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House pause over Jagdeep Dhankhar’s nod

Assembly sources described the two-day mid-session break on such grounds 'unprecedented' in recent memory
Governor Dhankhar and wife Sudesh plant saplings at the Indian Botanic Garden in Howrah’s Shibpur on Tuesday
Governor Dhankhar and wife Sudesh plant saplings at the Indian Botanic Garden in Howrah’s Shibpur on Tuesday
Telegraph picture

A Staff Reporter   |   Calcutta   |   Published 03.12.19, 09:16 PM

Speaker Biman Banerjee on Tuesday adjourned the Bengal Assembly for two days, saying he was forced to take the decision as a key bill scheduled to be placed in the House was yet to get governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s nod.

Assembly sources described the two-day mid-session break on such grounds “unprecedented” in recent memory.

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“A cabinet minister has sent an important bill for printing but we can’t place it in Assembly as it is yet to get the nod (from the governor). The House will resume on December 6. It will remain adjourned tomorrow and the day after,” the Speaker said without naming the bill.

The government needs a go-ahead from the Raj Bhavan before tabling a bill. In anticipation of that, copies of the bill are sent for printing so that legislators can prepare for discussions once it is tabled.

The sources said the government had sent The West Bengal State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2019, to the governor but had not received his approval till Tuesday morning. “Had Raj Bhavan given its approval, it could have been tabled on Wednesday,” said an Assembly source.

Over the past couple of months, Dhankhar and the ruling Trinamul have been locked in a battle of statements. “This is another indication of how the relationship between the ruling establishment and the Raj Bhavan has gone awry… It seems even a working relationship doesn’t exist,” said a source.

On Tuesday, the Raj Bhavan said there had been no delay on the SC/ST Bill, and instead alleged that the government’s responses to its files were “not forthcoming”.

A statement issued by the press secretary to the governor, Manab Bandyopadhyay, said: “The West Bengal State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2019, was received at Raj Bhavan on 29.11.2019 and on 3.12.2019, the governor had indicated that concerned senior person may brief along with the SC & ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. A follow-up communication was sent on the same day to the secretary to the West Bengal Backward Classes Welfare Department vide No. 4946-S dated 3.12.19.”

“It deserves to be noted that the file from the state govt in this regard came to Raj Bhavan only on 29.11.2019. There has been no delay as after 29.11.2019, November 30 and December 1 were Saturday and Sunday,” the statement added.

The Raj Bhavan alleged delayed responses from the government on at least two other bills and said they were “fully attributable to the Assembly not making the proceedings available”.

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha backed the Raj Bhavan. “The bill was sent to the Raj Bhavan at an extremely short notice. Though the governor asked for a few clarifications, the government adjourned the Assembly, accusing the governor instead. The government did not prepare sufficiently for this session and made such an unprecedented move.”

The Congress and the Left Front also alleged the government had summoned the session without having proper business in hand. “The last session in September, too, lacked proper business and the House was adjourned much earlier than usual,” said chief Opposition whip and Congress MLA Manoj Chakraborty.

Left legislature party leader, Sujan Chakraborty of the CPM, called the adjournment “unprecedented”. “The government had no bills in hand but House was still in session.” 



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