Who will be main Oppn in WB if Cong quits? Parties wonder

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Kolkata, Sept 22: After Mamata Banerjee decided to pull out from the UPA government led by the Congress at the Centre, the West Bengal Congress also made its stand clear on quitting the state government led by the Trinamool Congress. Withdrawal of support by the Congress will not endanger Mamata's government for it has an absolute majority, but what has been a concern is that in case the Congress quits the state government, who will be the main opposition party in the assembly?

According to a report published in Anandabazar Patrika, the Congress will be all set to earn a distinction if it quits the government. What is it? The party will be the first ever to become an Opposition party from an ally in government in the same term. The state Congress leadership is certain to get the status of the main Opposition party for it has 42 MLAs while the CPI(M), the current Opposition party, has 39 MLAs.

But the Left Front differed on this point. It is the Left Front and not CPI(M) alone which has earned the status of one party throughout and if all the allies of the Front are considered as one party, the Left Front's seat count is 61. "How can the Congress become the Opposition?" the Left questioned.

Although neither Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay nor Chief Whip of the Trinamool Congress in the assembly, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay spoke on the matter, all parties have been working to find a solution on this, said the report.

What does the law say? According to the assembly rule book, the party which has the most number of seats among the opposition parties will be considered the main Opposition. In case there is any confusion, the Speaker of the house will have the authority to take the final decision. A reference has also been made to how CPI(M)'s Jyoti Basu had become the Leader of the Opposition in 1957 following the ruling made by the then Speaker, Sankardas Banerjee, under the Ministers of the Crown Act of 1937, said the report.

According to a Left MLA, while the Leader of the Opposition is from the CPI(M), the deputy leader of the Opposition is from the RSP and opposition whip is from the Forward Bloc, and it shows that the Left Front works as a unit in the assembly. Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said they were not concerned about the matter.

According to sources close to Mamata Banerjee, the latter wants the Congress as the main Opposition. To this, a Left MLA mocked: "Good enough. Mamata can now choose her actual opposition. This is something on lines of Her Majesty's Opposition!" said the report.

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