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BJP lawmakers raise Ram slogans in Assembly

The Left and the Congress staged walkouts before Mamata rose to read the vote-on-account speech

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya And Arkamoy Datta Majumdar Calcutta Published 06.02.21, 01:42 AM
BJP MLAs walk out on Friday.

BJP MLAs walk out on Friday. Pradip Sanyal

Chaotic scenes dubbed “unprecedented” by some veterans in the treasury benches unfolded in the Assembly on Friday as chief minister Mamata Banerjee tried placing the vote-on-account for poll-bound Bengal.

BJP lawmakers rushed to the well of the House with “Jai Shri Ram” slogans to protest state finance minister Amit Mitra’s absence.


Mitra has been unwell, sources said.

As Mamata rose to read the vote-on-account speech, BJP members led by their legislature party leader Manoj Tigga came to the well and started sloganeering, demanding answers on why the chief minister was replacing Mitra.

Mamata paused amid the commotion. A visibly displeased Speaker Biman Banerjee took charge, repeatedly asking the BJP members to return to their seats or leave the House.

The Speaker said due process had been followed and that Tigga shouldn’t complain as he — being part of the Assembly’s business advisory committee — was aware of it.

“...This is grossly disorderly behaviour. I have to be very harsh, I tell you…I don’t want to take any harsh action. Please, please… return to your seats,” said Speaker Banerjee.

“The honourable governor (Jagdeep Dhankhar) has authorised the chief minister (to place the vote-on-account), you have heard. I don’t get this. You will not know the laws and rules, you will choose not to learn, and you are shouting meaninglessly…Please go to your seats or leave the House.”

After a hullabaloo of about five minutes, the BJP staged a walkout, aggressively shouting “Jai Shri Ram”.

The Left and the Congress staged walkouts before Mamata rose to speak.

Resuming her address, Mamata said: “Sorry, Speaker Sir, even you had to take a lot of trouble...I have placed many a (railway) budget...I attended many general budgets in Parliament. Nobody does this during a budget speech. It is customary courtesy in parliamentary processes within the democratic system.”

“…These BJP members, they know nothing, can do nothing...Listen to it (the vote-on-account), participate in the discussions. Instead, a handful of members doing this… ki obostha (what a situation),” she added.

A senior cabinet member said the behaviour of the BJP legislature party was “unprecedented”.

Tigga and other BJP MLAs such as Swadhin Sarkar, Joyel Murmu, Ashis Biswas and Dulal Bar claimed they were protesting Mamata’s alleged ploy to project herself and misuse the vote-on-account platform for a poll pitch. “Not only did they do away with the governor’s address, they kept the finance minister away...a clear disregard of parliamentary democracy,” said Tigga.

Later in the day, the BJP lambasted Mamata over the budget.

“Given the current state of the economy, the slew of announcements that she made, where the money for them will come from, nobody knows…. She mainly renamed central schemes and projects to stake claim on the credit ahead of the polls…We firmly believe the people of Bengal will summarily dismiss this joke of a budget, laden with nothing but meaningless promises that will not be kept,” said BJP state chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.

Congress state president and its leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused Mamata of replacing Mitra to cover up possible questions on the source of funds for the promises made in the budget and the credibility of claims made therein.

Left legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty, a CPM central committee member, also demanded answers on Mitra’s absence.

“This government has not done any work over the past 10 years. Now she says everything will be completed in three months. Three months later, she won’t even be in power anymore. What do these promises mean?” asked Chakraborty.

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