New seating order from Wednesday: Hamid
Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Dhaka, Jan 27 (—Members of parliament will sit in the House on Wednesday according to a new seating plan, speaker Abdul Hamid said on Tuesday.

Both the treasury and opposition benches are holding firm to their opposing stances on front-bench seats for the opposition, said the speaker.

"So, I have to make an arrangement in the middle. The MPs will sit as per the new seating arrangement tomorrow (Wednesday)," Hamid told at his office after a meeting with chief whips of the ruling and opposition parties.

Hamid called the meeting with the two chief whips on Tuesday in a bid to put an end to the dispute over the seating plan made by outgoing speaker Muhammad Jamiruddin Sircar.

According to Sircar's arrangement, the main opposition BNP and three other parties were granted two front rows to the left of the speaker. The ruling party Awami League has opposed the arrangement, saying it was disproportionate.

Tuesday's meeting ended inconclusively, said Hamid.

Opposition chief whip Joynal Abedin Faruk walked out of the meeting, which began around 4pm, as the ruling party's chief whip Abdus Shahid proposed that the BNP should get just three to four seats on the front benches to the left of the speaker.

"We have told the speaker that the BNP should get three out of the total 29 seats on the front benches," Shahid told after the meeting.

"They have only a tenth, or 30 out of the total 300, seats in the House."

"In line with previous parliamentary practice, they should get just one-tenth of the seats in the front rows to the left of the speaker," said Shahid.

Opposition chief whip Faruk told bdnews24.: "I could not agree with Abdus Shahid in the meeting."

"I urged them not to change the seating arrangement with a view to making parliament effective as they wanted."

"They (Awami League) want to put more ministers and senior ruling party MPs on the left side, replacing the opposition," said Faruk.

"The rearrangement proposal is not a sign of making parliament effective," he added.

Faruk referred to Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure, saying the speaker was the proper authority to plan the seating order.

He also said there was no instance in the world that ruling party MPs take seats to the left of the speaker.

"I will talk to party high-ups and let the speaker know our decision," said the chief whip of the main opposition party BNP.

Two-time speaker Abdul Hamid criticised outgoing speaker Sircar for his "unilateral" decision on the seating.

"I made the seating plan for the previous parliament by holding talks with members of the ruling and the treasury bench.

"But Jamiruddin Sircar did not do the same," said Hamid.


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