New Delhi, Aug. 14: The Trinamul Congress's adversaries in Parliament today got an opportunity to do what is popularly known in Bengal as "phanka maathe goal deya (putting the ball in an empty net)".
The Left and some other parties had a field day ripping into Mamata Banerjee and railway minister Mukul Roy, taking advantage of the virtually empty Trinamul benches in the Lok Sabha.
Even Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav took pot shots at Roy for his persistent absence from Delhi at a time the railways are in a bad shape. Roy had left for Calcutta after attending Parliament last Thursday.
Yadav raised the matter during Zero Hour in the afternoon.
"I appeal to Mamataji to call Mukul Roy on Saturdays and Sundays and let him remain here the rest of the time…. Please inform the railway minister that we remember him all the time," he said, adding that the railways needed urgent attention. Congress members chose not to protest.
Subsequently, while initiating a discussion on the Maoist problem, CPM member Basudev Acharya accused Mamata and her party of colluding with the rebels in Bengal.
Acharya had in the past, too, made similar allegations but had been shouted down by Trinamul members. Today, though, the lone Trinamul member present in the House, junior minister C.M. Jatua, failed to put up any substantial resistance.
"These Maoist forces were utilised in Nandigram (and) Singur. Arms training was imparted to the cadres of a particular party... this was made clear by Maoist leader Kishan," Acharya alleged.
"Prior to becoming chief minister, she (Mamata) did not see any Maoists (in Bengal)…. What is her stand today? Everyone is being branded a Maoist."
He took further digs at Mamata, citing the recent arrest of a villager for asking her an uncomfortable question at a rally.
The CPM's day had been made in the morning itself when Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav pleasantly surprised the Left with his sudden appearance at its demonstration on Parliament's lawns against the Centre's proposed food security bill.
Mulayam led the demonstration from the front and shouted slogans in favour of the Left's demand for a universal public distribution system.
Left sources said they had not formally invited him or sought his support for the demonstration. They described Mulayam's presence as a significant political gain, recalling how Mamata had tried in vain to tie up with him to increase her clout at the Centre.
Mamata had partnered Mulayam to oppose the presidential candidature of Pranab Mukherjee but was left in the lurch after the Samajwadi leader made an about-turn.
Mulayam's eagerness to warm up to the Left is being seen as a strategy to strengthen his position in case of a fractured verdict in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.