Ruckus in assembly on MESMA against anganwadi workers

The assembly was adjourned eight times and then for the entire day on the issue.

MUMBAI: The opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the ruling Shiv Sena on Wednesday created a ruckus in the legislative assembly demanding the withdrawal of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) invoked against aanganwadi workers who went on a strike for higher wages recently.

The assembly was adjourned eight times and then for the entire day on the issue. However, women and child welfare minister Pankaja Munde did not show her willingness to withdraw the MESMA charges against the workers and claimed that 125 malnourished children died during the strike.

The MESMA invoked against anganwadi workers was first raised by Sena member Vijay Auti as soon as the house met for the Question Hour.

“The government has announced a hike in the anganwadi sevika’s honorarium from '4,500 to '6,500. But it is yet to issue a government resolution. We appoint widows, poor and destitute women as anganwadi sevikas. Yet, you bring these women under the MESMA.” The demand was supported by the opposition Congress-NCP.

In her reply, Ms Munde said that MESMA cannot be withdrawn. “Once the act is enforced, it can’t be withdrawn. If anganwadi workers go on strike, it will affect the nutrition of infants and children. If something adverse happens to the kids, will you take the responsibility? 125 children have died during the strike,” she said.

The honorarium of the anganwadi workers had been increased and their grievances were being addressed too, she said. She also urged the members to consider the children’s situation if the anganwadi workers go on strike.

Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the opposition will not allow the house to function till the MESMA was withdrawn. Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar took a dig at the government, saying the International Women’s Day was celebrated with pomp on March 8.

The Sena and members of the Opposition parties rushed to the well of the house shouting slogans in support of their demand.

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