‘BJP Forcing MLAs to Stay in Hotel, Funny to See Them Travel in Bus’: Trinamool’s Abhishek Banerjee

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Senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee on Monday mocked the BJP over its decision to put its West Bengal MLAs in a Kolkata hotel ahead of the Presidential election “apprehending cross-voting”, and claimed that the party’s resort politics is back to haunt it. Around 70 BJP lawmakers had been camping in a city hotel since Sunday night.

Referring to the recent stay of dissident Shiv Sena MLAs in a luxury hotel in Assam, the Trinamool Congress national general secretary said the resort politics is coming to bite the BJP in the back.

“The BJP is scared that their legislators will leave them and hence is forcing the MLAs to stay in a hotel. It is funny that the MLAs are travelling together in a bus. On the other hand, TMC MLAs and MPs came to the Assembly (to vote in the Presidential poll) freely, he said.

“This is a democratic country and everybody has the right to decide whom to vote or not”, Banerjee, who is considered no. 2 in the TMC, told reporters at the state Assembly where the election was held. Although the BJP claimed that as most of them are first-time MLAs, they were given training on voting in the presidential polls, the TMC leader claimed it reflected a “lack of trust” in the saffron camp.

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“If the party is so confident about its MLAs, why did it pack them in a hotel? We never did anything like that. They are trying to import this culture of ‘resort politics’ to this state, he said. The TMC did not feel the need to keep its legislators in Meghalaya in a hotel, Banerjee said adding that two of them could not vote as they had Covid symptoms. BJP Chief Whip Manoj Tigga rejected the allegation.

“Most of the BJP MLAs are from far away districts. That is why they were kept at a hotel. Most of them are first-time MLAs and are not aware of the voting procedure in the presidential polls,” he said.

Meanwhile, Banerjee slammed the union government over the introduction of 5 per cent GST on pre-packed and labelled food items such as cereals, pulses and flour weighing less than 25 kg, terming it as “anti-people”.

“It is really unfortunate that the GST rate on diamonds is 1.5 per cent. This reflects the anti-people mindset of the BJP government at the centre,” he said. A 5 per cent GST rate on Monday kicked in on pre-packed and labelled food items such as cereals, pulses and flour weighing less than 25 kg.

The Union Finance Ministry issued detailed frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the levy of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on food items ranging from cereals and pulses to curd and ‘lassi’.

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