By Arun Srivastava
Mission “remove Mamata Banerjee from office” launched by the union home minister Amit Shah has reached to the flash point and to give the final thrust to the operation the BJP leadership today sacrificed its Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat. Today he handed over his resignation to his party bosses in Delhi four months after taking charge and ahead of polls next year in the state.
Rawat is the Lok Sabha MP from Pauri Garhwal. He replaced Trivendra Singh Rawat as chief minister on 10 March. So far he has not resigned his Lok Sabha seat. Rawat would need to win an assembly seat and become a member of the Uttarakhand legislative assembly by September 10.
According to the Constitution, leaders who are not members of the legislative assemblies can be appointed as ministers but they will have to get elected to the assemblies within six months of being sworn in, or lose the position.
The Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is faced with the similar problem. Though she lost the Nandigram assembly election she became the chief minister on May 5 as her party Trinamool Congress had won three fourth majority in the house having a strength of 294 members.
But there are several hurdles. Like Uttarakhand in Bengal too there is no legislative council. The state cabinet has adopted a resolution but creation of the council needs the approval of the central government and President. It is a long drawn process and Mamata cannot wait indefinitely for her indirect election.
The only alternative is to get elected to the assembly. The West Bengal Government has written at least three letters to the prime minister Narendra Modi to instruct the Election Commission to announce holding of the by elections to the seven seats lying vacant in the state.
As a pre-emptive move Mamata has challenged her defeat from Nandigram constituency on the ground that this was manipulated by the authorities. But uncertainty looms large over the final order. Usually the High Courts take months to come out with the verdict in such cases. Moreover it is also not sure whether the verdict of the High Court would endorse her stand and allegation. Amidst this uncertain situation, the only way out for Mamata is to contest afresh.
In case the EC decides to hold election for seven seats in Bengal, then it will have to hold elections at 25 other assembly seats, three parliamentary constituencies and one Rajya Sabha seat, all of which have been withheld due to the pandemic. In fact this is not a major hurdle. The fact of the matter is commission needs “only 28 days to conduct an election after notification and that it can be held easily in two months’ time”. It is up to the EC to hold the polls.
But the chances appear to be quite remote. To hold by polls at this time would be a tough decision for the Election Commission after the massive controversy over the March-April election in five states, held alongside rising virus cases in the second surge. The poll body had already faced flak for holding the Bengal assembly elections and the panchayat polls in UP amid the second Covid-19 wave. To compound matters, prospects for a bypoll are complicated by a caveat in the Representation of the People Act, which stipulates that bypolls for a seat should be held if the incumbent elected has at least a year’s tenure to serve
Only Friday morning the Election Commission came out with the narration; “There are many by-elections due. The Covid situation is a major consideration”. This stand of ECI obviously implied that it has not received any directive from the office of the prime minister, Narendra Modi or the home minister Amit Shah to initiate the process.
It is an open secret that ever since TMC of Mamata Banerjee won a massive mandate, the central leadership of BJP has been planning to ease her out of the power. At the instruction of the two leaders Modi and Amit Shah a number of cases have been filed in Supreme Court and also in the Calcutta High Court alleging that large scale post poll violence has taken place in Bengal and thousands of BJP workers have been evicted from their houses.
A case of post poll violence and violation of human rights has also been made before the National Human Rights Commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge close to Modi. The NHRC has already constituted a committee and only on June 28 the report was submitted before the Calcutta High Court.
Already the governor Jagdeep Dhankar has been performing the role of a BJP leader and using his office to prepare the ground for dismissal of the Mamata government. The nature and character of his involvement in the plan could be made out from the simple fact that ready to read out the statement of the government prepared by the government. He was hell bent on insertion of his own views of censoring the government for post poll violence and other failures.
Reluctance of the ECI to hold the election has come as reverential alibi for the government. After the conclusion of the six month time frame for getting elected Mamata Banerjee, in the eyes of the Modi and Shah, would be left with no other alternative but to relinquish the office. This would by all means the most important victory for them. No one will blame them for not directing the EC to hold the election. The prevailing Covid situation will bear the blame for EC not holding the elections.
In the prevailing political scenario the future of Mamata Banerjee depends on the stand of the court. But undeniably the Modi and Shah combine are mistaken. A free Mamata would be more dangerous for the existence of the BJP not only in Bengal but in other states. She would have sufficient time to move around and organise the opposition forces. Modi-Shah combine already in a defensive mode would find it tough to counter her onslaught. A Mamata already busy with administrative responsibilities is less dangerous than a free Mamata.
According to BJP insiders, the state president Dilip Ghosh was ‘very annoyed’ with Suvendu Adhikari’s increasing proximity to central leaders like Shah. He has been feeling cut up at the frequent interaction of Adhikari with Shah. Only day before Adhikari had gone to Delhi. Dilip Ghosh said on Thursday that he was unaware of Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari’s trip to Delhi and what had transpired at his meetings with Union ministers Amit Shah and Harsh Vardhan. Ghosh’s comment is perceived as the sign of the growing rift between two camps in the Bengal BJP, one led by Ghosh and the other by Adhikari. In Delhi he also called on solicitor-general Tushar Mehta. This has raised eye brows not only in TMC circle but in BJP also. The BJP leaders questioned how a person facing CBI inquiry in Narada and Sharada scam could meet Mehta.
It cannot be ruled out that the BJP would become the victim of her wrath and may get split. The Bengal unit of the BJP is already on the brink of a vertical split. The old cadres of the BJP are getting ready to take the TMC turncoats head on. They hold that the Bengali culture is facing the worst nature of threat from these turncoats who are only concerned with having more and absolute power. Amit Shah cultivating these leaders has been disliked by these leaders. They feel that these turncoats have been giving a bad name to the party.
They also feel that post poll violence bogey will not last for long. The turn coats have been presenting wrong facts and projecting false image for their personal gains. It is said that almost all the original leaders of the party feel aggrieved at the prominence and importance given to the turncoats by the central leaders. Incidentally most of the important TMC leaders who had joined the BJP before the elections have gone back to their original party and publically accepted the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. If the sources are to be believed the TMC will use the services and skills of these leaders in fighting the machination of the BJP. (IPA Service)