Kolkata Confidential

City
The Trinamool problem
The Trinamool Congress had the government in a spot again last week, this time over the riots in Deganga, with party MP Nurul Islam accused of fanning communal tensions. It took some deft handling at the highest levels in Delhi for the situation to not get completely out of hand. Realising the implications if the riots spread, the Centre took the lead and decided to send in two columns of the Army without even a formal request from the local administration or the West Bengal government. The Army, for a moment, even asked whether it should wait for the request to come officially. The Defence Minister, however, was clear that he was acting under express instructions and that the formalities would be completed later. So the Army carried out flag marches, was present for three days, and was only derequisitioned on Saturday. It is still a mystery to many as to how the decision to call in the Army was expedited. Either ways, the consternation within the government over Nurul Islam's role in the entire episode remains.

Net result zero
Under the onslaught of the 'winds of change' the state unit of the CPM has launched its own website, asking everyone to feel free to vent their grievances regarding the party ranks on the site. A section of leaders at Alimuddin Street expect the mailbox to overflow shortly with genuine complaints and the baseless. There, however, is little hope those would ever be addressed, since the party has no mechanism to deal with complaints through Internet. "In many cases, written complaints against cadres and leaders cannot be dealt with properly, how can action be taken on basis of complaints through a website?" asked a senior CPM leader.

Saving face
Two weeks of Nicole Tamang — prime accused in the murder case of All India Gorkha League president Madan Tamang — ran away from the custody of the CID, the authorities quietly showcaused Ardhendu Shekhar Pahari, investigating officer in the case and started a departmental probe against him. Nicole escaped on August 21. Fifteen days after the incident, some officials of the state home department asked the CID authorities to take departmental action against Pahari as Central pressure was building up on the state. Finally, a week ago, to avoid loss of face in front of the media, the CID quietly issued an order and showcaused Pahari, said a senior police officer.

Fingers crossed
Sourav Ganguly's fate in the IPL suddenly seems uncertain vis-a-vis his retention by the Kolkata Knight Riders. The IPL governing council has included a 'player retention clause' in its guideline which has irked the franchises. The team co-owner, Shah Rukh Khan, believes all players should go to auction to make it fair for everyone. After three failed outings, the Knight Riders management wants a complete overhaul of the team. Ganguly is okay with that. "An overhaul is needed," he said. But at the same time he added that he would be happy to play for the team. Grapevine, though, has it that the Knight Riders are looking for fresh legs and the "icon" doesn't fit into their scheme of things. According to sources, Sahara India Pariwar, which owns Pune Warriors, is eager to have the Bengal left-hander on board. Things will be finalised before the auction in October, but Kolkata fans do not want to see their "prince" plying his trade for a Pune outfit.

On a roll
At the age of 75 , Pranab Mukherjee is one of the most active politicians, not only in Delhi but also in West Bengal. The Union finance minister, who is also the troubleshooter-in-chief for the UPA, has steered the government growth engine through meltdown and rising inflation. But even so, he is very visible in the political spectrum of the state. Every weekend, if he is in Kolkata, he attends four to five programmes a day, dextrously juggling chambers of commerce, academic institutions and political programmes. Morning to late evening, this septuagenarian leader attends back-to-back programmes, his energy levels leaving younger leaders awestruck.

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