Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday sworn in 13 MLAs of her party as Parliamentary Secretaries who will “assist” the ministers. The post of parliamentary secretary was a feature of pre-Independence era, but the Trinamool Congress government has revived it.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at Nauser Ali Hall of the Assembly attended by only Trinamool members and top brass of the state administration, including chief secretary, home secretary, Kolkata Police Commissioner, representatives from the Army etc. The entire opposition, however, boycotted the ceremony calling it “unconstitutional” and government’s “another attempt to put a burden on the already depleted exchequer of the state”.
An unperturbed Mamata defended her government decision to appoint MLAs as parliamentary secretaries saying: “In Arunachal Pradesh, there are 20 parliamentary secretaries. In 2013, we have appointed 13. We still have scope for expanding the list.’’
In December, a Bill for the creation of 40 posts of parliamentary secretaries was passed. Assigned with the task of co-ordinating between the ministers and their respective departments, a parliamentary secretary will enjoy the status, privileges and perks similar to that of a minister of state.
Those who took the oath today were Ashok Dev, Tapas Roy, Asima Partra, Ashish Banerjee, Rabindranath Ghosh, Amal Acharya, Biplab Mitra, Nasiruddin Ahmed, Arup Khan, Radhakanta Maity, ATM Abdulla, Sandhyarani Tudu and Shashi Panja.
Government chief whip Shovon Dev Chattopadhyay said those who took the oath today will soon be assigned their respective departments.
Meanwhile, CPM leader and Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Surya Kanta Mishra, said: “We have already protested against it and even wrote to the Governor about it. Other states like Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, which tried to introduce the post, are facing legal challenges.”