Four West Bengal MLAs had to be taken to hospital on Tuesday after the ruling Trinamool Congress and Left members came to blows inside the Assembly.
The CPM’s Kulti MLA, Gouranga Chatterjee, a heart patient who received injuries on his cheek, was taken to hospital along with TMC MLAs Mahmuda Begum (Kumarganj), who was hit in the chest, and Pulok Roy (Uluberia), who was injured in the leg.
The CPM’s Ranibandh MLA, Deblina Hembram, a former minister in the Left Front government, was pinned down to the floor and beaten up. After she complained of breathlessness, she too was taken to hospital.
Later, Speaker Biman Banerjee suspended three Left MLAs, a move that raised a fresh controversy. The West Bengal government, however, defended the Speaker’s ruling against the CPM MLAs, saying they had “instigated” the violence and rejected the counter-charge against the Trinamool as false.
Tempers ran high after Left members, who had tried to bring an adjournment motion on the mushrooming of chit funds in the state, rushed to the Speaker’s podium and started shouting slogans.
Senior ministers Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim shielded the Speaker as Left members continued to shout slogans. Subsequently a section of TMC and Left MLAs rushed to the well and came face to face, with Chatterjee and Hakim trying to separate them. Congress members who were asked to join the protests by the Left did not do so.
There was pandemonium as CPM’s Kharagpur MLA Nazmul Haque snatched the microphone of the Speaker, who adjourned the House till 1.30 pm.
Trouble broke out again after the House re-assembled. Parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee demanded that action be taken against Left legislators for “insulting” the Speaker.
The Speaker thereafter suspended Left MLAs Nazmul Haque, Sushanta Besra (Bandwan) and Amjad Hossain (Pandua). As Hembram and TMC MLA Mahmuda Begum got into a verbal exchange, a free-for-all ensued, with the members coming to blows and pulling each other’s hair. CPM’s Gouranga Chatterjee was later beaten up by TMC MLAs.
Partha Chatterjee said the Speaker had suspended the members under Section 347, which did not provide any scope for self-defence, and accused the CPM of resorting to “goonda raj”, as it had done in the past 34 years.
“What business did Hembram have to go to the Treasury benches and attack our women members?” he questioned. He also called the incident “pre-planned”, and an attempt to tarnish the image of the government.