An unprecedented turn of events is being witnessed by Mamata Bannerjee and others in the state of West Bengal these days. Neither people, nor political analysts, and not even the BJP government had expected the current turn of events.
The ferocious Mamata Banerjee is seen on a backfoot. The woman nursing national ambitions had called herself a ferocious tiger way back in 2014. Since then, Bengal has been a victim of the Modi vs Mamata tussle. Many central schemes had been stonewalled by the West Bengal Chief Minister in her anguish against PM Modi. Be it Teesta water-sharing agreement with Bangladesh, or the river linking project, Mamata has remained at odds with the center. Even the Smart Cities Mission was highly criticized by Mamata Bannerjee who came up with her own proposal to develop 10 green cities. She then denied framing laws under RERA to regulate the real estate sector. Approval for central schemes like Ayushman Bharat Yojana for the health sector and PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to help the farmers had also been pending for a long.
Benefits associated with PM-KISAN- a political leeway for the parties
With farmers in the national limelight, the PM-KISAN scheme holds significance today. It is a 100% central assistance scheme, where no liability lies on the shoulders of the state government. Yet, Mamata had chosen to opt-out of the benefits till now. West Bengal was the only state which had not implemented the scheme. It is a direct benefits transfer scheme with more than 10 million beneficiaries. With over 7.13 million farmer families in the state, Mamata Bannerjee had to finally bend her knee ahead of state assembly elections. Depriving this large chunk of farmers of direct benefits in their bank accounts could have cost her heavy later. She has finally decided to implement this central scheme in her state. This softened stance ahead of elections has come by as a surprise to everyone. The ferocious tiger is taking a back foot.
This, however, does not mean she has accepted defeat. Mamata has decided to come up with a new law countering the three farm bills. West Bengal will then become the fourth state in a row to counter the much-hyped farm laws. After Punjab, Rajasthan, and Kerala, Mamata Bannerjee has joined the bandwagon to gain the support of farmers.
A catch-all stance of Mamata Bannerjee
It looks like that the entry of Owaisi and mass defections to BJP has shaken Mamata Bannerjee to the core. She now wants to leave no stone unturned to ensure her return to power after the 2021 Assembly elections. She is taking measured steps taking all sections of society under her umbrella one by one. Even implementing PM-KISAN is a very smart and timely move by Mrs. Bannerjee. BJP had gained considerable leeway ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in UP with the launch of PM-KISAN. Depriving farmers of direct cash benefits might have proved a bomb for Mamata ahead of elections. Some 2.17 million farmers from Bengal had already registered on the PM-KISAN portal to rope in the benefits.
Among another lot of disgruntled sections in Bengal are the tea plantation workers of North Bengal. They want a raise in minimum wage set for them, an action pending for the last six years. Moreover, these plantation workers have no right over the land on which their ancestors have worked for over 200 years. With the implementation of NPR and CAA, BJP has been hinting at the transfer of land rights from the illegal infiltrators to the eligible. If Mamata wants to consolidate her vote bank with the plantation workers, she must take swift action here too.
Win-win situation for people of Bengal
All in all, it is a win-win situation for the voters of West Bengal. With every political party trying the catch-all approach, the long-standing grievances of people are being heard. In an earlier development, when Amit Shah promised to restart appointments under West Bengal School Service Commission, Mamata Bannerjee rushed in to fill the gap. She immediately notified recruitments of about 300 thousand candidates under the state SSC.
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