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Trinamul silence bothers leaders
Wrong signal, say MLAs on House ruckus

Calcutta, Dec. 12: Some Trinamul Congress MLAs today spoke of an “unease” in the party over the leadership’s refusal to condemn the role of its legislators in yesterday’s Assembly brawl.

A section of MLAs feels the silence would send a wrong signal to the people.

“Remaining silent could make people feel that the party encourages such behaviour. There is no denying that CPM MLAs provoked our members, but they (ruling MLAs) should have been more restrained and acted cautiously,” said a senior Trinamul MLA, who was seen trying to pacify the warring members in the House during the scuffle.

Some of the MLAs said that in accordance with the principle that the House belongs to the Opposition, the CPM should have been allowed more space.

“All Opposition parties try to play to the gallery to attract attention. When we were in the Opposition, there were a number of times when we walked up to the Speaker to seek his attention. Poor handling of the situation led to the escalation of violence,” a senior MLA said. “The ruling party MLAs shouldn’t have gone into the well (of the House),” he added.

Mamata Banerjee is yet to criticise the role of her party MLAs in vandalising the Assembly on November 30, 2006. She has not yet said anything on the attack on senior leader Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay by members of a Trinamul-backed trade union at Calcutta University.

“Sobhanda is a senior MLA and none of the top leaders has given any statement in his support. Does it mean that anybody can get away with anything in the party? If an attack on a party member goes unaccounted for, how can we convince people that the party will give justice to the people,” a Trinamul MLA said.

During Tuesday afternoon’s Assembly free-for-all, when Trinamul ministers and MLAs were assaulting CPM MLA Deblina Hembram, only one MLA of the ruling party reached out to rescue her.

So far, Mamata has stayed away from the proceedings at the Assembly this session.

Partha Chatterjee outside the Assembly on Wednesday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

This afternoon, a meeting of the Trinamul legislature party was hurriedly called in the Assembly, after the day’s proceedings. Neither Mamata nor state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee attended the meeting.

The timing of the meeting surprised the ruling party MLAs.

“The legislature party meeting should have been called before the session commenced, what was the point of calling the meeting on the penultimate day?” asked an MLA from North 24-Parganas.

Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, urban development minister Firhad Hakim and government chief whip Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay conducted the meeting.

“The MLAs were told that CPM would try all the tricks to disrupt the proceedings, but we must not fall into the trap,” said an MLA who attended the 10-minute meeting.

Sources said Mukherjee asked the MLAs to come prepared for the question session.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker and expelled CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee today said that the Opposition in the country or in any state is the “government in waiting”. “We always say that the House belongs to the Opposition. Why do we say so? That’s because Opposition is the government in waiting. If the government of the day fails midway or loses power after five years the Opposition takes over. That explains the importance of the Opposition. So, the ruling party should respect the Opposition and allow them to talk instead of attacking them,” Chatterjeee said over phone from Delhi.