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Halim electged Bengal Speaker

Written by: Staff

Kolkata, June 12 (UNI) CPI(M) Legislator Hashim Abdul Halim was elected unopposed Speaker of the West Bengal Assembly for the sixth consecutive term on the opening day of the newly constituted House today.

His election was unanimous as the opposition Trinamool Congress and the Congress did not field any candidate for the prestigious post.

The Trinamool Congress boycotted the election alleging that the ruling Left Front was deliberately denying the party the status of the main Opposition.

Mr Halim, who was elected to the House as a CPI(M) member, first donned the Speaker's mantle in 1982 to retain the office for 24 years.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was among others present in the House when protem Speaker Gyan Singh Sohanpal announced Mr Halim's name as Speaker.

Mr Bhattacharjee appealed to the Left Front members to protect the dignity and honour of the opposition which had a reduced strength in the new House.

Later, addressing a press conference, he said there was no precedence for any Speaker in the country having had such a long run.

Mr Halim said once he completed the sixth term he would be the second longest serving Speaker in the world by surpassing Sir Charles Carros, who had served the House of Commons for 28 years.

Referring to the drastic fall in strength of the opposition in the 14th Assembly, the Speaker said this thrust a greater responsibility on the ruling Left Front members.

Describing it as 'unfortunate' that there would be no recognised opposition in the House in the absence of the required strength, Mr Halim said as a result the opposition parties would have lesser representation in the committes for Public Accounts, Public Undertaking and Estimate.

They would also have a reduced quota of time in debate though an equal share of time would be alloted to both the opposition and ruling members in questions and mention, he said.

The Trinamool Congress, which captured 29 seats, just one short of being recognised as an opposition, would not also be able to move any no confidence motion against the Government without the support of the Congress, Mr.Halim said.

He, however, said the role of the Opposition depended more on the quality of leadership than number and hoped that the opposition would act true to the expectations in Parliamentary democracy.

To a question, the Speaker said he would not allow any pressure of the Treasury Bench on the opposition taking advantage of its fledgling strength.


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