MUMBAI: In a new turn in the slogan row, Oppostion Congress in Maharashtra today claimed it did not support the motion for suspension of AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan from the Assembly for not chanting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and alleged ruling BJP and Shiv Sena are using the issue to deflect attention from key issues.
In a virtual U-turn, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil of Congress said the motion, adopted early this week, was moved without hearing the Opposition out.
"The resolution was moved by the Treasury benches and it was passed without hearing the Opposition out. Congress has never supported the resolution at any given point of time. Our stand from the beginning is that one should be allowed to speak whatever he wants to. But if it is insulting to the nation, the person should apologise," he added.
"The BJP and the Shiv Sena wanted to milk the issue for political benefits to deflect public attention from issues like drought and farmer suicides. Congress will never support this kind of politics," Vikhe-Patil said.
"Initially, when the House was adjourned I was not present there and sitting in my office. I later made a statement that whatever happened is unfortunate and if the statement made by the member is correct, he should apologise," he said.
Vikhe-Patil said following commotion in the House, the Speaker called all Group leaders of the parties for a meeting, where the BJP and Sena members were adamant on suspending Pathan for an entire year.
The Congress MLA said when he told the Speaker that the records of proceedings should be checked before taking any action, the BJP and Sena members mellowed down.
Pathan, an MLA from Byculla in Mumbai, was later suspended for the entire Budget session.
Meanwhile, a senior Congress leader said the change in the party's stand on the suspension issue came after the Central leadership intervention.
"The Central leadership is upset that Vikhe Patil chose to support the motion calling for suspension of Waris Pathan. A party general secretary had called him (Vikhe-Patil) and asked him explain the situation. The Central leadership strongly feels we should have kept quiet over the issue," said the Congress leader, requesting anonymity said.