New Bengal Guv raises hopes of a ceasefire with Mamata

By Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri Kolkata, Nov 27 : As C.V. Ananda Bose takes over as the new governor of West Bengal, some questions are floating around in the political circles of the state. Will the new governor's tenure be a repeat-show of the Governor House- State Secretariat tussle as it happened during the time of Jagdeep Dhankhar? Or will it be a smooth parallel existence of the two institutions? IANS talked to a number of political observers and analysts on this count, who pointed out various possibilities on where the governor- chief minister relationship will be heading in the days to come. Till now, there had been instances both on parts of the governor and the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee which convey signals of ceasefire. Despite being unhappy with the selection of C.V. Ananda Bose as the new governor was done without the prior consultation with her, Mamata Banerjee did not fail in extending the official courtesy to the constitutional head of the state. She welcomed Bose with a casket of his favourite sweets. The entire ambience of Bose's oath-ceremony on November 23 reflected mutual admiration. Bose also had done the best so far on his part. Immediately after taking office as the new governor, he cleared a long- pending bill on scheduled castes and scheduled tribes that was long pending the governor's approval. Most importantly, he claimed to the media persons that as a governor his relationship with the chief minister will be more "administrative' in nature than being "political". This comment from him gave a feeling that being a seasoned former bureaucrat, Bose will handle his relationship with the state administrative machinery more from the "secretarial" angle rather than following the footsteps of Jagdeep Dhankar of politically combating the state government and ruling Trinamool Congress on every count. According to veteran political analyst and an expert in Center- state relationship matters, Amal Sarkar the days might not be as sunny tomorrow as it seems today. Sarkar feels that Bose's comments that his relationship with the chief minister will be more "administrative" in nature rather than being "political" might sound good apparently but not sustainable in the long run. "You have to remember that Mamata Banerjee is an out-and- out political person at the end of the day and her political views or ambitions will be reflected in the policies of the state government led by her. On the other hand, Bose is a handpicked choice as the new governor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose prime assignment will be to protect the interest of the Union government or to be more precise the ruling party at the Centre. So, whenever there will be a clash of political interest and policy diversifications, the governor- chief minister differences and tussle are bound to resurrect," Sarkar said. However, his personal opinion is that for the time being an apparent peace will prevail, the reason for which is again political. "To my opinion, the Prime Minister has deliberately chosen Bose, because of his administrative acumen, as the new governor of West Bengal is assigned to make a balancing act keeping in mind the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. "However, the BJP might denounce Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra publicly, the fact remains that the initiative has created sensation nationally and signals are clear that Congress is all set to regain the leadership baton in opposition politics of the nation. So now the Prime Minister's only attempt will be to somehow keep the regional leaders like Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal among others away from coming under a united opposition umbrella. "Trinamool Congress is an easy target on this count considering the crisis period that the West Bengal government and ruling party is going through specially because of the multiple issues of corruption. However, this same C.V. Ananda Bose might step in the shoes of Jagdeep Dhankhar after the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are over, when the BJP's focus will shift from the national perspective to the Bengal-specific perspective because of the state Assembly polls in 2025," Sarkar explained. However, another analyst, Santanu Sanyal feels that the urge for maintaining an urge for maintaining a workable relationship through the governor now is more on part of the chief minister rather than the Prime Minister and the reason for it is more economical rather than being political. "After the issues related to corruption, the greatest crisis the West Bengal government is going through is the totally cash- strapped state exchequer. One of the prime reasons behind Mamata Banerjee's continuing popularity since 2011 are the innumerable dole-cum- welfare schemes that her government has introduced. Now it is quite clear these dole schemes cannot be continued for long unless the state government gets regular flow of central funds be it the state's share of GST or funds under different centrally sponsored schemes. So, this flow becomes easier if the state government maintains a cordial relationship with the governor who acts as a bridge between the state and Union governments," Sanyal added. Economist P.K. Mukhopadhyay feels that the desperation on part of the state government for the central funds would not have been so high if the state had its own avenues of tax revenue generation other than state excise. "The chief minister is bound by her political ideology not to shift from her announced stand on land and SEZ policies to facilitate big ticket investment in manufacturing and services sectors. But she will have to continue with her welfare schemes at any cost. Hence, so high is the dependence on the central funds necessitating a cordial relationship with the Union government through the governor," he said. /IANS


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