As if the wholesale collapse of communication between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress wasn’t bad enough, tangled telephone lines between New Delhi and Kolkata appear to be complicating the plot.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram claims that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried to speak to Paschim Banga Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the phone to explain to her why his government had had to raise diesel price and impose a cap on subsidised LPG cylinders – and allow FDI in multi-brand retail.
But Mamata Banerjee had not returned the Prime Minister’s phone call, Chidambaram claimed, managing to momentarily put away his characteristic sneer, and look half-ways forlorn.
Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi further claims that it isn’t just Manmohan Singh who is reaching out to Mamata Didi. Evidently, even Sonia Gandhi had wanted to speak to her, and had sent out a message through Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy, but had not received a response.
But Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress party leaders claim that this is a misrepresentation of the truth. Mamata alleges that Congress leaders are deliberately spreading rumours to discredit her, and that Manmohan Singh had never tried to contact her.
Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, claims that in fact she had sent Sonia Gandhi an SMS four days ago – when the reform measures were announced – to say that they were unacceptable to her party, but that Sonia Gandhi had not responded. In fact, at the meeting of the Trinamool Congrss Parliamentary Party on Tuesday, which decided to withdraw support to the UPA government, Mamata Banerjee even showed her party colleagues her SMS to Sonia Gandhi to convey that she had waited long enough for the government to respond.
Affairs of the state cannot be held forever in abeyance just because of what is evidently an epidemic of poor connectivity between New Delhi and Kolkata. And with the government’s fate hanging in the balance, perhaps Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should get a little more savvy about using the right communication channels to get through to the mercurial Didi. Telephone calls are oh-so-20th century. Get with it, Manmohanji, in the way that our Didi has done.
Everyone and his uncle knows that Mamata Banerjee’s preferred platform of communication is Facebook. She’s forever posting messages on her Facebook, page, and receiving feedback therefrom.
Even on Wednesday, she used her Facebook page to reach out directly to the people, claiming that news channels were playing mischief on behalf of the Congress.
“A section of negligible channels is spreading misinformation and disinformation at the behest of certain vested interests,” she said.
“If I have something new to say, then I will let you know directly. I will reiterate that we have taken a decision, which is ‘of the people, for the people and by the people’ – and also pro-people. We stand by it,” Banerjee said in her latest post on Facebook.
So, here’s a tip for Manmohan Singh: Get on Facebook, and post a message on Didi’s wall of democracy. Tell her you want to speak to her – or go even further. Write her an open letter conveying your side of the case for the reforms you’ve unleashed, but which she resists.
That way, at least there will be a public record of your trying to reach out to her. And she can’t accuse you of lying.
And who knows… this could be the start of a glorious new relationship.