BENGAL POLITICS: Mamata’s Maa Mati Manush….And many many experts – Target: 95 advisers for 95 councillors – and only one Anglo for Quiz ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU – A flowery paean of the Bengal style ?!!
Calcutta, June 6: Mamata Banerjee gave Calcutta a new mayor today and gave the new mayor 76 experts to seek advice from.
Sovan Chatterjee, the councillor from ward 131, was, expectedly, crowned the 37th mayor and the first from the added areas of the city. Farzana Alam, less expectedly, became his deputy.
That part, accompanied by an earnest show of democratic procedure, was easy. The tough job was left for Partha Chatterjee, the Trinamul secretary-general, who read out the names of the members of the experts committee with the perseverance of a marathon man.
He did not, however, have the privilege of reading out all the names because 19 more are to be added, according to Trinamul sources.
If Mamata has given Bengal the slogan Maa Mati Manush, she promises to give Calcutta an expert each for each Trinamul councillor. There are 95 of them.
“The number of experts is not important, what’s important is their expertise,” Mamata told reporters. Former mayor Subrata Mukherjee will chair the committee.
Before the list was unveiled, Mamata had mentioned that she wanted representation from “all walks of life”.
She found place for a former footballer, a hockey Olympian, business representatives, doctors, engineers, retired bureaucrats, a retired judge, advocates, academicians, journalists, environment experts, singers, actors, painters, an alternative energy expert and the mother of Rizwanur Rahman, the young man who died an unnatural death.
A civic body official, who retired as a chief engineer, said the composition of the list — not count — surprised him the most.
“It is difficult to fathom why an expert committee of the civic body doesn’t include a town planner, urban development experts from institutes like the Bengal Engineering and Science University or Jadavpur University, and experts on water supply and heritage conservation.”
According to him, as the 10 mayor-in-council members draw advice from experts from specific areas from a pool, they should have been on the list.
Mamata has, however, promised to draft in some more.
She named two probable candidates for the betterment of Calcutta — or rub salt into Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s wounds — proposing to include police commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti and the director, fire services, if they agreed.
Other experts were, however, not offered a choice as Mamata made it clear after the announcement that they would be contacted in due course by the mayor and his team.
“They (the experts) will sit with the board (mayor and his team) and decide on what they will do,” she said.
Reactions ranged from bewilderment to shock from some of those named on the committee. Sandip Ray, the film director, said: “I wasn’t informed that I would be made a member of this committee.”
Critical-care expert Subrata Maitra, too, said he was not aware. “But if I am approached, I will definitely agree. I have some ideas for the development of Calcutta.”
A source in Trinamul said Mamata was confident of getting the experts on board. “But the challenge will be getting 95 experts to attend the meetings and arrive at a consensus,” said the source.
Coimbatore line to corner Karat after poll rout
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY J P YADAV
New Delhi, June 6: The CPM politburo meeting that ended today started discussions not only on the Bengal civic poll rout but also on the way Prakash Karat had altered the line adopted by the previous party congress by withdrawing support to UPA I.
The second issue, sources said, reflects an attempt by the party general secretary’s critics to corner him in an indirect way over the continuing poll debacles in Bengal.
The next politburo meeting on July 3-4 will resume discussing both issues. Sources said Karat would be put in the dock not directly over the civic poll outcome but on the wider issue of altering the political line endorsed by the Coimbatore party congress in March-April 2008.
That line had spoken of defeating the communal forces led by the BJP while standing beside the Congress to strengthen the secular forces and pressure the UPA into adopting pro-people measures.
The Karat camp, which blames the Bengal CPM and its government for the electoral routs in the state, has been triumphantly arguing that national factors cannot be held responsible for the poor civic poll results.
Pushed to the back foot for now, the opposite camp hopes the review of Karat’s dumping of UPA I in July 2008 would show how it had paved the way for an Opposition tie-up in Bengal and therefore the poll setbacks.
“The politburo has completed the first round of discussion to prepare the document on the review of the implementation of the political line adopted in the last party congress at Coimbatore in 2008,” Sitaram Yechury told reporters at the end of the two-day politburo meeting.
Sources said that even after intense discussion, the politburo failed to arrive at a consensus on a draft of the review, so it was decided to take it up at the next meeting.
The sources said the Bengal leadership was lying low for now and preparing a detailed review of the municipal poll results. It will take on the central leadership at the extended central committee meeting at Vijayawada in August.
The party congress, held every three years, cannot take place in mid-2011 because of the Bengal Assembly polls. So, the party will hold an extended central committee meeting that will be attended by nearly 400 delegates, including 85 central committee and 275 state committee members — giving it half the attendance of a party congress.
Karat’s critics are dubbing it a “mini-party congress” that is likely to be a stormy one.
A CPM leader known as a Karat critic said: “We failed to pull down the Congress-led government (by pulling out of the UPA), and the third front experiment too failed. Apart from political losses we did not get anything.”
He added that the central leadership should be held accountable for its mistakes.
Barb at Trinamul
The CPM today accused Trinamul Congress ministers of inciting post-poll violence in Bengal and asked the Prime Minister to restrain them.
“The central government should look into the role played by its own cabinet minister in inciting such violence,” a politburo statement said without naming anyone. Mamata Banerjee is the lone cabinet minister from Trinamul.
Asked to name the Union ministers, Yechury said: “Who else but the Trinamul members? They have been supporting the Maoists and now they are inciting violence.”
AND FROM THE TELEGRAPH BRIEFS SECTION
Burdwan: A Trinamul Congress supporter died in Burdwan’s Ketugram on Sunday afternoon when crude bombs he was carrying in a bucket exploded. Sheikh Ripon, 24, was allegedly taking the bombs to a CPM stronghold where supporters of the two parties were locked in a clash.
In neighbouring Hooghly district, over 80 Trinamul activists last night damaged over a dozen thatched houses of CPM supporters and set three of them ablaze. Samoshpur village, where the attack took place, is on the outskirts of the Tarakeswar municipal area, where the Opposition won the recent civic polls for the first time in four decades.