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Mamata showed how politics wins over economics

Last updated on: September 19, 2012 13:48 IST

Mamata showed how politics wins over economics

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Will the dithering government buckle under pressure from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to save itself from sinking into oblivion? Sheela Bhatt examines

This Friday afternoon, after Muslim folks perform their namaaz (prayers), the nation will know if the next general election will come before its time or not.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has declared a war on the Congress from Kolkata while withdrawing not only her ministers from the Union cabinet but even withdrawing support to the government. 

Her political strike over the hike of diesel price and Foreign Direct Investment in retail has turned the United Progressive Alliance government into a minority. 

The government will not fall tomorrow, but it has lost its balance. 

Mamata's decision clearly shows that she regards the UPA as a sinking ship. She even refused to speak to the prime minister when he called her on Tuesday morning.

Her decision has hiked the bargaining power of both the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

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Mamata showed how politics wins over economics

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The Congress-led government is now totally at the mercy of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, both of whom are difficult customers.

Whether all the people who are gushing over the government's recent bout of action over economic reforms like it or not, Mamata has shown political acumen by picking up the best available political option before her.

It is clear that in the war between economics and politics, the latter will always have an edge because no leader can fly high with his ideas of economic development unless he or she is well-rooted on the political ground.

Mamata is standing by her conviction to continue talking in the language of the people who support her and her kind of politics. The "tigress", as Shiv Sena described her on Tuesday, has put an impossible condition before the Congress to get her support back.

She said, "If the Centre rolls back the decision on FDI in multi-brand retail, raises the cap on supply of subsidised LPG to 12 cylinders and reduces diesel price hike from Rs 5 to Rs 3 or Rs 4, then the party (Trinamool Congress) would reconsider the decision to withdraw support."

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Mamata showed how politics wins over economics

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Dr Manmohan Singh, the politically-rootless leader, has given the 'medicine' in the form of some tough economic decisions to improve the sick economy and the image of his weak government. 

Nirmal Pathak, political editor of Hindustan, puts it sharply, "The prescription Dr Singh suggested to lift the spirit of his government, suffering from policy paralysis, has put the very survival of the government in danger. If Mamata withdraws her support on Friday, it will be difficult for the government to complete its full term."

While cutting the Congress to size, Mamata reiterated that the central government was not a one-party rule.

When history is in the making a mix of many things are at work. It includes timing, personal ego of the characters involved and the circumstances. Surely, the ego tussle between Mamata and Congress president Sonia Gandhi was at work too.

A senior Trinamool MP told rediff.com, "Four days back Mamata had sent an sms to Sonia Gandhi over the issue. She waited for Soniaji's response. She never responded."

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Mamata showed how politics wins over economics

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It was believed that Mamata will withdraw her ministers, but will remain with the UPA. Instead, she has opted for the final option. Some reports even said that Dr Singh was expecting the West Bengal chief minister's call. That she chose to simply ignore the prime minister suggests that Mamata wanted only Sonia to reach out to her.

If she sticks to the decision and finally snaps ties, the Congress is likely to go to town alleging that she is slanting towards the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and that to thwart the danger of getting a communal taint she had talked about submitting resignations on the day of jumma (Friday prayers) at 3 pm.

Mamata has three major calculations while kicking the UPA. 

Firstly, she will send the message that she is a 'principled ally' who is leaving power on a people's issue like hike in diesel price. She is not into double-speak like Mayawati or Mulayam. The Trinamool manifesto clearly opposed FDI in retail. She has to deliver on her election promise to the people.

Secondly, she will now put up 42 candidates for the Lok Sabha election, as she will not have any seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress. If she sweeps West Bengal in the Lok Sabha election she may be one of the prime ministerial aspirants. Tuesday's decision is a first firm step towards this goal. 

If she had continued her partnership with the Congress, the Trinamool would have got only around 30 seats only to put up candidates. By divorcing the Congress, Mamata is also saving herself from people's anger over the UPA's corruption.

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Mamata showed how politics wins over economics

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Another great advantage Mamata will have if she leaves on Friday is that she will be now better equipped to fight the Left parties -- her real and strongest rival -- tooth and nail. Mamata has robbed the CPI-M of their poll plank of fighting the tainted UPA's policies.

Many analysts in New Delhi say that Left parties may help the UPA government if Mamata slides with the BJP. But it seems unlikely with the introduction of the FDI in retail. More than the nuclear energy issue, the retail FDI issue concerns people and the CPI-M is now unlikely to make friends with the enemy's enemy.  

While talking to rediff.com after Mamata announced her decision, CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat said, "The UPA government is looking more and more isolated. At this point of time, I can only say that we will intensify our movement against the FDI in retail trade."

The Samajwadi Party remarked that "the government had lost its credibility." This shows that they will humiliate the government even if they get their pound of flesh.

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Tags: Mamata , UPA , CPI-M , FDI , BJP

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Mamata showed how politics wins over economics

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Dr Singh will remain in his seat of power at a high cost to his party, to the nation and even at cost of pride because he will find soon that time is not on his side. There are not enough buyers to allow him to sell in domestic market his globally glamorous economic reforms.

However, it does not mean that a sulking Mamata will not be offered options by the government. The Congress cannot afford an early election. It wants to take some populist steps before the election season comes closer. They will, in the coming 72 hours, surely try to change the game set up by Mamata. Also, any movement in Centre will have an impact on the all-important Gujarat election.

The Congress called the BJP's bluff by going fast on the path of economic reforms, but now the prime minister will test the Congress party's commitment to reforms.

Let us see what Sonia has to offer to lure back Mamata.

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