Click Here to Join Us On Whatsapp

All those who truly know Mamata Banerjee were not surprised by her full throttle attack on the Narendra Modi government on Sunday night. The sitting Chief Minister of West Bengal not only prevented the CBI from arresting Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, her police temporarily detained CBI officials and the Trinamool Congress matriarch sat on a ‘dharna’ against the Centre. The location of the ‘dharna’ in Kolkata’s Esplanade area, popularly called the ‘Metro Channel’, is significant. It was here that over a decade ago, Mamata had gone on an indefinite fast against forcible land acquisition in Singur. It was that ‘fast unto death’ dharna that brought 34 years of Left rule to its knees. On Sunday, Mamata was back at that very spot taking on a newer enemy, the BJP. On both occasions, she alluded to Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha or ‘fight for truth’ as the reason behind her sit-in demonstration.

The location of the ‘dharna’ in Kolkata’s Esplanade area, popularly called the ‘Metro Channel’, is significant. It was here that over a decade ago, Mamata had gone on an indefinite fast against forcible land acquisition in Singur.

This is the kind of politics that Mamata knows well. In her student leader days, it was her fiery speeches that had attracted the attention of senior Congress leaders. When the Bengal unit of the Congress seemed to be going soft on the Left (Mamata always alleged that there was politics of compromise and accommodation at play between the Left Front and the Congress in West Bengal), she upped the ante with her various protests and rallies. No small matter that for years and in several separate incidents, Mamata was physically hurt sometimes by the state police, many times at the hands of CPI(M) goons. The almost fatal blow to the head in 1990 was the most significant attack but not the only one.

When the Bengal unit of the Congress seemed to be going soft on the Left (Mamata always alleged that there was politics of compromise and accommodation at play between the Left Front and the Congress in West Bengal), she upped the ante with her various protests and rallies.

Mamata has grown and matured as a politician and has transitioned from her street-fighter avatar into an able administrator. This kind of confrontational politics should be disconcerting for the Modi government but for Mamata, it comes as easy as her ability to orate poems and Hindu ‘shlokas’. In the last two years, she has been acerbic in her criticism of the Central government and has been gradually shaping her image as one of the primary challengers to Modi & Co. She has kept in touch with all Opposition leaders (H D Deve Gowda, N Chandrababu Naidu, M K Stalin, K Chandrashekhar Rao), including younger ones (such as Jignesh Mevani, Tejaswi Yadav) while making it her priority to speak on national issues. Whether it was demonetisation, job loss, agrarian distress, National Register of Citizens of India etc., Mamata has enthusiastically taken on the Central government. Obviously, when the CBI suddenly wakes up after a reverie of two years and makes its sudden move to arrest Kolkata’s top cop, Mamata was hardly expected to roll out the red carpet.

This kind of confrontational politics should be disconcerting for the Modi government but for Mamata, it comes as easy as her ability to orate poems and Hindu ‘shlokas’.

With the federal structure of the country and the Kolkata High Court order that stayed the questioning of Rajeev Kumar, by her side, and aided by sound constitutional advice coming from one of the best lawyers in the country, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Mamata was more than aware of her actions when she sat on the dharna. The only other Chief Minister to have done so has been Arvind Kejriwal, who has incidentally extended his support. Mamata has also been positioning herself as the rallying point for all anti-BJP parties. The Mahagathbandhan rally titled ‘United India rally’ held in Kolkata last month was a massive success.

Mamata has also been positioning herself as the rallying point for all anti-BJP parties.

It is also interesting to note that going into Lok Sabha elections there are women politicians who are gaining the limelight. Mamata, Priyanka Gandhi and Mayawati would be some of the most-discussed politicians who will be taking on the BJP’s Goliath, Narendra Modi. The race for the 17th Lok Sabha has well and truly started from Kolkata.

Shutapa Paul is a journalist and media entrepreneur. Her book, ‘Didi: The Untold Mamata Banerjee’ published by Penguin India released in November 2018. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Picture Credit: newstrack24x7

Email us at connect@shethepeople.tv