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West Bengal Assembly speaker dials Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar over swearing in impasse

West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee has sought Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar's intervention to resolve the impasse concerning the oath-taking ceremony of two newly elected TMC MLAs.
Last Updated : 28 June 2024, 09:54 IST

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Kolkata: West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee has sought Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar's intervention to resolve the impasse over the oath-taking ceremony of two newly elected TMC MLAs, who staged a dharna for the second consecutive day on Friday on the Assembly premises, insisting on taking the oath inside the House despite Governor C V Ananda Bose's invitation to do so at Raj Bhavan.

In a statement, the Raj Bhavan criticised remarks suggesting that women are afraid of going to the Governor's House, saying it expects public representatives not to create "erroneous and slanderous impressions." It emphasised that all issues are addressed promptly and with constitutional propriety, including the stalemate over the swearing-in of the MLAs.

The row over the venue for the swearing in ceremony of the two newly elected TMC MLAs intensified on Thursday after Banerjee wrote to President Droupadi Murmu seeking her help to resolve the deadlock.

"Last night I called up Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and requested him to look into the matter. I told him I had written to President Droupadi Murmu regarding the issue. What is happening regarding the MLAs' swearing-in is unacceptable," he told PTI.

Dhankhar served as Governor of West Bengal from July 2019 to July 2022. The Speaker also wrote to the Governor requesting him to resolve the matter at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Baranagar MLA Sayantika Bandyopadhyay and Bhagabangola MLA Rayat Hossain Sarkar staged a dharna for the second consecutive day in front of the BR Ambedkar's statue in the assembly on Friday, demanding that Bose enable them to perform their duties as legislators by facilitating the oath-taking ceremony in the House.

The sit-in, which was held from 12:30 pm to 5 pm, will resume again on Monday. The agitating MLAs were joined by senior TMC MLAs and ministers such as Firhad Hakim, Aroop Biswas, and Shashi Panja.

"We won't allow our woman legislator to visit Raj Bhavan when there are allegations of a woman employee of the Governor's House being molested. The swearing in has to take place in the assembly," Panja said.

Echoing her, Bandyopadhyay said she doesn't feel safe visiting Raj Bhavan. "I don't feel safe visiting Raj Bhavan and I am not comfortable there," she said.

Both Bandyopadhyay and Panja's remarks came a day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that she had received complaints from women who felt unsafe going to Raj Bhavan after reports of certain activities there.

A political firestorm erupted in May over a complaint by a Raj Bhavan woman employee, who accused the Governor of "molesting" her, even as Bose dubbed the allegations as "baseless and absurd drama".

Reacting to allegations that women don't feel safe at Raj Bhavan, Bose's office criticised the Chief Minister for her remarks and said it is expected of public representatives not to create "erroneous and slanderous impressions."

"It is expected of public representatives to uphold the Constitution and refrain from creating erroneous and slanderous impressions that may cast aspersions on the Governor," the Raj Bhavan said.

The Governor's office clarified on Friday that the MLAs had initially requested a venue shift to the Assembly due to personal preferences but had not raised any specific safety concerns about Raj Bhavan otherwise.

Responding to claims that the MLAs are unable to perform their duties in their constituencies, the Raj Bhavan said, "The oath is required to be taken before taking their seat in the assembly and to take part in the proceedings." "Nothing prevents the newly elected MLAs from serving the people of the constituencies," it said.

The Raj Bhavan also said all issues are addressed by the Governor with promptitude and constitutional propriety, including this one.

"Responses unjustifiably critical of the Governor were least expected from an experienced public representative," it said.

The latest face-off between the Governor and the TMC was triggered by a Raj Bhavan communication a few days ago inviting two newly elected MLAs to be present at the Governor's House on June 26 for their swearing in ceremony.

The controversy deepened when the MLAs declined the invitation to take the oath at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday, citing a convention that bypoll winners are sworn in by the Speaker or Deputy Speaker.

Instead, the two MLAs sat on a dharna in front of the BR Ambedkar statue in West Bengal Vidhan Sabha complex, demanding the governor facilitate their oath-taking in the assembly.

The governor, meanwhile, had left for New Delhi on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the issue unresolved.

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Published 28 June 2024, 09:54 IST

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