BENGAL POLITICS: Standoff signals in landmark session – Bias slur on Speaker over Ray condolence – a shining example of Bengal’s parochialism that Darjeeling & Dooars want no part of ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Calcutta, Dec. 10: An Assembly condolence resolution on Siddhartha Shankar Ray was passed today without a discussion, prompting the Opposition to cry foul even as the Speaker insisted he hadn’t been informed about members wanting to speak.
Leaders of the Trinamul Congress and Congress, who had criticised the Left government for not giving Ray a state funeral while according Jyoti Basu one, suggested Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim’s action reaffirmed the bias.
“We had requested the Speaker to allow us to pay tributes. But we were surprised when he completely overlooked this and left the House after adjourning it,” leader of Opposition, Trinamul’s Partha Chatterjee said, with Congress leader Manas Bhuniya by his side.
The controversy erupted on the opening day of the winter session, the 14th Assembly’s last full sitting before the polls, and raised the prospect of a bitter standoff between the Opposition and the ruling coalition.
Halim read out the condolence resolution, asked the members to observe two minutes’ silence and then, to the amazement of the Opposition leaders, adjourned the House till December 16. Chatterjee compared the seemingly abrupt manner of the proceedings to the way tributes had been paid to Basu earlier this year.
“Government leaders as well as others had paid tributes (to Basu) soon after the resolution was read out. Why did that not take place today? Ray has been given the same trivial homage by the Left-dominated House as had been done to former chief ministers Ajoy Mukherjee (Bangla Congress) and Prafulla Sen (Congress),” Chatterjee said.
The resolution on Ray, who died of cardiac arrest on November 6, said: “This House expresses its profound sense of sorrow at the passing away of Shri Siddhartha Shankar Ray…he was a parliamentarian par excellence and a legal luminary.”
Chatterjee and Bhuniya later met the Speaker in his chamber to protest the “sudden departure” from convention. Halim is reported to have told them that they had not conveyed their request about wanting to speak in writing. Halim eventually agreed to allow a discussion when the House reconvenes on December 16, after the request was given in writing.
The chief government whip in the House, Syed Mohammad Masih, said: “Had they even raised their hands and indicated that they wanted to speak, the Speaker could have allowed it. But they did not do that. Now, they are saying this was deliberately done since Ray was not a Left Front chief minister.”
Last month, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had hit out at the state government for not having accorded Ray a state funeral and treating him differently from Basu, who was given such an honour.