The Play Of 3 M’s
“Maa Maati and Manush” the slogan coined by Mamata Banerjee has once united the people of Bengal to overthrow the rule of a longest serving democratic government in Bengal. As these 3 M’s played the decisive role in the political history of Bengal, the 3 M’s on the other hand may be the reason of its downfall too.
A series of senior party leaders including State Minister and M.P’s are being arrested and are in the custody of CBI, which includes the dramatic arrest of Madan Mitra, the State Transport and Sports Minister recently. Next in the row is Mukul Roy, whom the CBI recently issued summon to be present before it in cases related to Saradha Scam. Mukul Roy, a close aide of Mamata Banerjee and the one who is regarded as the second-in-command of the party and so far the seniormost politician of the party to be called in the Saradha case, has became the biggest talk of the town. Who is next? As Madan, Mukul are the two M’s who are already in the CBI’s net. And with the summon of Mukul Roy, the prediction of a prophetic list rolled out by Mamata Banerjee herself less than two years ago seems strangely real.
Here if we go in flashback and recall, what Mamata had herself said taking all the names that are already in the net. “Kunal chor? Madan chor? Tumpai chor? Mukul chor? Aami chor? Sobai chor? Baki ra sob sadhu” (“Is Kunal a thief? Is Madan a thief? Is Tumpai a thief? Is Mukul a thief? Am I a thief? Are all of us thieves? And the rest are saints!”) she was quoted as saying in a remark. Mamata Banerjee added another name to the list recently, although not publicly, but during a closed door meeting with party leaders. She was quoted as saying “Er por bolbe Abhishek o chor” (Next they will say Abhishek is also a thief). Abhishek Banerjee is her nephew and a party M.P, who was recently anointed as the number two in the party. But bringing his name in the list also raises many questions, as to what Mamata has in her mind while uttering Abhishek’s name. In the recent past, the political spat between the BJP and Trinmool Congress in Bengal has been mostly war of words surrounding the 3 M’s.
Sidharth Nath Singh, BJP’s West Bengal in-charge, had in the month of November predicted that the year 2015 “will be the year of bhaag Mukul bhaag (run, Mukul, run)”. If we go by the way Sidharth Nath Singh predicted, it would be interesting to see which M is in the row. One after another arrest of senior party members and leaders of Bengal by the CBI in connection with the Saradha Scam puts a question mark on the credibility of the government of the state. This government is long being seen by many as close to people. It also questions the credibility of the supreme leader of the party and Chief Minister of the state Mamata Banerjee, whose honesty has always been acknowledged by the people and politics of India.
With the arrest of senior leaders, ministers, Member of Parliament of the same political party now it seems that the dark days are fast approaching in Bengal, questioning the political future of the state.
Mukul Roy who was seen as the Trinmool Congress second-in-command being summoned by the CBI is seen as the biggest setback to Trinmool Congress and personally to Mamata Banerjee. The organisational capacity of Mukul Roy has been widely accepted within the party and outside as he is often referred to as the party’s Chanakya, has always being shrewd and diplomatic in handling crisis situation within the party and outside. Sources in the CBI said that they are likely to question Mukul Roy about an alleged meeting between him and Saradha chief Sudipta Sen at Nizam Palace on April 5, 2013, just four days before the businessman fled. Sen eventually surfaced in Kashmir on April 23 and was arrested. What happened in the intervening and preceding days is one of the enduring mysteries of the Saradha scandal, deepened by allegations that as many as 86 calls were exchanged between a senior politician and Sen. The identity of the real author of the letter that Sen purportedly sent to the CBI is also cloaked in secrecy.
Amidst all this, Trinamool Congress claims that the accusation of involvement of its leaders in Saradha scam is false. Party leader Partha Chatterjee thundered that the party would hit the streets if its general secretary Mukul Roy was arrested by CBI in the chit fund case. Mamata Banerjee on her Facebook page accused BJP of being after regional parties through Central agencies. The post on 15th January 2015 goes like this: “One particular national political party along with one media house of Bengal is constantly engaged in maligning the state political personalities of the ruling party. It is very unfortunate that this vilification campaign is being repeatedly spread by quoting different Central agencies and without documents/proof. It is a sad time for democracy. The ruling party in the Centre should not bulldoze the regional parties and destabilise the federal structure.”
More clearly targeting the BJP-led government at the Centre, Partha Chatterjee, TMC secretary-general and the state’s Education Minister, alleged “attempts were being made to dislodge the government (headed by Mamata Banerjee) by holding out administrative threats”. He alleged that failing to counter Trinamool Congress politically which had stopped ‘BJP wave’ in Bengal in 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP was indulging in ‘political vengeance’ against the TMC government and the party. “Let them arrest Mukul and we will also show them by hitting the streets… There is nothing but only false allegations,” Partha Chatterjee said.
Although Trinamool Congress’ attempts to mobilise public support against the arrest of Minister Madan Mitra’s in Saradha Scam case last month had fizzled out within a week.
In the same tone, Derek O’Brien, Trinamool Congress National Spokesperson said: “The nasty ploy of using the CBI as a political tool by the BJP continues. They could not fight us politically in Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections, so now these dirty tactics months before the corporation elections. We will fight them politically.”
Sidharth Nath Singh reacting on the Mukul Roy episode said “Roy’s name has come up on countless occasions during the CBI probe. This was inevitable.” Reacting on Sidharth Nath Singh’s comment Partha Chatterjee alleged “It appears that Sidharth Nath Babu has been appointed as the CBI’s additional director-general. The CBI is busy preparing the blueprint to destroy regional parties. Even before the notice was received, Singh went on record. This proves that CBI is working like the BJP’s frontal organisation.” The CBI has earlier arrested MP Srinjoy Bose and Minister Madan Mitra. Kunal Ghosh, another MP (now suspended by the party), earlier been arrested by Bidhannagar police and handed over to the CBI. Kunal Ghosh, who is now in judicial custody, has written a letter that he wants metropolitan magistrate Arvind Mishra to forward to the CBI. It says he and Sen should be present when Roy is interrogated.
On the other hand, seeing her close Lieutenant in trouble Mamata Banerjee is tightening up and exploring all possible ways to combat. Mukul Roy accompanied by State Law Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya has left for Delhi to explore all legal matters, as the party does not want to take any chance, according to the sources in the party, Madan Mitra was summoned by CBI and the agency arrested him on the very first day of his appearance. Same thing may happen in case of Mukul Roy also.
No doubt the ruling party in West Bengal is in troubled waters. The crisis seems unending while the state is headed for civic polls in a few months. These polls, however, will act as litmus test for Mamata government and her party, as to how far they have stood the expectations of the people and also who will be the next on the CBI list is for all of us to see.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Kolkata