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Trimool boycotts budget day amid acrimony with BJP

New Delhi/Kolkata, Feb 1: In an unprecedented move, none of the 34 MPs of the Trimool Congress — the fourth largest party in the Lok Sabha — was present in the house on Wednesday in protest against the government’s demonetisation move when Fince Minister Arun Jaitley presented the government’s 2017-18 Budget. The Trimool, which also skipped the all-party meetings by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anth Kumar, had already declared that it would boycott the first two days of the budget session to lodge its protest against the note ban and the government’s refusal to delay the budget because of the February-March assembly polls in five states.

“We had already declared boycotting the budget in protest against demonetisation. Moreover, we had also demanded postponing the budget till the assembly elections to the five states were over. But this government refused to pay heed to the collective demand of the opposition,” Trimool Lok Sabha member Sultan Ahmed said. “The Trimool has been at the forefront in opposing demonetisation which has destroyed the economy. We will continue to raise the issue in parliament during this entire session,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said the government went ahead with the demonetisation move without taking Parliament into confidence and put restrictions on withdrawal limits from bank accounts which are still in force.

The ruling party in West Bengal has been at loggerheads with Prime Minister rendra Modi’s government over various issues. Escalating tensions was the arrest of two of its MPs by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with an alleged Rose Valley chit fund scam. The Trimool said the arrests of its Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay and MP Tapas Paul were “a clear case of political vendetta by” the Bharatiya Jata Party that was allegedly “misusing the CBI and abusing its power”.

This is for the first time that one of the largest parties in the Lok Sabha has boycotted the budget. There have been instances when parties have walked out during budget speeches in the past but never in the past has an entire party given it a complete miss.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trimool chief Mamata Banerjee called Jaitley’s budget “controversial and clueless” without any roadmap for the country.

“A controversial Budget 2017 which is clueless, useless, baseless, missionless and actionless. Heartless,” Banerjee said in a series of tweets from Kolkata. She alleged that the government had lost all credibility and demanded the removal of all restrictions imposed on bank withdrawals post the November 8 demonetisation. “No roadmap for the country or the future from a government that has lost all its credibility. Taxpayers still have restrictions on withdrawals. Remove all restrictions immediately. And where are the figures for demonetisation?” she asked. Banerjee said the budget was full of jugglery of numbers. “Misleading. Full of jugglery of numbers and hollow words which mean nothing,” she said. (IANS)