WB Assembly witnesses bedlam over LF protest

It was Bedlam at the West Bengal Assembly after Left Front members protested a minister`s statement blaming the CPI(M) for spreading rumours.

Kolkata: It was Bedlam at the West Bengal
Assembly on Thursday after Left Front members protested a minister`s
statement blaming the CPI(M) for spreading rumours that water
of the Dangoria plant in South 24-Parganas district had been

PHE Minister Subrata Mukherjee said a rumour was being
spread since last night that water in the Dangoria plant of
the Dangoria Arsenic Free Project, had been poisoned.

He said those spreading the rumours urged people not to
drink or even touch the water from the plant, which reaches
15 lakh people across nine blocks.

Pointing out that the constituencies of Speaker Biman
Bandopadhyay and Deputy Speaker Sonali Guha were also served
by the plant, Mukherjee said after consulting them, he sent a
team of engineers to the plant and had the water tested in the
state-of-the-art PHE laboratory.

The water was found to be safe after examination, he
said, adding that people of the area were informed through
mobile loudspeakers about the safety of the water and the
district administration and police have also been alerted.

Mukherjee said he had information that the rumour was
being spread by the CPI(M).

At this, Left Front members were on their feet, demanding
that Mukherjee`s statement blaming the CPI(M) be expunged.
Describing the statement from the Treasury Bench, in
the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, as
"irresponsible", Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra also
demanded that the statement be expunged.

Describing the PHE minister as a seasoned politician,
Banerjee said whatever Mukherjee had said in his statement on
the issue was on the basis of enquiries.

While the Opposition was free to criticise her as chief
minister, they had no right to play with the lives of the
people, Banerjee said.

Accusing the Left Front of not taking any initiative in
quelling tension in its 35 years of rule, she said during the
riots in the city after the Babri Masjid demolition, she had
met the then Chief Minister Jyoti Basu appealing to him to
take steps in bringing the law and order situation under

Banerjee said earlier, in a case of hooch deaths in
Kidderpore area here, she had taken the initiative in having
the victim`s post-mortems conducted when no minister from the
then Left Front government had responded.

The chief minister said she had also taken the initiative
to move the Howrah district administration in stopping clashes
at Uluberia and Chengail areas, although she was not in the
government then.

An enquiry would be conducted to find out who the
rumour-mongers were, she said.

Asserting that it was a crime to spread rumours, Banerjee
said this was being done to tarnish the image of her

Not convinced, Opposition members trooped to the Well and
Mishra was seen displaying the Assembly rule book to the
Speaker, who, however, continued with the business of the
House and told Mishra that he would take a decision on his
demand after examining Mukherjee`s speech.

Later, addressing a press conference jointly with
Mukherjee, the chief minister said CPI(M) will be responsible
if anything similar happens in future.
"Because they are not in power, (the CPI-M) is trying to
embarrass the government. We want to move ahead with everyone
in a democratic manner. But if anybody takes advantage of our
courtesy and indulges in the politics of killing people, it
will not be tolerated."

Pointed out that the recent hooch tragedy that killed 173
people and the rumour about poisoned water both took place in
South 24-Parganas district, Banerjee said the CPI(M) was
responsible as it wanted to "capture the district Zilla
Parishad which is now held by the Trinamool Congress".

"They are doing this so that they can capture the
Zilla Parishad. They know they cannot do it by democratic
means. So, they are doing all this."

Pointing out that Trinamool Congress panachayat members
were not being allowed to work in 16 districts where the Zilla
Parishads are held by CPI(M), she said, "Most panchayats are
defunct. So I have asked the BDOs to ensure that work under
NREGA are carried out."

Stating that SMSes were sent to a section of the media
threatening more such rumours, Banerjee said once the enquiry
is conducted, it will become clear that such moves were the
result of a conspiracy.

"I am stunned to think that those who kill people for
political gains participate in democratic politics," she
said adding "only the CPI(M) and our Maoist friends do such

Banerjee said when her party Trinamool Congress was in
Opposition in the Assembly, the salaries of her party MLAs
were deducted because she had come to meet them during the
anti-land acquisition movement at Singur.


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