Calcutta, Sept. 15: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee repeated that she would be compelled to take a “hard decision (kathin siddhanta)” if the Centre does not accept her rollback demands by Monday night.
The chief minister walked 2km in 45 minutes, covering the stretch from Raja Subodh Mullick square to Gandhi statue, to protest the Centre’s decisions over the past two days.
Mamata said she would not like to topple the government and would like the alliance to continue but added that the Lakshman rekha should not be crossed.
The chief minister did not address the key question of what specific step she would take if the Centre stuck to its decisions but she did elaborate on her misgivings and quantified some of her demands.
Mamatanomics 1: “I will not accept FDI in retail…. I don’t believe that the states would be free to make their choice. If there is a dengue outbreak in the south, can the north say it will not be affected? Do they consider me a fool? Central policy is applicable throughout the country.”
Reality: Even if the Centre does not specify in the notified retail policy that each state will have the right to prevent FDI in retail in their territory, rules already exist that arm the states with enough powers. States can simply refuse to grant permission to foreign retailers to set up shop under the shops and establishment act.
But Mamata’s dengue parallel hits the nail on its head. Detractors of globalisation would say, like dengue, it is a pestilence that only a few countries like North Korea have been able to beat back. Mamata will need more than a dengue-fatigued CMC to keep beady-eyed foreigners at bay if they set sights on Sonar Bangla.
Mamatanomics 2: Every month two cylinders — 24 cylinders a year — have to be provided (at the subsidised rate).
Reality: Unwittingly, Mamata appears to be playing for a privileged minority. According to an oil firm official, most households in Calcutta use a gas cylinder for 30-35 days. Each manages with 12 cylinders, of which half will be subsidised. Less than 10 per cent use two or more cylinders a month, the official said. The percentage is still lower in other districts as firewood and coal are also used.
Mamatanomics 3: I agree sensex must be stable, but at the same time, policy and planning should not be used to impose backbreaking burden on the common people. If black money is unearthed in the country, and brought back home from abroad and used for development, then sensex will grow in an unparalleled manner. (Mamata’s post on Facebook)
Reality: No one can dispute Mamata’s logic and intentions. But the economic situation is such that the country cannot afford to do nothing and pray for the black money pot at the end of the rainbow.
Mamatanomics 4: Yes, we need reforms. But reform does not mean to sell out everything to satisfy some sections of individuals. In a democratic set-up, reforms must reach up to the poor and common people and the beauty of democracy lies on realising its responsibility towards the common people. (Facebook post)
Reality: Both Mamata and Manmohan want the fruits of reforms to reach the poor. The populist in Mamata wants it to be a utopian process without pain whereas the trained economist in the Prime Minister knows hard decisions are unavoidable.