KOLKATA: West Bengal may be cash-strapped and debt-ridden, but that hasn’t stopped Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee from moving her office as per the dictates of Vastu Shastra and irrespective of the expenditure incurred.
After an unlucky stint at Nabanna building in Howrah, where she had relocated the State Secretariat towards the end of 2013 on advice of her astrologers, Mamata now wants to return to the old Secretariat Writers’ Building in Kolkata at the earliest.
Her “astrological move” cost the state exchequer Rs 50 crore, which was spent on renovating the HRBC Building. CPM Lok Sabha MP Mohammad Salim said, “People unnecessarily condemn Mohammad bin Tughlaq, but actual Tughlaqi style is followed by Mamata. Her priority is her personal interest.”
A strong believer in astrology and a devout follower of Goddess Kali, Mamata had shifted her Office to Nabanna, situated on the Western bank of the Ganga to improve the influence of the stars on her political fortune, say sources.
But Mamata’s shift to Nabanna proved to be far from lucky. She could not foresee the “Modi wave” and her hopes of playing king maker at the Centre were dashed. To top it, the multi-crore Saradha scam which affected around 18 lakh people in the state, has raised questions on the TMC supremo’s personal integrity. The Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into the Saradha scam despite strong opposition from her government, and her own name was dragged into it with allegations that Saradha group chairman Sudipto Sen had purchased one of her paintings for a whopping Rs 1.86 crore.
Her own party leaders started raising uncomfortable questions and the CBI, along with the Enforcement Directorate, interrogated several TMC MPs and even arrested state Transport Minister Madan Mitra, a close lieutenant of the Chief Minister. The summoning of TMC national secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy rattled her further.
Her party hasn’t fared well as she would have liked in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and there has been a lot of infighting within the TMC, with a state minister even quitting the party to join the BJP.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya, who also dabbles in astrology, said, “There is a limit to tolerating her whimsical attitude. Tax payers’ money is being wasted.”
In May 2011, Mamata Banerjee had stormed to power, ending the 34-year-long Left Front rule in the state. However, within a year she faced issues which started affecting her public image negatively and she could not get along with her political allies. She soon parted ways with the UPA II and the state government was left with a huge burden of debt, which the UPA II Government refused to write off.
Her first two years in power in West Bengal were plagued by scandals, along with a rise in crimes against women. The state has failed to draw any industry because of her land policy while she has failed to return land to farmers in Singur where the Tata Motors factory still stands.