Speaker of the state Assembly, Biman Banerjee today said while the Assembly cannot function without a “ strong opponent” creating “disruption” mid-session and staging “ walk out” to gain media attention is not “ desirable”. The Speaker was addressing several college and school students at a mock-parliament session where these institutions were competing against each other.
“The Assembly functions with the ruling and the Opposing party. Democracy is strengthened only when the Assembly has a strong Opposition. It is the duty of the Opposition to point out the mistakes of the government,” he said.
In the same breath the Speaker condemned “walk out” and “boycott” staged by the Opponent.
“ There is tendency to disrupt the ongoing discussions and halt the session. This does not paint a pro-democratic picture. Once the Opposition boycotts the session the media too follows,” he said in an obvious reference to the repeated instances of walk out.
Reacting to the Speaker, the Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan said,“The Speaker is right in saying that the Assembly functions with a strong Opposition party. Just as the Speaker fulfils his duty, the duty of the Opposition is to oppose and criticise the government’s actions that demand scrutiny . We are just not there to praise every action of the government.”
The veteran politician Mr Mannan also rued that while a good debate in Assembly largely goes unnoticed by the media and the public,politicians who “dance around atop tables” are widely “reported”.
“The general notion is that these misbehaving politicians are doing a great work.”
The Speaker also addressed the charges levied against him of exhibiting preference to members of the ruling party by the Opposition.
Speaking at length about the work of the Speaker, he said, “Sometimes the Opposition is not satisfied and allege that I play favouritism when the session is on. However, I have to clear my stand that there are rules laid down even for the Speaker and we have to adhere to that. This chair I hold cannot satisfy everyone.”
State parliamentary affairs minister who at one time had essayed the role of the Leader of Opposition said, “I have been on both sides, what I feel is, the number of heads who make up an Opposition do not matter. The point raised and the criticism made against the government should be reasonable.”