By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India in July last year she showed interest in meeting a woman chief minister. There was one right in Delhi, Sheila Dikshit. Lucknow was not far away as UP was then ruled by a Dalit woman, Mayawati. In that case she would have achieved the double purpose.
But she opted for the newly elected women chief ministers––Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee. Finally, it was decided in favour of former. She flew to Chennai, for obvious political and business reasons.
With new regime of AIADMK in power she wanted to visit Tamil Nadu after the elimination of LTTE in Sri Lanka. Besides, instead of western coast of India the US Secretary of State opted to concentrate on the eastern coast.
If Hillary became the first Secretary of State to meet Tamil Nadu chief minister, 10 months later she was the first to call on West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, too. After her visit to a state on the eastern coast of India she now visited an important eastern state. It is here that anti-capitalist and anti-US Left Front had been in power for 34 long years till May 2011.
In fact she came to Kolkata via Communist China and Bangladesh. In Dhaka she met Prime Minister Hasina Wajed. No doubt apart from East-West Corridor, investment, FDI in retail sector, Teesta river water was top on Hillary’s agenda. Mamata has a different view on this issue and she refused to accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka last year.
It is not just the sun which rises from the east; several daughters too have risen politically not only in eastern India but also in Bangladesh. In neighbouring Myanmar too Aung San Suu Kyi is fast emerging as a potential ruler of the country in future. So British Prime Minister David Cameron paid a visit to her in April last. This was soon followed by the trip of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. Hillary herself met the Nobel Peace Prize winner on Dec 1, 2011.
The global importance of east has risen very fast. The world’s second and third economic powers––China and Japan––are situated in this region. In contrast West, especially Europe, is passing through grave economic crisis.
Not only that the rise of China militarily too has alarmed the United States. India too is watchful. China wants to keep all the sea-lanes––from Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and South China Sea––under its control. Chinese import of oil and export of finished goods pass through these routes.
So with this in mind the US Secretary of State is regularly visiting the region. Her meeting with Mamata was very significant. The West Bengal chief minister is devoid of any ideology and is driven more by her own whims and anti-Leftism.
Besides, she always reacts keeping the Left in mind. She beat the Marxists in their own game. Since the Left leaders in West Bengal avoid pomp and show and are known for simple life-style she too chose to be down to earth in her appraoch.
Had she been hi-flying leader she would not have succeeded politically. But when the Left chose to behave like capitalists she chose to oppose them in Singur and Nandigram. She fully cashed in on people’s sentiment and ultimately came to power.
But that was when she was in opposition. She can not be street-fighter in the same way now when she is the chief minister. If she goes too much with the US she feels she may lose politically. If she does not she may have to pay the other way. So there is a tightrope walking for her now.
Anyway, it is to be seen whether Hillary succeeds where Manmohan failed.