Mamata’s grand no-confidence misadventure didn’t rattle the UPA government. However it’s accomplished something even more rare than shaking the shaky UPA. It’s causing some of her own usually timorous MPs to open their mouths against Didi’s political judgement.
Of course, no one will put their names to their reservations. But an unnamed Trinamool MP told The Telegraph that “she should have first tried to convince the other parties on the need to topple the government before rushing headlong into announcing the motion. It was an unprepared move that lacked prudence.”
While Mamata is making a virtue of her defeat on her Facebook page saying Trinamool is the only party that stands up for what it believes in, numbers be damned, the media reaction in Kolkata has been universally a thumbs down. Mocking the 21 MPs she managed to rustle up for the no-confidence motion, The Telegraph ran the headline — “21 not enough for national adulthood”. The Ananda Bazar Patrika said “Mamata’s no-confidence falls flat on its face.” “No confidence derailed, Trinamool isolated” read the Bartaman daily. The new tabloid Ebela put out a photograph of Mamata mopping her face under the headline “No confidence at home and outside.”
In fact, the no confidence failure came at a bad time for Mamata at home. She’s just gone through a cabinet reshuffle in Kolkata which has not gone down well with everyone. Two Congress leaders who had just joined Trinamool last week have been given ministerial berths which has irked some of her own party leaders. A minister from Singur who lost a plum portfolio decided not to show up at Writers building in protest. “Maybe I couldn’t perform my duties properly, but if that is the case, why should I take up a new assignment?” Rabindranath Bhattacharya told The Times of India after being shunted from agriculture to statistics and programme implementation. Bhattacharya, a retired school teacher is part of the land movement in Singur. Bhattacharya told the media he does not hanker for a ministry, dispensed with his official “red light” car, and turned down a call from the chief minister herself yesterday.
The CPM is gloating over her discomfiture. “Now we should test and see if her party has confidence in Mamata herself,” said Surya Kanta Mishra, the leader of the opposition in West Bengal to Ebela.
There are several theories being floated about why the Trinamool went on this fool’s errand. One theory is Mamata was driven overboard by her personal pique against the Congress. Another is that she wanted to one-up the Communists. Since they had already seized the opposition-to-FDI slot, she had to aim bigger. That’s led the Left to now say that Mamata acted as “the Congress’ B-team”. Sitaram Yechury alleged that the furore over the no-confidence that went nowhere was allowing the Congress’ real sins to get shoved out of sight. Another theory doing the rounds is that Mamata was in a desperate rush to knock UPA out of power because some MPs close to her are under investigation. The corporate affairs ministry has started a probe against a company headed till recently by a Trinamool MP reports The Telegraph.
Whatever the reason, Mamata’s principled stand has not won her many admirers in Kolkata. Her party’s dissident MP Kabir Suman told Ebela she has not shown political smarts and “if you cannot do that you will have to suffer a political thappad (slap).”
Mamata does not take her thappads lying down and as a street fighter she’s been slapped before and turned the tables on her opponents. But the problem for her now is that her importunate ways have made potential allies nervous. According to the Bartaman, the BJP is irritated with her because she refused to understand that there was an entire session left to move a no-confidence motion and the parties needed to work together to slowly corner the government. Shahnawaz Hussein, the BJP spokesperson accused Trinamool of “not being serious” and of not having done their “homework”.
After the no-confidence debacle the advice being given to her is enough with the national games, it’s time to do her real job. “Instead of running around Delhi with a hot head, the chief minister should come back and tackle the many problems of Bengal with a cool head,” suggested local Congress leader Manas Bhunia according to Ananda Bazar Patrika.
Bhunia was taking a dig at his erstwhile ministerial colleague, but still, it’s not bad advice for the CM.