Mamata ups the ante, directs state officials to skip central meetingsWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the fiercest critics of the central government’s demonetization move, has taken her confrontation with the Narendra Modi-led government a notch higher.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the fiercest critics of the central government’s demonetization move, has taken her confrontation with the Narendra Modi-led government a notch higher.
Following up on her allegations against the Centre of subverting the federal structure and a string of personal attacks against the PM, reports now suggest that Mamata may be moving towards a boycott of regular meetings convened by the central government.
According to a report in the Economic Times, Mamata has instructed state officials to boycott and abstain from central meetings like those called for the functioning of the Niti Ayog. The move is being dubbed as the first such instance when officials in the state have been directly asked to abstain from the otherwise ‘mandatory’ Niti Aayog meetings.
A district official quoted in the report said that there were "categorical" instructions "from the top" to skip the meet.
"We have got verbal instructions from Nabanna which told us to avoid this meeting. The previous meeting two weeks back was on going cashless and digital transactions at the district level. DMs skipped that one too," the official said.
The state government says that direct interactions with state officials at the behest of the Centre amounts to a violation of the federal structure. Mamata has previously flagged the Prime Minister and his office’s preferences of opting for direct interaction with the district magistrates and skipping official and said bureaucratic set-ups.
The move by the Mamata government is not one-off, but may be a deliberate shift in strategy to counter the central government.
A week back, Vice Chancellors of different state-run universities were asked to skip a video conference with UGC officials. Officials said they skipped the video conferencing by Prakash Javadekar on digital economy and cashless transactions, held earlier in December as they “were pre-occupied ".
Partha Chatterjee, State Education Minister, pointed out that the VCs were asked to skip the conference since they were busy with the examination process then.
These actions also speak volumes in terms of Mamata promoting herself as the face of anti-demonetisation. She has already travelled to various states campaigning against the drive and is also set to attend a meeting of the opposition parties on December 27.
The Trinamool Congress has also signaled to intensify its fight against the movement against demonetization. With just four days to go before PM Modi’s 50-day deadline for note ban troubles to begin easing, the stage looks set for a massive political uproar, one that could well be headed by none other than Didi.