Kolkata, Jan 19: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is often heard of ruing the huge debt burden that her government inherited from the previous Left Front government, made fresh promises on Saturday. Addressing a public gathering at Haringhata in Nadia district, she said her government would buy land and donate it to the landless poor if required, under the Nija Bhumi Nija Griha scheme.
She assured that her administration would see that no woman was forced to sleep on the road. Promising shelter to each family in the next five years, Banerjee said if necessary, her government would buy land and donate it to farmers.
The CM, however, did not say how the government could afford such a big housing scheme, given its acute financial crisis. Government estimates say there are nearly 6 lakh landless farmers in rural Bengal.
Banerjee also laid the foundation stone of at least 13 other projects during her visit, inaugurated a higher primary Alchiki school, distributed pattas to nearly 2,500 farmers and gave cycles to village girls.
Speaking about the sorry financial state of the government, Banerjee said her government had requested the Union government to grant a three-year loan moratorium and said the money could be used to create employment for at least 5 lakh unemployed youths. She said every child that takes birth in the state now has a debt burden of Rs 26,000. The CM also lashed out at the CPI(M), saying the latter was trying to disrupt the development process initiated by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Bengal.
Banerjee's politics is now turning predictable. Bereft of funds and an innovative way to carry out things, the Trinamool CM is repeatedly resorting to politics of promise to keep her electorate in a good humour. But how long will this politics of repetition go on?
It is not surprising that the TMC supremo has found a big foe in the middle classes of the state and the media that represents it for the latter feel she hasn't justified the much-awaited 'change' that occurred in the state two years ago. People are feeling dejected with the TMC government for they think it is not sensitive enough towards middle-class sentiments and function hastily, without any style, wisdom and foresight. And quite often, we are finding two opposite perceptions clashing in the media. This is something that had happened during the earlier years of the great Jyoti Basu as well and things took some time to settle.
Is history repeating itself? May be, but the problem with Banerjee and her brigade is that they are actually not bothered about the aspirations of the middle-class and feel more about the votes of their Trinamool (grassroots) supporters and promises like homes do the job perfectly. Neither do they have any ideology to script any alternative to attract the middle class.
Mamata Banerjee is a trainee chief minister, no doubt. She is learning (hopefully) the art of governance in a tough way for the leader, mainly known for firebrand street politics and mobilisation of supporters, is not familiar with governing, particularly the well-off people. One five-year term may not be enough for the chief minister to learn the tricks of the trade in terms of planning, holding patience and calmly execute the work in hand. But Banerjee's loyal followers won't mind in giving her more time.
But will the middle-class spare her? They don't need homes but want their dreams to be fulfilled. Is it too much of an ask for the learning chief minister?