WITH THE BJP-led government bringing in The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018, on the last day of 16th Lok Sabha, Opposition unity lay in tatters in the House on Wednesday as the discussion progressed and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) stood isolated amid a blistering attack from Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and CPI(M) member Mohammad Salim.
Chowdhury and Salim not only backed the Bill, but also had sharp words of criticism for West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee on the chit fund scam in the state.
As TMC members, parked in the Well, returned fire with provocative slogans, the atmosphere in the House got tense — the two sides stopped just short of a physical clash. Enjoying what was happening on the Opposition-side, BJP members thumped their desks.
TMC members were already protesting in the Well, shouting “BJP ka gundagardi nahin chalega (BJP’s lumpenism will not be tolerated)” and “Narendra Modi..hai hai (Modi..down down)”, when the discussion on the Bill relating to chit fund scams was taken up.
Chowdhury, Congress MP from Bengal who spoke first after Finance Minister Piyush Goyal initiated the Bill, said, “Those making a noise here should say ‘chor machaye shor’…. They belong to Bengal. They have come here after looting Bengal.”
As Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi, seated in the front row, turned to figure out what Chowdhury was saying, the latter stepped up the attack. He said: “Money belonging to 25 lakh people has been looted in West Bengal…. No one should have the concession to loot…between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 crore has been looted in Bengal. This has happened during their (TMC) rule — big chit fund companies have looted in connivance with them (those in power).”
The guilty, the Congress MP said, must be punished.
TMC members started shouting slogans against Chowdhury.
Salim then said sarcastically: “Some people get hyperactive when chit funds find a mention…. There are many (in the House)…who should have been in jail…. You can see many people sitting here…(they) have come out of jail after political bargaining and are making speeches here…”
Salim also levelled serious charges against Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress, which were expunged by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Enraged, TMC members walked up the aisle. With fingers pointed at Salim, they shouted slogans against him. As TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee, Aparupa Poddar and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar stood next to Salim, calling him names, CPI(M) members P Karunakaran, P K Biju, Anirudhan Sampath and M B Rajesh sensed danger and immediately created a human wall between Salim and the three TMC members to ensure they did not touch him.
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah was seen pleading with both sides with folded hands to disengage, but in vain.
Trinamool leader Saugata Roy said Mamata Banerjee had got the main accused in the Saradha scam arrested. While BJP members created a din to drown his voice, Roy held forth.
The Bill was passed with a voice vote.