However perfect a system, it still relies on men and women of goodwill and honest intent to run it well. On the other hand, even an imperfect system can be managed successfully if people in-charge possess requisite wisdom and good intent. The mercurial chief minister of West Bengal has no patience for a constitutional system which draws red-lines between various players and obliges each to heed them. Mamata Banerjee’s highly intemperate behaviour was an open assault on the Constitution. A federal system obliges the Centre and the States to respect the boundaries that divide their role, functions and duties.
By coming out so forcefully against a police officer whose conduct was in defiance of the central agencies, nay, the apex court, the West Bengal chief minister challenged the Constitution, much less the Central government. Sitting on dharna outside the official residence of the Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar and preventing the CBI team from interrogating him in connection with the missing evidence in the chit funds scams, she once again proved that she is incapable of working the federal Constitution.
Whether or not she was personally implicated in these scams, the fact that Kumar was thwarting the probe despite heading the court mandated Special Investigation Team, Mamata virtually confirmed that she did not want truth to come out. The fact that her own alleged ‘works of art’ were bought by the ponzi scheme operators at an unimaginably high prices creates suspicion about her own integrity — and fully explains why she was so determined to keep a tight lid over the misdoings of the racketeers.
The manner in which the CBI team was not only prevented from questioning Kumar but intimidated and abused before being confined into a police station did suggest a constitutional breakdown liable for action by the Centre. Kumar sitting on dharna alongside Mamata was in clear violation of the service rules of the Indian Police Service and opened himself for severe disciplinary action by the cadre-controlling Union Home Ministry.
It is hoped that when the apex court takes up the central plea for action against the West Bengal CM it will deliver a strong indictment of Kumar whose willful defiance of the apex court and the subsequent refusal to hand over all relevant evidence to the CBI followed by the physical abuse and brief arrest of the CBI team on Sunday evening had made him unfit to wear the uniform of an IPS officer any more.
Short of outright dismissal after an inquiry anything else would not meet the ends of justice since he had set upon the State police on the CBI team. The unprecedented siege of the regional headquarters of the central investigating agency and the gherao of their residences cannot, and should not, go unpunished. It is highly unfortunate that the Opposition leaders in their blind hatred of the Prime Minister came on the side of Mamta instead of the Constitution. Their conduct is unpardonable. Hatred of Modi does not justify shredding the very basics of our founding document.
Such unconcern for the Constitution while showing solidarity with someone who is in willful defiance of her official role does not show them in good light. If the idea is that such reckless behaviour will earn votes they are living in a cloud- cuckoo- land of their own making. Ordinary voters know that Mamata is all shrillness and reckless protest because she fears her and her party’s own involvement in the ponzi schemes, which defrauded the poor of over Rs 32,000 crores, cannot be a poll-winner. She has to account for the monies received by her and others in the Trinamool Congress, and the subsequent conspiracy to put a tight lid on the scams.
Meanwhile, it is ludicrous to abuse the PM as a fascist while Mamata routinely does everything to thwart the democratic rights by preventing the BJP from holding rallies, using the empty excuse of security and law and order. On the day she blessed the Kolkata Police to confront the CBI team from performing its lawful investigation, the chief minister of UP Yogi Adityanand was not allowed to land his helicopter for addressing a pre-sanctioned public meeting. This was an assault on the democratic rights of the party to propagate its ideas in a peaceful manner.
Coming from her, of all the CMs, it was rich to call the Modi-Shah duo as undemocratic. Unless the apex court rebukes her gross misbehavior and binds her down to stay within the four walls of the Constitution, it will come under an unbearable stress and strain. The judiciary should tame Mamata from wrecking her vengeance against the constitutional system which all three branches, namely, the executive, the legislature and the courts are duty-bound to heed and uphold.