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CM angry at boycott, MK sad
Left & Cong stay away from House

Calcutta, Dec. 4: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today criticised the Left and the Congress for boycotting the closing ceremony of the Assembly’s platinum jubilee celebrations and governor M.K. Narayanan said “I am sad for them”.

“The Assembly is above everything…. There is something called political courtesy. Jokhon suit korbe ashbo, jokhon suit korbe na ashbo na (we will come to the House as and when it suits us). One party may come, one party may go, but democracy will continue forever. Ishwar-Allah forgive them,” Mamata said in her address to the Assembly.

Mamata said the Opposition MPs staying away from a joint session of Parliament on special occasions was “unthinkable”.

“There can be any number of debates but certain days have their special significance. I have never seen abstention from such events,” she said.

Drawing a distinction between politics and the House, the chief minister said: “Political decisions, political publicity and the House are separate entities. Political views can be expressed outside the Assembly but inside, it is for the people only,” she said.

“There is no place for rigidity and ego in democracy,” Mamata added.

The absence of the Opposition MLAs did not go unnoticed by governor Narayanan. “Those who are absent, missing the occasion, I am sad for them,” he said in his address in the inaugural session.

While the Left boycotted the closing ceremony accusing the government of not allowing discussions on important issues in the House, the Congress stayed away as Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee refused to accept their demand for a debate with the chief minister.

Trinamul legislators Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay and Arup Biswas point towards the Opposition benches in the 294-member Assembly that were filled up by MLAs and MPs of the ruling party as the Left and the Congress boycotted Wednesday’s platinum jubilee celebrations. The Trinamul MLAs spread out over both the treasury and Opposition benches, but plenty of seats remained vacant because of the absence of 99 Opposition legislators. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

The first session ended before schedule as Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra and Congress Legislature Party chief Mohammad Sohrab were not present. Both had been allotted time to address the session. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar attended the second session.

In a letter to Speaker Banerjee and President Pranab Mukherjee, who will address the valedictory session on Friday, the Left mentioned why it decided to boycott today’s programme.

“We have been forcefully pushed to an edge thereby leaving no room for us to participate in the closing ceremony of the platinum jubilee celebration,” the letter says.

Addressing reporters before the event, Mishra said: “We had participated in the opening ceremony (in 2012). We also contributed with suggestions for the closing ceremony. But what has been going on inside the House is painful. Our views are not being heard.”

The sole MLA of Front ally Samajwadi Party, Chand Mohammad, however, attended today’s programme though he was one of the signatories to the letter.

Asked about the boycott, Congress leader Sohrab said: “We don’t need to learn lessons on parliamentary democracy from those who ransacked the Assembly.”