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CM: Will attend when I get time

Calcutta, June 27: Mamata Banerjee today said she would attend the Assembly when she got time, amid allegations by the Opposition that the chief minister remained absent from the House often and was reluctant to answer questions.

Aamar samay jokhon hobe takhoni aasbo, bolbo (When I get time, I will come and speak),” Mamata said in the Assembly today, arriving after the Opposition MLAs had staged a walkout.

Some legislators gave the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will skip the World Cup final in Brazil on July 13, where several world leaders will be present, because he would like to be in Parliament when his government presents its first budget. Modi will fly to Brazil two days later for a BRICS summit.

Usually, Fridays are reserved in the Assembly for questions related to the nine departments headed by the chief minister. For the past three years, the Opposition has been complaining that Mamata hardly replies to questions related to her departments.

“They are saying I don’t reply to questions. There are no questions today. What will I reply to? There was only one question from Gouranga Chatterjee (CPM MLA) but the matter is sub judice. So there is nothing to say,” Mamata said after the Speaker adjourned the House.

Today, there were questions on the transport department and a few others not overseen by the chief minister. MLA Chatterjee’s question had not been listed. The Opposition has frequently alleged that its questions, which are sent to the minister concerned first, are not listed.

The CPM MLA said his question was on the number of bargadars in Bengal. “I don’t know how this issue is sub judice,” he said.

Chatterjee said he had also sent two questions related to departments held by Mamata but neither was listed.

“I had submitted a question on the number of thefts in Calcutta police’s area. The question is related to the home department, which is under the chief minister. I had also sent a question related to the information and culture department, also overseen by the chief minister. I don’t know what happened to them,” he said.

When the House proceedings began today, RSP MLA Subhas Naskar and the CPM’s Anisur Rahman protested the chief minister’s “regular no-show”. After about half an hour, the Left legislators walked out. The chief minister arrived 15 minutes later, around 11.50am.

She remained seated while the Congress MLAs demanding an adjournment motion on campus violence in a Behrampore college. Denied, they too walked out.

Congress veteran Manas Bhuniya said he had not submitted a single question this session.

“I have decided against submitting any question since there is no reply. Even Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee used to face questions or at least attend the House on days they were scheduled to. But the current chief minister does not follow any norm. The Opposition has the right to seek answers from the chief minister,” Bhuniya said.

The Congress and the Left have been protesting the government’s decision to guillotine the budget discussions of 15 departments, including seven held by Mamata.