On day 1, Shiv Sena fires all guns

Mumbai: On the first day of the winter session of Parliament, the Shiv Sena marked its attendance from the opposition benches for the first time, having snapped ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

The seating arrangement of the Sena members of the Parliament (MP) was changed on Saturday, and they were allotted seats in the third row in the Opposition benches.

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Ahead of the session, Sena MPs Sanjay Raut and Arvind Sawant, along with others, staged a protest on the Parliament premises, demanding that the Union government declare the unseasonal rains in Maharashtra as a natural calamity.

The saffron party also took a jibe at its former ally, the BJP, over the paltry financial assistance announced by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari last week.

Raut said, no single party had the sole ownership of the NDA "but some people are considering themselves as gods”. “BJP must not forget, Sena is one of the four founders of the NDA.

The alliance is not the property of any single party but the BJP thinks it is God,” said Raut, speaking to the media ahead of the winter session. He further said, the BJP had removed the Sena from the NDA, whereas the latter had steadfastly stood by its ally in trying times.

“We stood beside BJP in testing times, whereas the BJP thinks it is god and has removed the Sena from the alliance,” he added.

During the ongoing session, Sena MPs created a ruckus in the House, claiming the announced relief was not sufficient enough to compensate farmers' losses. They demanded an immediate additional package of Rs25,000 per hectare.

As Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla continued the Question Hour amid pandemonium, Sena's leader Vinayak Raut, the MP from Vile Parle, Mumbai, demanded compensation for the farmers from the Centre, saying the crops were damaged by natural disasters. The party staged a walkout from the House.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi appealed to opposition MPs to let the Question Hour function smoothly, assuring them, the government was ready to discuss all issues in Zero Hour.

“Question Hour is the right of every member. I appeal to you (opposition) to let the Question Hour function. Government is ready to reply over any issue in Zero Hour," Joshi said.

As the protest continued, Birla assured the opposition that he was ready to give them a chance to speak as per rule but asked the MPs not to disrupt the proceedings of the House, suggesting they take their seats.

The unseasonal rains have caused severe damage in as many as 325 talukas of Maharashtra. At least 90 per cent of the harvest was damaged, causing severe distress to the farmers.

On Saturday, Koshyari had announced financial aid of Rs 8,000 per hectare for up to two hectares for kharif crops and Rs 18,000 per hectare for up to two hectares for horticulture and perennial crops.