Power and prospects of Mamata

Mamata Banerjee is indeed a fighter. The latest political developments taking off from West Bengal, where she came up with that piercing shrill cry to halt the BJP - RSS moves, is only a continuation of her determined effort to keep the Right- wing at bay, away from wrecking communal strife and havoc in  her State.

In fact, in the recently launched book on her- ‘Didi - The Untold Mamata Banerjee’ (Penguin), author Shutapa Paul  focuses on  the political graph of Mamata Banerjee. Writ large is her determination to be a political fighter. Also, her firm resolve to remain secular, trying her utmost to halt any of the divisive tactics of the Hindutva brigades.

Yes, she comes across as a formidable force.  Not to be bullied by any of the Right Wing tactics. To quote from this book –“Two years since her second  conquest in 2016, today, Mamata is  sure that she  has a  new adversary. The growing  influence of the  BJP in the  state  has  been  bothering her. The  national party has  conquered almost the  entire   north –east and it  greedily eyes states  such  as  Bengal. Didi knows that the next election will not be a cakewalk. However she is not new to enemies. She has fought formidable political adversaries all her life. West Bengal’s only woman  chief  minister and for that  matter the state’s sole  woman politician of repute, toppled thirty –four  years of  Left  Front rule in 2011, and  brought an  entire regime to its knees  -  an unthinkable  feat  a few  years ago.”

Perhaps, Mamata Banerjee’s childhood paved way for her to be drawn towards politics as her father, Promileshwar, was an active Congress supporter, “who allowed his office to be used for party meetings.Local Congress leaders would come home regularly for tea, much to Mamata’s delight. She  would listen to  endless  tales  of the  Indian  freedom  struggle  and  their  revolutionary  ideas. She would willingly prepare home- made glue to paste their posters. It was during this impressionable age that Mamata learnt about both the Congress and  the communists.”

And along the expected strain right from the student days, Mamata’s activism paved way for political battles. In her memoirs she says that she would often take her books to the protest sites, and  if arrested, study in the  police  lock up. “Mamata  has  famously  been  referred  to as a  ‘street  fighter’, a nomenclature that  is  not  unjustified. ‘Fighting  for  our  lives on the  streets  of  Calcutta  was  something we did, 330 out  of  365 days in a  year. Everyday there were protests, meetings and slogan- shouting. Everyday there was violence.’ she says. Under  Subrata  Mukherjee’s leadership, the  Chhatra Parishad organized  a slew  of  protests between 1978  and 1983;  Mamata played a central  role in almost  all  the  agitations  whether  it  was  against  Jayaprakash  Narayan  or Farooq  Abdullah.”

And now, in 2019, she could well play the kingmaker. This latest book on her bears out, in an uncomplicated way, why chances are strong of her going strong!  “Mamata knows that winning West Bengal was only a  battle; she  must  prepare for  war if  she wants to retain power. The general elections of 2019  can  see her play kingmaker, she  is  aware. She is the only regional leader who can claim to have that kind of clout.  Jayalalitha is no more and Nitish Kumar has changed over to the NDA. 2018 also witnessed the demise of another pedagogue of Dravidian politics, K. Karunanidhi.  With the Congress showing signs of resurgence, and  regional  parties  agreeing to forge a Federal Front, Mamata is  more than aware that if she  gets her electoral mathematics right, she  could play a  decisive  role in the  next Lok Sabha  polls…”

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And as we talk and write and discuss the upcoming elections, I wonder why we seem to bypass the hue and cry about the EVMs. Can they be manipulated? And if yes, then the extent of damage they can heap on the very democratic structure and on all our hopes to get rid of the Right Wing rule? Why are cries to get  back the  ballot papers not getting shriller and louder by the day? They should!

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Leaving you with this verse of Mohammad Iqbal –

“Man’s weapons in life’s battles are three;/

Conviction that his cause his just/

Courage to fight for it till eternity/

Compassion that embraces all humanity.”

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