Room No. 5 in Parliament House on Tuesday became the venue of a tussle between the Trinamool Congress and Telugu Desam Party after the former — flashing an official letter — attempted to take over the room as its office, and the latter chose to dig in its heels, citing “emotional and sentimental” reasons. The matter, which remained unresolved for the day, also generated an animated exchange of words between two MPs from opposing sides.
It all started around 2 pm when Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Sultan Ahmed, Saugata Roy, Satabdi Roy and Dinesh Trivedi reached Room No. 5 on the ground floor, and staked claim to the room, citing an August 6 letter from the Lok Sabha Secretariat. The letter said the room had been allotted to Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party “during the tenure of 16th Lok Sabha” and requested the party to “occupy the allotted accommodation/ room at the earliest”.
As Bandyopadhyay and Ahmed went inside to “take possession”, staff accompanying the TMC MPs removed the TDP nameplates from the entrance of the room and installed TMC’s. ‘Flashing the letter to mediapersons, the Trinamool MPs claimed they were only doing what they had been asked to do by the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the staff who removed the TDP nameplates belonged to Parliament and not the party. But the TDP leaders alleged that the personal secretary of a Trinamool MP removed the nameplates.
Inside the room, the Trinamool MPs ran into the TDP office staff. Clearly stunned, the TDP staff made hectic phone calls to report that the room was being taken over. “We have been told that we have been been given room nos. 135 and 136 on the third floor. But we don’t want to shift from this room since we have been here for 30 years now,” a TDP staff member said.
The Trinamool MPs, meanwhile, went into overdrive justifying their action. “It is for the first time that we have got a room in Parliament House. Even in the last Lok Sabha, our party functioned without a room,” party MP Sultan Ahmed told The Indian Express. Bandyopadhyay said, “The room being allotted to TDP is 61 square metres while the one they are currently in is just 51 square metres. They should have no problems shifting to a bigger room.”
The TDP office staff, too, got into action and distributed copies of a letter its parliamentary party leader Y S Chowdary wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on August 11. Stating that Room No. 5 had been in its possession since 1984 when TDP “began its journey to Parliament” with 32 seats, the letter gave a detailed account of the party’s performance in subsequent polls to state that “though we have seen ups and downs in our political career, yet, we held on to R. No. 5 PH”.
“In the recent elections to the AP Assembly, we rode back to power. Therefore, we are emotionally and sentimentally attached to R.No 5 PH,” Chowdary wrote. The letter expressed “deep gratitude” to the Speaker for allotting “much bigger” Room Nos. 135 and 136, but said the party, “in view of the emotional attachment”, should be allowed to continue in Room No. 5.
Around 4 pm, the TDPs nameplates were re-installed outside the room by TDP office secretary N Satyanarayana in the presence of Chowdary. “This is nothing but uncultured behaviour by TMC members,” Chowdary said.
The argument was clearly far from over. “This is not fair. How can you do this? We are friends, first thing. Right. Yesterday we had discussed,” Chowdary told Bandyopadhyay. Bandyopadhyay shot back: “Absolutely, yes we had discussed. But well after that when you went and met and talked they said whatever we have given we are not going to employ. If you can make it to Speaker, we will again go back. We have got it.”
Chowdary later told the media, “They cannot do that. We have already written a letter. Last 30 years we have been here. Our founder president late N T Rama Rao had done the inauguration. We have lot of sentimental value for this office. They have now spoiled our sentiment very badly. This is extremely bad. If this is the attitude of the TMC, then the people of West Bengal will tell them the way.”