Mixed-bag beginning for Mamta in Kolkata
The firebrand leader is now the people’s chief minister. Since May 20, when she walked into Writers’ Buildings to take over the reins of the state, Mamata Banerjee has played the role zealously, often throwing protocol and norms out of the window to take up issues close to her heart. She works late, calls frequent meetings, keeps top officials on their toes, makes surprise visits to hospitals and government offices and takes decisions with an urgency rarely seen in the government headquarters.
As CM, she is just as unpredictable and at times restless. She springs surprises like the Darjeeling treaty, takes key decisions in haste only to roll them back, such as Singur ordinance. She shocked doctors when she stormed into Bangur Institute of Neurosciences and suspended its director, SP Ghorai, without issuing him a show cause notice, on grounds of “insubordination”. Mamata is yet to take firm steps on curbing political violence with the opposition Left Front knocking at the governor’s door to stop atrocities against its cadres.
She hurriedly introduced an ordinance for returning land to Singur farmers only to be called back due to procedural lapses. Later, the Singur Land Bill was passed by the Assembly to enable her turn land to unwilling farmers in Singur. The first month in office has been eventful, to say the least. She has managed to make ministers proactive, bureaucrats prompt with files and senior officials anxious about being ticked off for inaction. On her very first day in office, she worked well past midnight. She followed it up with a major announcement of an imminent merger of the Salt Lake municipality with Kolkata. The next day,she went on a sudden tour of the city.
She has also managed to throw up solutions. The separatist movement in Darjeeling, for instance, which has been festering for the last three years, was “solved”. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha agreed to withdraw its demand for statehood for the time being. Critics may still question the pact, but the peace pact left the Hills euphoric. On the way to office from her residence, Mamata’s convoy has been taking a different route every morning and halting at a new destination. Her security men have been kept guessing. She has paid a series of surprise trips to hospitals on the way to Writers’.
Apart from the return of Singur land an issue that was key in catapulting her to power – she has invited Justice Sachar to the state for a fresh status report on the minority community, aimed at improving their condition and finding more jobs for them. She has announced setting up of a 25- member core group to sort out problems faced by the industry and work out plans for investment. The panel will have 17 members from various chambers including three from CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM apart from state finance minister Amit Mitra, industries minister Partha Chatterjee and six departmental secretaries.
DIDI’S MAJOR STEPS…
RETURN OF SINGUR LAND
It was Mamata’s first decision after taking over as CM. The issue had propelled her to power and Singur Land Bill was passed in the Assembly
EDUCATION GETS PRIORITY
Amartya Sen and historian Sugata Bose chosen mentors of Presidency University. A panel set up to revamp higher education. Mamata announces recruitment of 46,000 primary teachers. All teachers to now get their salaries on the first day of the month
West Bengal Health Service Recruitment Board set up to recruit staff and doctors. Mamata makes surprise visits to government hospitals. Announces plans to set up four super- specialty hospitals in Birbhum, West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura (the last three are Maoist-hit ), plus a neuroscience hospital in Rajarhat township 4
Salt Lake’s Sector V (tech hub) and Joka (where IIM Calcutta is located) on the outskirts of the capital brought under the jurisdiction of Kolkata Municipal Corporation
A project to beautify the Hooghly river front. The stretch from Dalhousie to Esplanade will be redone in tune with the BBD Bag heritage zone. Laldighi, a 300- year-old lake in front of Writers’ Buildings, will be illuminated
Within three weeks of taking charge,Mamata persuades GJM to sign a treaty for a hill council with greater powers. The Left Front government had tried the same solution but could not get GJM to agree. Mamata succeeded. Her education minister Bratya Basu already met Union HRD minister for an IIT or IIM in Darjeeling
Paid Rs 2 lakh from her own account on renovation of CM’s chamber at Writers’ Building
Senior bureaucrats asked to function in a neutral manner; police told to work impartially in the wake of political violence across the state
AND THE MISSTEPS
Hurriedly pushing with an ordinance on return of Singur land to unwilling farmers. The ordinance fell through because of procedural lapses. Later, the Singur Land Bill was passed in the Assembly Says she will make public the Singur deal struck by the Left Front govt, when a case is pending in the Calcutta high court over the disclosure of the contents of the deal Suspends Bangur Institute of Neurology S P Ghorai without issuing a showcase notice
Mamata Banerjee popularly known as Mamata Didi has just started her political innings in West Bengal, ironically the state of WB is with left since last 34 years but a tremendous effort by Mamata Banerjee has forced a new regime there. The domestic and overseas observers are watching the initial progress and her style of governance closely largely from an investors prospective. WB in general and its capital Kolkata in specific were the center of business hub post independence but the scenario forced industry to get shifted to other states due to labor unrest and lock outs instigated by left governments, now Mamata Didi with an economist as the finance minister is trying to turn the tables. Already, she gas achieved a major break through in settling the Gorkha land issue via talks with good results. WB government has listed priorities in EDUCATION, INDUSTRY, HEALTH CARE hence Japan G 30 initiative, Japan Business Chamber of Commerce & Embassy must draw a strategy to coordinate with the state government..
(Bureau Chief – Kolkata)
She has also managed to throw up so-