Mamata Banerjee hogs limelight in Bengal

Mammata Banerjee scored a point when she was named among the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.

Kolkata: The love-hate relationship between Congress and Trinamool Congress finally ended with Mamata Banerjee walking out of the UPA and Congress pulling out its ministers from the West Bengal government in 2012, which saw the chief minister going through some tough times be it for her controversial remarks, Opposition attacks, rumblings within her own party or the cartoon controversy.

Banerjee, however, scored a point when she was named among the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.

The UPA government`s renewed thrust on reforms led to Mamata leaving the coalition after less than three and half years. In a veritable tit-for-tat, Congress pulled out its six ministers from the West Bengal government.

The alliance at the national level broke up over the issues of FDI in multi-brand retail, cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and diesel price rise. Mamata promised that she would fight "like a tiger cub" against "anti-people policies" and analysts say in her opposition to UPA`s reform programmes, she sought to prove more left than the Left.

Mamata, who has been complaining of lack of funds to battle the huge debt burden over over Rs 2 lakh crore which she says was left behind by the previous coalition, finds herself more and more at the receiving end facing one controversy after another.

Her government faced severe criticism on several fronts, including a controversial government order on newspapers that government-run libraries were allowed to keep and over the arrest of a professor for forwarding a cartoon by email showing her in poor light. The arrest of a scientist for taking part in an anti-eviction drive drew flak.

Banerjee also attacked a section of the media and urged the people not to give credence to canards against the government.

Under fire for increasing incidents of rape in West Bengal, Mamata blasted a section of the media houses, alleging that they paid money to concoct opinion.

She courted controversy again, this time with Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju. What caused Banerjee to flare up was a letter that Press Council of India chairman Katju wrote to her, suggesting she would lose power if she did not change.

Katju had also written a letter to her seeking action against policemen, who arrested Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and farmer Shiladitya Chowdhury, the first for circulating a cartoon of the Chief Minister and the second for questioning her policies.

During the year, she acknowledged that her only failure is not being able to return land taken to unwilling farmers in Singur for the Tata Motors project. So the state government announced that farmers, who did not take compensation would be given Rs 1,000 a month which was doubled to Rs 2000 later and rice at Rs 2 a kg till the matter is settled in court.

The year saw the restoration of peace in the troubled Darjeeling hills with the swearing-in of Gorkha Territorial Administration. The Darjeeling hills have been on the boil in recent years, with a series of agitations and bandhs called by the GJM.

Mamata held a number of meetings to convince industry captains about her industrial and land acquisition policies while projecting the state as an attractive investment destination.


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