|Governor M.K. Narayanan and MLAs stand to attention as the national anthem is played in the Bengal Assembly to mark the beginning of the budget session. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s seat, on the left of Partha Chatterjee and behind Amit Mitra, is unoccupied
|The chief minister appears, and the governor and Mamata acknowledge each other. Usually,
a bell is sounded five minutes before the governor arrives. On Monday, the bell went off 10 minutes earlier — at 2.50pm instead of 2.55pm. Mamata was then inside her chamber in the Assembly.
Partha Chatterjee said she did not hear the bell, the sound of which apparently reached till
his room that is located just ahead of the chief minister’s chamber. The assumption is Mamata
would have stepped out of her chamber closer to the 3pm deadline and heard the bell in
the corridor had it went off on schedule around 2.55pm
|The governor’s address over, the chief minister and Narayanan exchange greetings. Pictures by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, Feb. 10: Mamata Banerjee’s decision to reply to the governor’s address on the day of the budget on February 17 was criticised by the Opposition today.
A debate or discussion on other matters on budget day marks a departure from parliamentary practice. But the chief minister will not be in Calcutta for the entire week, which Trinamul leaders said was the reason behind the decision.
Mamata will leave for Siliguri tomorrow for a three-day trip to north Bengal. After her return to Calcutta, she will go to Durgapur on Friday for two days.
Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra today said he had never heard of “any discussion being held on the day the budget is placed”.
“This is not a rule but there are certain parliamentary practices that have to be followed,” the CPM leader said. “How can she reply to the governor’s address without hearing our views? If she is brave enough, she should hear us out on the floor of the Assembly first,” he added.
Congress MLA Manas Bhuniya said the chief minister’s move on the reply was “unprecedented and unfortunate”.
“This has never happened before in Parliament or in the Assembly. The budget day is reserved for the finance minister. It is a mystery why this government is so determined to violate parliamentary norms and conventions,” Bhuniya said.
The budget session commences with the customary address by the governor, after which lawmakers discuss the issues raised in the speech. The discussion is usually held for three days and ends with a reply from the leader of the House, the chief minister.
Had the practice been followed, Mamata’s reply would have been made on February 14. But the chief minister is scheduled to inaugurate the Mati Utsav in Burdwan’s Panagarh that day.
Former Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim said “no business should be carried out in the Assembly on the day of the budget”. “That has always been the convention.”
Parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said the government had done nothing wrong. “We have not broken the rule…. If they have been practising this for 35 years, there is no reason why we have to follow it? The time for discussion has been extended because of this decision,” Chatterjee said.
The Opposition members also objected to her staying away while the Assembly was in session.
“I am getting late…. I have a programme to attend,” Mamata said as she prepared to leave the Assembly today.
Governor M.K. Narayanan’s address to the Assembly
on Monday marking the
beginning of the budget session tried to answer some of the questions and barbs hurled at the Trinamul government by Narendra Modi and the Left at their Brigade rallies.
Although the governor
delivers the address, the speech is drafted by the state government and is used as road map for the policies
it would like to follow.
Modi’s charge: Only 60 per cent of girls’ schools in Bengal have toilet facilities.
Governor’s address :
The success of my government in the area of school sanitation has been internationally acclaimed, with 98.26 per cent of schools having toilets and separate toilets for girls in more than 82 per cent of schools.
Modi’s charge :
Non-availability of round-the-clock power supply in Bengal affecting computer education in schools.
Governor’s address: Bengal is amongst the very few states in the country which is in a position to supply round-the-clock power to every nook and corner of the state and “load-shedding” as a
word is all but forgotten.
Bhattacharjee’s charge: No industry in Bengal.
The total industrial
investment implemented and proposed for the state, covering all sectors including large, medium, small and micro, power, mining, PSUs, tourism etc is in
excess of Rs 1,40,000 crore, with proposals in the large industrial sector exceeding Rs 1,20,000 crore.
Surjya Kanta Mishra’s charge: Kunal Ghosh is
in jail and the ruling party
is silent (referring to the Saradha scam).
I am happy that my
government has come
forward to provide assistance to over 2.37 lakh
affected small investors of the state who had lost their savings in the Saradha scam. My government had taken prompt steps to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has been active in arresting all the accused persons, completing the investigations and filing chargesheets in the multiple cases relating
to the scam.
Mishra’s charge: Kanyashree on one hand and on the other, atrocities against women.
Governor’s address: The social evil of offences against women is being addressed and has been given the highest priority by the state administration.