Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s latest visit to the poll-bound state of West Bengal has proven to cost the incumbent Trinamool Congress (TMC) heavily, as eleven MLAs, an MP and a former Parliamentarian from the ruling party jumped ship to the BJP. The saffron party has launched an unprecedented offensive against the TMC regime of Bengal, which is leading to many within the TMC believing that the BJP will indeed emerge handsomely victorious in the all-important assembly polls due early next year. This has triggered a mass exodus of sorts from TMC to the BJP.
As a matter of fact, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too does not seem immune to an all-pervasive mood of insecurity within the TMC, which is why she has now taken to announce desperate measures to somehow ensure a certain degree of voter retention for her party. The announcement of freebies and fast-paced employment generation measures came days after Amit Shah concluded his visit to the state. Of course, Mamata Banerjee must realise that her strategy of announcing doll-outs after every visit of the Home Minister will probably end up pulverising Bengal’s fiscal health. In any case, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not even begun campaigning in the state yet. The Chief Minister might want to save the freebie announcements for when he does.
Mamata Banerjee has announced that nearly 16,500 posts for primary school teachers, which are currently lying vacant across the state, will soon be filled. As a part of Mamata Banerjee remembering that she must generate employment in the state prior to the elections, the Chief Minister took to announcing that the process of interviewing candidates for filling the said posts will be completed between January 10 – January 17. She also announced that an appointments panel will soon be constituted for the same.
The TMC supremo also announced that the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) will be conducted in offline mode on January 31 next year, in an attempt to convince the public of West Bengal that her government was working overtime to generate employment in the state. Finally, the Bengal Chief Minister made a big announcement for first-time voters: students of Class XII will be given Rs. 10,000 cash handouts instead of the usual tablets. Clearly, this is an attempt to woo first-time voters with a mindless supply of cash. Close to 9 lakh students are expected to pass out of higher secondary school next year in West Bengal.
“When the home minister of the country says something, it should be backed by data, facts and figures. Bengal is ahead of other states on all development indices. But Amit Shah ji deliberately tried to depict a gloomy and dismal picture of the state. I was challenged… here is my reply. Kolkata has twice been accorded the ‘safest city’ tag in the country,” Banerjee said at a press meet. “According to NCRB data, political killings, other incidents of crime and rape cases have decreased during the TMC rule. BJP leaders, while pointing fingers at others, should also speak up against the Hathras rape-murder incident in Uttar Pradesh,” Mamata Banerjee added, making it clear that Amit Shah’s grand visit to Bengal had hurt her tremendously.
The people of West Bengal, needless to say, cannot be fooled by barely remedial measures being employed by Mamata Banerjee only to win votes at the terminal stage of her tenure.