Trinamool's proposal to re-introduce Bidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) in West Bengal, if voted to power after the state assembly polls, seems to have opened a Pandora's box.
While CPI(M) describes this proposal as a well-planned ploy to ensure backdoor entry to non-elected party-loyals to the helm of power, Trinamool has countered it by describing the suggestion as a positive step by opening the gate for competent individuals to be part of the administrative process. Even Congress is also backing the idea of re-introduction.
The outgoing speaker of the West Bengal assembly, Hasim Abdul Halim, who holds the record of the longest-serving speaker in any state assembly, was the most critical of this proposal.
"The proposal is a ploy to enable party loyalists to get a backdoor entry as a legislator without being elected through a democratic system. At the same time, their entry will also be a monetary burden for the state, as the Bidhan Parishad members would have equal facilities like that of an elected legislator. This is nothing but misuse of public money," Halim said.
Incidentally, if the Bidhan Parishad is re-introduced, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who is not contesting from any constituency right now, will not have to be
elected as an MLA within the next six months, as she can easily make an entry via the Legislative Council. The current example of a state chief minister, who made an entry into the cabinet through Bidhan Parishad, is Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
In fact, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has lauded the proposal and said that the re-introduction of Bidhan Parishad is not a problem. According to him, the proposal first needs to be passed at the state assembly and sent to the Union government thereafter. Subsequently, a bill is introduced in both houses of Parliament and passed with simple majority.
Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said that re-introduction of the Bidhan Parishad would ensure competent people becoming a part of the administration. "It is a good idea since the experience of these competent persons will help us serve the public better. What is the harm in re-introduction of Bidhan Parishad? We have experts and experienced persons in our state. We will seek their opinion to run the government smoothly and serve the people better," he said.
Halim countered that re-introduction of Bidhan Parishad would not be easy since Trinamool will have to first bag power in the state with two-thirds majority, which is virtually impossible.
Legislative Councils are active in Karnataka, Jharkhand and Bihar, The second United Front government in West Bengal, led by the-then chief minister Ajay Mukherjee, had taken the decision to withdraw the Bidhan Parishad in 1969.
Echoing the refrain of the Speaker, SUCI Lok Sabha member from Joynagar, Tarun Mandal, said that his party also also feels that the reintroduction of the Legislative Council would be a needless burden on the state exchequer.