Mamata govt functions from roadside police outpost
The Bengal government on Monday functioned from the Metro Channel — the venue of chief minister’s Save India dharna — and top government officials had to shuttle between Nabanna and the temporary seat of power.
The most important government programme held at the Metro Channel was a cabinet meeting to approve the state budget tabled in the Assembly later in the day.
The cabinet meeting is held twice a month at Nabanna or at the Assembly building when the House is in session. But on Monday, Mamata Banerjee and her ministers held the cabinet meeting at the police outpost near the agitation venue.
“This is the second time the cabinet meeting was held outside Nabanna or the Assembly or Writers’ Buildings under Trinamul rule. First one was held at Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling in June 2017. But the second cabinet session in the Metro Channel was unprecedented as the meeting is always held at a secured place as important issues are discussed,” said an official.
Sources said the meeting in the Metro Channel lasted for about 25 minutes and approved a new scheme to give a one-time grant of Rs 1 lakh to 50,000 unemployed youths every year to create jobs. Besides, the budget was also approved during the meeting.
“It is mandatory that the state cabinet gives its seal of approval before a budget is placed in the House. Pre-budget cabinet meetings are held at the Assembly but this is the first time that it was conducted outside,” said an official.
The chief minister also attended a programme to give away medals to policemen for outstanding performance at the Metro Channel later in the day.
The programme was scheduled to be held at Uttirno, an open-air auditorium in Alipore in the city. It was shifted to the Metro Channel as the chief minister did not want a postponement.
“I have not postponed any of my meetings, so I thought even if its on road, we should hold it (the ceremony) today,” Mamata said.
Hundreds of people, including family members of the recipients of the medals and curious pedestrians, crowded the north-bound flank of
Chowringhee that has been blocked for the chief minister’s dharna since Sunday night.
“Officers who want to work honestly and are being victimised without evidence, I will always support them, even at the cost of my own life,” the chief minister said.
Mamata also signed a series of files, which were brought from Nabanna, inside the police outpost.
“The police outpost is being treated as the temporary office of the chief minister. As the chief minister is holding meetings and signing important files inside the police outpost, the official secrecy is not being breached,” said another official.
Mamata also addressed a farmers’ programme organised by the ruling party in Netaji Indoor Stadium over mobile phone as she was not ready to leave the place of agitation.
Although routine government work and important programmes were held on Monday in the presence of the chief minister, questions were raised at Nabanna whether Mamata would be able to attend the Bengal Global Business Summit on February 7 and 8.
“Every year, the chief minister holds the programme with great enthusiasm. We are still not clear whether she would take part in the summit if the agitation continues for a few more days,” said an official.