The Autumn session of Tripura Assembly concluded on Tuesday amid a walkout by the Opposition MLAs, with as many as four bills, including the Essential Services Maintenance Bill, which would stop government employees from organising strikes, being passed on the last day.
Besides Tripura Essential Services Maintenance Bill, 2019, the other bills that were passed include Tripura Electricity Duty Bill, The Salaries, Allowances, Pension and Other Benefits of the Ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Leader of Opposition, Government Chief Whip Bill and the Members of the Legislative Assembly (5th amendment) bill.
As soon as the bill for implementing the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) was tabled, the Opposition started protesting and said the Bill was being passed by the strength of majority.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who also holds the Home portfolio, said ESMA was being implemented for the interest of people of Tripura. He said employees didn’t need to fear the legislation and nothing bad would befall those who respect proper work culture.
Deb also pointed out that ESMA was implemented at Tripura Medical College way back on July 24, 2010, during the Left regime. The Chief Minister also cited the example of Kerala, where ESMA was implemented by the Left Democratic Front government in 2017 and said the law would serve interests of common people since it would ensure the continuation of essential services like public healthcare and other sectors.
Opposition leader Manik Sarkar, meanwhile, argued that the law would scuttle rights of employees and demanded to that the bill be repealed. “It is an anti-democratic bill. I request the Chief Minister to create an ambience of trust and solidarity instead of fostering ambience of distrust. Introducing ESMA in this way would carry a wrong message,” Sarkar said.
In regard to Kerala implementing ESMA, Sarkar, who belongs to CPI(M), said Tripura didn’t have to implement a law just because another state had done it and walked out in protest.