Members of the Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) clashed in Parliament on Tuesday on the issue of Mumbai motormen’s strike, which was called off in the afternoon.
The Lok Sabha was unable to transact the regular business of the day.
Informing Parliament that the strike had been called off, Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa said the regional labour commissioner had set May 12 as the date for discussing the issue with the employees.
In the Lok Sabha, Trinamool and CPI(M) members almost came to blows minutes after Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was in Kolkata on Tuesday, was criticised by Opposition parties for allegedly mishandling the strike, which crippled Mumbai’s local train service.
As soon as CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharya stood up to speak in the Lok Sabha during the zero hour, Trinamool chief whip Sudip Bandopadhayay asked him to keep quiet.
“You are lying, shut up,” Bandopadhayay said, evoking strong reactions from the CPI(M)’s Ramchandra Dom.
Tempers ran high in the Lok Sabha even as MPs including Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Pawan Kumar Bansal rushed to calm the members, but in vain.
Subsequently, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the house till 2 p.m.
The din, however, continued when the House reassembled.
The Congress defended Mamata Banerjee on the issue, saying the party was satisfied with her handling of the situation. “All steps have been taken by the minister. She is discharging her responsibilities properly,” party spokesman Jayanthi Natarajan said.
Mamata Banerjee, who is also Trinamool chief, was busy preparing for the civic polls on May 30 at her residence in Kolkata
Sources close to her said that Banerjee was overseeing the process of filing nominations for the municipal elections on May 30. Tuesday was the last date of filing nominations.
According to a senior Trinamool Congress leader not authorised to comment officially, Banerjee was talking to members of the Railway Board about the strike.
“Banerjee has been at home since morning. She didn’t even go to her office at home,” the party leader said. Although she was scheduled to take a flight to Delhi, she cancelled the trip.
Banerjee was in regular touch with Sudip Bandopadhaya on the Lok Sabha proceedings.