Is it a new Chapter?

Sudip Bhattacharyya

Much good work has been done by the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal. Success was achieved in 'elimination' of strikes and 'improved' work culture and inter-face particularly in Tourism and Municipal affairs, introduction of e-governance including Digital Ration card, cleaning and beautification of Kolkata city, expansion in environmental, cultural and tourism facilities, extending government support across all sections of the society including women, children and the minority communities, considerable improvement in road transport, road surfacing and widening all over West Bengal (WB), restoration of peace in Darjeeling and Purulia and more growth and income stream. Apart from the very successful Kanyashree scheme for girl students and Nijo Griha Nijo Bhumi scheme for landless, she introduced 2 very useful schemes for much better medical service dispensation: Govt. fair price shops where only generic prescriptions are entertained and DNB post-graduate medical course at all district hospitals where its students can simultaneously render medical services. These schemes are emulated by Central Government. West Bengal tops in executing the Clean Ganga mission schemes. The data shows that Bengal also has the highest number of sanctioned projects and completed 24 out of the 30 sanctioned projects. These projects are being implemented in 24 towns across the state, with a sanctioned cost of Rs 1352 Crore. The "Sabar Souchagar" [toilet for aII] project in West Bengal's Nadia district, framed under the state's "Nirmal Bangla" initiative and aimed at promoting cleanliness and sanitation in rural Bengal, has been shortlisted for the United Nations Public Services Award 2015.

Very recently, she has announced that the hawkers in the city would be given a registration certificate and free trade license, after a proper verification and subject to adherence to a set of specified norms. This is in pursuance of Supreme Court's decision for regularization of street hawking and, if properly implemented, may prove to be a decent solution to the long pending problem.

She also had a kind of bondage with the poor and lower middle class people in WB and she can feel their insecurity at heart. It is amply proved by the recent by-poll results. Yet, it is slowly getting eroded/loosened mainly because of the party's continuous exposure to Sharada fallout and criminalization and lumpenization of party cadres, especially pervasive in education sector. There is also frustration at no apparent success in job creation and continued doldrums in manufacturing industry. The dismal picture depicting these 3 failures has become staple food offered every morning by newspapers, to people in WB. She is also unnecessarily rebuffing all positive overtures of central govt. instead of co-operating and extracting maximum financial assistance from their coffer.

In the meantime there has occurred a paradigm change in political process and movement. It is not mere rhetoric and professing of good administration and aforesaid changes, but convincing track record of 49 days of good governance and clean politics that has catapulted AAP to reinstatement, despite and in spite of all calumny and anti-Kejriwal campaign. AAP has adopted a clean politics program and a refreshingly new non-confrontational approach towards central govt. Central govt. in turn has reiterated its commitment to support the states in their economic regeneration irrespective of political differences, if any.

One thing needs reiteration. It is that there has so far been no positive step taken for recognition and use of Banglabhasha as the official language in WB. Also its use in education and communication is absolutely dwindling. Bangla is totally avoided in commercial correspondence and campaigns, even though WB is one of the largest markets in India. Is it too much to expect the CM to urgently and sincerely look into this?

There are some apparent changes in her recant moves and approach. She is no longer fighting with CBI. She is giving more personal attention to party needs. She has shown some signs of pragmatism in her visit to Bangladesh and approach to Teesta Water issue. She has now met Modi in Delhi and discussed with him her long pending request for debt waiver to WB. There is a mention of Special Packages for WB and Bihar in the recent budget speech and this gives the context. Significantly, she has also met the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Naidu for inter alia, expediting urban development projects and subsequently provided selective support to govt in parliament.

Is this the beginning of a new chapter?

Vol. 47, No. 41, Apr 19 - 25, 2015