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West Bengal: Appointment of Turncoat Mukul Roy as PAC Head Raises Many Eyebrows

Opposition raises questions about parliamentary ethics and convention, as the former BJP vice-president rejoined TMC after the recently held Assembly elections.
Mukul Roy

Image Courtesy: WIkimedia Commons

Kolkata: Contravening parliamentary convention whereby the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairperson’s post is given to the Opposition, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government has deviated and installed turncoat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Mukul Roy, who recently returned to TMC.

Roy, formerly the all-India vice president of BJP, had rejoined TMC after the dismal performance of the saffron party in the recently held West Bengal Assembly elections. 

On Friday evening, after the present Assembly session was over, the Speaker formally announced Roy’s name as chairperson. Interestingly, though, BJP has given a notice for sacking Roy under the anti-defection law. Roy has been is sitting in the Opposition benches, not in the Treasury benches, to avoid getting embroiled in the anti-defection law.  

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has expressed dismay at the way politics is playing out in the legislative Assembly, blaming TMC and BJP for starting ‘ayaram gayaram’ (turncoats) politics.

“One morning one legislator is in BJP and the next morning he is TMC,” CPI(M) leader Surjyakanta Mishra said while talking to reporters in Cooch Behar on Friday, hours after the  PAC announcement was made.

It may mentioned that in the previous Assembly, too,  the TMC government had adopted a similar path in giving the PAC chairperson’s post to Manas Bhuniya, who had won on a Congress ticket but had defected to TMC in 2016. The Opposition had then nominated the name of Sujan Chakraborty as PAC chairperson which went unheeded.

After Roy’s name was announced on Thursday, BJP staged a walk-out from the Assembly not one of the six names that it had given were nominated for the post.

 A former MLA, on condition of anonymity, commenting on the recent trend in politics in the state, recalled the instances of a present minister, who had won on a Congress ticket, and the Kolkata Mayor who won on a TMC ticket, adding that this was setting a bad precedent. 

“TMC does not want to be answerable to anyone in a fascistic way,” he said, adding that “unprincipled defections” were initially encouraged by the current ruling dispensation in the state. “Before the Assembly elections, BJP had encouraged defections and after the elections, TMC is doing the same,” headed.

Talking to  NewsClick, well-known political commentator, Prof Anjan Bera, said with this step (Roy as PAC) ‘all democratic norms have been diluted and it is a serious compromise with parliamentary convention”. 

The role of the PAC is to check the accounts of the government, and in West Bengal, amidst its 20 members, 13 are from the ruling party while seven are from the Opposition During the 34 years of Left Front rule in the state, the post of PAC head has always gone to the Opposition. The current panchayat mInister Subrata Mukherjee and another current heavyweight minister Partha Chatterjee were PAC heads during Left rule.

Talking to NewsClick, Rabin Deb, CPI(M) central committee member and former Chief Whip of  Left Front in West Bengal Assembly, said such appointments raised questions about parliamentary ethics and convention.

 ‘It is completely unethical top give a turncoat politician this post. Even BJP in Parliament had gone against the ethics of giving the Deputy Speaker’s post of Lok Sabha to the Opposition. TMC is doing the same that in the state. In Parliamentary practice, there is saying that the House belongs to the Opposition,” said Deb, recalling that during Left rule, West Bengal Assembly Speaker Hasim Abdul Halim had set the right precedent, saying that “if government accounts are checked by the Opposition, then it help maintain the standard of government work.”

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