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Trinamool Congress: wins politics, fails governance (West Bengal Newsletter)

West Bengal,Politics, Sun, 25 Mar 2012 IANS

Kolkata, March 25 (IANS) Haunted by scams and bullied by its allies, the Congress may have appeased Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee by paving way for her nominees to enter the Rajya Sabha, but the development has rekindled discontent among West Bengal Congress members.


Party workhorse Abdul Mannan had to withdraw from the race at the eleventh hour, which allowed all the four Trinamool nominees to get elected unopposed to the upper house of parliament.


Mannan, who had to play the proverbial sacrificial lamb, preferred to show his loyalty to the Congress, saying it was in the "larger interest". But Congress strongman from the state, Adhir Chowdhury, known for his rebellious nature, did not hide his anguish over the move.


"If such a senior leader like him (Mannan) had to be withdrawn, why was he asked to contest at all," said the Murshidabad MP, who during the 2011 assembly elections had successfully campaigned for independent candidates pitted against the Trinamool Congress, drawing the ire of his own party.


Though the Congress may justify the decision to its insufficient presence in the House, political circles feel the party now needs to keep the Trinamool happy because of its compulsions, especially at a time when the multi billion rupee coal scam has just exploded in its face.


It has also to get key legislations like the Lokpal bill passed and the presidential elections are round the corner too, where the Trinamool has the fourth highest number of votes among all parties.


The four winning Trinamool candidates are new Railway Minister Mukul Roy (who has been re-elected), and three journalists Kunal Ghosh, Mohammed Nadim-ul-Haq and Vivek Gupta.


The other victor is Tapan Sen of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.


The Trinamool Congress may have won its war against Congress in the Rajya Sabha, but its government in the state headed by Banerjee is facing flak over the repeated fires in hospitals in the city.


The saga of hospital fires continued as a blaze broke out Wednesday at the emergency department of the SSKM Hospital - the largest state run-referral hospital in Bengal - while another blaze engulfed a five-storey nursing home in Midnapore, resulting in evacuation of the patients.


Fortunately, no casualty was reported in either case.


The fires brought back horrible memories of the city's AMRI Hospital tragedy which claimed 94 lives late last year.


The government, swift in acting against private-run hospitals, has chosen to look the other way when it comes to facilities run by it and its officials.


While four officials of the Midnapore nursing home, a private entity, were arrested, including the managing director Pijush Kanti Pal, no such action was taken for the SSKM fire in spite of two ministers blaming 'negligent staff' for the incident.


While Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said the fire was caused by short circuit in AC machines which were left to run for long by the negligent staff, Sports Minister Madan Mitra termed the slackness an 'offence' and assured action. However the 'action' is still to take place.


In case of AMRI Hospital, a joint venture between the Shrachi and the Emami Groups with the state government owning one percent of stake, 16 people, including several directors, have been charge-sheeted by the police.


However, the director of the state medical education and special secretary to health department who are the chairman and director of AMRI respectively, have been left untouched raising questions of dual approach of the administration.


The Calcutta High Court while hearing a bail petition of the independent directors had pointed to the callousness of the hospital authorities, including government officials, which lead to the catastrophe.


Questions were also raised against the fire department, which in spite of a deficient fire safety mechanism, had given a fit certificate to the high cost medical facility.


(Anurag Dey can be contacted at


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