Kolkata: The budget session of the West Bengal Assembly ended in an exchange of fisticuffs Monday. Legislators of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP came to blows after heated arguments over the Birbhum killings. The incident prompted the Speaker to suspend five saffron party MLAs, including Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who was also accused of busting the nose of a rival TMC MLA.
Shortly after the House assembled at 11.00am, it plunged into pandemonium as BJP MLAs trooped to the well. They demanded a statement by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the ‘worsening’ law and order situation in the wake of the tragedy in Birbhum district, where eight people were burnt alive last week.
Speaker Biman Bandopadhaya tried to pacify the BJP MLAs, who continued with sloganeering inside the House. It led to a war of words with legislators of the treasury bench and an eventual ugly scuffle.
Adhikari then walked out of the Assembly, claiming that TMC MLAs roughed up BJP legislators.
“MLAs are not safe even inside the Assembly… At least 8-10 of our legislators were beaten up, including Chief Whip Manoj Tigga, by some TMC MLAs, as we demanded that the CM make a statement in the House on the law and order issue,” Adhikari told reporters.
TMC leader and West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim claimed the BJP is staging a drama to create chaos in the Assembly. “Few of our MLAs were injured inside the House. We condemn the conduct of the BJP,” he said.
Among those who were injured in the melee were TMC MLA Asit Majumdar and BJP chief whip Manoj Tigga. They were both taken to hospital. Majumdar claimed that Adhikari had punched him on the nose, but the BJP leader denied the charge.
Adhikari, along with BJP legislators Dipak Burman, Shankar Ghosh, Manoj Tigga and Narahari Mahato, were suspended by the Speaker for the entire session till the House is prorogued. Prorogation is discontinuing a session of Parliament or a Legislative Assembly without dissolving it.
“What happened today is completely unacceptable. The way in which the five MLAs behaved with the women staff of the House is a shame for parliamentary democracy,” Bandopadhaya he told reporters.
“The BJP MLAs even assaulted female staff of the Assembly and misbehaved with them. The saffron party legislators are faking injuries to hide their misdeeds,” alleged minister Hakim.
Speaking in a similar vein, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said BJP leaders tried to create disturbance both inside and outside the House.
“Though the session ended today, they will continue with their disruptive politics. I urge everyone to be on guard to foil the game plan of BJP. They are demanding the CM’s statement, but when she speaks in the House, they create disturbance in the House,” Chatterjee said.
The BJP, however, denied all allegations, and accused the ruling TMC of letting loose a reign of terror in the assembly. “They are running the government in an authoritarian manner. We will not tolerate this,” Adhikari said. He added that he will meet the Speaker with an appeal to revoke the suspension.