Kolkata, March 27 (IANS) The opposition Left Front in the West Bengal assembly Tuesday staged a walk out after an adjournment motion by it against a government order stripping panchayat heads of their financial powers was disallowed by the Speaker.
The adjournment motion was mooted by former panchayat and rural development minister and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Anisur Rahman.
The motion was disallowed by Speaker Biman Banerjee following which the Left members trooped towards the speaker's podium in protest.
According to the government order, the financial powers of the "sabhadipatis" of North 24-Parganas, Murshidabad and Nadia were to be taken away and handed over to the respective district magistrates (DM).
Leader of opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra of the CPI-M termed the order, passed by the panchayat and rural development department late Monday, as illegal and an attack on democracy.
"The order is unconstitutional and illegal. Under the Panchayat laws, a DM cannot assume power conferred on a zilla sabhadipati. This is an attack on democracy," said Mishra adding that more than 1,000 panchayat heads have either been driven out by the Trinamool Congress or are compelled to act as per the party 'diktat'.
West Bengal Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee defended the order saying the zilla parishad committees had "become a minority" and therefore "unable to function the way they should", adding that such a move was also made during the former regime.
"We were compelled to issue the order because development in the areas was stalled because of the parishads being in minority. Moreover, Mishra, who was the panchayat minister previously had himself passed an identical order dissolving 65 gram panchayats and gram samitis," said Mukherjee.
"If the order passed during their regime was neither unconstitutional nor illegal then how it can be now," asked Mukherjee while displaying the order passed by Mishra in 2008 as the then panchayat minister.
The order has also been criticised by the Congress which heads the Murshidabad local body.
"The order is illegal and a direct attack on the Congress. We will not take it lying down. We will go to the Writers' Buildings (state secretariat) in protest against the order," Congress strongman Adhir Chowdhury said.
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