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Sorry, it is not our cup of tea: opposition to CM

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Mumbai, Mar 12 (UNI) Stepping up their pressure on the Maharashtra government to remove two ''controversial'' ministers, the opposition in the state legislature, led by Shiv Sena-BJP combine, today boycotted the customary tea meeting called by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on the eve of the budget session here today.

''We are not interested in sharing a cup of tea with those ministers who allegedly have underworld connections and involved in using of casteist language,'' said Ramdas Kadam, leader of the opposition in state assembly along with his counterpart in council Pandurang Phundkar and BJP state president Nitin Gadkari.

The trio said that the opposition would not allow the House to function until Minister of Home for State Siddhram Mhetre and Animal Husbandry Minister Anees Ahmed resign.

Mr Mhetre's name has figured recently in an alleged conversation between jailed gangster D K Rao and his boss Rajan Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan, while Mr Ahmed was embroiled in controversy after a case under Atrocities Act was registered against him by a personal assistant to an MLA for alleged casteist remarks.

Mr Gadkari said there were also the issues of farmers suicides and load shedding.

''The suicides of farmers continued despite the package announced by the government,'' he alleged, adding that 250 more farmers had committed suicide in the recent past.

He further alleged that the state's ranking has plunged to the sixth position, as many industries are moving to other states, effectively there has been a decline in employment generation.

Mr Gadkari criticised the governement for ''allowing a huge morcha to condemn the recent visit of US President George Bush and the publication of controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, recently.'' ''This is vote bank politics and minority appeasement,'' he charged.

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