Bengal guv forced to cut short inaugural address in assembly amid ruckus by BJP MLAs

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(With additional inputs and pol reax) Kolkata, July 2 (PTI) In an unprecedented development, Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was on Friday forced to cut short his inaugural address at the newly formed assembly amid ruckus by opposition BJP MLAs who took offence after finding 'no mention' of post-poll violence in the speech.

Dhankhar, who arrived at the assembly in the afternoon to deliver the inaugural address, could barely speak for four minutes as BJP MLAs, carrying posters and pictures of alleged victims of post-poll violence, rushed to the well of the House to stage a protest.

According to assembly sources, the governor began his speech at 2 pm and ended it at 2.04 pm, as his voice became inaudible amid the ongoing commotion. He then tabled the speech and left for the day.

Dhankhar was escorted to his car by Speaker Biman Banerjee and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, while talking to reporters, said BJP legislators 'had no option but to stage a protest after finding no mention of post-poll violence in the governor's speech', copies of which were circulated among the legislators.

'The speech, drafted by the TMC dispensation, said there has been no case of any violence, rape or attack on women after the party formed its new government in the state.

All incidents of violence, according to the speech, took place before the new government was sworn in. We had to protest against this blatant lie,' Adhikari maintained.

Lauding the governor for raising his voice against cases of post-poll violence in the state over the past one month, the BJP leader claimed that the TMC government was 'trying to suppress the truth'.

'We don't blame the governor. He was forced to read out the speech prepared by the state government,' Adhikari said, adding that his party wants to hold day-long discussions in the House on post-poll violence and the recently held fake vaccination drive in the city.

'During an all-party meeting, we had put forth these demands, but none of them was addressed. We will continue to hold protests if our demand for discussion is not met with,' he said.

Reacting to BJP's protest, the TMC said the saffron party has set a 'new precedence in anarchy'.

'What they (BJP MLAs) did today is unprecedented and unacceptable in a parliamentary democracy,' TMC chief whip Nirmal Ghosh pointed out.

According to Raj Bhavan sources, Dhankar had raised a few questions over the inaugural speech, to which Banerjee said that the state cabinet has approved the draft.

Dhankar, who has, on occasions, criticised the TMC government over post-poll violence, also sought the inclusion of the matter in the speech, but his request was apparently turned down.

The business of the House, which began with the governor's address on Friday, will continue till July 8. The state budget for 2021-22 is likely to be placed in the House on July 7.

The assembly's inaugural session during the day also saw the chief minister and her bete noire Adhikari coming face-to-face for the first time since the elections.

In the March-April hustings, The TMC pocketed 213 seats and the BJP 77. One seat was bagged by newly formed ISF.

Once considered a protege of Banerjee, Adhikari switched over to the BJP ahead of the assembly polls and defeated the chief minister from the high-profile Nandigram seat by a slender margin.

Banerjee has, however, moved the court challenging the election result in Nandigram. PTI AMR/SUS PNT RMS RMS

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