SHIV SAHAY SINGH
The hindu, july 7, 2012
KOLKATA, July 6, 2012: Two days before the birth anniversary of veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, an event organised here on Friday by West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay to observe the occasion in advance has created a controversy in political circles.
Even as the Left Front MLAs did not attend the event, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra said observing someone’s birth anniversary on any odd day is an act of disrespect to the person.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who paid floral tributes in front of the portrait of Mr. Basu in the Assembly premises, said the Left Front members did not attend the event for “political reasons”.
She said it was a “cruel joke of destiny” that those who were the political opponents of Mr. Basu — the Trinamool Congress and the Congress — paid tributes to the late leader while those who were with him chose to remain absent from the event.
But for one MLA, the Congress too did not participate at the function.
“For those who did not participate and are indulging in politics over Jyoti Babu’s name… I pray to God to forgive them,” she said.
Ms. Banerjee said the function could not be held on Sunday (the birth anniversary of Jyoti Basu) as the Assembly remains closed on the day.
Mr. Bandyopadhyay described the absence of the Opposition members from the event as “unfortunate” and said that as the MLAs had participated in the debate in the House they should have been present at the function.
The Speaker said he did not feel there had been any disrespect to the veteran Marxist leader.
Left Front members, however, have alleged that the decision to observe the Jyoti Basu’s birth anniversary in advance was taken with a view to score political points and observe the event before the Opposition organises one.
“The birth anniversary cannot be observed as per the convenience of the Chief Minister… We will observe the birth anniversary as per schedule on July 8 in the Assembly,” Dr. Mishra said.
A section of MLAs of the Congress (the ally of the Trinamool Congress-led government) too expressed their disapproval on the event being held in advance. Nepal Mahato, a senior Congress MLA said it was not proper to observe someone’s birthday in advance.