Calcutta, March 15: Mamata Banerjee today got furious at the sight of empty treasury benches in the Assembly and chided a Trinamul MLA for coming late.
“Why so few of us? Where are the others? I want to know who all are absent,” the chief minister told the government chief whip in the Assembly, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, on her way out of the House after an unscheduled visit.
As Mamata was about to get into her car around 12.30pm, she spotted minister of state for self-help groups Shantiram Mahato walk in. She stopped him and demanded: “What are you doing entering the House now?” The session started at 11am.
Mahato fumbled and said: “Yes…. I mean no…. I mean yes, Madam…. I had a government programme to attend.”
The chief minister shot back: “The House is on and you are going around attending programmes? This is not done. Go in immediately. Jotto shob (what nonsense)!”
As the minister of state sprinted into the Assembly, Mamata told Chattopadhyay: “This cannot be tolerated. Prepare a list of the absentees. I’ll do the needful.”
Later in the day, an order was put up in Chattopadhyay’s Assembly chamber, asking all Trinamul MLAs to attend the House regularly.
The directive drew a curious question from an MLA of Mamata’s own party. “Does the directive also apply to her? The honourable chairperson herself hardly ever attends the House. She freely disregards the procedures and conventions of the Assembly. We were simply following her example,” the senior MLA told The Telegraph.
During question hour today, only around 40 of Trinamul’s 186 MLAs were present. Thirty of the Congress’s 40 MLAs and 46 of the Left Front’s 62 MLAs were present. “The collective strength of the Opposition was more than the ruling party in the House today. Hypothetically speaking, if a motion had to be passed at that time, the government would’ve lost despite its vast majority,” another Trinamul MLA said.