Bengal speaker disqualifies MLA for defecting, another quits

March 6th, 2009 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 6 (IANS) On a day of dramatic developments, West Bengal legislator Sudip Bandopadhyay, who had quit the Congress to join the Trinamool Congress, resigned his seat to protest the assembly speaker disqualifying another legislator, Somen Mitra, under the Anti-Defection Act.
Mitra had left the Congress to float a new outfit, Pragatisheel Indira Congress, last year.

Speaker H.A. Halim gave his verdict on a petition filed by Congress legislative party leader Manas Bhuinya, who sought the disqualification of both Mitra and Bandopadhyay.

Interestingly, the Congress is in talks with the Trinamool for clinching a seat sharing deal for the Lok Sabha polls.

After a hearing at his chamber, Halim declared Mitra’s membership of the state assembly null and void.

Mitra did not attend the hearing and was represented by his lawyers.

This is the first disqualification in the state under the Anti-Defection Act passed by parliament 24 years ago.

Halim, however, said Mitra was free to contest his decision in court.

Soon after, Bandopadhyay put in his papers in protest against Halim’s decision.

“We asked Bandopadhyay to resign in protest,” a fuming Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee told reporters at her Kalighat residence.

Banerjee announced that both the leaders would be in the Lok Sabha poll fray.

Party sources said while Bandopadhyay could be fielded from Kolkata North, Mitra was likely to throw his hat in the ring from Diamond Harbour.

Criticising the Speaker’s decision, Banerjee said he had acted arbitrarily. “He took the ultimate decision in the very first hearing. We are taking this very seriously,” she said.

Bhuinya termed the speaker’s action as a victory over unethical politics and said it would have no impact on the seat sharing talks between the two parties.

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