Yes, she has been in the news in the recent past for all the wrong reasons. It’s outright insecure and almost suicidal for a national leader of an intellectual and free-thinking state like West Bengal to target a professor for forwarding a cartoon! There are no two ways of looking at it. Leaders are supposed to let their work do the speaking and not their might. We aren’t living in the Hitlerian era. It’s also ridiculous to talk of turning Calcutta into London by painting the trees blue. London is about its democracy (freedom of forwarding cartoons), equality in access to health, education and justice, its high life expectancy, negligible infant mortality and a far more equitable society apart from its astounding standard of safety and cleanliness in comparison with Calcutta. In all these respects, West Bengal and Calcutta are at least 25 years away, assuming we get a government led by a sincere leader who works genuinely day and night for its people. Apart from arguably destroying the future of Indian Railways by compromising on possible safety upgradations by not increasing railway fares again and again at a Central level, Mamata has also not announced a budget for West Bengal and kept all finances at her whim and fancy; she has hardly done anything worthwhile for the state’s education, health or employment situation while continuing to work in a very autocratic highhanded manner. Thus, many would argue she indeed has rightly won the ire of intellectuals of Bengal who supported her so wholeheartedly, and are now deserting her one by one.
But in the middle of all this, one must not forget her achievements, which in a country of scamster & criminal politicians is reason enough for the nation to wait for at least another two years before passing a judgment on her. Her biggest achievement – for which alone she should be given a five-year free run – has been to rid Bengal of the dictatorial CPM.
mamata banerhjeeThe communists desperately needed to sit in the opposition to realize that good ideals simply on pen and paper are not good enough. Power corrupted their ideals beyond recognition and they had become a party of goons, riggers and fascists. And if removing them was not good enough, doing it without any bloodshed is Mamata’s biggest achievement. But it doesn’t end there. She has also done what Nitish in Bihar and Raman Singh in Chattisgarh have failed to do. She is the first and only leader in the country to have tamed the menace of the Maoists in the Junglemahal area of Bengal by genuinely giving access to food to the poor there. And she could do it all due to one reason – her determined will to do good for the poor in the Junglemahal area. And finally, she tamed the Gorkha problem in the hills of Bengal immediately after taking power. None of these two issues could be resolved by the CPM in their years of power. And these three things are landmark and historical. While the mainstream media focussed only on the CPM issue, that too without really highlighting the immense value of it, it completely has ignored her other two very, very crucial achievements.
However, if removing CPM was her big killer blow – taking her rightly into the TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful People’s list – I wonder whether she’s now planning to give a similar blow to the dynasty too? Her complete non-caring attitude towards the Congress leadership can look irritating but it looks like a very sharp and courageous political manoeuvre. She refuses to be cowed down by the Centre (Yes, it helps her shift the blame of her state’s failure to the lack of Central funding) and keeps sticking out like a sore thumb. But the fact is that unlike most other allies, she has no CBI case against her, nor has she any record of scams. Her complete integrity makes her the best politician in this country since the economic policy-making ability isn’t there with anyone in any case; and the one who was supposed to have it – Manmohan Singh – has long gone into a state of intellectual coma, leaving the country into a free fall of corruption and economic destruction. When the entire nation was talking of Pranab versus Hamid, Mamata comes to Delhi, and instead of meeting Sonia, goes straight to meet Mulayam!! And then comes out to give a clear piece of her mind. Manmohan is no more acceptable as the Prime Minister of this nation. If he is really clean, let him go and become the President of India; that’s a post that has been held by a lot of intellectually comatose people in the past. That’s the big message. It’s not about who should become the next President; it’s about a new alliance and it’s about affirming that one doesn’t care about the High Command’s dictats. It’s about a possibility of a strong third front which can shake up the Congress. With CBI cases against him, Mulayam is easy to manipulate, but not Mamata. And with her support, Mulayam, the leader of the largest state in India – Uttar Pradesh – is suddenly far more powerful. Both know that in a midterm election, they both will come to the Parliament with a huge number of seats and that’s the reason they are so confident. And it’s all because of Mamata’s attitude of a non-caring, firebrand leader. She has succeeded in the past to turn the tides against all odds and ousted CPM. The question is, will she be the one bringing the dynasty to its knees? And the bigger question is, does she have the PM’s seat in her scheme of things next? This really could be the beginning of a bigger role of Mamata in politics at a national level; although in that case, on a lighter note, she will have to allow cartoonists to breathe free!
- 14 June 2012 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics