CONGRESS ON Friday decided to showcause its Sabang MLA Manas Bhunia for indiscipline after he steadfastly refused to step down from the post of chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the West Bengal Assembly despite repeated requests by party leaders.
The decision was taken after state party president Adhir Chowdhury and Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Friday. At the meeting, a detailed report was presented to Rahul about how a deputation, signed by 40 state MLAs urging Bhunia to step down, has been ignored. Congress had wanted to give the PAC chairman’s post to CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty.
“I have apprised Rahul Gandhi of Bhunia’s refusal to resign from the PAC chairman’s post. Gandhi said that indiscipline in the party will not be tolerated and asked us to serve a showcause notice to Bhunia,” said Chowdhury. He again claimed that Bhunia was acting under instructions of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. “We had seen on July 4 an arrest warrant was issued against Bhunia in a false case. He met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and later in the day, he was appointed the PAC chairman. There is some kind of tacit understanding,” Chowdhury said.
On Bhunia holding the third PAC meeting on Friday — which was again not attended by Congress and Left Front MLAs — Chowdhury said the Sabang MLA seemed to be more interested in looking into the backlog of expenses over budgetary allocations made during the Left regime. “Bhunia, who had predicted that CPM’s Surjya Kanta Mishra would be the chief minister, is now more concerned about CPM’s backlog and not the irregularities committed by Trinamool during the last five years… This is a clear indication that he was made the PAC chairman by Mamata Banerjee,” he added.
Sujan Chakraborty claimed Bhunia has become a pawn in Trinamool’s hands. “Everyone can see that Trinamool is playing a game and he is a puppet. I don’t know whether he realises it,” he told mediapersons outside the Assembly. He added that when Left Front was the principal Opposition party, the chairman’s post was given to a Congress MLA. “It is announced by the Assembly Speaker in consultation with the leader of Opposition. This time, the leader of Opposition’s suggestions were ignored. This is dangerous for democracy. The post of chairman is not important… what is important is the united fight against the Trinamool misrule, which will continue, irrespective of who is made the PAC chairman,” Chakraborty said.
Asked why he did not attend the PAC meeting on Friday as he was present at the Governor’s ‘Vriksharopan’ programme in the Assembly, he said: “I was stuck in a traffic jam and arrived late. Besides, the PAC meeting had traditionally been fixed on Wednesdays… It becomes difficult to attend the meeting on Fridays.” Taking a dig at Bhunia, he said: “The PAC chairman’s job is not only to conduct press conference everyday. He might as well take journalists to attend the meeting.”
Bhunia, meanwhile, said: “The PAC is a prestigious post and the Speaker is its custodian. Those who stay away from its meetings, the Speaker will take a decision on them.” Asked about the party showcausing him, he claimed: “I have not received any such intimation. I will reply when I get a showcause notice.”