Tripura CM's invitation to PM Modi: Bengal's leaders have always been politically selfish

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Ideological tussle in Indian politics is meant more for public consumption and the chief minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar, proved it when he invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his state and got assurances from the latter about the development of his small state in the northeast. There is clearly no compromise when it comes to development, Tripura's long-serving CM Sarkar showed. [For Tripura's Marxist Sarkar, PM Modi is no enemy]

Compare Manik Sarkar's gesture with that of Mamata Banerjee

Just compare Sarkar's gesture with his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee. An ally of the BJP at the Centre in the past, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo has not felt it necessary to meet the new prime minister since he took over in May and has spoken in acerbic words against him instead.

Inviting Modi: Tripura can, Bengal can't

Manik Sarkar belongs to the camp opposite to Modi, Mamata is still closer to him ideologically

Sarkar belongs to an ideological camp which is completely opposite from that of Narendra Modi but yet he didn't hesitate to meet the prime minister. Banerjee is located more close to Modi in the ideological spectrum but yet she didn't bother to meet the top leader, even if that involved compromising with her state's development.

An MP of the TMC later said the Left and the BJP have always been allies and their proximity is open now.

Is it true?

TMC not the only party which showed the way in practising dual politics

This is something not unique to the TMC. Earlier this year, former chief minister of West Bengal Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who also belongs to the CPI(M), said in a pre-election rally in Kolkata that the laddoo that Modi was promising to the people of Bengal shouldn't be accepted.

From Jyoti Basu to Mamata, dealing with the BJP has always been a dual practice

He was referring to Modi's speech made in Kolkata a few days before that about the two laddoos that the people of Bengal could have (Mamata Banerjee's rule in the state and his own rule at the Centre) if they voted the BJP to power in the election. Bhattacharjee alleged that the BJP and TMC had understandings between them.

So, neither the Left nor the TMC spare any opportunity to target each other over closeness with the 'communal' BJP. That is a political culture well-rooted in the state of West Bengal.

The politicians of West Bengal, irrespective of their clout, put up a facade of ideological conflict and moral high-ground vis-a-vis the BJP, particularly when it is at the Centre, only for political gains.

Earlier, it was the Left which took a secret stand on dealing with the BJP

In the late 1980s, when the Congress was floored in the national election, both the BJP and the Left (then West Bengal was the Left's biggest bastion in India) together backed VP Singh as the prime minister.

Even late CPI(M) patriarch and former chief minister of Bengal Jyoti Basu wanted to meet BJP stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani secretly after feeling that VP Singh's National Front government was not functioning well. But Basu was always seen as a secular ruler who didn't allow communal hatred spread into Bengal during the BJP's Operation Babri Masjid in 1992.

Mamata Banerjee did not support motion against NDA government after Gujarat riots of 2002

Similarly in the wake of the Godhra riots and the pogroms that followed in Gujarat in 2002, Mamata Banerjee's TMC was not ready to support a no-confidence against the then NDA government at the Centre (something which was revealed by a former MP of the Trinamool) and the Left also accused Banerjee of sending flowers to Modi after he won the 2002 election in Gujarat. [Mamata didn't oppose NDA after 2002 riots, says ex-TMC MP's book]

But the same TMC supremo went all-out against Modi when the election season approached earlier this year and she is yet to stop firing at the BJP leadership, accusing it of stoking communal hatred in her state.

Hence, it can be seen that successive leaderships in Bengal, irrespective of the political colour and ideology, have preferred a dual approach in dealing with opponents to bag some benefit in the ballot box. But when it comes to issues like development, both the Left and the non-Left have conveniently pushed the onus on the Centre, accusing it of depriving Bengal and its people.

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