West Bengal MLAs fight in Assembly over Birbhum
Clash erupts between TMC and BJP MLAs on the floor of the House over Birbhum violence
Kolkata: West Bengal’s Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari and four other BJP MLAs were suspended by Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee on Monday after they allegedly exchanged blows with Trinamul Congress MLAs over the Birbhum massacre during an in-House fight that left at least one each from both sides injured.
The four suspended BJP MLAs, other than Mr Adhikari, are chief whip Manoj Tigga of Madarihat, Shankar Ghosh of Siliguri, Dipak Barman of Falakata and Narahori Mahato of Purulia. During the clash, Chinsurah TMC MLA Asit Majumdar accused Mr Adhikari of punching his nose and leaving it bathed in blood.
He was taken in an ambulance from the Assembly to SSKM Hospital and was admitted to the Woodburn Ward. Later Mr Tigga, Mr Mahato and three other BJP MLAs -- Lakshman Gharai, Chandana Bauri and Shikha Chatterjee – got themselves admitted to Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in the city.
Mr Adhikari said: “Mr Tigga suffered a rib fracture while others need rest because they fell ill. Mr Tigga will be flown to AIIMS in New Delhi on Tuesday morning for better treatment as Apollo wanted to discharge him after chief minister Mamata Banerjee sent cops from Bidhannagar City Police to the hospital.”
The unprecedented incident unfolded in the morning of the last day of the Assembly’s Budget Session when the BJP MLAs held the TMC responsible for the carnage at Rampurhat, questioned the absence of a statement by the chief minister, who is in Darjeeling, and sought a discussion in the House.
The Speaker, however, said they did not give any notice for a discussion on the topic before rejecting their demand and cautioned them against disrupting the proceedings of the House. Erupting in protest, the angry BJP MLAs then went to the Well of the House and approached the Speaker.
The TMC MLAs also confronted the BJP MLAs, leading to a war of words and then a clash between the two sides. The Assembly marshals and the security staff, including women personnel, attempted to tackle the two warring sides but became targets.
Later, state urban development minister Firhad Hakim and Chandrima Bhattacharya proposed the five BJP MLAs’ suspension, which the Speaker accepted, and also announced that steps would be taken after looking into the extent of damage of Assembly properties during the clash. Outraged, the BJP MLAs staged a walkout from the House.
Condemning them over the fight, state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said: “It was a pre-planned and shameful attack on our MLAs and the security staff, including women, by the BJP which earlier hinted at creating such a bedlam on the last day of the session.”
Mr Adhikari, however, claimed: “The Assembly security staff included cops of the Kolkata Police, who beat our MLAs, including women. They were ganged up by 8-10 TMC MLAs.” The CM later enquired about the fight from Mr Hakim over the phone but told the media in the hills: “I do not know anything about it. You can ask the Speaker because it is his prerogative.”
In the evening, West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted: “Opposition delegation led by Leader of Opposition @SuvenduWB and suspended MLAs called on Guv today and expressed grave concern at happenings in the WB Assembly today. Denial of discussion of barbarity #Rampurhat violence is undemocratic. Exception was taken to CM stance to take to streets in barbarity #Rampurhat against CBI. Guv Dhankhar assured the delegation that none can be & is above law and in democracy there can be no law of the Ruler. He assured delegation that matter is already engaging his attention.”