Ninety per cent of the politicians give the other ten per cent a bad reputation. After the August 8 Lalgarh rally, there is no doubt in which category Railway Minister Mamata Bannerjee falls. Through this rally she has aptly substantiated that politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. In fact, Mamata is so desperate to hold the reins of power that she appears to have forgotten the difference between sanity and insanity. If the agenda was to show the mammoth gathering she organised at Lalgarh, she certainly passed muster of strength. But political analysts maintain that the Union Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Ms Mamata Banerjee will have to pay a heavy price for this political tamasha. Backed as it was by the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), which is a front for Maoists and whose leader Chattradhar Mahato is currently behind the bar. And it was the same PCPA that went all out to ensure an impressive show. There was no way Ms Banerjee could have gathered such a huge crowd in the Naxal-infested region on her party’s strength, because the place has traditionally been a Left stronghold.
Now it is well known that Ms Banerjee’s one-point agenda is to occupy the Chief Minister’s chair in West Bengal. This was clear at her mammoth Lalgarh rally. One whole week was spent in the ostentatious preparation, which she, as usual, addressed as chief minister-in-waiting. The Railways, however, continue to languish, their modernisation on hold, treated literally—as a sideline.
Political India knows Ms Banerjee to be a law unto herself, and her politics to be irresponsible. But this cannot be a rationalisation for the United Progressive Alliance government to allow one of its important constituents and a senior Minister to publicly support, and collaborate on the ground with, armed extremism that does not have any compunction in unleashing terror against political opponents as well as civilians. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has also described the Naxalites as the greatest internal security threat to our country. In this backdrop, even the Prime Minister maintains studied silence. He does not speak on Kashmir or Commonwealth Games or Lalgarh rally. Silence at time can be a weapon of convenience, but conspiracy of silence should not be allowed. For the possible political gains, no one will have any quarrel with Mamta. But her strategy to piggyback on the Maoists and their influence is replete with danger. If she takes their covert support to come to power, she would become indebted to them. No surprise that the Trinamool chief would be bound to return the compliment. She said things that would have gladdened the Maoist hearts, even going to the extent of contradicting the stand of the Union Government, she is part of. Contradicting the Union government’s stated position that Maoist leader No. 3 ‘Azad’ was killed in an encounter, Ms Banerjee claimed at the rally that he had been murdered and that the killing was unjust because he was negotiating for peace. But to the power-hungry Congress, the coalition compulsions are now forcing at its whims—Trinamool is the largest coalition partner with 19 MPs— to turn a blind eye to Ms Banerjee. One day this compulsion on Maoists will boomerang on her and her party and finally on the nation, as Maoists’ actions will perhaps force her to keep quiet in future also, dealing a body blow to the operations against Maoists.