Mitra breaks tradition, stays away from media
Breaking tradition, Finance Minister Amit Mitra today refrained from addressing a press conference after the presentation of the state budget in the Assembly. All other finance ministers since Independence have done so.
The media waited for Mitra, who was expected to come to the press corner of the Assembly to address them after Congress Legislature Party leader Md Sohrab and Leader of Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra did the same.
But Mitra only sent a message across: all he had to say was there in the budget. Referring to a comment of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the budget, he added: "The chief minister said something beautiful about the budget and that is enough. I don't have to add to it."
Mamata had said: "This budget is just an effort towards afforestation of a desert.''
For the last two years since the Trinamool Congress government has been in office, Mitra kept to the tradition of addressing the media after presenting the budget. Last year, even Mamata accompanied him to the media conference.
Speaker Biman Banerjee expressed his helplessness on the issue. "I cannot force anybody to address or not address a press conference. Probably the finance minister was tired after reading the budget speech," he said.
The finance minister's brief statement, however, triggered criticism from both the CPM and the Congress. "The present government has scant regard for tradition. Of course there was no hard and fast rule that a minister must address the media. But traditionally finance ministers, since the Congress regime, addressed the media after presenting the budget," Hasim Abdul Halim, former Speaker and CPM state committee member, told The Indian Express.
Pradip Bhattacharya, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president, said: "During the chief ministership of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, then finance minister Shankar Ghosh also came to brief the media after presenting the budget. I cannot understand what prevented Mitra from doing so." Bhattacharya was a junior minister in the Ray cabinet.
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