Opposition parties and ruling Shiv Sena in both the Houses of the state legislature are demanding the resignation of Advocate General Shrihari Aney for remarks he made on Sunday in which he expressed support for the demands of separate statehood for Marathwada.
A ruckus ensued in both houses after Nitesh Rane, son of Congress MLA and former chief minister Narayan Rane, asked for Aney's head on Twitter:
आणेंच डोक शरीरा पासुन वेगळ करा..मग यांना कळेल की महाराष्ट्राला तोडण म्हणजे काय असत!!
— nitesh rane (@NiteshNRane) March 21, 2016
(When his head gets separated from his body, then he will know what it means to break up Maharashtra).
State government also indicated displeasure at the advocate general's demands for a separate Marathwada. Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde demanded Aney's suspension and tabled a discussion in the Legislative Council. Munde said that earlier, Aney has supported demands for a separate statehood for Vidarbha and now, he is supporting the demand for statehood for Marathwada "He should be suspended immediately. He can talk about his personal opinions after he is made to sit at home. He shouldn't give his personal opinions when holding such an important post," said Munde.
MLC Kapil Patil said that Aney's remarks are treason against the state. "Who has given him the right? Until the government suspends him, we will not let the Council function," he said. The house was adjourned for 30 minutes after the Opposition created a ruckus on the floor of the house.
During a speech in Jalna on Sunday, Aney argued that Marathwada state was the need of the hour as it has suffered grave injustice. Both the houses were adjourned three times as the members wanted debate and immediate action against Aney. After the lower house assembled at 11 am, the leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil appealed to Speaker Haribhau Bagde to suspend question hour so that Aney's remarks can be discussed.
Vikhe-Patil recalled that when Aney had openly supported separation of Vidarbha from Marathwada in 2015, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had termed it as his personal opinion. However, Vikhe-Patil demanded that the state’s first legal officer should not speak the language of separation of Maharashtra which was formed in 1960. It would be an insult of those 105 persons who died while fighting for Maharashtra's independence. Nationalist Congress Party leader supported Vikhe-Patil’s demand and pressed for Aney's resignation.
Shiv Sena member Pratap Sarnaik, who filed a privilege motion against Aney in 2015 over his support to statehood for Vidarbha, said the advocate general should not have made a speech recommending statehood for Marathwada especially when no one else had made a demand in this regard. Instead of keeping the interest of Maharashtra, the advocate general has been delivering speeches for its separation and the Sena would not tolerate it, he warned. Strongly condemning Aney's remarks on separation, Environment Minister, Ramdas Kadam (Shiv Sena senior leader) said that it would not allow business to be conducted in the House till AG Aney is suspended. Shiv Sena Chief, Uddhav Thackeray expressed his resentment with Aney's words and said that Sena ministers would not attend cabinet meetings till Aney is sacked.
Ganpatrao Deshmukh, a veteran leader of Peasants and Workers Party, also expressed serious displeasure over Aney’s proposal for Marathwada state and demanded his resignation or suspension by the government. NCP leader and former Assembly speaker Dilip Walse-Patil cited the Constitutional provision for the appointment and duties of the advocate general and demanded action against him.
In the past, Advocate General Shrihari Aney had said that he foresees the rise of more political units in Vidarbha seeking statehood, which could create problems for all political parties. “Unless it becomes a state, the problems cannot be addressed. And the Constitution, in Article Two and Three, has outlined steps on how states have to be created," said Aney.
However, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said, "The state government does not agree with the AG's stand on a separate Vidarbha and has given indication to take action against AG."
Aney, who is six months into his assignment, is known for his legal acumen, conviction and ideology.
Aney, 65, took over from Sunil Manohar, a Nagpur-based senior lawyer who resigned in June 2015, seven months after he had taken over as AG. Born in 1950 in Pune, Aney completed his schooling in Jamshedpur (then in Bihar, now in Jharkhand). He later completed his BCom from Wadia College in Pune and then studied law at Indian Law Society’s Law School in Pune.
On Tuesday, Fadnavis will personally take a stand on the AG's remarks in the House. But, speaking to reporters on Monday, the CM said, "AG should take government side in the court. He should show restraint while expressing personal opinions on a public platform." BJP sources confirmed that CM has called upon a meeting with Aney in the evening.