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7 opposition MLAs meet Guv over 4-day winter session after face-off with speaker



PANAJI: Goa assembly speaker Ramesh Tawadkar on Tuesday demanded that the state’s opposition legislators apologise to him for accusing him of acting in a partisan manner after the government opted for a curtailed four-day-long winter session of the assembly.

:The kind of language that was used against the post of the speaker is completely unbecoming and unwarranted. They referred to me as an employee of the chief minister. I demand an apology until then I will not entertain them,” Tawadkar told reporters on Tuesday.

Tawadkar said it wasn’t his fault that the government decided to convene a four-day session beginning January 16. “The speaker only decides the management of the House once the session is called. I don’t decide the duration of the session,” Tawadkar said, insisting that he has always acted fairly towards all legislators.

Chief minister Pramod Sawant later stepped in with support for Tawadkar on social media.

“The real threat to democracy in Goa is the behaviour of opposition MLAs, making disgraceful comments against the Speaker of Goa legislative Assembly. The frustrated opposition with no real issues are now only looking to make headlines for political gain,” Sawant said in a post on Twitter.

On Monday, Goa’s seven opposition legislators from the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the Revolutionary Goans Party criticised the government for the decision and asked the speaker to safeguard the interests of the legislators.

“We wish to remind the speaker that he is the custodian of the House and the interests of the MLAs and that he is not an employee of the ruling government,” GFP legislator Vijai Sardesai said on Monday on behalf of the opposition lawmakers.

Sardesai said his comments were misinterpreted by the speaker but he was nonetheless “willing to apologise” provided the government agreed to a longer session.

The opposition said the speaker ought to have objected to the government’s decision to not include a day for private members’ resolutions and bills in the brief session if he really had the best interests of the legislators in mind.

“Today is a sad day for democracy and the refusal of the speaker to meet us despite having legitimate grievances is completely uncalled for. We will be taking up the issue with the governor and meet him in this regard,” Leader of Opposition Yuri Alemao, said.

The legislators later met governor PS Sreedharan Pillai to apprise him of their grievances and ask him to intervene.

Opposition MLAs pointed out that the government had also curtailed the 25-day monsoon session to just ten days on the pretext of the State Election Commission’s code of conduct for the panchayat elections. It was then promised that the “deferred” session would be held later but the promise wasn’t kept.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has the support of the remaining 33 members in the 40-member assembly including three independents and two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party