Boycott & revenge
As an Opposition leader, Mamata Banerjee would almost invariably make it a point to boycott all-party meetings. As the head of the ruling party, she fares no better. As much was evident from Saturday&’s boycott of another such meeting, convened by the State Election Commission prior to the first round of the panchayat elections. Chiefly, to discuss whether the voting hours for the five phases could be rescheduled on account of Ramzan. In the event, the Chief Minister has conveyed the impression that she is keen on sustaining the puerile conflict of egos that Bengal has witnessed for more than three months. The Trinamul boycott of the meeting is, in the net, a mockery of the certitudes of democratic engagement. Miss Banerjee has given the CPI-M and the Congress a readymade handle to counter her campaign, however lacklustre thus far. There is a vengeful streak too in her threat, robustly articulated at a public meeting, that she will take what she calls “democratic revenge” against the SEC for the recent developments ~ elections during the month of Ramzan, the five-phase schedule, and the deployment of Central forces. Her attempt to expand the SEC to a three-member entity has been struck down by her key bureaucrats on the ground that the Constitution provides for a commissioner. The singular cannot be made plural through a stroke of the chief ministerial pen.
Sad to say, Miss Banerjee has tripped on the fundamentals. Pre-eminently, it was the Supreme Court ~ and not the SEC ~ that eventually took the call and decreed the election schedule. On a parity of reasoning, she appears to be in a vengeful mood against the judiciary. Therefore, the posturing, amplified through the tannoy at a public meeting, reeks of contempt. The party&’s reservations on the counting date, 29 July, seem contrived in the absence of any convincing argument. By boycotting the all-party meeting, Trinamul has behaved like an Opposition party, rather than a party that runs the government. No, Chief Minister, this isn’t the language ~ “democratic revenge’’ ~ or attitude that behoves the leader of the ruling party and head of government.
Forgive them the convenience with which they switch from being English to British when claiming a champion, indeed when it comes to cricket South Africa is still something of a colonial nursery. Understandable, however, was the relief felt wherever the Union Jack is flown when after 77 years Wimbledon flaunted a home-grown winner. Andy Murray. Much of the agony over the past few years was self-inflicted, punctured pride that while hosting the most celebrated tennis tourney on the planet, the coveted trophy kept going overseas. Yes, there has been success on the cricket pitch, the athletics arena, the F1 circuit and on the golf course (again, like Murray of Scottish origin), but the lush green lawns ~ the only “grand slam” still played on grass ~ consistently raised the ghost of Fred Perry: the 1936 champion who wore long trousers, used a wooden racquet, and also happened to be a world beater in table-tennis. Over those seven decades-plus hopes were infrequently ignited by the likes of Mike Sangster, Roger Taylor, John Lloyd but it was Tim Henman who truly made it case of so near, yet so far. Finally it took a man from the Highlands to provide the elixir. Alas, though many fans waved The Saltire at centre-court on a very warm Sunday, Murray&’s win could possibly militate against Scotland&’s dream of independence ~ the “Poms” would hardly relinquish bragging rights over the redeemer.
Murray merits salute rather than applause, for in his own way he has “come from behind”. Undoubtedly talented but neither brilliant nor flamboyant he has worked his way to the top, an effort boosted by the tutelage of Ivan Lendl. He went down to Federer in the 2012 Championships, then reversed the situation to bag the Olympic gold at the same venue and went on to move one rung closer to Perry when winning the US Open last September. After exorcising the Perry ghost massive mental burden has now been lifted from Murray&’s back, he could return to Flushing Meadows a man who looks as if he is enjoying his tennis, not toiling for success. And now that the “outrage” of Pat Cash has come to be dignified by Murray, maybe centre court could be re-designed to provide winners less-torturous passage to their mates in the Players’ Box.
Croatia in EU
A small country in the Balkans has scripted history more than 20 years after it attained independence from the former Yugoslavia through a bloody civil war. Croatia has eventually entered the European Union after a long struggle. What had appeared as a splinter country on the map in 1991 has now joined the high table of European diplomacy. The fact that the jubilant grandstanding was confined to Zagreb and not Brussels would suggest that a moment in the history of the continent has been overshadowed by the economic turmoil that confronts the EU. Indeed, a quirky development is unmistakable ~ Croatia has joined the EU as the 28th member-state when Britain, an established member of the club, is chewing over whether to quit or renegotiate its terms of engagement. Economically, however, the going may not be easy considering that Croatia itself is in recession… and now in the midst of the blitz that plagues a swathe of the continent. Which perhaps is the only disconcerting thought in the moment of fireworks in the sky.