TMC MPs vote against key bill, Govt dials Mamata

Members of UPA ally Trinamool Congress voted against a key bill in Lok Sabha that prompted an embarrassed government to immediately take it up with Mamata Banerjee.

New Delhi: Members of UPA ally Trinamool Congress on Monday voted against a key bill in Lok Sabha that prompted an embarrassed government to immediately take it up with Mamata Banerjee, who promised to look into the matter saying she had not given any such directive.

"I have talked to Mamata Banerjee. She said she has not asked them to vote against the bill. She was not told that they were voting against the bill. She has said she will look into the matter," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters, hinting that there could have been a "mix-up".

The minister had a telephonic talk with Banerjee after it was clear that members of Trinamool Congress somewhere between four to six in the House then, voted against the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2012 that sought to extend the tenure of the MCI Board of Governors till May 2013 as its current tenure was coming to end on May 14.

The Bill was later passed with 100 votes in favour and 57 against after BJD member Tathagata Satpathy sought a division. The Left and BJD MPs had staged a walkout.

Bansal said the TMC members actually did not intend to vote against the bill but "under some mistake it has been done by them. It was not the intention of any one of them".

Uproarious scenes were witnessed in the House with BJP member Maneka Gandhi having heated exchanges with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad alleging massive corruption in granting licences to medical colleges, a charge strongly refuted by the government.

It is learnt that the members of Trinamool Congress were not in favour of the bill and some of them had even been telling the media on condition of anonymity that they will be opposing it.

Minister of State for Health and Trinamool Congress
leader Sudip Bandopadhyaye was not present in the House, when the government bill was being discussed.

A minister in the government speaking on condition of anonymity, however, said that though TMC members have opposed a number of measures of the government in past also, there is a general acceptance that they will not vote against a bill.

Since the bill has also to come to the Rajya Sabha in the same session, where UPA does not have a majority, a repeat of today`s actions by the ally could be a huge embarrassment for the government.

Sources said that the government has told Banerjee about its concern. The Trinamool Congress chief is learnt to have assured the government that she will look into it.

Though her party is unlikely to vote in favour of the bill even in Rajya Sabha, the government is of the view that the party can either abstain from voting or stage a walk out when the bill comes in the Upper House, which will not be as embarrassing as its voting against a government bill.