Maharashtra Assembly: Opposition members stay put in the House past midnight

They give up protest after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervenes

In an unprecedented move on late Monday night, opposition MLAs from Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), led by Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil refused to move out of Assembly demanding announcement of relief package for farmers suffering from crop diseases.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had to call the Opposition leader as early as 12.45 am with a promise to make announcement on Tuesday, after which the protest was called off.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Vikhe-Patil had warned the State government that the opposition will not move out of the Assembly until it gives details of per hectare relief package announced to cotton farmers suffering from pink bollworm, and rice farmers suffering from tudtudya and mawa.

While Minister of State for Agriculture Sadabhau Khot claimed that the government has ensured all possible help to farmers, Opposition demanded the actual numbers. “We will not move until we get the information,” said Mr Vikhe-Patil.

As the official proceedings of Monday ended at 12.15 am on Tuesday, over a dozen opposition MLAs decided to sit inside the House. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat along with Minister of State Ranajit Patil began negotiations with the Opposition inside the House, which were turned down by the latter.

Finally, Mr Fadnavis had to call Mr. Vikhe-Patil promising to make a statement on Tuesday morning before question hour. “We have called it off temporarily respecting CM’s word. We will continue it in case nothing happens on Tuesday,” said Mr Vikhe-Patil.

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