Tuesday 18 September 2012

Mamata’s worry – to be or not to be!

Mamata even after heading the West Bengal government for months is acting like a leader of the opposition, and no different from the previous communist government. Bengal has not experienced any major change.

Mamata won’t serve India’s or Bengal’s interest by walking out of UPA. India needs reforms not populism. Since the UPA has shown no sign of getting cowed down, there’s speculation whether the Trinamool will decide to definitely exit the coalition or lend outside support. While Mamata is entitled to take a call either way, she should consider the political consequences. BJP and some other small parties are taunting her to quit for their own benefit. The last time she played tough on Prez polls, it backfired and she had to quietly backtrack. This time too, she will end up the loser. With 19 Trinamool Lok Sabha MPs, a cushion she provides for the UPA government; she is trying to use that to play ball. Both economic policy and Indo-Bangladesh ties have been affected by Mamta’s tantrums.

Allies can express dissent, but it’s the government’s prerogative to push ahead with a decision. She should be mature and understand subsidies can’t be perpetual, and don’t help push fiscal consolidation.  Industrialisation cannot be fast-tracked for the country or especially Bengal without revamped land acquisition rules that reassure project planners – Tata’s Nano project shifted to Gujarat providing impetus to that state. And what did Bengal get?

Since UPA leave it up to states to decide whether they want FDI, Mamata’s opposition make little sense. Some states are progressive and smart enough to realize the gains – better farm incomes, cheaper prices, job creation. Why lose out because others like Mamata, Akilesh, etc aren’t smart enough or still believe in populism? And with 19 MPs support to the UPA, Mamata can’t think it gives her a veto power on the reform process. She should know she has a big state to run which was under communist rule for long. But hopes raised by Mamata’s rise to power, have been followed by disenchantment. The UPA may survive with or without Mamata, but can she afford to miss out on her clout in Delhi, which will help her in bargaining for an economic package for Bengal. Will her ministers easily agree to quit? Power makes one go against their master too!

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