By Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Kolkata, Aug 28 : For the last one and a half months, West Bengal has been grabbing national attention because of the ongoing action by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate on various scams like the West Bengal School Service Commission recruitment irregularities and cattle smuggling.
As the political climate in the state has become extremely hot over these developments, the ruling Trinamool Congress in a counter-attack is targeting the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, rather than the BJP leadership in the state.
Be it the administrative initiative to prevent Suvendu Adhikari from attending any anti-state government event or reiterating the demand for his arrest in the Narada video scam, the focus of the Trinamool Congress is to go all-out against Adhikari administratively and politically.
Suvendu Adhikari has his own logic to explain the Trinamool Congress’s attack on him. “Actually, chief minister Mamata Banerjee could not accept the defeat by a margin of 1,956 votes to me from Nandigram in the 2021 West Bengal elections. So, since the beginning of her third term, she and her party have made me the target. But I am not scared and I will continue to perform my duty as a responsible Leader of the Opposition against this corruption-driven state government,” he said.
Senior Trinamool Congress MLA Tapas Roy, however, rubbished this theory of Adhikari. “Everyone knows that his victory at Nandigram was the result of forgery taking advantage of a power cut during the final rounds of counting. Our contention is why are the central agencies silent on Suvendu, although he was named in the initial FIR filed by the CBI in the Narada video case where he was seen accepting cash in the video. We are objecting to the biased approach of the central agencies who are acting on behalf of the BJP and Suvendu is adding spice to that conspiracy,” he said.
Political analyst Arundhati Mukherjee to an extent agreed with Adhikari. “It is quite possible that for the chief minister it was difficult to accept the fact that she was defeated in Nandigram and hence had to get elected through a by-election from Bhawanipur to retain her chief ministerial chair. But that cannot be the only or even the main reason behind this focused attack on Suvendu Adhikari. In my opinion, the main reason lies in the aggressive manner in which Adhikari is using his Leader of Opposition post to spearhead political attacks against the ruling party unlike his predecessors, which has prompted the Trinamool Congress to focus the counter-attack against him rather than the state unit of the BJP as a whole,” she said.
According to her, since Mamata Banerjee became chief minister in 2011, she has confronted three Leaders of Opposition in the state assembly. “In her first term from 2011 to 2016, the Leader of the Opposition was veteran CPI(M) leader, Suryakanta Mishra, known for his excellent legislative debating power with occasional use of aristocratic satire. However, he lacked that aggressive punch to counter the shouting brigade of the treasury benches. In her second term between 2016 and 2021, the Leader of the Opposition was the Congress’s Abdul Mannan. However, his entire term went in handling the internal politics in the state Congress and arresting the exodus of senior leaders from the party and he could hardly concentrate on his role as the Leader of the Opposition. In such a situation, Suvendu Adhikari with his aggressive approach has come as a surprise to the chief minister as well as the Trinamool Congress,” she said.
Another political analyst Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay said that one reason why the ruling party has focused its attack on Suvendu Adhikari is the latter’s persistent pressure on the Union government as well as the central leadership of the BJP to keep the state government and the Trinamool Congress under pressure.
“Let us forget the ongoing central agency probes, which are happening mainly because of the orders of the Calcutta High Court. What Suvendu Adhikari was successful in convincing the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Union home minister, Amit Shah was about the massive irregularities in utilization of central funds under different centrally sponsored schemes. It was because of Adhikari’s persistence that the Union government stopped payments to West Bengal unless the latter presented the accounts and utilization certificates of prior expenses under such schemes. This is the main reason why Adhikari has become the principal enemy of the Trinamool Congress leadership rather than the state unit of the BJP,” he said.
He pointed out that in 1998, when Mamata Banerjee broke away from the Congress and floated the All India Trinamool Congress, her main grouse against the state Congress leaders was that they were reluctant to convince the then Congress-led Union government to keep up the pressure on the Left Front government in West Bengal.
“In fact, the idea of describing Bengal Congress leaders as watermelons, which are red inside and green outside, was the brainchild of Mamata Banerjee herself. Now Suvendu Adhikari is doing exactly the same thing which is convincing the Union government to keep up the pressure on the Trinamool Congress and the state government. Hence this focused attack on him,” he said.