Mamata's stars wane at the Centre
Mamata Banerjee might have been in the news for numerous positive things, for having found a place in Time magazine’s list of world's 100 most influential people, successfully controlling Maoist in Junglemahal or solving the Gorkhaland issue in North Bengal, but in the last one year the firebrand Chief Minister has always hit the headlines for wrong reasons.
After successfully cracking the sensitive Park Street rape case single-handedly despite pressure from the Chief Minister and the Commissioner of Kolkata Police R K Pachnanda who termed it† as ‘creation of the media’, the first woman Joint Commissioner(Crime) in West Bengal Damayanti Sen- was booted out of Lalbazar and was given a relatively low profile posting.† The top Kolkata police officer are of opinion that this IPS officer of 1996 batch known for her honesty and courage has been transferred because she drove into controversy when she told, during the Park Street rape case, that ‘something has happened’ after the Chief Minister and Commissioner’s statements.
Mamata’s highhandedness was apparent when she sacked Rail Minister Dinesh Trivedi, after he hiked train fares marginally. Trivedi was unceremoniously sacked as Banerjee, just after Trivedi placed the budget in the Parliament, asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remove her party nominee from the post of Railway Minister.
Ambikesh Mahapatra- a professor of physical chemistry of Jadavpur University was arrested along with the secretary of his Housing Society allegedly for sending a cartoon strip based on Satyajit Ray’s detective masterpiece on celluloid ‘Sonar Kella’, which shows Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Railways Minister Mukul Roy discussing how to get rid of party law maker Dinesh Trivedi who earlier was forced by Banerjee to give up the Railways portfolio.††† †
In another incident a student of political science at Presidency College- Tania Bharadwaj was labelled as Maoist sympathiser by the chief minister after she asked her some uncomfortable questions regarding Park Street rape case and Ambikesh Mahapatra cartoon row at a TV interactive show organised by National Television Channel.
The horror of crib deaths continued to haunt West Bengal this year. More than 175 children have died particularly in the districts of Malda and Murshidabad which has forced the State Government to sanction Rs 1,200 crore for upgrading rural health system of the state. More important was the chief minister’s statement who terming the reports of deaths as cooked up stories and said that the babies were dying not because of the hospital but because of the fact that they came so late that there was no scope for treatment. Mamata’s lack of political acumen was clear when she wanted to oppose the Congress nominee Pranab Mukherjee for President. Joining hands with Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata announced her alternative list of candidates APJ Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chaterjee, all of whom have refused to contest. With Mulayam backing out, she was forced to support the candidate she termed as “not a son of Bengal but son of the world”.
The question was not if but when the TMC and Congress would part ways at the Centre. The issues that irked Mamata continued to be pursued at the Centre such as the FDI in retail, fuel price hike† and LPG cap on LPG subsidy. On Sep 18, the West Bengal chief minister announced snapping of ties with the UPA.