Bengal bars media conference at the assembly, CPI-M objects

February 10th, 2012 - 11:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Feb 10 (IANS) The West Bengal assembly Friday barred press conferences at the media centre in the assembly premises when the house is not in session, drawing protests from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

“Henceforth, no press conference at the media centre inside the assembly premises will be held except during the assembly session,” read the circular issued by Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay.

The circular comes a day after Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra of the CPI-M exceeded by 15 minutes his allotted time for a conference at the media cenre.

Following the notification, the CPI-M strongly criticised the move, dubbing it “undemocratic” and an attempt to “muffle the opposing voices”.

Former speaker Hashim Abdul Halim said the move was an attack on the democracy.

“It is a senseless move and shows to what extent they (ruling Trinamool Congress) can stoop. I strongly criticise the move which is a direct attack on the democratic right of the opposition,” said Halim, who presided over the house during the Left Front regime.

Reacting to the move, Mishra said: “She (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) had earlier asked us to keep quiet for at least 10 years. It seems she is trying all the ways to keep us shut. Assembly is the office of the opposition and we have a right to address the media if and when required. It is an attack on our democratic right.”

He also said the prohibition was a vindictive move by the speaker.

“Yesterday (Thursday) I had exceeded the allotted time for the conference and through this prohibition, the speaker wants to convey he is the boss and would punish anyone who challenges him,” said Mishra, adding the opposition will protest the move.

Trinamool Congress leader and Sports Minister Madan Mitra, however, defended the move and said it will help curbing circulation of malicious information against the government.

Speaker Bandyopadhyay defended the decision, saying it was done keeping security of the assembly members in mind.

“When the assembly is not in session, there is no security. Anything unwarranted may happen if a press meet is organised. Keeping this in mind, I issued this notification. Moreover, the assembly is not a club where anybody can come anytime and hold a conference. It is against the decorum of the assembly,” he said.

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