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House erupts over CM slur

Calcutta, March 9: Trinamul Congress legislators seethed in the Assembly today at chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s remark that the party had a secret alliance with Naxalite outfit People’s War.

Leader of Opposition Pankaj Banerjee raised the issue in the latter half of the day scheduled for discussion on the governor’s address.

Bhattacharjee had alleged the Trinamul nexus yesterday in front of reporters in the Assembly lobby.

“The image of the principal opposition party has been tarnished by the chief minister’s comments. Moreover, he has violated the parliamentary rules by airing his opinion on an issue being discussed inside the House,” Banerjee said.

To buttress his point, Banerjee placed before deputy Speaker Kripasindhu Saha a copy of the CPM mouthpiece, Ganashakti, which carried the news report.

Congress members joined forces with those from Trinamul in raising the din.

Trinamul members led by Subrata Mukherjee, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay and Partha Chatterjee virtually gheraoed the deputy Speaker and shouted slogans. Congress legislators led by Asit Mitra followed suit.

Saha tried to rein in the angry MLAs by thumping the gavel on the table but in vain.

The treasury benches appeared at a loss on ways to counter the attack in the absence of a senior minister or the government’s chief whip, Rabin Deb.

Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim, who took the chair around 2.30 pm, managed to quieten the Opposition legislators by allowing them time to speak.

The leader of the Opposition demanded that the chief minister either prove his allegation or quit or apologise in the House.

However, Halim defended Bhattacharjee saying that reporters ask myriad questions. The furore over his remark before reporters, the Speaker told the Opposition MLAs, was unnecessary. He reminded the MLAs that proceedings were being disrupted and that they were free to table a privilege motion against the chief minister.

Unhappy over the Speaker’s observation, the Opposition members walked out. However, normal business resumed when they returned around 3 pm.

The chief minister entered the legislature around 4 pm, when Trinamul’s Saugata Roy rose to speak on the governor’s address. Roy took this opportunity to raise the issue again and asked the chief minister to apologise.

Banerjee later said the party has brought a privilege notice against the chief minister.

While leaving the Assembly this evening, the chief minister avoided all questions. “The Opposition always intends to create disturbance,” he said.

In today’s first half, Trinamul and Congress legislators walked out of the House in protest against the absence of several ministers. The Opposition members alleged that the ministers “deliberately” avoided being in the House to evade discussions on issues that could embarrass the government.

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