Opposing FDI: Why can't Mamata act sensibly?

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Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 12:01 [IST]
 
Why can't Mamata act sensibly?

Indian politicians are known more for their gimmicks than constructive work. The way Mamata Banerjee and other parties, both supporting and opposing the UPA government, are opposing the recent decision by the Centre to allow FDI in multi-brand retail and other sectors, one can just conclude that party politics in India has touched a shameful low.

All media focus are currently on Mamata Banerjee and all this just because she is posturing for a zero-value politics. What will happen if she recalls her ministers or pulls out of the government? Nothing is going to happen, realistically. But yet, Ms Banerjee continues to hog the limelight for all the wrong reasons. In fact, it is a favourite strategy of the Trinamool leader to spoil parties at the last moment without citing any good logic and create an unnecessary fuss. What people's cause is she speaking about?

Mamata Banerjee's politics is tiring and discouraging for the people of Bengal. She could have made a great move by just taking the opposite route and welcome FDI in Bengal. The wisdom lied in having a realistic understanding of economics and not make it hazy before the people with political colours. What is Ms Banerjee's alternative thought to reforms?

Does she want India to go West Bengal's way by stifling all prospects? Leftist stunts are not going to work in today's times and leftists across the globe have wore an attire of a moderating force, rather than a opposing force. Mamata Banerjee might think she hijacked the Left's space by agitating on the streets of Kolkata. But killing the dead isn't going to help West Bengal in any manner.

The same people obstructed state's growth in past

The Trinamool Congress chief and her loyalists said they are fighting for the people. Then what was about the prolonged blockade of the Durgapur Expressway in August 2008 protesting the entry of the Tatas in West Bengal? Thousands of people who use the road regularly for their livelihood as well as the state exchequer had taken a blow then. And that is just one of the several occasions when the Mamata brigade stifled the state's functioning by calling strikes and paralysing the state. Today, these same people are talking about people's interest?

Why doesn't Mamata pull out without a second thought?

If she is really worried that her promise to the people is taking a blow, then why doesn't she pull out of the government straightaway? What does the 72-hour ultimatum mean when she knows very well that she is the lesser opponent against the Centre, which she needs for monetary aid and other help? One of her party MPs was found saying that they did not have the number to force a change. When they know that is indeed the case, then why don't they keep silent and do something wise? Mamata's calculated opposition and presenting three options (pulling out ministers from UPA government, asking ministers not to attend office) as means to put up her protest shows she is no position of strength to dictate terms. And anyhow, the second option doesn't bother many for many of her ministers hardly go to New Delhi to attend important work.

A populism called subsidy has left the economy in a shambles

Can Mamata Banerjee continue to bear the cost of a subsidised economy for eternity? Why should the government go on shielding the common man in terms of subsidy? We have considered it such an integral part of our own economy that we are reluctant to understand the rules of economics.

If the poor is in danger of being 'run over' by forces of liberalisation, then the responsibility lies with the political leaders of this country. They allowed themselves to live in a 'fools' paradise' since independence and only thought about building the super-structure in terms of socio-economic development. Why didn't they thrive for universal primary education and a gradual opening of the market? Today, whether there is Mamata or no Mamata, it is impossible for any government to maintain a 'closed economy' policy and there will be an inevitable impact when floodgates are suddenly opened.

Hypocrisy of subsidisation

There is a hypocrisy attached to this culture of subsidisation. We haven't really achieved any betterment of the poor despite all claims of welfare by means of the suspicious idea of subsidisation. The well-off sections of the population also get subsidy in fuel, which is not understandable. There is no betterment of the poor by means of social schemes like NREGA and they have only bred corruption. The unskilled labourers never learnt the skill to ensure themselves a consistent livelihood. Noted economist Swaminathan Aiyar said the government went on spending Rs 200,000 crore on oil subsidies but paid a mere Rs 16,000 crore in its employment guarantee programme. This simply defies all logic.

Mamata missed a golden chance to script an economic turnaround from Bengal

Mamata Banerjee doesn't have the time to think on this. She is more busy with her eternal populist stance. But she missed a golden chance to give West Bengal a chance to make a turnaround by welcoming FDI in her own state. Problems like middlemen eating away farmers' profits or poor communication facilities in the remote areas of the state would have been overcome as impact of the liberalisation process. The government could have played a regulator's role and strengthen the base by training up labourers to be absorbed in the new economy. It was a great opportunity to undo the Left Front's blunder of disallowing computer literacy and removing English education in primary level. It had deprived Bengal of being a part of the IT revolution, despite having a rich pool of talents. FDI could have given Bengal the much-needed oxygen to script a turnaround.

The Lexus will indeed blow away the Olive Tree, but the cost will be high

Liberalisation will be a reality whether politicians try to ignore it or not. Taking a cue from Thomas Friedman, the Lexus (Market force) will sweep the Olive Tree (traditional opponents) and all those leaders who are opposing this will fall in place that day. But the tragedy is: The country will pay a big price by then.


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