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King-maker? Why not queen-in-waiting?
EPA/Piyal Adhik
King-maker? Why not queen-in-waiting? EPA/Piyal Adhik

Mamata’s bid at “controlled democracy” !

|By Sanjib Guha|

When Mamata Banerjee took over as the Chief Minister of West Bengal after a 34-year Left Front stint, people believed that she could deliver her promise, “we want change, not revenge”. But thanks to the shenanigans of the TMC leaders and workers alike, their belief has turned into disbelief over the last three years.

Not following court orders, violence, shielding imposters, making outrageous and cheap comments and patronizing criminals have been their daily meal. The West Bengal government has made a mockery of the system.

Ask any TMC leader about an incident, and he will invariably point fingers to CPM/Left Front rule brazenly denying the fact that there is a world outside politics where peoples’ lives are way more important.

Clearly, Mamata Banerjee’s slogan, “we want change, not revenge” has fallen flat on its face putting the Government’s credibility at stake.

While the police have been managed to ensure that court orders remain in heaps of files, they had one obstacle – The State Election Commission – ahead of the Municipal elections in a year’s time.

As per practice, retired civil servants take charge and that has been the usual procedure for the five officers (former chief secretaries Tarun Dutta, Ashok Gupta and Anish Majumdar and additional chief secretaries Ajoy Sinha and Pande) till date.

But the normal practice has been done away with. Now, when incumbent Mira Pande retires today, she will be replaced by retired WBCS (state civil service) officer SR Upadhyay. This is perhaps another big jolt to democracy.

It may be recalled that Mamata Banerjee has collided with Pande on several occasions for not toeing her line and was on a lookout for a loyalist.

An indication that the government wants to weaken the state election commission ahead of the municipal polls. In a way, that ensures anything but a free and fair election.

Right from the Sharada scam to Sourav Chaudhury murder, the Chief Minister has never uttered a word in sync with her slogan, “we want change, not revenge,”  highlighting a probable endorsement for seasoned criminals in the State.

Banerjee may have got a wind about the discontent in their own ranks in every pocket of Bengal and hence she has resorted to using muscle power in order to sweep one more election.

Now, with a weakened state election commission, TMC can go on a rampage for the next five to six years.

With due respect to Mr Upadhyay’s abilities, the question is – Why pick a (retired) WBCS officer ignoring a pool of retired IAS officers when for so long, the convention has been to appoint a retired IAS officer to the post?

At the backdrop of Banerjee-Pande dispute, it would not be illogical to say that the state government does not want another retired IAS officer to deal with anymore.

But, the very thinking of the government that the state election commissioner should be a TMC loyalist is a serious threat to democracy.

It won’t be a surprise if Anubrata Mondal, Monirul Islam, Arabul Hossain and Tapash Paul spew even more venom and there are no checks and balances in the days to come.

Last time, the constitutional body at least condemned the ‘inflammatory speeches’ and cases were registered against many Trinamool leaders, which is now expected to be a thing of past.

Come July 21, as the new state election commissioner takes guard, Trinamool Congress will perhaps clear the last hurdle before another thumping win in the corporation polls.

As far as the slogan, “we want change, not revenge” is concerned; it will soon be forgotten for a new one, “Action speaks louder than words.”

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