TMC's Neo-liberal Governance

May 11, 2014

The Trinamool Congress makes a big show of opposition to some of the anti-people steps being implemented in our country. But Mamata Banerjee never once raised her voice against the economic policy of neo-liberalism which gives rise to these anti-people steps. Since actions speak louder than words, let’s have a look back at her party’s role in the past. Mamata Banerjee has been part of the Congress, NDA and UPA governments when they took major anti-people decisions, and no one has ever seen her oppose these steps. She was a minister of the Narasimha Rao Government when it announced the New Economic policy in 1991.

Disinvestment: In 1993, she kept quiet when the Congress decided to sell off the Public Sector Units (PSUs). In the privatization of the Electricity sector, through the 1991 Electricity law brought by the Congress, and the Electricity Act passed by the NDA in 2003, she kept silent.

The NDA, of which she was an important ally, announced reforms in foreign investment, privatization of health care, and further reforms in banking and insurance. As a cabinet minister she saw nothing wrong when in 1999 a Disinvestment department was started by the Vajpayee government. Neither did she oppose the shutting down of 6 PSU’s (including 4 from West Bengal) by the Central Government in 2000.

Special Economic Zones: Inspite of all the TMC’s talk, when the policy of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was announced in 2001, she was the railway minister of the government. Amit Mitra, present finance minister of Bengal, was also an ardent supporter of SEZ as FICCI chairman. (Source: The Telegraph, 25th June 2010 and The Business Standard, 23rd April 2007).

Banking and Insurance: Mamata Banerjee was a member of the cabinet between 1998 and 2004 when it was led by A.B.Vajpayee of the BJP which took up reforms in Banking and Insurance. In 1999, the Vajpayee government allowed 26% foreign investment in the insurance sector. In 2008, after the Left withdrew support from the UPA-1, they passed the Insurance Bill to which the TMC had no opposition.

Pension Reforms: In 2003, when the first Pension Fund Regulatory and Authority was formed by the Vajpayee Government, and in 2004 when the new Pension Scheme was launched, the TMC had no problems with it. In 2011, when the Pension Regulatory and Development Authority Bill was brought by the UPA their ally, the TMC again had no opposition.

Price rise: The TMC had 6 members in the cabinet when the UPA relinquished control of petrol and diesel prices to the market. Amit Mitra proclaimed that it would produce long term gains for the economy.

TMC government in West Bengal: After coming to power in West Bengal the TMC has continually upheld the neo-liberal anti-people policies in administration, transport, and electricity. It will soon approve contract farming. The Finance minister Amit Mitra is one of the most vocal supporters of these policies, and during his tenure in the Advisory committee of the Railways from 2007-2012 the share of private investment in the rail jumped from 1% to 20%. They have already passed three Private University bills since they came to power.

May 10, 2014