With allies like these

TMC and Congress calling each other names every day do not a coalition make

Written by The Indian Express | Published:January 6, 2012 3:01 am

Almost eight months into her historic victory in West Bengal that unseated the Left Front after 34 unbroken years in power,Mamata Banerjee appears to be firmly outlefting the Left. This is evident from the Trinamool Congress’s politics. From the Teesta waters agreement,through FDI in retail,pension bill,land acquisition,to fuel price hike,the TMC seems well on its way now to displacing the Left nationally as the new left. The loud discord between the Congress and the TMC,both at the Centre and in Bengal,is making the questions being raised about the future of their alliance sound more and more serious.

The disagreements,which culminated in Parliament over the Lokayukta clause in the Lokpal bill,have now spilled onto the street in Bengal. The Congress has come out in open agitation over a number of issues,the distress sale of paddy by farmers being the grimmest of those. While the Congress has often complained about the treatment it’s meted out by the TMC,the senior partner in the state alliance,things dramatically came to a head over the chief minister’s proposal to rename Kolkata’s Indira Bhavan after poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Nevertheless,someone as faithful to the politics of easy symbolism as Banerjee couldn’t have missed the irony of a symbol causing ties to plummet further.

So while both the TMC and the Congress agitate against governments they are part of,reading Mamata Banerjee’s mind remains difficult. Perhaps she believes a mid-term poll would increase the TMC’s Lok Sabha tally of 19 seats? Is the TMC’s decision to contest 50 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh,not in alliance with the Congress,just an experiment? In Bengal,meanwhile,Banerjee has returned to her oppositional mode,reviving her old allegation of a CPM-Congress “nexus”,and announcing giant rallies. With the TMC stalling UPA 2’s policies at the Centre,Congress ministers in Banerjee’s cabinet protesting against her government,and the CM threatening a return to the street-fighting days,clearly the alliance is not in the best of health. The communication gap between the two parties was visible over the Lokpal bill. If they want to keep each other’s company,they have to talk to each other,now.

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