Mamata Banerjee govt set to complete first year on May 20

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Mamata Banerjee
Kolkata, May 17: Come May 20 and the Mamata Banerjee-led government of West Bengal will complete a year in office. The journey over the past one year has not been a rosy one though, with a debt burden of over Rs 2 lakh crore, a not-too-happy relation with Congress, with which her party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), has an alliance both at the Centre and the state government and backlash from various quarters over the alleged mishandling of various issues.

However, speaking on what her government has achieved in the last one year, Banerjee said they have been working with full dedication, accountability and transparency. The TMC supremo, who used the popular slogan Ma, Mati, Manush (mother, earth, people) to oust the 34-year-old Left rule in the state, said she loved challenges and asked her party members to emulate her style of working.

When Banerjee took over in May last year, she inherited from the Left Front government a whopping debt amount of over Rs 2 lakh crore. She has been demanding financial package from the Centre and even a three-year moratorium on the loan interest payment besides debt restructuring. She lad several meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and also Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia for financial aid.

However, Banerjee did not care for any reciprocity in other issues and often expressed differences with the Centre on matters like Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector, the pension bill, hike in petro-product prices, Teesta water treaty with Bangladesh and the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Banerjee also had sharp conflicts with the West Bengal Congress on various local issues, which even saw the latter criticising its ally in the government.

Within two months after coming to power, on July 18, Banerjee brokered the tripartite Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) pact with the Centre and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the party leading the Gorkhaland movement in the Darjeeling hills in northern Bengal. The GTA offered maximum autonomy to the hills and Banerjee also promised financial package for the betterment of the hills. However, the issue has not been settled still with several other outfits of the region opposing the GTA and other GJM designs.

Another high point of the Mamata regime has been tackling of the Maoist problem in the Jangalmahal area in the western and south-western parts of the state. Top Maoist leader Kishanji was killed last November while several other members from the red terror group have surrendered to the government. The rate of political murders has also decreased. The government has also offered cheap rice and proper rationing system besides promising extensive development for the people of backward Jangalmahal to wipe out grievances of any sort.

Banerjee has been recently ranked among the 100 most influential personality in the world by the TIME magazine in the USA. American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, too, paid a visit to her and expressed interest in investing in Bengal besides praising the chief minister for derailing a strong Left regime.

However, if there are a few high points that the government could earn, there are also instances where its handling of things created a lot of controversy.

Increasing tension in educational institutes across the state and assault on professors and principals, relentless crib deaths in rural and semi-urban hospitals, farmer suicides, controversial remarks on the Park Street rape case and the subsequent transfer of the intelligence officer-in-charge, attack on mediapersons allegedly by party supporters, issuing bans on keeping 'opposing' newspapers in state libraries and arrest of a university professor for forwarding a cartoon by e-mail and a scientist for participating in an anti-eviction drive, are some of the cases where Mamata government faced heavy criticism from the civil society.

Installation of redundant fancy lights on Kolkata streets putting stress on the civic exchequer, reluctance to raise necessary tariff in public service, idea to colour the state capital in blue and white have also failed to appeal to the people.

The government is yet to come up with a transparent land policy to promote industries, has to simplify its stand on the SEZ issue to retain big firms and Banerjee above all, has to ensure that her administration does not stress trivial issues more than the real ones. Only that approach can prepare a platform strong enough to survive the next four years.

OneIndia News

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