It’s been more than a year since Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee ended the three-decade-old rule of CPM and occupied the chief minister’s chair at Writers’ Building. The firebrand leader rode the crest of anti-incumbency wave, powered by her ‘ma, mati, manush’ campaign: the communist government’s heavy-handed land acquisition made her victory easier.
If one were to judge the CM by the state of affairs during her rule, Didi, as she is popularly known, presents a disturbing picture.
Trinamool numbers are crucial to the survival of the Union government, and Mamata has never missed an opportunity to assert herself — though it might not be exactly in the interest of the nation.
She threw spanner in the works on crucial policies like FDI in retail and National Counter-terrorism Centre and even managed to derail an important river water treaty with Bangladesh.
While her populist stance may win her applause from the masses, the damage that is being done will be hard to undo.
Like any leader who is dependent solely on personality cult, Mamata has shown extreme paranoia when it comes to facing criticism. Her conspiracy theories are ludicrous and at times would make one doubt the mental stability of the chief minister.
For all her rhetoric about the empty state coffers and the ultimatum to the Centre to provide a bailout package, the chief minister ordered all government structures to be painted light blue — it doesn’t take rocket science to understand the colossal waste of money.
Fires, rapes, baby deaths, train accidents and failures of governance are attributed to CPM-sponsored conspiracies ‘to tarnish the paribortan (change)’ she has ushered in. So far she has not suspected aliens, thank goodness!
The much-hyped ‘surprise visits’ to check public amenities and open criticism of officials concerned has not changed much for the people.
When cornered over failures of the government, especially on law and order, she goes into a denial mode and lashes out at critics.
When the story of a mother-of-two who was raped near a night club was highlighted by the media, the CM dismissed it off as another conspiracy — her minister went a step further to question the moral fabric of the victim. Later, a diligent IPS officer who cracked the case and arrested the suspects, and therefore proving the chief minister wrong, was shunted out to an insignificant administrative post.
In a reminder of Emergency-era censorship, a professor was arrested for circulating a cartoon lampooning Mamata and Trinamool leaders. And, in a literal blacking out of criticism, the CM has ordered removal of English dailies from state libraries.
Even schools have not been spared. The history text books will be dropping sections about Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to ‘correct the imbalance’. A basic understanding of history would have told the firebrand CM that she is not the first one to try this route (and fail).
The ally has now become a burden for the UPA government. She forced senior party leader Dinesh Trivedi to quit as railway minister because he defied her diktat and used common sense to hike passenger fares. Every time she forces the Centre to backtrack on a key policy, it is the credibility of the government that goes for a toss.
After yesterday’s civic poll victory, the Trinamool has made it clear that it doesn’t need the junior partner’s support anymore — more bad news for the already humiliated and marginalised state Congress.
West Bengal definitely needs change, and for this the chief minister must rise above her self-obsession and put the state’s interest first.
The writer works for Postnoon.
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My interests lie in current affairs, social issues and political analysis. A strong believer of independent thinking and healthy scepticism.