A tirade launched by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee led to an Opposition walkout in the Assembly on Thursday. Minutes later, the Congress and its ally, the Trinamool Congress, told a press meet that he created a precedent which was ominous for parliamentary democracy.
Earlier, replying to the Governor's address, Mr. Bhattacharjee appealed to the Opposition to eschew narrow politics by being involved with Maoists either directly or indirectly. “I appeal to you to come out of these things. Don't encourage Maoists in this manner. A consensus approach is extremely necessary at this juncture.”
Cautioning against grabbing power by force, Mr. Bhattacharjee urged the Opposition to be more reserved in its show of might. He then turned to the Congress benches and said: “You are a national party, how can you support all this?” To a reply that they were allies, Mr. Bhattacharjee said, “If you want to continue as spineless partners, I have nothing to say.”
Directing his next volley at Leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee of the Trinamool, Mr. Bhattacharjee said he felt scared of listening to the latter's speeches. “It is a punishment for me.” The remaining portion of Mr. Bhattacharjee's speech was drowned in a din, which culminated in the walkout.
The Chief Minister refuted a statement made by the Opposition that everything had come to standstill in the Left-wing extremism-affected areas in Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura. He said block development offices were functional and schools open. The Public Distribution System too was functional as were the various schemes funded by the Centre.
On development work
“I admit that development work is not what it should be but I would also point out that distribution of pattas (land rights) among tribals is the highest in Paschim Medinipur. No district comes close to that.”
The Chief Minister also highlighted the risks under which employees at the offices of the BDO and the Public Works and Forest departments were working. “In some blocks they work at risks to their life, fearing death or abduction all the while.”
During question hour in the morning session, Mr. Bhattacharjee said the committee set up to probe the Maoist attack on the Silda camp of the Eastern Frontier Rifles would also examine whether the camp leadership paid heed to the inputs received ahead of the strike on February 15. Twenty-four EFR jawans were killed in the attack, in which, it was believed, five of the attackers were also felled.
Speaking for the first time on the issue of the press meet held by the Special IG of EFR, Benoy Chakraoborty (who masked himself with a black cloth), a few days later at Salua, the Chief Minister said this was unlike a police officer. Mr. Bhattacharjee said that between January 2008 and 2010, altogether 170 people including 21 policemen died in Maoist attacks.
The location of camps was being reviewed and security strengthened with barbed fencing and by raising boundary walls, he said.