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Politicians losing their way – Mamta Banerjee ..




It can be sometimes hard to look at a disaster happening and wonder why that disaster is happening, and yet it continues to happen; in a number of cases, it seems like because of the arrogance of one person – in most cases, it is one person rather than a group. This starting line seems a bit strange, but it seems like a pretty apt definition of Mamta Banerjee. For somebody who came to power riding on a particular wave, it can seem pretty easy to see the person suddenly try to reach a different wave and no longer care about the cause that brought that person to power.
2 specific matters bring out the major problems that Mamta Banerjee is facing, and how she is either not able to make a change, or is so drunk on power that she no longer acknowledges that there was a need for change. The problem is basically this – when there is a groundswell that brings a change which in a particular situation brings a person to power, they should never mistake this change to be associated with them. There are such cases of change where the revulsion against a particular person brought another to power, but holding onto this power needs considered effort and an ear to the ground. Consider some examples of such change – the most significant one was where Nitish Kumar was able to promise a change to the people of Bihar who had been suffering under the rule of Laloo Prasad Yadav, other such examples being the coming to power of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh after the unacknowledged disastrous administration of Digvijay Singh (even in the recent elections, the BJP would remind people of Digvijay’s government and hope to get some more votes that way !) and the recent splendid performance of the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi.
In Bengal, the Communist parties had been in power since 1977, and in those decades of power, the Communist parties ensures that the pace of development got slower and slower because of their almost belief that businesses are bad, and also over a period of time, setup an almost alternate administration to ensure that their cadres were embedded in different levels of Government, which also meant that rule of law and governance was negotiable. People were desperate for a change, and here they saw this small and mighty fighter, who had promised that she would not get married till she removed the Left from power, and who led a very simple life. Mamta Banerjee came to power in a revolution through the ballot box, promising change and the betterment of the people of Bengal. People ignored the fact that in order to defeat the lumpen power of the Left front which would try to crush any other such force rising against them, she had to raise an equally powerful and lumpen force and strike other such deals (one talked about deal was with the Maoists, but one that she vehemently denies).
In a tidal wave, she won and came to power with the people throwing out the Communist parties and giving her a majority. Of course, things were never simple for her, with the state being crushed under huge debt, large industries not coming to the state and no easy ways to quickly generate more employment. And of course, the more lumpen elements of the Trinamool Congress also needed to be given what they wanted, even if this meant a hit to governance. When you combine this with the paranoia that gets generated because of the constant fight against the Communist, you get a Chief Minister who now seems woefully out of touch with people.
At a higher level, the problems in Bengal being able to attract large scale investment affect people much more that some law and order problems, but people can see law and order issues right in front of them, and it is critical to address them quickly. But, in most cases, Mamta has been failing. Because of her earlier fight for the people, she is now portrayed as being unwilling to give the incentives that businesses need, and when they find out states willing to give those, they have an easy choice. Mamta is trying different people to attract and sweet-talk investment, but she has made acquiring land much more difficult, and that is forcing even established people out of the state. A major change has to happen, and one does not feel that Mamta can set in policies that help drive investment in.
The other major problem is about law and order and how Mamta seems to be seeing any problem or protest as a conspiracy against her, and supported by the Communist party. But, Calcutta has always had a reputation for being safe for women, so when there was a rape now referred to as the Park Street rape, the response from the Chief Minister shocked everybody. Mamta seemed to be seeing the rape as a conspiracy against her, with her ministers deriding the reputation of the victim, and to compound it, even when a police officer managed to solve the case, Mamta shunted the police officer out. And this has happened now many times – the problem is that when people have voted for change, and suddenly find the person who they brought in no longer listens to them, they get even more angry. That seems to be the way that things are moving, with many of the supporters of Mamta moving away from her and her imperious ways. Other acts such as arresting a professor who forwarded a critical cartoon, getting a TC party worker out of jail, and the sudden rise in crimes against women in Calcutta are causing a lot of worry to people. The fact that Mamta does not seem to care and reacts angrily to such incidents as traps by the Communist Party is causing further such problems.
If any of this affecting Mamta ? So far, no. Her recently won another set of local elections in Bengal, showing that people cannot forget what the Communist party did there, but it is also true that people have short memories. If matters continue to go down on the security front and also on the economic front, then sooner or later, people will realize that Mamta does not have what it take to improve their life, and they may even look back on the Communist rule, or maybe some other party can come in and get support (it is difficult for the AAP in Bengal though).




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