People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 38

September 19, 2010



Bansal’s Statement Involves Breach of Privilege


IN a letter written to the Rajya Sabha chairman on September 15, Sitaram Yechury, leader of the CPI(M) group in parliament, sought to raise a question involving a breach of privilege of the house. 


The letter recalled that on August 31, the last day of the monsoon session of parliament, in response to the questions raised by some honourable members, the minister for parliamentary affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal had made a statement just before the Rajya Sabha chairman had declared the house was declared adjourned sine die. The statement was recorded in the proceedings as “Re. clarification on speech of Km. Mamata Banerjee at a political rally at Lalgarh.”


However, Yechury’s letter said, there were two assertions in the said statement that constituted a gross misrepresentation of facts. This was tantamount to misleading the house.


The minister’s statement asserted that “that rally was organised by a forum called Forum of Citizens against Violence.” The permission for the said rally was sought by one Pranab Basu, president, Paschim Medinipur District Trinamul Congress Committee, through a letter addressed to the District Magistrate on July 23, 2010. Then, permission for the rally was granted by Narayan Swaroop Nigam, IAS, on August 3, through a letter No. 773-DM, addressed to the same Pranab Basu.


Given these facts, the statement made by the minister in the house was patently false and hence misleading. 


Secondly, the minister’s statement said: “Kumari Mamata Banerjee has clarified that she addressed that rally in her capacity as the leader of the Trinamul Congress.” The formal letter seeking permission for holding the said rally states as its subject: “Permission for holding a public meeting at Lalgarh High School ground on 9th August ’10 from 12 noon by honourable Railway Minister, Government of India, Smt Mamata Banerjee.”


This fact too testifies that the minister’s statement in the house was both false and misleading. 


Further, the CPI(M) leader pointed out, the national media has reported that the railway ministry had ordered the deployment of the Railways Protection Force at the venue. The railway ministry did not contradict the information given in this report. 


Yechury’s letter to the Rajya Sabha chairman said: “Surely, a minister of the union cabinet, addressing a political meeting in her personal capacity as the leader of a political party, cannot order the deployment of the RPF.” 


The CPI(M) leader therefore sought the presiding officer’s intervention in the matter to protect the dignity of the housel and the rights of its members. “Surely, such a gross misrepresentation of facts, tantamount to misleading the house, should attract the attention of Rule 187 raising a question involving a breach of privilege of the council and its members,” his letter said. 


Urging the Rajya Sabha chairman to pay heed to this matter and protect the dignity of the house and the rights of its members, Yechury’s letter said the dignity and sanctity of the house could not be allowed to be so breached by members of the union council of ministers with statements which misrepresent the facts and mislead the house. 


In support of his contention, the CPI(M) leader enclosed a copy of the letter seeking permission for the Lalgarh rally, another of the letter granting permission for the rally, a copy of the minister’s statement from the record of proceedings on August 31, and the photocopy of a report appearing on the front page of The Indian Express (New Delhi) on September 1.