Rahul Gandhi should be punished, says Shinde

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi should be “punished” for insulting Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

He said Mr. Gandhi had also insulted the OBC (Other Backward Classes) community by targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Maharashtra won’t tolerate the insult of PM Modi and Savarkar… People will not let him [Mr. Gandhi] on the streets of Maharashtra,” Mr. Shinde said in the Assembly.

Mr. Shinde said that the Congress leader had been convicted and stands automatically disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha, and the law under which Mr. Gandhi was disqualified was enacted by the Congress-led UPA government.

“Even after that, Mr. Gandhi continues to insult Savarkar by saying he is not Savarkar to offer an apology to anyone. Who does he think he is? He must be punished. Savarkar is a patriot. Why insult a patriotic person?” the Chief Minister asked.

The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was prorogued on Saturday at the end of the Budget session.

Taking a dig at the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which staged a walkout from the House, demanding the suspension of those members from the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena, who hit a poster of Mr. Gandhi with footwear on the Assembly premises on Thursday, Mr. Shinde said that the Opposition did not want to discuss development work for the public good, so they had fled the House.

Earlier in the day, the Legislative Assembly condemned the BBC’s documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots, saying the film was an effort to malign India’s judiciary and create a religious divide.

A resolution on this was moved by BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar and was put to vote by Speaker Rahul Narwekar. The House passed the resolution by a voice vote.

Interacting with the media after the session, Mr. Shinde said that the ‘Panchamrut’ Budget presented by his deputy and Finance Minister Devendra Fadnavis was development-centric, and the business (proceedings of the House) went peacefully.

“It would have been good if they (the Opposition) were present on the last day of the session. Maybe they had some obligations,” he said.

When asked about a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report tabled by Mr. Fadnavis on the functioning of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation flagging careless use of funds and non-sharing of COVID-19 management expenditure records, Mr. Shinde said the observations of the report would be examined thoroughly.

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