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Bengal passes bill appointing education minister as visitor at private universities

BJP MLAs stage a walkout and participate in a demonstration outside the House
Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee.
Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee.
File Picture

Arkamoy Datta Majumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 15.06.22, 12:37 AM

The Bengal Assembly passed a bill to replace the governor with higher education minister as visitor at private universities through a voice vote after Opposition MLAs staged a walkout on Tuesday.

On Monday, the House had passed a law that appointed the chief minister as the chancellor of state-run universities in place of the governor.

BJP legislators opposed the West Bengal Private University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which was tabled by higher education minister Bratya Basu. They walked out when the minister stood up to speak in favour of the bill, even as Speaker Biman Banerjee tried to desist them.

Outside the House, the BJP MLAs participated in a demonstration. “The government has introduced the bill forcefully and wishes to politicise educational institutes and hence, we have walked out,” BJP MLA Bankim Ghosh said.

Ghosh claimed that since the voting on the bill appointing the chief minister as the chancellor of state universities on Monday had been marked by a controversy, there was no point in participating in Tuesday’s voting.

On Monday, the Speaker had initially said that 40 votes had been cast against the bill, even though the BJP claimed that 57 of its members were present in the House. Later in the evening, sources revealed that 55 votes had been cast against the bill, admitting to an anomaly.

Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari on Tuesday tweeted: “It was initially declared that 40 MLAs had opposed the Bill. 57 BJP MLAs were present in the House during voting. We decided to move Court against this voting process. Afterwards the media reported that an official of the Assembly had admitted that an “ERROR” had happened…I demand a high level enquiry to find out what actually happened.”

The issue was taken up in the Assembly by BJP MLA Ashok Lahiri on Tuesday. The Speaker, however, said the anomaly had been made by a House official. “A mistake occurred while counting the votes of block number one. I have already ordered a probe into this unintentional mistake,” he said.

The BJP, however, claimed that the “mistake” had been premeditated and resembled the manner in which Trinamul had allegedly looted the Assembly polls last year. Replying to the Speaker’s statement, Lahiri said it was shameful that employees of the House were incompetent.



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