DR RATAN BHATTACHARJEE
Apparently, it was a fight against the collapse of law and order in Bengal or Post Poll Violence as Priyanka Tibrewaal the BJP candidate claimed. But for Mamata Banerjee, it was a prologue to a far bigger drama–her emergence as an alternative Face to Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
She emerged as the victorious goddess to the people of Bhowanipore on the eve of Durga Puja which is a worship of Mahisasurmardini. After the landslide victory, her admirers and followers have started calling her significantly Modishahsurmardini as her battle was, in reality, a battle more against Modi and Shah than against Priyanka whom Mamatas’ right hand Minister Firhad Hakim endearingly called Boby Hakim called ‘a little girl ( baccha meye) .
Mahishasura was a buffalo Asura (Demon) in Hinduism. He is known among Hindus as a deceitful demon who pursued his evil ways by shape-shifting. He was ultimately killed by Goddess Durga – after which She gained the epithet Mahishasuramardini (“Slayer of Mahishasura”). In the Assembly Election, 2021 both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah became nearly daily passengers from Delhi to Kolkata and Modiji taunted Mamata in each meeting by calling loudly ‘Didi, O Didi’.
Those who love Mamata and her charisma did not like this indecent gesture of the Country’s Prime Minister against the only Female Chief Minister of the country even in the election campaign. So may be this new epithet used jointly for Modi and Shah was not unexpected from the admirers of Mamata In Didi: A Political Biography, Monobina Gupta points out that when examined through the lens of gender, Banerjee’s story stands apart from the narratives of other powerful contemporary women leaders.
All her life she was alone but she found her greatest joy in being among the people. It is now known to all that Banerjee’s story is very different from other powerful politicians such as Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati or the late J. Jayalalithaa. She can fight with any leader of any political party keeping eye to eye without fear. This is possible for her simple and honest style of living.
For Mamata Banerjee’s popularity now the sky is the limit. Banerjee’s larger-than-life persona is also no less important —she’s always clad in white, woven Dhaniakhali saris with rubber slippers, loves to paint, has written more than 20 books, still lives in her childhood home with her extended family and is an insomniac who loves Rabindra sangeet—is reflected in her party’s power equation.
This human side in her nature is appreciated. Her popularity is not on the wane at all after all the charges of post-poll violence and investigations going on by Human Rights agencies or raids of CBI and ED. Rather her popularity is on the rise to such an extent that eminent leaders of other parties BJP or Congress are joining Trinamool. From Tripura, Goa, Meghalaya or Assam the response is overwhelming. It will not be too unnatural if in 2024 as envisioned by her party and many leaders of the Opposition, she may be projected as the only ablest contender for the Prime Minister position.
This time in spite of all deployment of the Central force and Police, and false propaganda by her BJP rivals including Subhendu Adhikary, Dilip Ghosh or Sukanta Majumder, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee has retained her Bengal CM post after emerging victorious from Bhabanipur/Bhowanipore assembly constituency in South Kolkata and the constitutional crisis has been averted and even for mentioning that the Chief Secretary of the state is blamed by the High Court.
This victory is significant for various reasons. First, it proves that the referendum of the people did not accept the constant complaint of Priyanka about the collapse of law and order system and the post poll violence in West Bengal. Secondly, this victory will inspire Mamata to extend her political activities beyond West Bengal to Tripura, Assam, Goa and even Meghalaya
The Trinamool Supremo also lashed out at the Centre for allegedly hatching conspiracies against them. In the present scenario of weak opposition to the mighty BJP at the centre she is gradually being regarded as the rising force in spite of the presence of Congress in national politics. In a recent article in the Trinamool party organ Jago Bangla, Congress is described as ‘a stagnant pool’.
As the ever determined resolutely populist and hardworking female leader more constant than other like Mayavati or Jayalalitha, she holds the balance of power in India’s coalition government and even in the third term of her tenure as Chief Minister she can easily overcome the incumbency factor “We are not Marxist or capitalist, we are for the poor people,” she said in her interview with foreign newspapers like the Washington Post or New York Times.
A poor schoolteacher’s daughter, Banerjee never married and still lives in a single room, just 8 by 8 feet, in a Kolkata neighborhood beside a foul-smelling open drain. A Member of Parliament for India’s Congress party at age 29, she left the party in 1997 over what she deemed an unfair denial of the leadership role in West Bengal. She then formed her own party, the Trinamool (grass-roots) Congress, to take on the communists.
In the last Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sessions she has motivated her MPs to jointly fight against BJP on the issues of Pegasus and the matter brought to the Supreme Court finally came up with the cudgel against the Centre. She can go vocal at her loudest against the Petrol and Diesel price hike. And now she is organizing constant protest movement against the sale of the country to foreign or national corporate.
With her faith in pluralism as contrasted to the exclusionist policies of the BJP with their communal propaganda, Mamata is now trying to attract industrialists by creating a tolerant atmosphere of peace and harmony. She was invited recently to Rome in the World Peace conference but the Foreign Ministry cancelled her proposed visit to Rome without assigning any proper reason.
She is now very popular in Bengal for her social projects like Kanyasree, Laxmi Bhandar or Ration at Door, Government at Door projects undertaken by the Trinamool Government. Mamata Banerjee who retains Bengal CM Chair defeats BJP Rival by Record Margin of 58,389 Votes as the people responded to her social welfare projects and not to the hollow slogans against her as a master mind of violence and corruption in spite of all ED and CBI activities.
Mamata Banerjee personifies populist force in Indian politics. She spent her life fighting the Communists and now she is the biggest obstacle for the BJP attempt for economic liberalization in India. Being a leader of the small regional party, she is no less popular than Prime Minister Modi and her name comes to the Times’ list of 100 influential personalities all over the world. This popularity is once again proved in the recent thumping victory of Mamata Banerjee in spite of all obstacles posed by BJP.
Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee is a senior academician and columnist. He can be reached at: [email protected]