By Asim Kumar Mitra
Indian National Congress (INC) could anyhow save their face in the last election and assure their existence in the State by holding the Pallu of Mamata Banerjee. Practically it was Mamata who had rehabilitated the INC in the State. In fact, almost all prominent State leaders of INC have switched over to Trinamool Congress (TMC). It is worth mentioning here that the WBPCC President Somen Mitra who expelled Mamata Banerjee from the INC is now taking orders from Mamata and he is an MP of TMC. Many such names can be quoted in this connection. But the fact remains that if Mamata did not have taken them as a coalition partners during the last Assembly polls, INC would remain as a “signboard” organisation. Now this INC is trying to show their claws claiming that without the support of the INC Mamata would have been nowhere.
Before considering this point let us ponder over another question: Why at all Mamata had agreed to form a coalition with INC knowing it fully well that she had been humiliated by the INC party bosses so rudely? After analyzing the voting pattern of West Bengal she had come to the conclusion that going with BJP would not pay her good dividend. During her NDA days she had burnt her fingers once and she would not like to repeat it. She realised it for sure that gaining Muslim votes is a must for winning the elections and Muslims would not support the TMC if she keeps track with the BJP. Hence, she was compelled to make coalition with INC. After that she had gone out of the way to appease the Muslims just to make it sure that Muslim votes should not go either to Congress or to CPM. At the same time she was abusing BJP keeping this goal in mind that she had to win over hundred per cent Muslim votes.
Now, after assuming power as chief minister of the State Mamata Banerjee had started implementing the promises given to Muslims first as she knows that it is because of their whole hearted support and block voting she could do the miracle. Apparently there is nothing wrong in it. But these things have their own inherent problems too and Congress, BJP & other parties thought that this is the opportune moment for taking advantage of the situation. The INC who were claiming that without their support the TMC would have been nowhere, found itself in a very awkward situation when in all the bye elections in the state had been won by the TMC with flying colours. Especially, the win of the TMC in South Kolkata parliamentary seat with thumping majority is a glaring example of the TMC’s command over the general voters.
As the Left Front, while going out of power, had left the administration in a mess, Mamata was finding it very difficult to tide over the complex situation. Her populist policies were also hard hit by the Central Government’s unilateral decision to hike the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene, cooking gas etc. Then allowing extra water from the river Teesta to Bangladesh by the Central government was another step for which they never consulted the government of West Bengal and which would seriously jeopardize not only the future of West Bengal but also the interest of India. While fighting these issues against the Central government, at one stage Mamata warned the Central government saying “your government is dependable on our support but our government is not dependable on your support.”
This threat from Mamata Banerjee put the INC into senses. Otherwise they had organised a procession against their own coalition partner the ruling party TMC, in the heart of the city of Kolkata from Hazra Road to Esplanade at a time when bye election for South Kolkata parliamentary seat was ensuing. Then there are other reasons as well for which Mamata was very much infuriated against the INC. They are: (1) Mamata was opposed to the Congress proposal for establishing a ‘multi-facility hospital’ on the line AIIMS, DELHI. (2) A person named “Moktar” who was allegedly involved in the murder attempt on Mamata Banerjee, has been given the membership of the INC. (3) One woman worker of Congress, as claimed by the INC, was killed in police firing at a place named Bagula. But the TMC also claimed that the concerned woman worker belonged to their party. (4) The general secretary of the TMC and Central minister Mukul Roy wrote a letter to the State Congress president alleging that they are organising criminal offence on the TMC workers in different places of West Bengal.
In the midst of such a situation, the central minister belonging to the INC Mr. Jairam Ramesh came to Kolkata and said, “Congress is an independent political party which is pursuing with their programmes. It is their political right”. Then he commented, “the Congress has not yet taken VRS (voluntary retirement scheme)”. This comment of Jairam made Mamata upset and by the way of immediate reaction she had refused to meet Jairam although there was a prior appointment.
At this juncture Central finance minister Pranab Mukherjee dropped in the scene and tried to stage-manage the situation. Of course, the political Pundits are of the opinion that such kind of ‘blow hot and blow cold’ situation has practically no bearing on the ultimate fate of the coalition as this is nothing but a ‘coalition of convenience’,
The Congress – Trinamool rift will further be widened as the TMC prepares to go it alone in Panchayat polls.