Thursday, July 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

PM in a bind on Mamata issue
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s refusal to join the Atal Behari Vajpayee government till the controversial issue of bifurcating Eastern Railway is reviewed or put on the back burner is beginning to escalate into a direct confrontation between West Bengal and Bihar.

Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar’s insistence that bifurcation of Eastern Railway has become imperative for the allround development of the Railways has added a new dimension with the Left parties extending support to Ms Banerjee.

Mr Nitish Kumar has maintained that there can be no going back on the bifurcation of Eastern Railway as the decision has been taken by the Union Cabinet. At the same time the widespread belief is that every Railway Minister has endeavoured to provide favoured treatment to his or her home state. And Mr Nitish Kumar is no different as he hails from backward Bihar.

The hardened approach of the Railway Minister and the top Central leadership’s preoccupation with other pressing issues points to bidding for time and allowing tempers to cool on all sides.

Clearly, the BJP-led NDA is caught in a piquant situation on how to overcome the imbroglio connected with Ms Banerjee as the decision to bifurcate Eastern Railway has been taken by the Cabinet headed by Mr Vajpayee. Now if the bifurcation of Eastern Railway has to be reviewed as demanded by Ms Banerjee, the Vajpayee government is bound to suffer a serious loss of face.

The Left parties affirming their support to Ms Banerjee is in keeping with the resolution adopted in the West Bengal Assembly firmly opposing any move to bifurcate Eastern Railway.

With Mr Nitish Kumar assured of his position as the Union Railway Minister, Mr Vajpayee’s troubleshooters in Union Defence Minister and NDA convener George Fernandes and Officer on Special Duty in the PMO Sudheendra Kulkarni steered clear of contacting Ms Banerjee today.

Obviously, they had not come up with any tangible proposition for Ms Banerjee’s consideration in the efforts to break the impasse even as Mr Nitish Kumar held forth that reorganisation of the zones was to remove the imbalances in the gigantic railway system.

The Vajpayee government is inexorably caught in a bind of finding an amicable way out without compromising their political gambit against the RJD’s juggernaut in Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar along with appeasing the political compulsions of Ms Banerjee.

Meanwhile, in a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya, Mr Nitish Kumar has sought to allay apprehensions that the reorganisation of the railway zones was not based on state boundaries or Bihar centric. He appealed that this matter should not be turned into a political and emotional issue.

With no quick-fix solution in sight, Ms Banerjee has no option but to cool her heels outside the Vajpayee government much to the dismay of her own party colleagues.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |