Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Mamata Banerjee

TMC quits UPA

On 18/9/2012 around 8.15 p.m. Mamata Banerjee in a press conference announced withdrawal of support to UPA government. TMC will not be part of UPA. TMC ministers will submit their resignation letters to PM at 3 p.m. on Friday, 21/9/2012. She did mention the date but that was implied.

Mamata Banerjee was unhappy with diesel price rise, cap on LPG cylinders with subsidy at six per year per family, and FDI in multi-brand retail. Most people are unhappy with diesel price rise as it will lead to other price rises. Cap on LPG cylinders will not affect most families as they do not use for than six cylinders per year. FDI in multi-brand retail is beneficial to farmers while small shop owners will lose.

Mamata Banerjee had given 72 hours ultimatum to centre to rollback and the centre did not oblige. The meeting that began at 5 p.m. lasted for more than three hours, unusual for TMC. May be TMC ministers in union cabinet did not want to quit. May be some TMC MPs felt there is nothing to gain from quitting UPA. Mayawati or Mulayam will rescue UPA and TMC will be loser.

Mamata Banerjee did not send letter of withdrawal of support to President. If she had sent the letter the President would have asked the government to prove its majority in Lok Sabha. She gave almost 67 hours time to Congress to reverse decisions. The possibility of a compromise between Congress and TMC exists. Even after TMC ministers resign, talks can go on.

Mamata Banerjee said her party is the second largest in UPA. With 19 members TMC is less than one tenth of Congress which has 206 members and just one more than DMK which has 18 members. If TMC quits, BSP which has 21 members can join UPA. Mayawati can be railway minister. Portfolios held by TMC can go to BSP.

TMC does not need Congress support in West Bengal. With TMC out of UPA, Congress members will have to quit the cabinet in West Bengal and sit in opposition. Mamata Banerjee’s calculation is that central government will fall within six months. That may not happen. Congress may continue in power through various permutations and combinations. When Left Front withdrew support in 2008 Congress survived.

Congress leaders in West Bengal wanted to break the alliance with TMC long back. They were told to hold on due to reasons like budget session and presidential election. Out of UPA, TMC’s chances of power at centre are limited. It does not want to be part of NDA or any front that has Left Front in it. A front consisting TMC and remaining parties is unlikely to get power at centre.

Mamata Banerjee on corrupt judges

Mamata Banerjee’s statement that court orders can be bought has evoked various reactions, most of them against her. Her statement was taken in the context of West Bengal Human Rights Commission slapping a fine of 50,000 rupees for the arrest of a professor who had sent her cartoons through e-mail. Her critics said her statement was unacceptable and irresponsible; she was dictatorial, intolerant and does not have a sense of humour.

Mamata Banerjee did not mention WBHRC judgment. Taken in itself her statement is nothing new. The then CJI S. P. Bharucha had said 20% of the judiciary is corrupt. Nobody said his statement was unacceptable and irresponsible. A magistrate had issued four arrest warrants for 10,000 rupees each and the persons to be arrested included President Abdul Kalam and CJI Vishwanath Khare. Prashant Bhushan faces contempt of court case for stating eight of 16 former CJIs were corrupt. Soumitra Sen, a High Court judge, had faced removal by Parliament. He quit after Rajya Sabha voted to remove him. There was demand to prosecute Nirmal Yadav which was granted on the last day of her service.

No critic said Mamata Banerjee was wrong. Her critics know she spoke the truth. Contempt of court provision has been used to punish people, mainly journalists, who exposed judicial corruption. An MLA is immune from prosecution for contempt of court for whatever is said in the Legislative Assembly under Article 194 of the Constitution. Mamata Banerjee as an MLA enjoys immunity. Mamata Banerjee spoke in general terms. She did not mention anyone by name. Some dispute immunity saying the Assembly was not in session but the Article does not say the Assembly should be in session to have immunity.

Someone said there are some rotten eggs in judiciary but you should not condemn all. Even if there is one rotten egg it is one too many and rottenness spreads. Rotten eggs should be removed.

The lawyers who condemn Mamata Banerjee defend all types of criminals. They should introspect. May be they are afraid that Mamata Banerjee knows some incidents and she will go public.

Some argue a chief minister saying something against the judiciary will make people lose faith in the judiciary. Faith is lost when people do not get justice. People lose faith when cases drag on for years. People lose faith when murderers, rapists, molesters, abductors, swindlers and other criminals walk free or get bail easily or spend time in hospitals instead of jails. In Andhra Pradesh one judge faces prosecution for getting six crore rupees to give bail to Janardhana Reddy.

Mamata Banerjee being dictatorial, intolerant and not having a sense of humour is a separate issue. It does not add or subtract anything from the issue of judicial corruption.

Supreme Court judges have resisted the demand to declare their assets. They lost their case in Delhi High Court. Now the case is in Supreme Court. The judges are a party to dispute and they will decide.

President Pranab

Pranab Mukherjee is the president of India. He could not become prime minister, even caretaker prime minister, home minister and missed becoming president in 2007. There was suspense about his candidature. When during Congress Working Committee meeting he proposed authorising Congress president to nominate candidates for president and vice president he seemed out of equation. Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav said they did not want him or Hamid Ansari and proposed A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee. It seemed all over for Pranab Mukherjee but Mulayam Singh Yadav turned around and supported him. JD(U) and Shiv Sena supported Pranab Mukherjee. There was split in Left Front. CPI(M) supported him. CPI abstained. At the end Mamata Banerjee also supported him.

Purno Albert Sangma who lost the election to Pranab Mukherjee is set to challenge his election in court. UPA had granted financial packages to UP and Bihar. There is controversy about the post held by Pranab Mukherjee in Indian Statistical Institute and his two signatures. IAC has begun a campaign for SIT to investigate 15 ministers. Pranab Mukherjee was one of them. Later they covered his picture.

Abhijeet Mukherjee, son of Pranab Mukherjee and an MLA, wants to contest from Jangipur constituency which Pranab Mukherjee represented in Lok Sabha. Next Abhijeet Mukherjee may ask to be made finance minister because Pranab Mukherjee was finance minister and demand to succeed Pranab Mukherjee as president.

Pranab Mukherjee did not want to remain No. 2 in cabinet for long. He could not become No. 1 in cabinet. Becoming president was a consolation prize.

During his last days as finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was unpopular with corporates. Many blamed him for various wrongs. Some said he ran finance ministry as his own and did not allow prime minister to interfere. However not much has changed after Pranab Mukherjee ceased to be finance minister.

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