Left Front Govt. to present vote-on-account in the House

The last session of the West Bengal Assembly in the tenure of the seventh Left Front government – the Budget session – begins today (Thursday). It will continuetill March 25, less than a month before the commencement on April 18 of the six-phase polls which will determine the members of the next Assembly.

By announcing that a vote-on-account Budget will be presented in the House in the session the State's Finance Minister, Asim Dasgupta, on Wednesday may have placated, to some degree – at least on this count -- the principal Opposition party, the Trinamool Congress, which over the past few days has been threatening to stall any move to place a full-fledged Budget for the next fiscal.

Assembly Speaker H. A. Halim, who will be presiding over the House for the last time after having assumed office in 1982, had raised the hackles of the Trinamool Congress last week by stating that the State Government was within its rights to table a Budget for the next fiscal. The choice of keeping or changing it lies with the next government, he had pointed out.

Though the Trinamool Congress Legislative Party will take a final decision on its strategy for the session prior to Governor M. K. Narayanan's address in the House to mark the start of the session, its leaders have over the past few days been opposing, on the grounds of violation of the election code of conduct, introduction of Bills by the State Government that they believe could be construed as a sop for voters in the coming elections.

Four Bills are scheduled to be tabled in the House during the session.

Sharing the certainty with the rest in the Trinamool Congress leadership that the days of the Left Front in power are numbered, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Partha Chatterjee has contended: “The Left Front knows it will lose (in the coming polls). So it is rushing through the Bills”.

He has also had some stern words for the Speaker, accusing him of using the Assembly to promote political interests. “I will remain in office till the bell of the new Assembly rings,” Mr Halim told The Hindu.

With the political heat building up across the State as the dates of what is being considered one of the most crucial Assembly elections in recent times draw near, the signs are there that the Opposition will spare no barbs in its attack on the Left Front government in the session to come.

Those in the Treasury benches will hope to hold out for as long as it lasts.