Bengal assembly passes resolution on intolerance

Kolkata, Dec 16 (IANS) Lawmakers of the ruling Trinamool Congress, and opposition Left Front and the Congress found themselves on the same page — a rare occurrence in the bitter political theatre of West Bengal — as the state assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution on the issue of intolerance.

Only the lone Bharatiya Janata Party member Shamik Bhattacharya opposed the resolution that said the Constitution believes in a pluralistic and democratic set up. It was passed by voice vote.

However, the Left Front members did not spare the Trinamool and chief Minister Mamata Banerjee either, as they refered to instances of “political intolerancea in the state during the present government.

Moving the resolution, state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee expressed happiness and all parties barring the BJP lending their support to it.

He said the resolution was drafted by the opposition parties and broadly supported by the government. This showed the tolerant nature of the state government, claimed Chatterjee.

MLAs belonging to the Trinamool, Left Front, Congress and the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) as also independent member Harka Bahadaur Chhettri spoke in favour of the resolution, raising issues like the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he consumed beef, killing of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi, and the ‘award wapsi’ by writers and filmmakers and artists in protest.

They also referred to comments made by Bollywood superstars Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan and the vicious attack they faced in the aftermath.

With the draft of the resolution having a reference to “political intolerance”, some Left leaders used it to attack the Trinamool government.

Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) lawmaker Subhas Naskar raised the case of a farmer Shiladitya Chowdhury, who was branded a Maoist and arrested for asking the chief minister about the rising price of fertilisers.

Another Left partner Forward Bloc representative Paresh Adhikari cited the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra for forwarding an email containing a cartoon of the chief minister.

Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra decribed the chief minister as “intolerant, but in a different way” and said secularism cannot be achieved if democracy was under attack.

Congress lawmaker Manas Ranjan Bhunia lauded Banerjee for attacking the centre on the issue of intolerance and the CBI raid at the office of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. But he too warned of the dangers of political intolerance.

The parliamentary affairs minister hit back, saying some members exhibited intolerance during the debate. He also referred to happenings like Singur and Nandigram during the Left regime and wondered whether they were instances of “intolerance or tolerance”.

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