For Mamata, Modi is important because money matters

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that a change of government at the Centre would help West Bengal overcome its debt drap and strive towards better times.

"Notun government aasuk, restructuring hok...jodi katha bole restructuring kore daye, taka jodi na kete niye jaye, dekhiye debo. (Let the new government come, let restructuring be done...if they agree to restructuring after talks, if money is not deducted, I will show them) Bengal will be gold. I am confident," the chief minister said on the day when her government presented its fourth budget.

What is interesting is that the Trinamool Congress supremo's words of hope about a new government came just two weeks after BJP president Rajnath Singh backed her demand for financial relief from the Centre at a rally in Kolkata. NDA's prime minister candidate Narendra Modi was also present on that occasion.

Modi had also spoken in favour of Banerjee, saying that the people of West Bengal would have many advantages if Banerjee ruled at the state and he himself at the Centre.

So is Banerjee, like the mighty USA, also falling in line to endorse Modi?

Those who are analysing TMC's prospects of tilting in favour of the BJP only in terms of communal-secular debate, might find themselves barking on the wrong tree now. The BJP has put in a lot of thought to woo Banerjee on grounds of her state's financial woes which are unlikely to be resolved as long as the Congress-led UPA is at the Centre. Banerjee had endless number of meetings with the Manmohan Singh government on this issue but the latter did not meet her demands (Chidambaram's latest budget did not make any reference to the matter either), unlike it had done with states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. So, it becomes natural for Banerjee now to look elsewhere for a relief and who other than the BJP-led NDA can be an option?

The interesting crux of this story is that no matter what the regional satraps of India say to flex their muscles politically to make a mark on national politics, financially they are yet dependent on the Centre, more when their own provinces are not performing well. Banerjee's TMC has been stressing that it is the only alternative to both the Congress and BJP at the Centre, but that is far from truth. The TMC instead needs financial backing from the Centre to survive in power in the long run. Which party does it is irrelevant. Since the Congress is on a decline at the moment, so the BJP becomes the automatic choice to seek help from.

The West Bengal chief minister is only inching forward very cautiously. Any announcement of pre-poll alliance with the BJP would ruin her chances of increasing the vote share and seat tally in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, which is set to be a highly polarised affair. But once the polls get over and she emerges more powerful, there would be no problem in endorsing the NDA. She will have a say in government formation and also manage a financial relief from the Centre.

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