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

·5-min read

(With additional inputs and pol reax) Kolkata, Jul 2 (PTI) The opening session of the newly constituted West Bengal assembly Friday got off to a stormy start as Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was forced to cut short his inaugural speech amid ruckus by the opposition BJP MLAs who took offence after finding 'no mention' of post-poll violence in the address.

Dhankhar 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 the assembly sources, the governor began his speech at 2 pm and ended it at 2.04 pm, as his voice became inaudible amid the din.

Amid sloganeering,Dhankhar tabled the speech after reading a few lines from 18-page address approved by the state Cabinet.

Though having overwhelming numbers,the TMC MLAs, however, showed restrained and did not react to the protests of the opposition legislators inside the House.

Amid slogans of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' by the BJP MLAs and 'Joy Bangla' by the TMC legislators, Dhankhar was escorted to his car by Speaker Biman Banerjee and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

He was out of the Assembly within eight minutes.

Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, while talking to reporters, said the 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 MLAs.

'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, a TMC-turned-BJP leader, maintained.

Although Adhikari pointed out that their opposition was triggered by 'no mention' of post-poll violence in the governor's speech, the speech condemned all types of violence.

'As regard the much-talked about 'post-poll violence', all the incidents occurred during the election period when the law and order machinery in the state was under the control, direction and superintendence of the Election Commission of India.

'After the democratically elected new government took over, immediate action was taken with the sharpest agility and strict impartiality and normalcy was restored soon,' it said.

The new TMC government was sworn-in on May 5.

The address also noted that a particular section of the politically biased people for their own vested interests have been spreading fake news, fake videos, half-truths, distorted version of facts and blatant lies through their own social media network to defame the government.

'It is a political plan to tarnish the image of West Bengal, when Bengal is the safest state and Kolkata is the safest city in the country,' the speech said.

Lauding the governor for raising his voice against cases of post-poll violence in the state over the past one month, Adhikari 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,' the opposition leader 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.

He indicated that if the demands for a discussion on post- poll violence are not accepted, BJP would continue to agitate inside the house for the remaining part of the session.

Reacting to BJP's protest, the TMC said the saffron party has set a 'new precedence in anarchy' and have scant regard for legislative practices.

'Those who staged such a noisy protest during Governor's address lack knowledge about legislative practices and have set a new precedence of anarchy. Their agenda from the very beginning was to cause disruption and create chaos,' State parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said.

The ruling party, however, claimed victory as the governors speech was tabled in the Assembly.

'The governor informed the Speaker that the speech tabled is his.There is no controversy. Whatever we have to say regarding BJPs charge we will say during discussions,' he said.

The TMC legislature party has called a meeting of its MLAs on Monday at 12 noon to discuss the partys strategy inside the house for rest of the session.

Leader of the Opposition in the last assembly, Abdul Mannan, said the incident is not 'unprecedented' and has brought back memories of the Left Front rule when the Congress opted for similar disruptions.

'When B D Pandey was Governor during 80s we too did the similar things, did not allow him to complete his speech. What happened today is not unprecedented,' he said.

Despite a bitter exchange of words between Banerjee and Dhankhar a few days ago, both exchanged pleasantries ahead of the session.

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 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 maiden 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. PTI AMR/SUS PNT SNS SNS

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