The entire Opposition on Monday gave a thumbs down to the state budget by walking out of the assembly. Their reasons were different, though.
Trinamool Congress cited the murder of a party worker at Burdwan's Mangalkote and another at Bankura's Sarenga, while Congress was unhappy with finance minister Asim Dasgupta for "going out of the way to belittle the Centre'e efforts".
Wearing black clothes over their dresses with posters slamming Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Trinamool was determined not to pay any heed to the budget speech that Dasgupta read out amidst the din. The Opposition spent barely 30 minutes inside the house though the budget speech went on for more than two hours.
Most Trinamool Congress MLAs, barring leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee and Sealdah MLA Shikha Mitra, moved around the well of the assembly, shouting slogans against the chief minister. Chatterjee later admitted that they hadn't gone through the entire budget speech and it would be wrong to comment, Yet, he dismissed it as a "pack of lies".
"It would be wrong to criticise it totally but it is false. We have unmasked the government on a number of occasions and will expose their economic bunglings as well. The state government has not addressed key issues like rising prices of essential commodities," Chatterjee said.
Though Dasgupta ignored the sloganeering, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee raised his head time and again to see what was going on. All the while the Congress legislature party leader Manas Bhunia was going through the copy of the budget speech.
Nearly 30 minutes into the speech, Chatterjee walked up to speaker Hashim Abdul Halim. Other Trinamool MLAs also followed shouting slogans. Chatterjee tried to draw the attention of the speaker to the murders of two Trinamool supporters at Mangalkote and Sarenga. Failing to move the speaker, Chatterjee and the rest of the Trinamool MLAs walked out.
"We wanted to raise a point of order but the speaker refused. We couldn't continue with the proceedings," Chatterjee said.
Immediately afterwards, Congress MLAs also followed suit. "Boshe shona jachchhilo na (Couldn't bear to hear it any longer)," said Manas Bhunia, Congress legislature party leader.
"This is a fraudulent document prepared by Asim Dasgupta. This budget is totally anti-Centre. We couldn't listen to the lies being stated. CPM's boat is sinking and the minister appeared to be fear-stricken and directionless," he said.
The CLP leader criticised Dasgupta for not having implemented the Fiscal Responsibility Budget Management Act till now. "All states except Manipur and West Bengal have implemented it. The centre is trying to reduce primary deficit and bring about economic discipline," Bhunia said. The CLP leader said that the government had ignored tribals, minorities and backward classes for all these years.
"The Centre is giving subsidy on food, giving relief to farmers and providing funds for rural electrification, but Dasgupta says Centre has done nothing. He should go through the Union Budget speech," Bhunia said.