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Mamata Banerjee completes one year in office

May 20, 2012 19:45 IST
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Mercurial West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who single-handedly ended the 34-year-old Left rule in the state, completed one year in office on Sunday, claiming she never boasted of resolving all the problems during this span even as she faces fresh challenges on various fronts.

Banerjee, who has been complaining of lack of funds to battle the "huge debt burden" over over Rs 2 lakh crore which she says was left behind by the previous coalition, finds herself more and more at the receiving end facing one controversy after another.

"I never boasted of solving all the problems in one year.

But I dislike the motivated campaign of lies," the chief minister said in her defence.

The 57-year-old Trinamool Congress chief is known to lose her temper over uncomfortable questions fired at her, the latest being her walkout from the stage where a discussion hosted by a television channel was being recorded. She dubbed those asking questions as Maoists and CPI-M cadres.

Her government faced severe criticism on several fronts, including a controversial government order on newspapers that government-run libraries were allowed to keep and more recently the arrest of a professor for forwarding a cartoon by email showing her in poor light.

The arrest of a scientist for taking part in an anti-eviction drive, besides her remarks on the Park Street rape case have drawn flak.

Banerjee has also constantly been under the line of fire of Communist Party of India-Marxist which have not missed any opportunity to target her.

The chief minister, who has drawn criticism from her detractors for appearing more like an opposition leader instead of one ruling the state, said, "We have been working with devotion, dedication, accountability and transparency.

Whatever I do I take it as a challenge," Banerjee said in a recent interview to PTI.

The initial bonhomie with her ally Congress has diminished by the day. For her, it has now become an uneasy alliance with the Congress in the state coming out against her on certain issues.

She is also unhappy with Centre's approach towards her state, often complaining that enough was not being done to bail out her state from existing debt burden.

Banerjee has sought to set the situation right by demanding from the Centre a three-year moratorium on the Central loan interest payment and debt restructuring.

To this end, she has held several rounds of meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

On its part, the UPA government is also cut up with Banerjee for stonewalling some of its ambitious plans.

Banerjee has steadfastly opposed FDI in retail, the pension bill and hike in petrol prices.

She has also made known her reservations over the Teesta water treaty and more recently the NCTC, which she said encroached on the states powers.

Banerjee has continued with her simple life style after assuming the top post. She is seen donning her trademark cotton saris and rubber slippers and mixes freely with the public, notwithstanding security concerns.

Within two months after taking office on May 20, Banerjee was able to broker the tripartite Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Agreement which was signed on July 18 at Darjeeling.

The GTA, which replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in 1988, offered maximum possible autonomy to the hills under the central and state laws and Banerjee promised a package for the hills to push it on the road of development.

The high point in a year's rule was Time Magazine bracketing her with among others, US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also personally met her recently and expressed interest about US investments in the state.

She has also been credited with tackling the Maoist problem in junglemahal comprising West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

Top Maoist leader Kishenji was killed on November 24 last year, while dreaded women leaders Jagori Baskey and Suchitra Mahato surrendered to the chief minister.
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