Mukul Roy appointed PAC chairman in WB Assembly;BJP decides not to head any panel in house in protest

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(Eds: With additional inputs) Kolkata, Jul 9 (PTI) Senior politician Mukul Roy, who recently switched over to the ruling TMC camp in Bengal after winning the state polls on a BJP ticket, was on Friday appointed as the chairperson of the important Public Accounts Committee in the Assembly by Speaker Biman Banerjee.

BJP MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, staged a walkout in the assembly, protesting against the decision and announced that henceforth the BJP wouldn't head any of the committees in the House.

Roy, officially a BJP MLA from Krishnanagar Uttar, joined the TMC last month.

He, however, did not resign as an MLA, despite being asked to do so several times by the saffron party.

The 294-member Bengal assembly has 41 committees and the PAC works as the audit watchdog of the house.

The TMC leader was unanimously elected as one of the 20 members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in June.

The announcement of the PAC head was made after the passage of the finance bill and appropriation bill.

Adhikari said that an opposition MLA is usually appointed as the PAC chairperson following the norm, but the TMC misused that rule to appoint Roy as its chairman.

'We had proposed six MLAs in the PAC committee. The BJP never recommended Mukul Roy. He has publicly joined the TMC, but still, he was appointed as PAC chairman, defying the norms. This government does not believe in democracy,' he said.

Adhikari said the party wanted eminent economist and BJP MLA Ashok Lahiri as the chairman of the PAC.

'But this corrupt TMC government only wants committees headed by people who are their yes-men. So, we have decided that henceforth we won't head any of the committees in the assembly in protest against this decision of the Speaker,' he said.

Adhikari, however, sounded confident that Roy would cease to exist as a member of the assembly very soon as 'he would be disqualified under the anti-defection law'.

Reacting to Adhikari's comments, senior TMC Leader Subrata Mukherjee said, 'Mukul Roy is officially a member of the BJP in the assembly. It has been s long-established procedure that a senior leader with parliamentary experience in the opposition camp should be the PAC chairman.' 'The speaker has only followed that norm. There has been no wrongdoing,' he said.

The incident brought back memories of former Congress MLAs who were appointed as PAC chairman during the assembly tenure, although they had switched over to the TMC.

Manas Bhunia and Sankar Singh held the post despite switching over to the TMC and not resigning as Congress MLAs.

The speaker then had cited that they were officially opposition MLAs.

Bhunia, who presently is a cabinet minister in the TMC government, said, 'there had been a debate about me being the PAC chairman when I was with Congress, but as the Congress wanted another left leader as PAC Chairman, the Congress didn't want me.' Bhunia said it is the prerogative of the speaker to decide on the appointment of the PAC chairman.

'In that score, Mukul Roy fitted the bill in every aspect perfectly in accordance with established traditions. He is a very senior leader and a former MP. And he is still a legislator of the BJP,' he said. PTI SUS PNT SNS SNS

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