Under pressure from both the opposition parties and ruling ally Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar on Thursday suspended Independent member Prashant Paricharak for 18 months.
The MLC was suspended from the house for his objectionable remarks on wives of army men during the civic poll campaign.
The state government also set up a nine-member committee comprising legislative council members to probe the incident. It allowed Paricharak a hearing and recommend its final action in the matter.
Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, who is also the Bharatiya Janata Party group leader in the council, appointed Council (upper house) Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar as the head of the council members’ committee.
Nimbalkar made the announcement after the upper house unanimously passed a resolution suspending Paricharak for 18 months from the house.
During the campaigning for the civic polls in the state in February, the BJP-backed Independent legislator Paricharak from Solapur allegedly made certain remarks which blew into a huge controversy.
Paricharak reportedly stated that soldiers at the borders distribute sweets when they father children even though they had not gone home for a year, indirectly implying that their wives were unfaithful.
Following a massive uproar, he backtracked and later apologised for his comments. But, the damage was done.
All the opposition parties in the state and ruling ally Shiv Sena raised the matter in the ongoing Budget session of the state legislature and demanded stern action against Paricharak. Failing that, they threatened the house would not be allowed to function.
“Though he apologised through the media, his remarks were extremely objectionable and such behaviour does not suit a legislative member,” Patil admitted.
He added that the panel will give Paricharak an opportunity to defend himself and later he could be either served with a warning, suspended, jailed, expelled or given any other punishment as deemed fit by the council.
In view of the vehement opposition and ally Shiv Sena’s protests against Paricharak, the work of the legislature remained largely disrupted since its opening on Monday.
The Nimbalkar-led committee is likely to submit its report before the monsoon session of the legislature scheduled around July.
Several leaders like Dhananjay Munde (NCP), former Chief Minister Narayan Rane (Congress), Neelam Gorhe (Shiv Sena), reprimanded Paricharak and demanded his expulsion.