BJP's demand for a state government resolution honouring Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for his contribution to the Independence struggle did not find support in both Houses of the Maharashtra Legislature on Wednesday.
While Assembly Speaker Nana Patole rejected the BJP's demand, triggering protest from its leaders, in the Legislative Council, Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe refused to entertain the party's move as she adjourned the House when a BJP leader stood up to speak about it.
Speaking in the Assembly, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded that the government move a resolution on the death anniversary of Savarkar for his sacrifices and contribution to the freedom struggle.
He also demanded the government ban "Shidori", the in-house magazine of the Maharashtra Congress for publishing "objectionable" references to Savarkar. He also tore a copy of the magazine.
To this, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that Mr Fadnavis, a former chief minister, had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 20, 2018 and January 17, 2019, urging the Centre to honour Savarkar with Bharat Ratna.
"I wonder why there had been a delay when the BJP was in power in Maharashtra and also at the Centre," he said.
"Modi had been the PM for more than five years now, while Fadnavis had ruled the state for the last five years. Like today, Savarkar's death anniversary falls every year," he said.
Mr Fadnavis said he had sought Bharat Ratna for Savarkar as well as Mahatma Phule and Savitribai Phule.
"I am confident that the demand will be accepted. But what is the harm if the state assembly passes a resolution to honour Savarkar?" he asked.
Mr Fadnavis targeted the Congress for making "derogatory" comments against Savarkar in its in-house magazine.
"Insult of Savarkar will not be tolerated. This is the reason why we want a resolution to honour him," he said.
BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said as Savarkar has been insulted (in the magazine), a resolution to honour him was necessary.
NCP ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Jayant Patil objected to the references made to Savarkar by Fadnavis while quoting from the magazine.
Bhujbal, who is the state Food and Civil Supplies Minister, said the resolution demanded by BJP does not fit the legislature rules.
"The resolution is not only to honour Savarkar, but also to criticise somebody else," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Pawar said that everyone has respect for Savarkar and his contribution to the freedom struggle, but not everyone agreed with some of his views.
At this point, Mr Patole rejected the demand of the BJP for the government resolution on honouring Savarkar and continued with the rest of the agenda, which angered the MLAs of the BJP.
Some MLAs of the BJP entered the Well of the House holding placards and photographs of Savarkar and shouted slogans against Shiv Sena, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Sensing the mood, the Speaker rushed through the business, including the passage of some bills and a calling attention notice on crime against women.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced that an Act on the lines of the Disha Act of Andhra Pradesh government will be introduced in the ongoing budget session.
The Speaker then adjourned the House for the day.
Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray was not present in the House.
Meanwhile, BJP MLAs who squatted in the Well of the House held parallel proceedings in which Fadnavis accused the Sena of being "desperate" for power and turning a blind eye to insult to Savarkar by Congress leader and former Union minister Manishankar Aiyar.
"I recall how Balasaheb Thackeray had protested by hitting Mani Shankar Aiyar''s photograph with chappals when the then Union minister had made critical remarks against Savarkar and removed the plaque from the Andaman Cellular Jail," he said.
BJP members among themselves "passed" a resolution honouring Savarkar before leaving the House.
Earlier in the day, the BJP legislators donned the caps with "Mi pan Savarkar" (I am also Savarkar) printed on them.
In the Upper House, after a Bill making Marathi mandatory in all the schools in the state was passed, Leader of Opposition Pravin Darekar stood up to move the motion on Savarkar.
However, Gorhe, who was aware of a similar attempt made by the BJP in the Assembly, immediately adjourned the House. She left the House along will all the ministers and members of the council from Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress. Wearing saffron caps, BJP leaders then raised slogans in the House.