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Mamata flings papers, resigns

Special Correspondent

``I was not allowed to speak''; Speaker rejects her resignation as MP

— Photo: PTI

HIGH DRAMA: A television image of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee throwing papers at Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal in the Lok Sabha on Thursday after she was not allowed to speak on illegal migration of Bangladeshis into West Bengal. — Photo: PTI

NEW DELHI: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday caused a sensation in the Lok Sabha by flinging papers at the Speaker's podium and announcing her resignation from the House as she was "being denied to speak."

Speaker Somnath Chattejree rejected her resignation after the House witnessed two adjournments over the issue that flared up into a verbal duel between members of the Left-United Progressive Alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led opposition.

Ms. Banerjee's action came up at a time when the House was taking matters of public importance with Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal in the chair. The Trinamool leader sought to know the fate of her notice for an adjournment motion on Bangladeshi migration into West Bengal and continued to speak even after Mr. Atwal informed her that it was rejected by the Speaker.

With some Left party members joining issue Ms. Banerjee suddenly moved into the well of the House and was seen flinging a sheaf of papers on to the podium leading to a brief adjournment.

(Several Left-UPA members issued a statement separately condemning Ms. Banerjee's behaviour and demanded an unqualified apology from her before allowing her to take part in the proceedings of the House. "Ms. Mamata Banerjee has dishonoured the chair, insulted the Deputy Speaker by throwing a bunch of papers coming near to the podium. She has even uttered derogatory statements about the Speaker accusing him of politically discriminating her,'' they said.)

When the House re-assembled, opposition members rallied around Ms. Banerjee with the Leader of the Opposition, L. K. Advani, suggesting the issue be sorted out in the Speaker's chamber. Members of the Left, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal insisted that she apologise for "insulting the chair."

Mr. Atwal sought to carry on the business stating the notice was rejected since the House had taken up an adjournment motion last week on the issue moved by Mr. Advani. Scenes of sharp exchanges forced Mr. Atwal to adjourn proceedings again.

When the House reconvened, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad condemned Ms. Banerjee's action. Urging party leaders to ensure that their members maintained decorum he sought all round cooperation to carry on with House business but the Left members continued to demand an apology from Ms. Banerjee.

As the Left and BJP members refused to relent, Mr. Chatterjee came in. Refuting the aspersions cast by her on the Chair, Mr. Chatterjee's response to the demand for an apology from her was that "it is for the member to decide'' adding it would only add to her stature if she did so. About her resignation letter, he informed the House that it was not being treated as one.

In her resignation letter — first addressed to the Speaker [the word Deputy was included later] — Ms. Banerjee said she was resigning from the House because she was not allowed to speak and her democratic right was being denied.

The resignation letter, sources said, was found faulty on technical grounds as it was addressed to the Deputy Speaker and it was not "unconditional."

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