Umbrellas to pots, Trinamool MPs bring new protest style to parliament
The Trinamool Congress, which has been at the forefront of all the major agitations in parliament this winter session, has also stood out for its innovative ways of protest - from black umbrellas during the black money issue to earthen pots to demonstrate against the dilution of the rural job guarantee scheme.
New Delhi: The Trinamool Congress, which has been at the forefront of all the major agitations in parliament this winter session, has also stood out for its innovative ways of protest - from black umbrellas during the black money issue to earthen pots to demonstrate against the dilution of the rural job guarantee scheme.
Mamata Banerjee`s band of aggressive MPs from West Bengal might have jumped into the speaker`s podium at the slightest pretext, but they have also shown their creative side whenever possible.
One reason for the aggression could be that they are feeling the heat in the Saradha scam with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arresting TMC leaders for their alleged involvement. TMC alleges central hand behind action against their leaders.
The winter session kicked off with a massive opposition backlash over the government`s promise of bringing back black money from foreign banks with the Trinamool MPs trooping into the chair`s podium in both the houses holding black umbrellas.
However, the umbrellas disappeared the next day when the speaker chided them for indiscipline. Instead the MPs came draped in black shawls.
"Such behaviour is neither acceptable nor justified," Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had said.
The government`s decision to amend the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) saw the Trinamool MPs demonstrating outside the parliament with earthen pots.
The party was demanding that instead of amending the Act, the central government should raise th wages paid under the popular scheme that guarantees a minimum 100 days of employment in a year to those living below poverty line in rural areas.
According to one of the party MPs, the pots were arranged by Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar from a Pahargunj market.
Ghosh Dastidar, however, when contacted told IANS that it was the central leadership of the party which decides on the methods of protest.
"The central leadership of the party decides and informs us. It is done centrally," she told IANS.
"All the procurement and arrangement for the protest items is also done by the central leadership," she said.
In one of the most impressive protests, TMC leaders held up red diaries both inside and outside the parliament a day after BJP President Amit Shah accused West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee of shielding the guilty in the Saradha scam and Burdwan blast at a rally in the state.
The TMC leaders had said that Amit Shah`s name figured in a red diary purportedly recovered from jailed Sahara chief Subrata Roy.
They were hitting out at Shah, who in a rally in Kolkata had said that the money from the Saradha scam money was used in the Burdwan blast of Oct 2. Two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed and a third injured. A National Investigation Agency team reached Burdwan the next day and have found a group named `Al Jihad` being involved in the activities.
According to sources, arranging the red diaries was reportedly Rajya Sabha MP Derek O` Brian`s responsibility, who readied it by wrapping ordinary diaries with red paper.
A Trinamool MP on condition of anonymity said that the orders and methodology for the protests come straight from the chief minister and the party has used such novel ways of protesting earlier in West Bengal too.
In January, the TMC leaders lifted cylinders to protest against the LPG price hike after the government announced a steep rise of Rs 220 per cylinder on firming international rates.
Possibly taking cue from them, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also led a protest on the black money issue with black bands covering the mouths of his MPs outside the parliament house last week.
According to former Lok Sabha Secretary General P. Sreedharan, MPs resort to such ways to catch the eye of the chair.
"If you remember in the last Lok Sabha some members of parties from the south would come to the house in black shirts to protest human rights violations in Sri Lanka," he told IANS.
"The problem is when you have a good debate, the media will not pick it up. But such kinds of protests are novel and attract media as well as people`s attention," he added.