The standoff between the ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP continued after eight MLAs from the opposition party resigned from the post of chairman of eight committees of West Bengal Assembly over Mukul Roy’s appointment as the chairperson of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by Speaker Biman Banerjee.
Those who tendered their resignations are Mihir Goswami (Chairman, Committee on Estimates), Manoj Tigga (Chairman, Standing Committee on Labour), Krishna Kalyani (Chairman, Standing Committee on Power & Non-conventional Energy Sources), Nikhil Ranjan Dey (Chairman, Committee on Fisheries & ARD), Bishnu Prasad Sharma (Chairman, Standing Committee on PW and PHE), Dipak Barman (Chairman, Standing Committee on IT and Tech, Edu), Ashok Kirtania (Chairman, Committee on Subordinate Legislation) and Anandamoy Barman (Chairman, Committee on Papers Laid on the Table)
On July 9, in a controversial political move, Mukul Roy — who recently quit the BJP to rejoin TMC — was appointed as the PAC chairperson in the West Bengal Assembly. Soon after, there was uproar in the assembly as BJP MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari, staged a walkout, raising slogans against this decision.
Adhikari accused the ruling TMC for violating the norms while announcing Roy as PAC chairperson. They wanted to make BJP MLA from Balurghat, Ashok Lahiri (former chief economic adviser to Centre) to be the PAC chairperson.
The disgruntled BJP leaders met Speaker Biman Banerjee and questioned his decision to make Roy the PAC chairperson. he Speaker, however, told them the appointment was made following the assembly rules. It was then BJP MLAs resigned from the post of chairman from eight committees of the assembly and met Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar with their grievances in the evening.
The delegation led by LoP Adhikari and Chief Whip Manoj Tigga submitted a memorandum to the Governor, questioning the legality of Mukul Roy’s appointment as PAC Chairperson.
Meeting with Guv a photo session opportunity: TMC
Reacting on BJP’s allegation and their meeting with Governor Dhankhar, TMC MP Saugata Roy, said, “There is nothing unethical in this (on Mukul Roy as PAC chairperson). Let them meet the Governor, but the fact is the Speaker’s decision is the final in the state assembly. I personally feel that their meeting with the Governor is nothing, but a photo session opportunity over cups of tea.”
BJP state President Dilip Ghosh, however, condemned the appointment of Roy as PAC Chairperson and announced that the BJP will boycott all the committees in the West Bengal Assembly. On June 18, Adhikari had submitted a petition before the Speaker, claiming that since Mukul Roy joined the TMC on June 11, he should be disqualified under the anti-defection law as he did not resign from the BJP before switching sides.
Legally, Mukul Roy is still the BJP MLA as he has not resigned, despite being asked several times by the BJP, from Krishnanagar North constituency in Nadia district. Since, a leader from the opposition is usually made a chairman of the PAC, TMC played a masterstroke and made Mukul Roy the chairperson citing that he is legally a BJP MLA. Also, the Speaker has the power to select chairpersons of the various committees in the state assembly.
There are 41 committees in the West Bengal Assembly and PAC is the most crucial one because it works as the audit body for the House.