Monday, December 5, 2016

Demonetisation: Politics in Contrast - Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee

In its idiosyncratic mixture of sentimentality and hypocrisy, for the politicians like the rest of humankind, self-justification is only natural. No human being would like to conclude that his or her actions brought about the opposite effect from what was intended. Moving beyond these, it ought to be appreciated with little difficulties that demonetisation and the inconvenience caused to the people are the flavour of the town.

According to journalist Manu Joseph, the protest to the demonetisation moves has many tales to attribute. “One strand of the moral outrage against demonetisation has been led by the refined urban class that dislikes Modi. They are excited by any story that assures them that Modi has made a catastrophic mistake, Jospeh wrote in Hindustan Times. So we have Mamata Banerjee initially calling currency ban as 'draconian'; while Congress leader P Chidambaram (also a former finance minister) stating that had no differences on the 'objective' of the demonetisation move.
The Gambler PM and his adviser 

Things changed at a later stage, Chidambaram had to follow Rahul Gandhi line and hence told a TV interview, "I would have resigned if cabinet over ruled my objection and brought in demonetisation". Mamata Banerjee crossed normal boundaries and have started sensing 'coup' and 'threat to life' in a delayed landing of a flight or army conducting a patrol not very from her office - Nabanya (Trinamool name for one time the historic Writer's Building). Talking about the merits or the demerits of demonetisation actually revolve less around the economics of it than the politics of 'hating Modi' or admiring him.
A mocking campaign has started on social networking sites -- he says 'Desh Badal raha hae' ---actually Modi 'dress' badal raha hae'. In short, the hate campaign continues.

But in this blog the issue is neither Modi nor demonetisation - both are great polarizing factors. With regard the doggedness of Modi's mind: one can say - in the ultimate here was a leader shrewd enough and a tactful demagogue who judged people's resentment against a monotonously wrong doing - the black money - and thus he leaped ahead ought to use them for a popular victory -- the biggest gamble of his life!

But the comments from a Congress MP, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury adds a slightly new twist to the tale. 

"It is the crystallization of a personal dream. Mr Modi wants to see himself as a revolutionary. So he has tried to bring in a 
cashless economy. Indira Gandhi had nationalised the banks. Rajiv Gandhi brought in computers, so this Prime Minister thought of something new and people are suffering today," he told me -- as the West Bengal Congress chief awaited outside SBI at Parliament House more than keenly to collect his 'new currency notes'.

Now, let us focus the debate on the theme - we proposed. The reactions to demonetisation by two Chief Ministers -- Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik -- both regional chieftains in their own right.

First let us take up the mercurial Didi from West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee - the Trinamool Congress.

BJP leader Sidharth Nath Singh presented a Chronology of Mamata Banerjee’s rattled mind (Nov 8, 2016) to "hallucinating mind"
- Step by step - amid much confusion these were:

- First calling currency ban "a financial emergency" and demanding complete roll back.

- Saying united opposition will march to President of India, however few takers in the opposition ranks. 

- Threatening of riots in the country and giving 72 hours deadline to the Prime Minister.
 - Holding of dharnas in UP and Bihar, although poorly attended.

- Conspiracy of her being eliminated by not allowing aircraft to land on a low fuel and the worst is creating a "panic" that there is an attempt of an "army coup".

"The unnerved mind has given way to hallucination, which certainly requires medical care," the BJP leader said.
Blogger in Corridors of Parliament

There was more drama attached to the Trinamool tale. The conduct of Mamata’s ‘elected lawmakers’ in Parliament has been like the cheer boys and girls  screaming and yelling at any B-grade soccer match of Calcutta league. Sadly. 

But the other story of Naveen Patnaik in Odisha vis-a-vis demonetisation move is more interesting and perhaps more penetrating.

"This is certainly a challenging time. But always it is imperative to turn challenges into opportunities. This is the time to
bring about massive improvement in institutional banking and ensure deeper penetration of banks," BJD floor leader in the Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab told me.

The Odisha government led by their party leader Naveen Patnaik has exactly done that. "The inconvenience caused to the people due to demonetisation is a reality. Our leader (Naveen Patnaik) has made it clear that instead of attacking the centre for the same, the state government has to do its part to help rural masses. Accordingly, in our state even helicopters have been pressed into service to reach new currency notes to the rural areas," he said.

Odisha did not have effective banking network especially in rural areas as there were about 4600 panchayats which were not covered by the banking system. "So, it is time, we have focused on making necessary arrangements for both reaching cash and also opening new branches," he said.

Mahtab said on the appeal from the state Chief Minister, most nationalised banks operating in the state have also responded positively and organisations like State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank have started opening new branches or at least depute one official in the villages which had no banks.
A Writer-politician: Means Business

"In many places, the panchayat halls are being turned into temporary banks. It is working and the villagers are also responding overwhelmingly".

In fact, he said officials from the Union Finance ministry have visited Odisha and appreciated the efforts being made by the state government, the Reserve Bank of India and the banks at the local level to improve the situation.

To a question whether cashless economy as being emphasised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a pragmatic agenda, he said, "To my surprise people have liked the idea of cashless transaction. In many places in Bhubaneswar ordinary roadside 'gol goppe wallahs' have started installing machines to swipe debit cards. Banks are also providing the tool either at cheaper rates or in installments. We should take these as very positive developments". 
Need for a ground work
 Let us go back to the principal theme of the debate where we started from. What makes Mamata Didi so annoyed that - as according to Babul Suprioyo, Asansol MP and Union Minister, she is herself harming her own reputation. 

Well, anger and bewilderment can be easily detected in Mamata Banerjee's words and actions since November 8 mid-night.
It is no secret -- politics of Sharada chit fund scam and syndicate politics rules in the backyards of West Bengal. And it is she who thrives there !

A tragic hero or for that matter HEROINE - in the classical definition is one, who causes his or her own undoing at the moment of greatest potential. 

Has Mamata Banerjee - in search of a national space and what is romantically often called Singrur-2 - walked into that trap of scoring self-goal?

She has provoked anguish even among Janata Dal (U) leaders.

Woh didi ke roop mein bahut achchi lagti hain, unhe dada ke roop mein vyavhar nahin karna chahiye (she looks good as anb elder sister and should not behave like a bully)," JD(U) spokesperson K C tyagi said. 

Didi, thus, as of now needs some political corrective steps.

Mamata Banerjee, who pulled the carpet underneath the feet of Marxists in West Bengal, otherwise certainly has all the qualities to emerge as a giant stature in national politics with few parallels. 


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