Mamata’s Fight is Devoid of All Principles: Opposition Should Worry About What It Wants to Replace Modi With
Not only would dark stains of supporting Mamata’s corruption would be tough to wash, but Congress and other opposition parties cannot support an undemocratic, communal and dictatorial leader who mirrors Modi.
The Sunday drama in Kolkata, with bizarre scenes of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team going after a Commissioner of Police, supposedly to arrest him, being arrested itself by the state police, followed by the Commissioner Police sitting on dharna with the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, it is easy to lose sight of the real issue.
The chit-fund scams, rather the Ponzi scheme scams, which allowed large-scale loot of hard-earned money of lakhs of citizens particularly left its mark on Bengal. Several companies, prominently Saradha, looted many common Indians of almost Rs 30,000-40,0000 billions when it ‘collapsed’ in April 2013. Rose Valley, PACL, the list of these companies is endless. The poor had invested small amounts, all to be looted by these companies which were closely associated with TMC, and then they went bust.
Top masterminds of the Saradha and other Ponzi scams are all either still in the TMC or now with the BJP. Many prominent faces of the TMC were arrested for their involvement in the scam including two MPs – Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose, the former West Bengal Director General of Police, Rajat Majumdar and Sports and Transport minister in the TMC government, Madan Mitra. This is just those who were picked up or chargesheeted. The wires of the scam go straight to the top and the top leadership of the TMC was cognisant of the scam and the money being used to fund its activities in the state.
The other top accused, MP Mukul Roy (accused in the Saradha and Narada scam) was Mamata Banerjee’s right-hand man. Once Assam Home Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma (involved in the Saradha scam) was also named as being complicit. Both Roy and Sarma now find themselves among the prominent leaders in Modi’s BJP.
Despite instructions of the Supreme Court, Modi government found it convenient to organise a fixed match on this. It did not go after the scamsters who looted the common public of millions, but instead used the threat of arrest to build the party in the state with the help of same corrupt leaders. So as far as the big ‘principle’ of anti-corruption hurled by the two parties ruling at the centre and the state is concerned, it is bunkum. Each is more corrupt than the other, and neither has any leg to stand on when it comes corruption.
Despite the Supreme Court order by a two-Judge bench including the then Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur, directing CBI to investigate the scam as early as 2014, CBI at the behest of the BJP went slow and did nothing. It was instead pleading a scarcity of officers to probe these dreadful scams, while BJP and Modi were cutting deals with the TMC and simultaneously using the deliberate pause in investigation to wean corrupt leaders from TMC into BJP’s corrupt fold.
This latest drama by the Modi-driven CBI, to invade a state’s preserve, is being posed by Mamata as a ‘federalism’ issue. While the Modi government is in no position to speak of ‘cooperative federalism’ after dismissing state governments like Uttarakhand in 2016 (over-turned by the Uttarakhand High Court) and of constantly trying to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka, Mamata’s TMC too has a dismal track record on the subject. On March 13, 2007 she called for President’s rule in West Bengal, saying that the state was “not safe” under the Chief Ministership of her predecessor, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Article 356 “must be used”. Earlier too, when she was a part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA, she urged the Defence Minister to “dismiss” the Left front government using Article 356.
Ever since TMC’s inception, in 1998, then in 1999 has been part of the BJP-led NDA. In fact she re-joined the NDA ministry months before the 2004 polls –after the Gujarat riots in 2002 when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat – having left earlier in the middle in 2001. She has fought elections as part of the BJP-led NDA and was in the central cabinet of the NDA. She has been feted by the Sangh programmes publicly as the beacon who could remove and fight the real adversary of the Sangh in Bengal and India: Left Front. Like Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), TMC and Mamata have always been a dependable ally of the BJP. BJP’s rise in mercurial Bengal, with a significant Muslim population has been facilitated by the cock-eyed politics of the goon-driven TMC, which is happy to play the Muslim-communalism card, to allow for the growth of Hindu-communalism in the state.
As the battle for 2019 draws closer, the Opposition, having made this a bigger battle than an ordinary election, with a call to replace PM Modi, must be very careful about what it wants to replace Modi, his BJP and the Sangh parivar’s politics with. Looking to replace Modi’s ruling dispensation with a similarly authoritarian, dictatorial and unprincipled one-person shows, that several of India’s state leaders have become, will neither be viable nor sensible. It must remember that Modi’s persona was felled in the three state elections in December with a determined push towards policies, a principled battle of ideas, while taking all ideas, ideological and economic, head on. If attempts are made to fell Modi with mini-Modis or wannabe dictators, voters may not even buy the change.
Congress party is premising its return and acceptability on battling the charge of the UPA2 corruption which had stuck firmly for years in the wake of 2G and Coal cases. Rahul Gandhi’s firm and single-minded attack on Modi government over corruption in the Rafale fighter jets scam bears witness to that. The party and the rest of the opposition would do well to not get their reputation tarred by TMC’s corrupt politics and image.
It would be a dark stain, were it to stick now – and impossible to wash off in weeks left before the General Elections.