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Congress withdraws support to Bengal Govt; six Ministers quit

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Now or never: Manas Bhunia (left), Minister for Irrigation, Medium and Small Scale Industries and Textiles; and Abu Naser Khan Choudhary (middle), Minister of State for Science and Technology, lead the other Congress ministers to Writers’ Building to submit their resignations in Kolkata on Saturday. — A. Roy Chowdhury
Now or never: Manas Bhunia (left), Minister for Irrigation, Medium and Small Scale Industries and Textiles; and Abu Naser Khan Choudhary (middle), Minister of State for Science and Technology, lead the other Congress ministers to Writers’ Building to submit their resignations in Kolkata on Saturday. — A. Roy Chowdhury

Six Congress Ministers in West Bengal resigned from the State Government on Saturday. The State wing of the Congress also withdrew support from the Trinamool-led alliance in the State.

This marked the formal end of the coalition between the Trinamool and Congress in the State and at the federal level. Two Ministers-in-charge and four Ministers of State handed over their resignations to the Chief Minister this evening.

Manas Ranjan Bhunia, Abu Hena, Abu Nasar Khan Choudhary, Sabina Yeasmin, Pramathnath Thakur and Sunil Chandra Tirkey personally submitted their resignations at the State Secretariat.

The Congress action came after six Trinamool Congress Ministers resigned from the Union Government at the Centre on Friday.

Bhunia told reporters that the move followed instructions from the Congress “high command”. Congress leaders also met the State Governor to submit the formal letter of withdrawal of support to the State Government.

Senior State Congress leader and spokesperson Abdul Mannan told Business Line that the 42 Congress MLAs will now assume the role of the opposition in the State assembly.

Changed role

The Congress Legislature Party would meet on October 12 to meet to decide on the future steps including informing the Speaker about the changed role of the Congress legislators in the Assembly.

Bhunia said the Congress would adopt a strident note in opposing the policies measures of the State Government, which he said has turned anti-people.

According to political observers, this change in political equations, after about 16 months of running the coalition Government, would mean the return to a three-cornered electoral contest in the State.

The Assembly Speaker needs to decide whether Congress, the second largest party, can have the status of the Opposition.

The CPI (M)-led Left Front at present enjoys the status of the Opposition with a total of 61 MLAs. Trinamool has 184 seats in the 294-member West Bengal Assembly. The withdrawal of the junior partner Congress, however, will not affect the State Government as Trinamool, on its own, has a majority in the House.

jayanta.mallick

@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 23, 2012)
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