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Trinamool relents, but seethes, as Babul Supriyo is sworn in by Deputy Speaker

Oath ceremony of former Union minister was the latest flashpoint between Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Bengal’s ruling party.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata |
Updated: May 12, 2022 1:08:17 pm
TMC leader Babul Supriyo (L) greets West Bengal Assembly Deputy Speaker Ashish Banerjee after being administered the oath as MLA in West Bengal Legislative Assembly as West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee (R) looks on, in Kolkata, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (PTI Photo)

The latest conflict between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar came to an end on Wednesday after Deputy Speaker Asish Banerjee administered the oath of office to the ruling party’s MLA and former Union minister Babul Supriyo after a delay of almost one month.

Supriyo was elected to the Assembly on April 16 but his swearing-in ceremony got held up as Dhankhar, on April 30, assigned the job to Asish Banerjee. The Governor cited Article 188 of the Constitution that states members of legislative assemblies must take “oath before the Governor, or some person appointed in that behalf by him”. According to convention, it has always been the Speaker. But, since last year, Dhankhar has refused to allow Speaker Biman Banerjee to administer the oath of office to MLAs.

Initially, Asish Banerjee complicated matters by refusing to follow Dhankhar’s instructions and saying that a Deputy Speaker functions only in the Speaker’s absence. But, he relented on Wednesday even as he expressed displeasure over the situation.

The Deputy Speaker accused Dhankhar of trying to create a rift between him and Biman Banerjee and said that he changed his mind after the Speaker asked him to administer the oath. “I did not want to administer the oath in place of the Speaker. But as Babul Supriyo, despite being elected as an MLA, could not do some important work, I decided to play my role after getting a request from the Speaker. The Governor tried to create a divide between me and the Speaker. But we are together,” Asish Banerjee added.

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Despite being on the Assembly premises, Biman Banerjee did not attend the swearing-in ceremony.

After taking the oath, Supriyo thanked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “I thank Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for providing me with this opportunity and from now onwards I will work according to her instructions. I have worked as a Union minister but had never visited the Assembly before. Today, a new chapter has begun.”

On May 1, Supriyo had appealed to Dhankhar on Twitter to allow Biman Banerjee to preside over the swearing-in ceremony. But the Governor tweeted back saying that the public domain was not the place to make such a request. The legislator on Wednesday went on to say, “I started my work as an MLA a long time back. Only the swearing-in was pending. Despite some complications, today the event was completed. There is a saying that all’s well that ends well. It is very true when it comes to this event.”

BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya blamed the state government’s “stubbornness” for the delay in Supriyo’s swearing-in. “The Governor has the prerogative of either administering the oath himself or mandating someone else to do so. In this case, West Bengal Governor mandated the Deputy Speaker. But it is the state’s ruling party that made an issue out of it and delayed the process by saying the Speaker should do it,” he added.

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