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Decision to send central team to Bengal rocks Parliament

Last updated on: November 30, 2009 14:31 IST

The decision to send a central team to West Bengal rocked Parliament today with Left and Trinamool Congress clashing, but the Centre made it clear that there was "no scope" for imposition of President's Rule after the Bommai judgement.

"Post-Bommai, there is no scope... (for imposition of central rule). The move to send the central team is entirely non-confrontational. There is no need to view it through the prism of Article 356," Home Minister P Chidambaram said in the Lok Sabha, after an almost similar statement in the Rajya Sabha.

In 1994, the Supreme Court in the S R Bommai case had ruled that no government could be dismissed without being given an opportunity to prove the strength on the floor of the House. The court had also ruled that the House cannot be dissolved unless both Houses of Parliament approves the same.

Both the Houses witnessed noisy scenes with the Upper House being adjourned twice on the issue and Left parties and SP members storming the well in Lok Sabha, raising slogans and warning that any move to impose President's Rule in the state would be "unconstitutional".

Trinamool Congress members led by its chief whip Sudip Bandopadhyay in Lok Sabha countered by demanding immediate imposition of central rule.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, a known detractor of the Left parties, cautioned the government with Leaders of Opposition L K Advani in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha cautioning the government that it should not treat Article 356 "lightly".

Maintaining that he was in constant touch with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee with whom "I have got a good working relationship", Chidambaram said the team was being sent "to assist the state in maintaining law and order."

The home minister said the move was undertaken in view of the growing inter-party clashes and the situation "has to be viewed with utmost seriousness".

Noting that the government has provided central forces to the state to carry out joint operations, he said he had suggested to the chief minister to let him know if more help was required. In that context, the central team was sent to the state to hold talks with the state officials on how to deal with the situation.

As Lok Sabha assembled for the day, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia was on his feet demanding suspension of Question Hour and taking up a discussion on the issue. Left and SP members immediately stormed the well.

Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) attacked the government saying its intentions were doubtful in sending the central team. "If this happens, then President's Rule can be imposed in any state. It will set a wrong precedent."

Without naming Trinamool, Yadav said attempts were being made to "deliberately worsen" the law and order situation so as to make the ground for central rule. "Please assure us that there is no move to dismiss the government."
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