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Mamata's gains and losses

Saturday September 22, 2012 10:38:43 PM, Pradipta Tapadar, IANS

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's decision to withdraw support to the UPA regime seems to have been guided by political calculations intended to bolster her popular pro-poor pro-people image besides helping her steal a march over arch-rival Communists.

However, at the same time, the pullout stood the risk of boomeranging on the feisty leader who could lose out on central financial assistance for her debt-ridden state, while many of the projects started by her as railway minister could face a natural death.

Unlike her image of being impulsive, Banerjee's political decision was based on broader consensus among the party colleagues.

"This is for the first time I have seen that a decision has been taken after wide-ranging discussions within the party," said a senior Trinamool Congress MP on the condition of anonymity.

"It is a well calculated political decision keeping in mind our party's pro-poor credentials."

Banerjee's decision has saved her from the embarrassment of being party to tough decisions taken by the central government.

The decision has also helped Banerjee to take the wind out of the sails of her arch-rivals Communists, who had been repeatedly labelling her as party to decisions of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), of which her Trinamool party was the second-largest constituent.

Banerjee also apparently firmed up her decision to withdraw support to the UPA by railing against the diesel price hike, restriction on number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders per household to six annually -- issues that connect easily with the common man.

These issues also appear to be firmly rooted to the ground compared to the theoretical and intellect-laced Indo-US Nuclear deal -- on which the Left had withdrawn support from the Congress-led UPA-1 in 2008.

It also provided her the much-needed opportunity to distance her party from the scam- plagued Congress.

"The image of Trinamool was getting hurt because of the scams of the Congress, it would have affected our national ambitions as we want to play a much bigger role in national politics after the next general elections," the MP said.

With crucial rural polls knocking at the door and the Bengal Congress always up in arms against the state government, the break-up would help Trinamool stretch its wings even in the Congress bastions, which they have been eyeing, to emerge as the only formidable force against the Left.

On the flip side, if the Congress calls Banerjee's bluff and survives without its support, then the railways projects that Trianmool had announced for Bengal during her tenure at Rail Bhawan will die a natural death.

(Pradipta Tapadar can be contacted at






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