“These were just charades to prevent the Bill being passed”

The contradicting positions taken by the Trinamool Congress on the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill in the two Houses of Parliament were merely a ploy of the UPA government to prevent the Bill being passed, Surya Kanta Mishra, Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, alleged here on Tuesday.

“The controversy over the Lokpal and the Lokayukta, the way the Trinamool Congress voted in the Lok Sabha and then said just the opposite in the Rajya Sabha — these were just charades of the UPA government to prevent the Lokpal Bill from being passed,” Dr. Mishra told journalists.

Rubbishing the claims made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a press conference during the day that she was in favour of the Lokpal and in the State a Lokayukta, Dr. Mishra said that if she was really serious about the appointment of a Lokayukta she would have gone ahead and appointed one.

“The Trinamool Congress was the main reason for the Bill not being passed,” he said.

On the other remarks made by the Chief Minister at the press conference, Dr. Mishra said Ms. Banerjee could not evade responsibility for the crisis farmers in West Bengal were facing by placing the blame on the Centre.

“She was an important Minister in the Cabinet of both the UPA and NDA governments when decisions were taken that have led to the present agrarian crisis… not once did she protest against these decisions,” he added.

Ms. Banerjee said it was the Centre that decided the procurement price of paddy and jute and the decision to reduce subsidies on fertilizers was taken by the Centre in 2010 when the Left Front was still in power in West Bengal.

Dr. Mishra reminded Ms. Banerjee that her party was the second largest constituent of the UPA and she was a Cabinet Minister when the decision to decontrol the prices of fertilizers was taken. Similarly, Ms. Banerjee was a member of A.B. Vajpayee's Cabinet when forward trading was allowed in agriculture, he said.

“We have been noticing that she is trying to be more Leftist that the Left parties,” Mr. Mishra said speaking about the stand Ms. Banerjee took on the introduction of FDI in the retail sector. However, he pointed out that Ms. Banerjee sided with the Congress on important decisions such as opening up the insurance sector to foreign investment and voted with the Congress on a motion against price rise that the Left moved in Parliament.

Dr. Mishra, who is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and was Minister in the previous Left Front government, also responded to Ms. Banerjee's allegations that she had found evidence of large-scale corruption during the Left regime.