The Telegraph
Thursday , October 4 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trinamul eyes LS front row

New Delhi, Oct. 3: Trinamul today wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker seeking a seat in the front row, the chairperson’s post in at least four parliamentary panels and an office in Parliament, indicating the party’s plan to take on the government on different forums after its exit from UPA II.

Sudip Bandopadhyay, the leader of the Trinamul Congress parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha, requested Speaker Meira Kumar to take “positive steps” and “do the needful”.

“As you are aware, our strength in Parliament is 19 (in) Lok Sabha and 9 in Rajya Sabha…. Chairmanship of at least four committees needs to be to given to All India Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party…. An office space commensurate with our status may kindly be allotted. It is also urged that one front row seat in Lok Sabha may be allotted considering the existing strength of the party,” the letter sent by Bandopadhyay to Kumar said.

Although the demand for a front-row seat in the Lok Sabha was mentioned last, Trinamul leaders said it was important, given Mamata Banerjee’s directive to “attack the government from the front”.

“Trinamul will now act as a responsible Opposition. We are going to forcefully oppose all anti-people policies of the government,” Bandopadhyay said.

That rival CPM has a front-row seat has apparently prompted Trinamul to demand one too. “If the CPM can get a front seat and even Lalu Prasad’s RJD can with just four MPs, why can’t Trinamul with 19 MPs?” a Trinamul MP asked.

Trinamul had earlier too demanded a party office in Parliament but had not pursued it with vigour while in government because the railway minister’s room used to serve the purpose.

A room allotted to Trinamul remains occupied by the RJD.

“I would also like to inform that the room which was allotted to our party is still in the possession of RJD which has a much smaller strength,” Bandyopadhyay said in the letter.

The demand for the parliamentary panel chairperson’s post would give Trinamul the opportunity to register its protest against key issues. A chairperson’s post will also make the party eligible for a room in Parliament.

“As they (the six Trinamul ministers who quit) are also senior and important members, standing committee and consultative committees of departments like Home, Finance, External Affairs, Defence, Transport, Tourism, Culture, Railways, Rural Development, etc. may be considered,” the letter said.