The intra-party squabble in Congress came out in the open when its legislators, along with their counterparts in the Left Front, staged a walkout after Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay announced the name of veteran Congress leader Manas Bhuniya as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The chairman of the PAC plays an important role in the parliamentary process. Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan, while addressing reporters, alleged that it was a conspiracy between the Speaker and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Tapas Roy, deputy chief whip of Trinamool Congress, said he would bring privilege against Mannan if his statement was carried in any newspaper the next day.
Mannan said “I do not accept the Speaker’s decision. His post is being misused. We have sent Sujan Chakraborty’s name.” West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Adhir Chowdhury said such a decision was taken to dent the alliance. “Bhuniya will have to either quit the post or the party,” he said.
Last Friday, Congress had sent the names of four MLAs, Manas Bhuniya, Sukhbilas Barma, Asit Mitra and Shankar Singh to select the PAC chairman from amongst them. Later, Mannan went to Delhi on Saturday and met with leaders of the Congress High Command.
It was learnt that the High Command had asked him to make Sujan Chakraborty the chairman.
Accordingly, Congress on Monday submitted his name. The Speaker said an MLA from the Opposition would be made the chairman.
As Congress was the primary Opposition party, Bhuniya was elected as the chairman. When the Speaker announced Bhuniya’s name, the Congress and Left Front legislators protested and staged a walk out.
Condemning the incident, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said it was “most unfortunate.”
There was resentment among Congress MLAs as well, who who said it was unfortunate that the Leader of Opposition was pleading for a CPI(M) MLA instead of his own partyman. “What message will be given to the people? It is wrong on Mannan’s part,” they said.