Calcutta, Oct. 29: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s silence over the Haldia mess reflects not only the compulsions of local Trinamul politics but also the need to humour satraps till the panchayat polls are over.
The state Congress today wondered aloud about the chief minister’s silence. “What worries us is the chief minister’s mysterious silence. Why is she not intervening to resolve the crisis?” Congress leader and former irrigation minister Manas Bhunia asked.
“The ongoing trouble in Haldia with the state government playing the role of a silent spectator is sending a wrong message to potential investors across the country and abroad,” Bhunia added.
Sources in the Trinamul Congress said that having lost the Haldia municipality elections a few months ago to the CPM, the party’s Haldia strongman Subhendu Adhikari is walking the extra mile to woo the dock workers. “The violence and attacks are not something that Mamata Banerjee would relish,” a Trinamul leader said. But the leader added that as far as East Midnapore is concerned, Mamata might not have too many options.
“Mamatadi may publicly say that a small incident is being blown out of proportion by the media but that need not necessarily mean that she is enjoying what is happening.”
According to the party leader, Mamata does not enjoy the best of relations with the father-son duo of Sisir and Subhendu and would not like to see their clout increase. But with the panchayat polls round the corner, she would not like to do anything publicly to displease the two.
“The panchayat elections are very important for Mamatadi and the Adhikari family virtually controls the district,” the Trinamul leader said. “So, at this juncture, she would not like to publicly antagonise them…. If Mamatadi feels it necessary, she will send out a discreet message to them through a senior minister.”
A section in the Trinamul also believes that Mamata, too, feels the need to gain ground in Haldia after the loss to the CPM in the municipal polls.
“She also realises that wooing the workers will pay dividends just in the manner wooing the farmers in Singur did. She has to do a bit of tightrope-walking as she does not want to send a wrong signal to industry either,” a leader said.
A Trinamul MP said her decision to keep mum so far can also be seen as a simultaneous move not to interfere with the business interests of a private cargo handler who is close to her and Trinamul.
“The private cargo handler in Haldia close to Trinamul would stand to gain when there is stoppage of work at the two berths handled by HBT,” the MP said. “The work would be diverted to the company he controls. It would become difficult not to accommodate the interests of this company which is close to her party.”
Besides, Trinamul sources said, Subhendu and the chief minister’s main trouble-shooter Mukul Roy have rallied behind the company.
Asked about Mamata’s silence, industries minister Partha Chatterjee told The Telegraph today: “Why should the CM talk about this? If there’s a law and order problem, she may issue instructions.”
“Here’s a case that involves a cargo handler and the Calcutta Port Trust. Let them settle the issue bilaterally. The state government shouldn’t intervene. However, we feel both the parties should also see to it that the interests of workers are not affected,’’ he said.
Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra today hit out at the government, saying it has failed to control Trinamul men from indulging in “hooliganism’’. “Is this trade union politics or hooliganism? The few industries the state has are leaving. And this Trinamul government is failing to control its own men. Bengal is headed for disaster,’’ he said.