Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting with SC and ST MLAs of all parties for the first time since her Trinamul Congress came to power in the state eight years ago and discussed with them the issues affecting the communities.
During the one-and-a-half-hour-long meeting, they discussed the need to simplify the process to get caste certificates and the problem of land encroachment.
It was held in a conference room of the assembly. But the meeting drew the criticism of senior CPI(M) leader and MLA Sujan Chakraborty, who questioned its legality.
“We gave the suggestion of simplifying the process of getting case certificates to the chief minister. We also stressed the need to increase the number of pension holders among SCs and the STs,” Sukhbilas Barma, Congress MLA of Jalpaiguri, said after the meeting.
Manoj Tigga, BJP MLA from Madarihat, who was also present at the meeting, said the emphasis was given to open up the closed tea gardens in North Bengal to carry out the development programmes there.
Both said the issue of encroachment of land owned by SC and ST by land sharks was also discussed at the meeting.
“The meeting was a very good one. Almost all the MLAs belonging to SCs and STs irrespective of their political affiliations were present in today’s meeting. They have given their views on the various developmental projects in the tribal areas of the state,“ Trinamul Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee told reporters after the meeting.
Around 80 out of 294 assembly segments are reserved for SC and ST legislators in the state. “The CM has taken note of the suggestions given at the meeting by the MLAs. She also said that she would meet the MLAs again if required,” Mr Chatterjee said.
While, Mr Chakraborty said, “The meeting was held parallel to the proceedings of the Assembly in its precincts. This is against the law.”
West Bengal won the first prize of the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation on Tuesday for its performance for SCs for 2017-18.