Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole on Monday said assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar should have decided on disqualification pleas against Shiv Sena MLAs within a certain time period and given his verdict by now.
The Shiv Sena split in June last year following a rebellion by Eknath Shinde, who went on to become Chief Minister with support from the BJP after unseating the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. The Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena had filed disqualification petitions against Shinde and MLAs supporting him, including some cabinet ministers.
Patole, speaking to the media in Nagpur, said the disqualification process should have been completed within a certain time period and the speaker given his ruling by now.
The Congress MLA said the Supreme Court had eight days ago directed the speaker to take a decision on the disqualification pleas.
"However, what is happening today is defaming the state," said Patole, a former speaker.
Patole said the under the tenth schedule of the Constitution, 16 MLAs of the breakaway Shinde faction will stand disqualified either by the speaker or the Supreme Court.
Earlier in the day, after hearing arguments from Sena factions led by Shinde and Thackeray, Narwekar decided to conduct official hearing on disqualification petitions against the MLAs of the Shinde group on October 13.
Patole, referring to state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule's controversial comments about journalists during a programme in Ahmednagar, claimed the saffron outfit has devalued the fourth pillar of democracy.
An audio clip of Bawankule, in which he purportedly asked party workers to take journalists to 'dhabas' (roadside eateries) and treat them well to avoid negative publicity ahead of polls has gone viral, inviting allegations that BJP was trying to manage the media.
"The Congress has always strengthened the fourth pillar of democracy, but the BJP has devalued journalists and treated them as being fit only for taking them for 'chai' to dhabas. This is a low-level of politics," said Patole.
The Congress leader asked Bawankule and the BJP to apologise to the media fraternity.
Patole slammed the BJP, which has been in power in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation for the last 17 years, for the local administration's poor handling of floods in the city last week.
The Congress leader said a large number of people suffered huge losses in the floods and the calamity exposed the BJP's false claims about development.
He said rampant concretization of roads and other factors were responsible for the flooding in Nagpur after heavy rains.
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