Modi, Didi should rise above petty politicking
‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas' is the "basic mantra" of the BJP and its mission is to work for the country and its development
'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas' is the "basic mantra" of the BJP and its mission is to work for the country and its development. This certainly is a very good mantra. When the BJP came to power with absolute majority at Centre in 2014, this mantra gave a new direction and kind of new enthusiasm. It was felt that after 67 years of Independence, the country has got a positive direction and hence forth the dimension of politics will undergo a definite change.
The results of 2014 general elections made people feel that this mantra indicates that the country will now do away with political vendetta and politicking will end once elections would be over and from then onwards, both Centre and State would focus attention on governance and India will shift from the concept of Swarajya (self-rule to Surajya good governance). The Indian voters, it was felt had taken a wise decision in giving absolute majority of the BJP.
It was also felt that since the Centre would turn to Surajya, the states too will follow. But then our experience in last six years has left us wondering if all these nice and ear pleasing utterances were also part of politicking? When the attack on Congress party began by BJP, it was felt that the Congress party was committing mistake after mistake and was reeling under darkness without an effective leader to guide the rank and file.
But it now appears that all ruling parties from Lutyens Delhi to down South have adopted the same policy, decimate the opposition and muzzle the voice of media and anyone who questions the ruling party. A situation has come where even media had fallen silent as it has seen how some of them were arrested under sedition cases.
The way the Centre and West Bengal government are on warpath leaves one aghast. While TMC has won thumping majority, the BJP too had not only given a tough fight but also improved its tally to 74 and emerged as the major opposition. Soon after the results, one expected that the war was over. The BJP had also said that the Centre would extend full cooperation to the state. This statement was welcomed by all because there was lot of heat generated between the TMC and the BJP and the war of words had reached a peak.
But the developments that we are witnessing now indicates that the war between TMC and BJP is not over. Didi wants that she should now be allowed to govern the State. The Centre says, she was violating all norms of protocols and not just that she was even roping in bureaucrats into politics.
Mamata Didi continues to roar like an injured tigress. But the frustration is clearly visible. She even went to the extent of saying,"If the Prime Minister tells me, 'you touch my feet, I will help Bengal', that also I am ready to do. But please don't humiliate me like this. Don't insult me like this. Don't defame Bengal. You are not only disturbing me, but you are also disturbing my secretariat. Why are you behaving like this? We won by a landslide. Is that your worry?" She asked.
Why did Centre get angry? It was because Didi kept the PM waiting when he went to West Bengal to assess the damage caused by cyclone. She also left the place to visit cyclone affected areas along with her chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay. Though Mamata has been claiming that they failed to arrive at Kalaikunda in advance due to security restrictions imposed by ATC (air traffic control) in view of the PM's arrival and that after reaching Kaklaikunda, she was not allowed to meet the PM immediately by the SPG, Didi seems to be on weak wicket. As per protocol, she should have reached Kalaikunda well in advance of the arrival of the Prime Minister. Apart from reaching late, she handed over a memorandum to the Prime Minister and left the place along with her CS. This act would certainly make anyone angry.
The result was the Ministry of Home Affairs served a notice to the Chief Secretary under Disaster Management Act saying that PM Narendra Modi and others accompanying him were kept waiting for over 15 minutes. The MHA said, "In view of the absence (at PM meeting), the Chief Secretary was called by an official as to whether they wanted to participate in the meeting or not. Thereafter, the Chief Secretary arrived along with the CM and left immediately." The notice asked Bandyopadhyay, a 1987-batch IAS officer, to explain within three days why action should not be taken against him.
This has sparked off a major war or words. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that this was not the time to fight with state governments, but to confront the coronavirus pandemic together. Mamata reacted saying, "Within minutes of my taking oath, the Governor issued a statement of some incidents that took place when the state was under the Election Commission. You cannot digest defeat that is why from day one you started all these actions."
Some TMC MPs felt that Disaster Management Act should be applied against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Election Commission for "endangering human lives" by holding polls and poll rallies during Covid spike in West Bengal.
Not willing to give up, the West Bengal Chief Minister refused to relieve CS and made him resign and appointed him as advisor to the Chief Minister. She also remarked, "We respect his guts; he chose to retire rather than bowing down. We need his service in the interests of Bengal." Now the big question is why did Mamata go to such extra lengths to protect the officer who earned the ire of Modi government? Was it her concern for the bureaucracy or did she drag her CS also into politicking?
There is no doubt that she trusts her former CS to a great extent and credits him with the concept of governance at the doorstep of the common man. He also heads almost all committees meant for relief and rehabilitation work and reposed confidence in him from managing Covid-19 situation to Yaas cyclone. Bandyopadhyay is also known for his flexibility in shifting into any system and had worked with many Chief Ministers from Buddhadeb Bhattarcharjee of Left Front to Mamata and had held important positions.
Alapan is Ramakrishna Mission-educated and a Presidency college graduate who started his career as a journalist with Anandabazar Patrika. According to reports the Chief Minister trusts Bandyopadhyay to such an extent that he heads almost all committees formed for relief and rehabilitation work in the past two years, from Covid-19 pandemic to cyclones Amphan and Yaas.
According to experts, the legal position says that the IAS cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the state governments concerned and the central government, be deputed for service under the central government or another state government.
"Provided that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the central government and the state government or state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the central government," it says.
Thus, there is some ambiguity in terms of whose decision should be deemed as final in case of a disagreement. However, the general understanding is that Centre's writ should reign supreme in such situations but what will happen if State refused to comply is not clear.
This is the second time that the Union government has invoked the All India Services Rule in the last five months. Earlier in December, the Centre had directed the West Bengal government to immediately relieve three IPS officers so that they could join their new assignments at the Centre and the State refused to comply with.
The three were responsible for the security of BJP president JP Nadda during his visit to the state for building up momentum for electioneering when his convoy was attacked at Diamond Harbour.
Well it now remains to be seen how long will these skirmishes, if it can be called so, will continue between the Centre and West Bengal government. Things become too complicated when both sides refuse to budge and no compromise is arrived at.
While the Centre should too should not try to arm twist the State to such an extent that governance there gets impacted, the States too should not think they are supreme sovereign entities. Sab Ka Saath Sab ka Vikas is possible only when both sides exhibit tolerance and adopt give and take policy particularly when the country is passing through most trying times of Corona pandemic and another third wave is staring at our face.
Its time politicking is forgotten till the pandemic turns into endemic and things return to normalcy. Let not the people suffer should be the policy of Centre and state governments. Such a move from the Prime Minister who is seen as a very dynamic and intellectual person would be most appropriate at this part of time. It certainly is not the time for 'Tu Tu mein mein.' Didi too should not always roar like a tigress.