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‘Tigress’ against ‘Stalin’

New Delhi, June 8: She called him “Stalin”, he called her “wounded tigress”.

Amid all the turmoil in the Lok Sabha over “tainted ministers”, a sideshow, a little Bengali household drama, was being played out.

Mamata Banerjee versus Somnath Chatterjee. They have known each other for long — in 1984, the she-jee defeated the he-jee in Jadavpur.

In the Lok Sabha today, it was Chatterjee who emerged victor, after all, he was sitting in the Speaker’s chair. Despite Opposition efforts to disrupt proceedings, he successfully wrapped up the day’s listed business.

Slogan-shouting National Democratic Alliance members stormed the well of the House, but the Speaker pushed through the motion of thanks to the President’s address to yesterday’s joint sitting of Parliament.

The “audacity” infuriated Mamata, who had joined the Opposition members at the well. After Chatterjee adjourned the House, a grim-faced Mamata rounded on BJP leaders Ananth Kumar and V.K. Malhotra and NDA convener George Fernandes for allowing Chatterjee to be elected unopposed.

“I had told you all to hold elections. Hum ko kha liya ye log (the CPM has finished my party). I will not come here. I will resign and go if he (the Speaker) does not listen. I will go for litigation. Hum chhorega nahi (I will not let it pass),” she said.

Mamata and Fernandes had last month proposed the name of P.A. Sangma as the NDA nominee for the post. But Atal Bihari Vajpayee and .K. Advani wanted a consensual approach.

She had come late to the House this morning, but did not lose time joining BJP members at the well and lending her substantial voice: “Gali, gali mein shor hai, dagi mantri chor hai.”

Vajpayee and Advani sat quietly, watching.

With folded hands, Chatterjee requested members to return to their seats, but in vain. Later, he said he was unhappy with the conduct of members. “I still hope and request all honourable members to co-operate.”

Once members reassembled in the afternoon after the adjournment, Mamata resumed: “We want justice. Tanashahi nahi chalegi (We won’t allow dictatorship).”

Even at day’s end, her anger had not dissipated. She told reporters: “Advani was responsible for this Stalin Speaker. Being a CPM politburo member, one cannot be a Speaker.”

Chatterjee would perhaps be happy to be a politburo member, but he is not. The happiness might not have been evident, but he put down Mamata’s conduct to the “mauling” in the polls.

“She is a wounded tigress.”

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