TMC backtracks on anti-terror Bill in Rajya Sabha

As in the case of the Lokpal Bill during the previous winter session of Parliament, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress once again flip-flopped on a key legislation in the House on Thursday. The party which had in the Lok Sabha supported the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2012 — bringing the offence of counterfeit currency under terror act — on Thursday chose not to vote for it in the Rajya Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha saw the TMC walking out during the voice vote after a last-minute phone call from Mamata. This was well after the party had supported the Bill in the Lok Sabha and its member, D Bandopadhyay, had spoken in its favour in the Rajya Sabha.

According to TMC members, a RS MP pointed out to his colleagues that the Bill sought to curb the freedom to get donations from abroad meant for building mosques and madrasas and supporting it would not bode well for the party's minority vote-bank in Bengal. TMC leader Mukul Roy contacted Mamata and apprised her of the situation. She called in the last minute and asked her MPs not to take part in the voting.

"Mamata told our members not to be present in the House during voting," said a party MP. However Derek O' Brien, TMC's RS MP, said the party's members were merely absent. "Don't publish half-baked news. We were absent and there was nothing else," he told The Indian Express.

That the TMC MPs stood divided on the issue was evident from the fact that in the Lok Sabha the party spoke passionately in favour of the Bill citing the influx of fake currency notes in Bengal.

The Lok Sabha had already passed the Bill. The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha through voice vote as the Left parties, JD(U) and RJD staged a walkout.

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