Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Mamata’s Confession fails to deflect Narada Heat

Mathew Samuel | April 20, 2016 6:50 pm Print
Mamata Banerjee, TMC, Trinamool Congress


When confronted with proof of misdoings what does Indian political parties do? Indian political parties have evolved well choreographed charades when caught for their misdemeanor. First they would reject out rightly, what has come up into public domain. If that doesn’t seem to work, they will question the veracity of the proof. If the heat generated by the exposé refuse to die down, the defending parties usually questions the credibility of the whistleblower. Trinamool Congress (TMC) leadership made all these noises and much more when released the sting video which showed its top leaders and lawmakers accepting bribes. But, this conventional form of defence did not work for the embattled leadership of the TMC, at least this time.

The leadership soon realised that to counter the incriminating evidence warrants more sophistry than the conventional form of defence. This is exactly what the Trinamool leadership is trying to do now. But in all probability this won’t work either for West Bengal’s ruling party.

Before citing the reasons why TMC leadership won’t succeed in its efforts to counter the damage that has been done by narada exposé , one need to chronicle how TMC shifted its positions to deflect the charges that were being raised against them.

When broke the story the first refrain from TMC was that the video is doctored. TMC chief spokesperson Derek O’Brien said the sting video is a small irritant and requires no official reaction.

But his wishful thinking did not last long. People of Bengal were taken aback by the skullduggery of the ruling politicians. Contrary to Derek’s belief, Bengali newspapers published the transcription of the narada sting video.
Opposition parties for obvious reasons, were up in the arms against the TMC. Mamata Banerjee’s image as a simple and honest leader which was dented after the Saradha Chit Fund scam took a severe beating because of the narada exposé.

Wary of the electoral reverses the exposé may cause, the TMC then went into an overdrive to question the credibility of NaradaNews.

Leaders of TMC were urged to cast aspersion on narada. But after some time, especially after the Calcutta High Court admitted three Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking action against erring politicians, TMC subtly changed its stand. The argument that the video was doctored was dropped. It started parroting a new line. The timing of the release of the video and the questions regarding Narada’s Dubai connection was the new shield under which the beleaguered party was trying to take cover. But nothing seemed to be working in their favour. But almost all news outlets in Bengal continue to remain riveted on to the story, even after a month.’s willingness to present the unedited version of the footage to any authority to prove its authenticity was also a big blow to the TMC.

Facing the heat, the leadership then had no qualms in announcing that the party has decided to go for an internal inquiry. This was a U-turn by the TMC leadership after the sting video went online on 14th March.

There are also reports that the leadership-read Mamata- was pressurised by those leaders who were not caught by in the sting video to order an inquiry rather than mount vitriolic speeches against Narada. Even this is veiled admission of wrong doing did not do anything to undo the damage.

Mukul Roy, the man considered to be the second in command of TMC went to the extent of saying that the money, the leaders seen as taking was not for their individual use, but was accepted on behalf of the party! In one stroke he made mockery of all others who questioned the veracity of the Narada’s sting video.

Then came the mother of all defences. Mamata told an election rally in Kolkata over the weekend , that she would not have fielded those seen to be accepting cash on camera, if had she been aware of their misdeeds. She blamed Narada for not publishing the video earlier.

This indirect admission of guilt by the usually belligerent chief minister of West Bengal was very telling….
In fact, the varied response by the TMC pantheon has made one thing clear to the people of Bengal and rest of India.
That the TMC has belatedly accepted the credibility of Narada’s sting video. The increasing nervousness of the TMC leaders was tantamount to admitting guilt.

It was also an admission that there was no use continuing to “look at the finger, when it points to the moon”.