Opposition to boycott n-deal debate in West Bengal assembly

July 16th, 2008 - 11:54 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Kolkata, July 16 (IANS) The West Bengal assembly will discuss the India-US nuclear deal Thursday, but the main opposition Trinamool Congress, as also the Congress, will boycott the debate - terming it “unconstitutional”. Speaker Hasim Abdul Halim announced in the house Wednesday that the house would discuss the nuclear deal on Thursday.

The Trinamool Congress and the Congress immediately walked out of the house, describing the speaker’s decision as “unconstitutional, unconventional and unethical”.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and three other Left parties that rule West Bengal last week withdrew their support to Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to protest its decision to go ahead with the nuclear deal.

Differences in the CPI-M on the issue have now come into the open, with senior leader Subhas Chakraborty shooting off a letter to party general secretary Prakash Karat on the decision to vote along with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the July 22 trust vote in parliament.

Asserting that Trinamool Congress legislators would not participate in the debate, Leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee said in the assembly lobby: “The proposals for various departments are now being deliberated upon during the budget session. These important discussions should not be stalled by taking up a discussions on the nuclear deal”.

Senior Congress leader Manas Bhuniya said the assembly was not authorised to discuss the matter in view of the July 21-22 special session of the Lok Sabha that has been called to enable the Manmohan Singh government seek a trust vote.

“The entire country as well as the international community are looking to the trust vote. No platform is authorised to have any discussion on the issue now,” Bhuniya said, and announced that his party’s legislators would skip the debate.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee assailed the Left Front government for scheduling the debate without first discussing this with the opposition parties.

“The government bypassed the house business advisory committee. The government’s audacity has crossed all limits. This is a very important matter. The ruling Front should have taken the opposition parties into confidence,” a fuming Banerjee said at her residence.

Banerjee said in the absence of the opposition parties, the resolution passed by the house after the debate should be termed a “Left Front resolution and not an all-party resolution”.

“The government is trying to spoon feed us. They don’t have any respect for democratic propriety. Enough is enough. This government should go,” she said, and alleged that the debate had been scheduled to deflect the people’s attention from the “internal bickering” in the CPI-M on the deal.

She contended that the divergence of opinion in the CPI-M was not borne out of ideological differences but “a fight for enjoying the loaves and fishes of power”.

By scheduling the debate, the government had resorted to dividing the people into “we” and “you, Banerjee contended.

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