Mamata trying to acquire all-India stature?December 30th, 2011 - 11:33 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Dec 30 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee, who has already acquired a giant killer image by dethroning the Left Front after 34 years of its uninterrupted rule, seems to be trying to put up a populist image nationwide with her frequent confrontations with the Congress-led UPA on various issues that clash with the interests of common people, say experts.
Mamata’s party Trinamool Congress, a major constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has played a consistent spoiler to major policies of the centre, starting from foreign direct investment in retail to Lokayukta clause in the Lokpal bill.
The Congress is heavily dependent on the Trinamool - which has 20 members in the Lok Sabha and six in the Rajya Sabha - to run the government. On various occasions it has been forced to swallow the bitter bill of embarrassment both at the national and international arena by shelving various important policies and even diplomatic treaties following opposition from the Trinamool.
“She is either actively or passively eying to become a national leader. She is consciously trying to build a pan-India populist image. She wants to project that she is calling the shots on all the major policies,” said Dipankar Dasgupta, an eminent economist.
The latest embarrassment for the Congress is the U-turn of the Trinamool on the Lokpal bill. The party supported the passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha but made a dramatic volte-face just before the legislation was to be placed in the Rajya Sabha by demanding the provision for state Lokayuktas be dropped. The justification the Trinamool offered was it feared that the states would lose their federal autonomy.
The Trinamool is running an alliance in the state with the Congress - though it is not dependent on the party, and has repeatedly reminded the Congress leadership in Delhi to follow its dictum or face the consequences.
Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka, Banerjee objected to the water sharing of Teesta river with Bangladesh, forcing the government to cancel the treaty with Bangladesh that was ready to be signed.
Banerjee’s endeavor to put a pan-India image can be gauged from a calculated dual-edged political move when she forced the centre to withdraw the decision on FDI in multi-brand retail, thus winning over lakhs of small traders across the country and leaving the Left Parties red faced.
The official Trinamool website had then stated “Trinamool’s stand on FDI now a national stand on the issue”.
“She is trying to assert her own identity and the implications of her decisions on the national stage. An image where she can dictate terms to the national agenda of the Congress,” said Shobanlal Datta Gupta, a political scientist.
Banerjee showed her authority over the government when she opposed the petroleum price hike in November and threatened to come out of the UPA alliance if the prices of petrol and cooking gas were raised again.
The Trinamool’s ambition to become a national party was announced by Banerjee herself when she declared that the party will try to become a national party by expanding its base in other states.
“Everybody knows that we are a Bengal based party but we have MPs and MLAs in Assam, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh. We are slowly trying to become a national party,” Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy told IANS.
The Trinamool leadership, however, said their decision of going against central policies “has been done out of commitment for the masses”.
The relationship between the Congreess and the Trinamool has been strained for the last few months, after Banerjee demanded an out of turn financial package for debt-ridden Bengal, about which the centre is quite hesitant.
The Congress leadership, however, feels that the Trinamool’s position in the state is guiding its decisions at the centre.
“Trinamool’s position and prerogatives in the state are guiding them to take decisions at the centre,” Congreess general secretary Madhusudan Mistry told IANS.
The Left leadership also seems to share the same view as they feel this ‘Left posturing’ of the Trinamool is to address the Left-minded people of Bengal.
“It is nothing but Left posturing to address the Left-minded people of the state,” said Nilotpal Basu, central committee member of the CPI-M.
–Indo-Asian News service
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