Din in Maharashtra Legislature, Oppn Seeks Tawde's Removal

Din in Maharashtra Legislature, Oppn Seeks Tawde's Removal

Both the Houses of Maharashtra Legislature today witnessed uproarious scene with Opposition Congress and NCP seeking removal of Education Minister Vinod Tawde alleging that he is still a honorary director of a company, which amounted to violation of election laws and model code of conduct.

Amid noisy scenes over the issue, the Speaker adjourned the Assembly twice.

Soon after the Assembly session began, the opposition members raised slogans seeking removal of Tawde, alleging that he had three Director Identification Numbers (DIN) when only one is allowed.

"Tawde did not disclose information about his DIN in his election affidavits. Tawde is a director in Shree Multimedia Vision, a for-profit company, which brings out 'Mumbai Tarun Bharat'. This was not disclosed in his election affidavit," they said.

They alleged that since Tawde held a director's post in the private media company, it amounted to conflict of interest, which calls for his sacking from the Cabinet.

NCP MLA and former minister Jayant Patil sought clarification from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the alleged violation of code of conduct (for ministers) by Tawde.

Fadnavis said a clarification will be given "at an appropriate time".

"The point you raised comes under model code. Some former ministers will also come under its purview. Opposition should be ready to face consequences," he said.

Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the code of conduct was made by the Centre, and demanded that Fadnavis should make the government's stand clear.

As the noisy scenes continued, Speaker Haribhau Bagade announced suspension of the House for ten minutes. It was again adjourned for five minutes as slogan-shouting continued.

The issue also figured in the Legislative council with Opposition Leader Dhananjay Munde (NCP) holding that the code of conduct for ministers needs to be taken seriously.

The Opposition said that the code of conduct and election laws provide that a minister holding a office of profit has to quit that office within two months after being sworn in after taking oath as minister.

Raising the issue in the Upper House through an Adjournment Motion, Sharad Ranpise (Congress) held that the rules apply for both Union and Ministers in State. He demanded that the Chief Minister sack such a minister or the minister owning moral responsibility tender his resignation.

Making an intervention, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Girish Bapat assured the legislators that the government shall make a statement before the session gets over.

Janardhan Chandurkar (Congress) wanted to know as to why the House was debating the issue without naming the minister.

"I want to know which minister is being talked about. According to newspaper reports the minister in question is Vinod Tawde. I want to know if this is true. If not, injustice is being done to Tawde. It is thus imperative that we debate on the issue and facts be presented before the House," he said.

Giving his ruling on the proposal, Chairman Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar assured the House that he will, setting aside the rules, allow four Opposition members to raise questions on the government's statement.

Defending Tawde in the Legislative Council, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also cited the example of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who, he said, was on the board of National Herald during the UPA regime when she held a cabinet rank as the chairman of UPA's coordination committee.

"There are two parts of the Model Code of Conduct. One is its Constitutional Enforceability and other is of Morality. In this case, Code of Conduct is not enforceable. Now, if you (pointing to the Congress legislators) speak of morality, I want to clearly state that he has not violated any law. So there is no question of his resignation," Fadnavis said.

"I do not want to politicise this issue at all nor do I want to belittle anybody. But while Sonia Gandhi was the head of the UPA's co-ordination committee, she held a cabinet rank. At that time she was also on the board of National Herald newspaper. But she didn't resign," Fadnavis said.

Ranpise said earlier that if the government didn't act against Tawde, the opposition will ask the Prime Minister to intervene.

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