Eight Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs in West Bengal resigned as heads of various panels of the state Assembly on Tuesday in protest against the appointment of Mukul Roy as chairman of the public accounts committee, PTI reported.
Roy, who won from the Krishnanagar Uttar constituency in the Assembly elections on a BJP ticket, joined the Trinamool Congress last month. However, he has not yet resigned as a BJP MLA.
His appointment as the public accounts committee chairman was made by the speaker of the Assembly on July 9, based on rules which mandate that the panel is to be headed by a legislator of the main Opposition party. The public accounts committee audits the revenue and expenditure of the government.
The Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Suvendu Adhikari has objected to Roy’s appointment pointing out that he cannot be considered a BJP MLA since he has quit the party.
BJP MLAs had staged a walkout from the Assembly after Roy was made chairman of the panel on a recommendation made by the Trinamool Congress. The BJP had pitched party MLA Ashok Lahiri for the post.
“Roy’s appointment is undemocratic and a naked display of partisan politics,” Manoj Tigga, one of the BJP MLAs who quit from a standing committee of the Assembly, told PTI on Tuesday.
Later, the eight MLAs who quit their posts, along with Adhikari, visited the Raj Bhavan to inform Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar of the matter. “Leader of Opposition submitted a representation as regards irregularities relatable to PAC chairman,” Dhankhar said in a tweet after the meeting.
Defections in BJP and TMC in Bengal
Roy’s decision to join the Trinamool Congress on June 11 marked a sort of culmination of political events in West Bengal. One of the earliest members of the Mamata Banerjee-led party, he had resigned from the Rajya Sabha and all posts in the Trinamool Congress, and joined the BJP in October 2017. He was also made the national vice president of the saffron party.
Over the next four years, and in the lead up to the Assembly elections in West Bengal in March-April, several Trinamool Congress leaders, including ministers in the state government, joined the BJP. Adhikari was the most prominent leader who defected to the saffron party. Once a trusted lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee, he quit the party ahead of the polls and went on to defeat the chief minister in Nandigram.
However, after the Trinamool Congress assumed power in the state for a third straight term, Roy returned to his old party, saying he was “feeling suffocated” in the BJP. At a press briefing after he rejoined the party, both Roy and Banerjee indicated that more leaders were expected to break ranks from the BJP. However, no major defections have taken place since then.