By Sumanta Ray ChaudhuriKolkata, May 22 : The last week was probably one of the most difficult weeks for the West Bengal government and the ruling Trinamool Congress since the latter came to power in the state in May 2011, ending the 34 year long Left Front rule.
Interestingly, the reasons for this uneasiness for the ruling party are not the principal opposition parties like the BJP, the CPI(M) or the Congress.
Consecutive orders from a single judge and division benches of the Calcutta High Court on the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment irregularities entangling Trinamool heavyweights like former state education minister and the party secretary general, Partha Chatterjee and minister of state for education, Paresh Chandra Adhikari have pushed the ruling party on the backfoot.
Even the most voluble Trinamool leaders, often known as the loose cannons of the party, became extremely cautious in giving their reactions on the court orders.
Now in this volatile situation two questions are doing the rounds in the corridors of power.The first question is whether the opposition parties in the state would be able to take advantage of the situation.
The second question is whether the consecutive court verdicts will intensify infighting in the Trinamool Congress?
As regards the second question, political analysts feel the virtual silence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on this issue where she has not made a direct reference to the WBSSC controversy even once is an indication of the lull before the storm.
According to political analyst Dr Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, even after becoming the chief minister Mamata Banerjee had not totally done away with her old habit of hitting the streets on an issue.
“Remember, when the Central Bureau of Investigation sleuths even went near the residence of the then Kolkata Police Commissioner in February 2019, the chief minister did not hesitate to stage a sit-in at Esplanade that continued for days.But here one of her most trusted lieutenants, the current state commerce & industries minister, Partha Chatterjee had to spend about four hours at the CBI office and face the grilling and she has not uttered a single word.”
“Actually, by staging a dharna on the police commissioner issue, she could open a front against the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.And in case of the WBSSC scam, the court ordered a CBI enquiry based on petitions filed by those illegally deprived from jobs.
So, it will be politically suicidal for her now if she even speaks on this issue.And in the case of her trusted lieutenants, it seems that they are somehow trying to distance themselves from the issue as they are claiming that if anyone is at fault, they will face the music.
It seems that Partha Chatterjee is heading to fight a twin battle, the first being outside the party and the second within his own party,” Mukhopadhyay said.
The opposition leaders seem to be waiting for the growing dissatisfaction of the people to gain more momentum.
The youth and students wings of the CPI(M), BJP and the Congress had hit the streets to demand the immediate arrest of the offenders in this case, but the top opposition leaders have restricted themselves to verbal or social media statements on the situation.
Be it the state Congress president and senior party MP, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury or the BJP state president and party Lok Sabha member, Dr Sukanta Majumdar or the CPI(M) central committee member, Dr Sujan Chakraborty, all are in agreement that the Calcutta High Court orders have proved right the arguments of the opposition parties that West Bengal has become a den of corruption under the Trinamool Congress.
The rejoinders of the Trinamool Congress leaders like the party’s state general secretary and spokesman, Kunal Ghosh have also been quite guarded.According to Ghosh, amid the excellent development work done by the state government under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, there are just a couple of slips.”If one or two persons are at fault the entire party or the entire state government cannot be blamed for that.The law will take its own course and decide what is right and what is wrong.
But at the same time, I would like to say that neither the BJP nor the CPI(M) have the moral right to raise their voices on this issue because of the past antecedents of their leaders,” Ghosh said.
Political observers feel that the opposition parties would not be able to take long term political advantage of the evolving situation if they restrict their political activities just to making statements or social media posts.
According to political analyst Raja Gopal Dhar Chakraborty, these leaders will have to take lessons from Mamata Banerjee as the erstwhile opposition leader before 2011.”Be it the Singur issue or that of Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee had hit the streets on every issue and she had opened multiple parallel fronts against the then Left Front government.Similarly, senior political leaders of the opposition parties will have to hit the streets as far as possible and reach out to the victims on multiple issues,” he said.
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