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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 April 2024

Speaker Biman Banerjee questions absence of MLAs during Question Hour, warns them

Legislators with questions must be present in House, says angry Biman

Saibal Gupta, Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 08.02.24, 06:20 AM
Speaker Biman Banerjee

Speaker Biman Banerjee File picture

Speaker Biman Banerjee on Wednesday questioned the absence of MLAs during Question Hour and warned them of steps to rein in truant legislators if the trend continued.

The Speaker made the observation when he called BJP MLA Budhurai Tudu to ask him to raise his question for agriculture minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay. Tudu was found absent.

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Five of six MLAs scheduled to ask questions were absent while the respective ministers were ready to answer the queries.

An angry Speaker said that if MLAs with questions listed against their names remained absent, it affected the business of the Assembly. The BJP has 70 MLAs but not even 25 were present on Wednesday.

The Speaker then said: “If MLAs who ask questions do not turn up when it is to be raised and discussed in the House, I am thinking of stopping taking questions from them for a few days. The ministers are also busy and they have other work to do.”

“Not only the BJP MLAs, but the number of ruling party legislators on Wednesday was also not impressive. This is not a good sign. The legislators should understand that they are people’s representatives and must attend the Assembly. Many MLAs are habitual offenders. This is unfortunate,” an MLA said off the record.

Chattopadhyay, also the parliamentary affairs minister, said MLAs raising questions should be in the House. “They pose questions and then fail to attend the session,” he said.

This led to protests from BJP legislators who were present, almost drowning Chattopadhyay’s voice.

MLAs being absent from Assembly sessions is not a new trend in Bengal. Last September, Trinamul took steps to address the issue by setting up a disciplinary committee led by Chattopadhyay. To increase the attendance of Trinamul MLAs in the House, the committee implemented dual attendance registers for legislators in the Assembly with weekly reports sent to chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

House chaos

Assembly proceedings were disrupted for the second day in a row after Speaker Banerjee disallowed an adjournment motion moved by women BJP MLAs demanding Mamata’s statement on atrocities on women in Bengal. BJP legislators didn’t leave the House but raised slogans, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the session. “A little girl was killed in Malda, a three-month-old killed in Murshidabad, a tourist raped in Digha — all these happened in a week but our chief minister is silent. She is a woman but her government is allowing such atrocities to happen. We demand her statement,” MLA Agnimitra Paul, who moved the motion for the BJP, said.

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