House adjourned after MESMA row
The Shiv Sena forced eight adjournments in the Assembly on Wednesday, demanding that the State scrap the decision to bring anganwadi workers under the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA).Sena MLAs said the “draconian” decision would ban anganwadi workers from going on strike. “Over 94,000 anganwadi workers are paid a meagre honorarium and work in stressful conditions. The government’s decision must be revoked,” said Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu. Backing the demand, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said, “How can these employees be put under MESMA? We will not let this happen.” Sena MLAs gathered in protest in front of Speaker Haribhau Bagde, forcing him to adjourn the House repeatedly. Speaking to reporters, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the Congress opposed the government’s decision, but asked, “Do [the Shiv Sena] have the strength to oppose the decision in the Cabinet?”As the House regrouped, Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde reiterated the government’s stand, saying, “Around 125 children died during the last strike of anganwadi workers. We cannot let this happen again, and hence the decision will stay,” she said. Mr. Prabhu said anganwadi workers are not government employees and cannot be brought under MESMA. Sena MLAs continue to protest, with Dnyanraj Chougule lifting the Speaker’s mace. The protest continued even as discussion on budgetary allocation began. Presiding officer Yogesh Sagar put the budgetary demands to vote amid the chaos, and they were passed without discussion. NCP and Congress leaders repeatedly asked for permission to speak, but Mr. Sagar adjourned the House for a day.