Wednesday, November 14, 2012

VOICE OF INDIA-Mamata, a lost soul

Mamata Banerjee, the fiery head of the Trinamool Congress and the Chief minister of West Bengal, who rode the wave of revolution against years of Communist miss-rule, now finds herself in a state of disarray. She looks like a lost soul in a state that appears to have missed the boat.
A new administration under Mamata was elected with an overwhelming majority by the people of West Bengal that had wanted a change. Instead, Mamata's Govt. has provided more of the same policies as its predecessor, the CPM. It has failed to keep its coalition with the Congress in the state and resigned from the central Govt.. It has further alienated corporate investments in the state and more businesses are leaving the state. Law and order appears to be a major problem and her ministers appear high handed, often taking the law into their own hands. Land reform appears to be a sore point as before. Hospitals and public works are in a state of decay. And, in the civil rights arena, the record of Mamta Banerjee appears more wanting with the arrest of jounalists and teachers on flimsy grounds, as trivial as drawing caricatures r criticizing the Mamta Govt..
And, now comes the greatest of her Blunders. Instead of concentrating on administration of her state, she has taken the central Govt headlong and will propose a no-trust motion in parliament against the Manmohan Singh govt. because of its FDI policy in retail.
Why is FDI needed in India? The arguments for foreign direct investments in India has to be looked at through a global magnifying glass. The crisis in western Europe is due to the lack of incentives for foreign investments in the past decade or so, as compared to the more open policy of the south east Asia such as China. To maintain a high growth rate, India needs FDI expansion in its different sectors. The current controversy is mainly in the Govt. policy of opening up the FDI in multibrand retail to 51%. Single brand already are approved to have 100% FDI. In the past, the Govt. had relaxed the FDI in several other sectors such as communications, real estate and air carriers. The stock exchange and the investment rating services such as Standard and Poor have reacted favorably for the push for FDI in retail. Manmohan Singh is in charge of the Finance ministry and has staked his credibility on this move to implement this policy via an executive decision. The parliament is meeting next week and the opposition parties have rallied together to oppose the Govt. on this FDI policy. Much of the reason have more to do with politics rather than substance. The main opposition party, the BJP has previously supported FDI in its private policy statements, when it was in power in the past, but now appears to oppose FDI, without offering any strong arguments against it. It is out of character for a right wing party like BJP to oppose FDI which will benefit consumers due increasing competition amongst businesses.The govt, also argues that the farmer will benefit by getting better prices for their produce by the elimination of the middleman, as they will deal directly with large retailers.
Therefore, it is apparent that Mamata Banerjee has determined that the FDI is detrimental to her state and hence, will go to extent of passing a no trust motion against the govt.. She does not realize that under the Manmohan govt's FDI policy, the states have the final say whether they would implement the center's policy. So, it just does not make any sense for her to oppose the Center's policy. Her motive is suspect and is more influenced by retribution for the maltreatment she received as a participiant of the UPA coalition, where her opinions on major decision were overlooked and had culminated in the departure of the TMC from the coalition.
West Bengal, under the stewardship of Mamta Banerjee is in dire straits. And, the future only portends more trouble as she takes the center headlong in a miss-adventure, the consequences of which will be erosion of her votes in the coming Lok Sabha elections of 2014.

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