Bengali news channels are running out of words to describe Mamata’s presidential ploy. A Hollywood thriller says one. A googly says another. Mistress of surprise, says a third.
“Mamata likes to do what has never been done before,” marvels Akash Bangla.
Most commentators in Bengal have called it a masterstroke. She’s shown when it comes to the UPA cozying up to Mulayam Singh Yadav as an alternative to her, she is one step ahead in the game.
Even though the Congress has rejected the three candidates, the suggestions made by Mamata and Mulayam have stirred up debate in an election that is often just a formality .
Abdul Kalam is the NDA’s candidate and Mulayam’s preference. Manmohan Singh is the poison pill disguised as a compliment. The UPA cannot exactly dismiss their own PM as unfit to be president. Somnath Chatterjee is the Bengali factor. After nixing Pranab Mukherjee’s chance to be the first Bengali president of India, Mamata needed to show her state she is aware of Bengali pride. It also leaves the CPM red faced because they’ll be damned if they support Chatterjee, whom they had expelled. And they are damned if they don’t support Chatterjee because the party had once prevented another Bengali, Jyoti Basu from becoming PM.
Now the question being raised is: Has Mamata bitten off more than she can chew? She’s made it clear she does not want Pranab Mukherjee at any cost. She considers him no friend of Bengal. She has reportedly not spoken with him in 6 months. In fact, Pranab’s status as Bengal Congressman might have been his undoing. He has said in public that he is the Finance Minister for 28 states not just West Bengal. So he did not want to be accused of what Mamata was accused of as Rail Minister – showering favors on his home state. On top of that she has not forgiven him for the Dinesh Trivedi affair where he approved the rail budget that blindsided her.
But now that the Congress is hardening its stand on Mukherjee, if it does push Mukherjee’s name, Mamata will be forced to support Kalam if he is the NDA nominee. The Congress can try and woo back Mulayam who would actually end up becoming the real kingmaker. A Congress leader in Bengal called this Mamata’s 'nautanki' and asked whether she thought the elections were for the Trinamool Congress district polls.
Pradip Bhattacharya, the Congress chief in Bengal, today said he does not see any reason to keep the Congress-Trinamool relationship going. And Pranab has called Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who has apparently said he has no problems with the Finance Minister becoming president. So the question is: after all this has Mamata pushed the Congress back into the arms of her number one enemy, the CPM?
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Updated Date: Jun 15, 2012 09:14:27 IST