP member had made such comments, my stand as part of the state government would have been the same,” said Fadnavis.“We should take his comments seriously. I completely condemn his comments and express my disapproval. People are watching what action we would be taking in this matter,” he said. Fadnavis also said that there is no need to refer to the opposition parties as “anti-national” as well as “anti-state”.
He was talking about Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s alleged reference to Opposition legislators as “anti-national”.Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ambadas Danve said, “Raut’s comments cannot be defended. However, it should be seen in what context he made those comments and to whom he was referring. I also want to know what action this house is going to take against those who called opposition leaders ‘anti-nationals’.”
Deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe said, “The house will go through the comments made by Raut and take an appropriate decision. I do not have the right to issue an arrest warrant against Raut as demanded by some members. Such a right lies with the state.” With chaos continuing unabated, Gorhe adjourned the house for the day. Raut’s remarks had a similar effect in the assembly, which saw four adjournments amid protests by members. Speaker Rahul Narvekar then adjourned the proceedings for the day.