If not officialdom's protocol, propriety is a casualty of the antics of some of West Bengal's leading political figures.
Not only has the Trinamool Congress leadership issued a diktat against any of its leaders sharing the stage at official events of the State with Ministers of the ruling Left Front government belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Save the odd exception, nor has the latter been on the guest list of any function organised by the Railway Ministry ever since party chief Mamata Banerjee took over its stewardship last year.
Against such a backdrop of adversarial posturing does it come as a surprise that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has not been invited to a Metro Railway event, where the foundation of the new line from Joka to BBD Bagh is to be laid by President Pratibha Patil here on Wednesday?
The guests include Governor M.K. Narayanan and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Ms. Banerjee, needless to add, will be there.
In a sudden twist of events, and presumably under mounting pressure, an invitation did reach the office of Transport Minister Ranjit Kundu, though belatedly, at the State Secretariat on Tuesday afternoon. He had left by then.
“Not only has protocol been flouted, with the Chief Minister not being invited to an event where the President will be present, it is discourteous and goes against all democratic norms. Sending me a belated invitation all of a sudden is derogatory, a greater insult, not just to the State government but to the people,” Mr. Kundu, who will not be attending, told The Hindu.
Mr. Bhattacharjee responded in the negative when asked whether he had been invited.
The intent is clear. Ms. Banerjee is averse to sharing the dais, whatever may be the occasion, with Mr. Bhattacharjee. The two chief protagonists in West Bengal's political firmament have undoubtedly — and as is only expected — irreconcilable differences. But this is another matter. Political etiquette has been thrown to the winds. To that which Ms. Banerjee describes as “winds of change”?
This mindset has been in evidence, however, quite some time before the political fervour that is slowly gripping the State in view of the critical Assembly elections due next year. Ms. Banerjee's tenure as Railway Minister, after all, began way back in May 2009.