MUMBAI: Chaos cuts short the day’s proceedings in both Houses of the State Legislature on Wednesday.
Last week the State government invoked Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2017 (MESMA) against anganwadi workers to prevent them from striking work. The Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) blocked the functioning of both Houses demanding that MESMA not be used against anganwadi workers.
The government invoked MESMA against anganwadi workers. The move came after the workers went on strike for 26 days last year and demanded increase in honorarium. There are 2.07 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers in the State.
Earlier in the day, senior NCP leader Dhananjay Munde, who is Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, raised the issue in the upper House saying MESMA should not be invoked against anganwadi workers.
“It is government’s dictatorship to stop them from protesting. These anganwadi workers don’t have any other source of income and many of them are widows and single women. The government is not giving them satisfactory honorarium. It is injustice,” said Munde.
In the State Assembly, Shiv Sena's MLA Vijay Auti demanded that the government exclude anganwadi workers from the purview of MESMA. Sunil Prabhu of the Shiv Sena supported Auti. All the members from Shiv Sena gathered in the well and started shouting slogans against the alleged dictatorship of the government and demanded revocation of MESMA.
Some members climbed on the dais near the Speaker. One Shiv Sena member Dnyanraj Chaugule picked up the Speaker's mace.
In the chaos, it was impossible to function and the Speaker adjourned the proceedings of the Assembly 8 times, while the Council was adjourned thrice.
Pankaja Munde, Child and Welfare Minister said it was imposed only after fulfilling all demands of the anganwadi workers. "The salary of the anganwadi workers has been increased, their retirement age extended to 65 from 60. These workers are there to prevent the death of the children due lack of to nourishment. If they are not working then the poor children are deprived of their food," said Pankaja Munde.
"So the government is not in favour of cancelling use of MESMA against anganwadi workers," Munde said.
The opposition said till MESMA is cancelled, they will not allow the House to function. Finally, both the Houses adjourned for the day.