The West Bengal Assembly has passed a bill, raising the superannuation age of the vice-chancellors (VC) of two state-run agricultural universities from 65 to 70 years.
Altogether 119 TMC MLAs voted in favour of West Bengal Krishi Visyavidyalaya Laws Amendment Bill 2022, while 53 BJP legislators voted against it. One MLA, ISF’s Nawsad Siddiqui, abstained from the exercise.
Speaker Biman Banerjee then carried out a headcount of ayes and nays, and concluded that 119 had voted in favour the legislation and 53 opposed it.
As he read out the names of legislators who voted against the bill, the mention of Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari and legislator Mihir Goswami – who are scheduled to join House proceedings from Friday with their suspension order revoked earlier in the day – caused flutter in the House, with the treasury bench accusing the saffron camp MLAs of using unfair means.
The BJP MLAs were quick to deny the allegations.
The speaker pacified both sides and stated that opposition MLAs, occupying seats of the two suspended leaders, might have pressed the button by mistake. “There was no one occupying the seats of Adhikari or Goswami. We stand by our statement that 53 of our MLAs have voted against the bill. The same was confirmed by the honourable speaker,” Saffron party legislator Agnimitra Paul said.
Earlier in the day, agriculture minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, after tabling the bill in the House, stated the superannuation age of VCs was 70 years “in 90% of the agricultural varsities” in the country.
“If a person has the ability to discharge responsibilities after 65 years, why should he be not allowed?” the veteran MLA said.
With inputs from PTI.