Kolkata, the cultural capital of the country is famous for its misti (sweets), maachher jhol, (fish curry), puchka, what in the northern part of India is called as Golgappa or Paani puri. ‘The City of Joy’ is also known for the traffic jams and dharna’s (protests). Dharna’s have made leaders and distablised governments in the state, home to a host of freedom fighters, internationally acclaimed thinkers, writers and artists.
In modern day Indian politics, no leader has mastered the art of staging dharnas (protests), creating headlines and also reaping political mileage from it, better than the Trinamool Congress (TMC) boss and West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.
The current, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) versus Mamata Banerjee controversy has already created a lot of buzz around the country; thanks to the non-stop media coverage of the showdown between CBI sleuths & Kolkata police followed by her protests against the premier investigating agency. Mamata has been on the first page of almost every newspaper and her action been debated across channels. For Mamata, who has positioned herself as the enemy no 1 of the BJP led NDA government, there couldn’t have been a bigger opportunity than this. In politics, they say, no publicity is bad.
The general elections are only over a month or so, away. Just a couple of weeks ago, at Kolkata’s historic Brigade parade ground, Mamata had showcased her growing stature when she managed to get the who’s who of India’s political class (from -anti NDA parties) together. There, in the United India’ rally, she thundered, “Modi government has passed its expiry date… There are 22-23 parties here. It is the soil of Bengal that has shown the way, even before Independence. West Bengal has always led the way,” as the massive crowd cheered in approval. Others (her political guests) while lashing out at the NDA (read BJP) government, praised Mamata for this grand show in Kolkata.
Mamata, the host, anchored the event and was in all smiles, throughout.
Not without reasons, though. She knew she had proven her point. Because, when every non-NDA party’s struggling for its moment under the sun, she could bring all together, what none could ever think of, let alone organize it. Through this meeting, she conveyed the message-I am the only alternative to the BJP (Narendra Modi and Amit Shah). More importantly, it also meant that she is acceptable to all. Therefore the on- going tussle, provides Mamata a rare opportunity to strengthen her candidature as the face of the anti-NDA parties in 2019 general elections.
Interestingly, over the last 4 years, several TMC MPs (Kunal Ghosh, the party’s leader in Lok Sabha & former minister Sudip Bandopadhyay, lawmakers like Tapas Paul & Srinjoy Bose & her own long-time colleague & transport minister in her cabinet Madan Mitra were all arrested in the Ponzi scheme. However, Mamata only issued warnings; she didn’t take to streets. May be, she waited for the right time to do so, which has come now.
Here too, she has already received support from other parties (while some of them are under the scanner of central agencies, most are fighting for their political survival). Needless to say, Mamata has reiterated her position, once again.
Mamata, who has many firsts to her credit-she is the first woman CM of West Bengal, and first female to head the Ministry of the Railways as well as Coal, is known for her courage and fearlessness, mercurial temperament and fiery speeches. That’s her USP too. Starting from her student days till she took charge of the state, Dharnas, (protests) have been part and parcel of Didi’s (as she is referred to) political career, and played a significant role in her ascendancy as a mass leader.
Only she, had the guts and courage to take on and topple the thirty four year Left rule in West Bengal, something which looked next to impossible. She stood for and with the farmers against the CPI M government’s policy. Her continuous protests against the Singur SEZ and the Nano project of the Tata group, gathered massive support from the state’s intelligentsia. Finally both the projects were shelved and Mamata’s popularity skyrocketed. Subsequently in 2011, the CPI (M) lost to the TMC, SUCI and the Indian National Congress combine with TMC being the party with maximum seats.
Both, the BJP and TMC, claim that the apex court’s judgement has vindicated them. It’s difficult to say who is right and who is not. But, post the verdict-whether BJP or Mamata-carries it forward to the people successfully, remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, Mamata, the poet- cum- painter- cum politician will not let go this rare chance, easily, for some time, though. At least, till the 2019 polls.