An opposition legislator in Tripura has found a unique way of drawing the Speaker’s attention: Just pick up the ceremonial mace and run away from the floor of the House.
On the last day of the winter session on Monday, Trinamool Congress MLA Sudip Roy Barman and other members of the opposition raised the issues of an alleged sex scandal involving state forest minister Naresh Jamatia as well as Agartala Municipal Corporation councillor Mrinmoy Sen’s involvement in a molestation case.
After Speaker Ramendra Chandra Nath didn’t allow them to continue, opposition members from Congress and Trinamool Congress stood up to protest and trooped into the Well.
Roy Barman went a step ahead and suddenly lifted the Speaker’s mace and ran away. He later gave it to Marshal Arun Das. Amid the ensuing pandemonium, Nath adjourned the House till 2pm and all the opposition MLAs staged a walk-out.
Nath condemned Roy Barman’s behaviour and said it was totally ‘undemocratic’ and ‘unethical’.
“The TMC legislator raised the issue in the Zero Hour without bringing any formal notice which goes against the rule. Still, the chief minister and forest minister replied to his questions. But no one is allowed to touch the mace and he has done an unethical job. I would look into the issue,” the Speaker said after the incident.
On his part, Roy Barman said his action was part of House procedure and there was nothing ‘undemocratic’ about it.
“The issues are important ... We appealed to him to give us a scope to discuss them further but he didn’t pay any heed to us. So, I had to take away the mace. And such thing was done by the opposition earlier as well,” Roy Barman said.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party, it was an ‘eyewash’.
“The CPM first brought the culture of running away with the mace. It seems that the opposition is following the same culture. But basically the act was nothing but an eyewash,” a BJP leader said.
In a diplomatic statement, the Congress said that it had happened in the past but it was not ‘appreciable’.
“This kind of incident is nothing new in Tripura politics. The incident occurred for the first time in the assembly in 1973 ... The Speaker’s Marshal is responsible for guarding the mace. However, the act of running away with the mace is not appreciable,” Congress state vice-president Tapas Dey said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) backed MLA Ajay Biswas had fled with the mace from the House in 1973. Later, Congress MLA Motilal Saha repeated the act in the nineties. After that, Congress MLA Birajit Sinha had attempted to do the same but failed.