On her first day in the assembly on Monday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged the new Speaker to give more importance to the sensitivities of the opposition bench than the ruling side.
Lawyer and Trinamool MLA Biman Banerjee, 63, was elected the Speaker of the assembly without hindrance as the Left Front did not put up a candidate. However, while thanking members for electing him unopposed to the chair, in a slip of tongue, the newly elected Speaker addressed the CM as prime minister.
The Trinamool chief’s gesture was welcomed by the entire House, particularly the Left Front, which is sitting on the Opposition benches for the first time after remaining in power for an uninterrupted 34 years. Leader of the opposition Suryakanta Mishra welcomed Mamata’s proposal, saying that the opposition was honoured.
In another development, considering the financial crisis of the state, the CM set a precedent by paying R2 lakh from her personal account for renovating her chamber as well as the rooms of a couple of her secretaries at the Writers’ Building.
“I needed to renovate the rooms for creating a comfortable atmosphere for working long hours. Because of the financial crisis the state exchequer is going through, I decided to pay from my personal account,” she said.
“I am not criticising the taste of my predecessor here. He had decorated the room according to his own taste and comfort and I did it according to my taste and comfort,” the CM said, insisting that there was nothing “political” in this “change”.
She has changed the brown colour of the walls to white, while a wooden floor has replaced the carpeted floor. Wooden chairs with cushions have replaced the leather-covered chairs of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee regime, and the semi-oval table of the chief minister has given way to a half-circle-shaped one.
A flat-screen television was bought to replace the 14-inch television set, but the CM gifted it to the press corner. “I can watch TV and get news feeds through Internet on my mobile phone. So I don’t need a TV set in my room. It would be of better help for the media persons,” she said.
CM meets GJM president Gurung
“Darjeeling is inside West Bengal and not outside,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee told Gorkha Janamukhti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung at Writers’ Building on Monday. When asked whether he had demanded statehood, Gurung said, “Today we came for a courtesy call.”
During the campaign for the assembly polls, CPI(M) leaders constantly alleged the Trinamool chief had a tacit understanding with the GJM and they (Trinamool) even connived at Gurung’s plan for carving out a separate state.
The CM said, “I have asked (for) an officer-level meeting between the chief secretary with GJM representatives on June 6.”