CAN A TAINTED MUKUL ROY HELP BJP AGAINST AN INVINCIBLE MAMATA BANERJEE IN WEST BENGAL?

The article originally appeared on India Today.

All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)’s founder member and once West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s right hand Mukul Roy has joined BJP but can a tainted leader help the party in a state, where, despite its consistent efforts, it has not been able to make much inroads, especially when Mamata Banerjee has been able to cultivate an image of an honest politician and is looking invincible at the moment.

CBI INVESTIGATION AGAINST MUKUL ROY

CBI is investigating the fallout of a sting operation conducted by Narada News which showed many AITC leaders accepting bribes on camera. The sting was released just before the 2016 West Bengal assembly election.

CBI earlier this year took over the case after the Calcutta High Court order on March 17 and filed FIR on April 17 where it named 13 persons including AITC ministers and MPs Mukul Roy, Madan Mitra, Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmed and Kakoli Ghosh for criminal conspiracy and corruption. Other Trinamool leaders named in the FIR are Subhendu Adhikari, Iqbal Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Sovan chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee and Syed Hussain Meerza.

CBI filed cases under IPC Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) and under Sections 7 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) which deal with corruption and criminal misconduct of public servants.

ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE INVESTIGATION

Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating the Narada case. After CBI filed FIR in the case, ED also registered a case under Section 4 of the Prevention of the Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED has already interrogated Kakoli Ghosh, Saugata Roy, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovan Chatterjee and has reportedly summoned Mukul Roy.

Incidentally, CBI also interrogated Mukul Roy in another Ponzi scam, the Saradha case, in January 2015 after which he was sidelined in the party.

MAMATA LOOKS INVINCIBLE IN WEST BEGAL

Though troubled by Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley, another chit-fund scam which saw AITC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay arrested, Mamata’s electoral victories say the aftermath of the scams has not dented her image. Her popularity, in fact, has grown if we go by the election results.

The Saradha scam was unearthed in 2013, the Rose Valley case made headlines in 2014-15 and the Narada sting was aired in 2016, just before the state assembly election and yet Mamata’s party went on to better her tally, winning 211 seats in the 294-member strong West bengal assembly with a vote share of 45 per cent. The 2016 landslide came after yet another brilliant electoral show by the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election where it had won 34 of 42 seats in the state with a vote share of 39.40 per cent.

These were impressive gains over Mamata’s maiden victory in the state in 2011, especially in the aftermath of major scams that saw many leaders of her party implicated and some even jailed. AITC had won 184 seats with a 39 per cent vote share in the 2011 assembly election ending over three decades of the Left Front rule in the state.

On the contrary, BJP could win just three seats in the last assembly polls while the party had failed to open its account in 2011. Though it had stunned everyone by cornering a 17 per cent vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, from just 4 per cent in 2011 assembly election and 6 per cent in 2009 Lok Sabha election, it came down to 10 per cent in 2016. Also, we need to take this into account that in spite of the Narendra Modi wave, BJP was able to win just two Lok Sabha seats from the state.

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WHAT MAMATA ANTI-DEMONETIZATION HINDI TWEETS TELL US

Mamata Banerjee is very active on Twitter (@MamataOfficial) and basically tweets in English and sometimes in Bangla. But she is using Hindi as well, and strategically, in order to reach a wider cross section of people on the demonetization issue which she is vehemently opposed to. A scroll down her Twitter feed will show that increasingly most of her tweets on demonetization are in both languages. She has tried to emerge as a central figure of the anti-demonetization front and her outburst began on Twitter only when she termed the Modi government decision ‘a financial chaos and disaster let loose on the common people of India’ after Narendra Modi finished his address to the nation announcing the decision that has kept India hooked since then.

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Her Hindi tweets also indicate that she is now looking for a wider canvas politically, something that the ensuing chaos in the aftermath of the demonetization drive can give her. She has hit Delhi streets and has held meetings and parleys against demonetization since the Parliament’s winter session began on November 16.

Now that the opposition parties have decided to launch a pan-India anti-demonetization protest with ‘Aakrosh Diwas’ on November 28, they all will try to mobilize masses as much as possible and Mamata’s use of Hindi to reach out and appeal to people, along with her image and streets-smart style politics of ‘Ma-Mati-Manush (Mother-Motherland-People)’ will come in handy here. Demonetization pangs have affected people across the country and speaking in a language that reaches out to the maximum number of people is certainly a logical idea. Also, now that TMC is a national level political party, speaking and tweeting in Hindi makes sense when the heart of India’s political landscape, Uttar Pradesh, a Hindi speaking state, is going to polls in the next few months.

©SantoshChaubey

SHIV SENA AND BJP SHOULD SEPARATE NOW

The move which the BJP sees as a masterstroke – the move which threatens prime minister Narendra Modi’s life as he said in an emotional speech – the move behind which the whole BJP government stands united and is trying every possible measure to make it a success – the move for which the whole nation has stood painstakingly (or painfully) in queues day in and day out – the BJP’s ally and its partner in the Maharashtra government, the Shiv Sena, is seen standing with Mamata Banerjee opposing that very move – against that masterstroke and is going to corner the government on the demonetization issue along with the larger opposition.

It is when Congress, Left and Arvind Kejriwal decided not to join the anti-demonetization march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Mamata Banerjee on the issue.

The Shiv Sena has criticised the Narendra Modi government on withdrawing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. Its 21 parliamentarians marched along with the TMC’s 44 MPs and others including Omar Abdullah and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann. The Shiv Sena says demonetization has gone beyond the politics of government and its rivals and the party believes that this step is anti-people and has trapped the common man’s life in a tight spot.

To continue..

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