Kolkata, June 23: This is not the best of times for West Bengal’s maverick Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Checkmated by the Congress High Command in her presidential poll manoeuvre, Didi, as she is popularly known, now faces a belligerent Congress in her own state. And the Calcutta High Court has only added insult to injury by striking down her pet Singur law as unconstitutional and void.
The political drama which unfolded last week with Banerjee trying to nix Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s chances of becoming the President culminated in an anti-climax.
Her preferred candidate, APJ Abdul Kalam, opted out of the race after finding the electoral arithmetic unfavourable. Kalam’s decision to opt out came despite a politically isolated Banerjee, whose administration had arrested a professor for circulating online cartoons allegedly derogatory to her, launching a campaign on networking site Facebook, backing the former president. Meanwhile, already peeved at Banerjee for constantly ignoring and ill-treating them, the state Congress leaders crowed with delight over the humiliation.
“The Congress has shown Banerjee her place. The Trinamool should behave properly. Otherwise, they are free to leave the government,” Congress member of Parliament Adhir Choudhury said.
The humiliated Trinamool leadership retaliated by stating that the party did not want to topple the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, but its ministers were prepared to put in their papers if the situation so demanded. But apart from widening the rift between Congress and Trinamool, the election has also exposed cracks in the Left's unity as its parties failed to reach a consensus on the poll.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist and Forward Bloc has decided to support Mukherjee while the Communist Party of India and The Revolutionary Socialist party deciding to abstain from voting.
The rift in the Left Front comes at time when the Marxists have called for a broader Left unity and the communists are facing tough times both at the national level and in Bengal-- once a red bastion.
Following the presidential poll goof-ups, Banerjee received another setback as a division bench of the Calcutta High Court termed the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, passed by her government last year as “unconstitutional and void”.
The verdict can be a dampener for the Trinamool before the crucial rural elections slated next year as the party came to power riding on the dividends of the Singur and Nandigram anti-land acquisition movements. Banerjee, however, remained confident.
“Throughout my life, I have struggled for the cause of the farmers, working class, poor and under-privileged. Our commitment to be with them will remain, whether I’m in power or not. I’ll continue to fight for this cause. Finally, the people’s choice in democracy will prevail,” Banerjee posted on Facebook.
Although she has vowed to stand by the farmers, at this moment, the fate of Singur farmers looks uncertain. (IANS)