A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the arrangements for the 13 Trinamul MLAs to be sworn in as parliamentary secretaries of the state government on Thursday.
The government claims to have created the post of parliamentary secretary, equivalent to the rank of minister of state, to ensure better co-ordination between the ministers and the secretaries of their departments.
“If the job is co-ordination, the parliamentary secretaries should ideally have their offices on the same premises as the ministers and the departmental secretaries. Normally, we are told in advance about the office accommodation to be created for ministers or secretaries. But in the case of parliamentary secretaries we have not been told anything yet,” a PWD official said on Wednesday evening.
Once the chief minister’s office identifies a room for a minister or a bureaucrat, the PWD has to bring furniture and make other arrangements.
“There has not been any decision on where the parliamentary secretaries will sit. As of now, we have not got any order on this,” said a senior official in the chief minister’s office.
“We have been told to reach the Assembly for the swearing-in on time tomorrow. I do not have any idea about the nature of our job or where we will sit,” said Shashi Panja, elected from Shyampukur in north Calcutta.
MLAs usually do not have office space outside their constituencies. At the Assembly, ruling party MLAs sit on the Treasury bench when the house is in session. During recess, they sit in the room of the chief whip or the Speaker.
Some parliamentary secretary-designates Metro spoke to stressed the need for office space to discharge their duty.
“It is difficult to work without an office space. We are sure some arrangements will be made. We will work according to the rules,” said Tapas Roy, the MLA from Baranagar, on the northern fringes.
Not just office, there is no clarity on other facilities, too.
MLAs are not entitled to government vehicles but parliamentary secretaries are. They can also use the beacon atop their official vehicles.
Sources in the transport department said a government order allotting parliamentary secretaries a “VIP car” each has been issued.
“Since there aren’t enough VIP cars in the car pool, it has been decided that private vehicles will be hired. Generally, a Scorpio or an Innova is used as a VIP car. We don’t know when they will get the vehicles,” said a senior official.