Lure of coal bonus prompts Trinamool, BJD to back NDA

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, Kolkata/Bhubaneswar
  • Updated: Mar 20, 2015 00:35 IST

Several reasons may have prompted the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to support the BJP on the coal and the mine and minerals bills.

For all her initial animosity towards the Narendra Modi government, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has realised that her BJP bashing was becoming counterproductive, political observers said.

Analysts point to three factors behind the rethink, the first being the CBI inquiry into the Saradha deposit scheme scam, in which a dozen ruling MPs, ministers and partymen are implicated or are behind bars.

Secondly, Mamata’s fears of a Modi wave eating into her vote bank were unfounded following the Trinamool’s victory in two recent bypolls, with the party’s vote share remaining intact.

Besides, the Centre has kept Mamata in the loop on all important issues pertaining to West Bengal such as Teesta water-sharing, exchange of enclaves along the Bangladesh border and the Burdwan blast.

More recently, finance minister Arun Jaitley went to Kolkata to inaugurate an investor meet. Finally, the turning point came when Mamata met Modi in Delhi on March 9 to seek a waiver on West Bengal’s huge debts.

“Odisha will get `8,000 crore in a span of two-and-a-half years from coal. Would we let go thousands of crores that would come our way through the new auction route (of coal)?” TMC MP Saugata Roy asked.

Mineral-rich Odisha cannot ignore the coal mine auctions. “In another six years, the state will get `23,000 crore from deregulated coal,” BJD Lok Sabha MP Tathagata Satapathy said.

But the opposition Congress said corruption cases against top BJD leaders that determined the party’s support to both bills.

“Many BJD leaders, including chief minister Naveen Patnaik, are likely to be convicted in the chit fund scam probe by the CBI,” said Odisha Congress chief Prasad Harichandan.

Given the scenario, both parties are expected to vote for the bills in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA is in a minority.

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