THE TRINAMOOL Congress will not be present in Parliament when the Union Budget is presented on Wednesday. While the party issued a statement saying its MPs would remain absent on the first two days of the Budget Session in protest against demonetisation, the party’s national spokesperson, Derek O’Brien, wrote in a blog on NDTV website on Sunday night that party MPs were not keen to leave their families on the occasion of Saraswati Puja, to be celebrated on Wednesday. The party also decided to skip the all-party meetings called by the government and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday in the national capital, stating that its parliamentary party meeting had already been scheduled earlier.
A statement issued by Trinamool soon after the meeting of party MPs with party chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata stated, “Trinamool MPs will not be present in Parliament on the first two days of the Budget Session in protest against demonetisation, which was implemented without taking Parliament into confidence, and restrictions on withdrawal limits from bank accounts which are still in force. In the ensuing session, Trinamool will, among other issues, raise the issue of the illegal arrest of its Lok Sabha leader and another MP which is a clear case of political vendetta by the ruling party at the Centre by misusing CBI and abusing its power.”
In his blog, O’Brien, the party’s Rajya Sabha leader, wrote at length about the importance of Saraswati Puja in the Bengali cultural calendar, reminiscing how its importance was not less even for a Catholic like him going to a Jesuit school. “Many of my party colleagues in Parliament are plain uncomfortable with leaving their homes on February 1 and not spending Saraswati Puja with their families, children and grandchildren,” he wrote. “As a result, Trinamool Congress will in all probability be missing from Parliament when the Finance Minister gets up to read his speech and make his proposals.” Earlier, Mamata had also protested against the Budget being presented on the puja day.
Trinamool has been at the loggerheads with the Modi government over the issue of demonetisation and the arrest of its two MPs by CBI in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam. Party chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Kalyan Banerjee, told mediapersons that in the ensuing session, Trinamool will, among other things, raise the issue of the “illegal arrest” of its Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay and MP Tapas Paul, alleging it “is a clear case of political vendetta by the ruling party at the Centre by misusing CBI and abusing its power”. To a question, he said that Bandopadhyay will continue to be their leader in the Lok Sabha. On whether it was “boycott”, he said: “It is open for your interpretation.” On Trinamool’s coordination with other political parties, Banerjee said: “We have one point agenda of removing Narendra Modi. We will be with those who will also work in that direction.”
— With PTI Inputs