Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Real Reasons Why Mamata Banerjee Missed Dhaka Trip

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has drawn a lot of flak for the Teesta water sharing deal between India and Bangladesh falling through.

Her refusal to accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka came as a huge blow and didn't go down well within the Congress. While her action has been dismissed as egocentric, there seems to be more than what meets the eye.

Mamata, it seems, had her own political consideration behind her decision to drive a spanner in the Teesta project. Sources said one of the major factors was that Mamata wanted to win over the traditional vote bank of the Congress, spread over the north Bengal region.

Malda, Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur are the three Congress stronghold districts in north Bengal. The party (Congress) also had a sizable support base in parts of Darjeeling district, which has now switched allegiance to Trinamool Congress.

Political observers feel that despite the absolute majority in the state assembly, Trinamool Congress is basically seen as a "south Bengal-based political party'. So, this was a golden opportunity for Mamata to capitalise on the sentiment of a large number of people living in north Bengal over the Teesta water-sharing deal.

"It was a political ploy to displace the Congress from large parts of north Bengal over the sensitive Teesta water-sharing issue and also to secure the Opposition votes (mainly CPMs) into the Trinamool fold," a source said.

When the Congress stayed silent over the Teesta deal, Mamata stepped into the scene and declined to share the river water with neighbouring Bangladesh saying it would be "detrimental" to the state.
The CM also reportedly believed that she might face stiff protest from the CPM if she was an ally to the Teesta treaty.

"It was a planned move and had sensible political reason," political analyst Sabyasachi Basu Roychowdhury said.

Another reason behind Mamata's decision to dump the PM's invitation could be that she wanted her "exclusivity". She refused to be a part of the entourage with the chief ministers of Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya owing to the fact that she did not get enough importance from the Centre.

"It is true that Mamata has a cordial relationship with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. But the spotlight would have shifted from her to Manmohan and a group of chief ministers if she had accompanied the PM on the Dhaka trip," Roychowdhury observed.

The Trinamool chief was also not happy with the Centre's bailout package that was dished out last month for the development of West Bengal. It was "too little" to satisfy her.

Many feel it was a "pressure tactice' on the Centre.