By Abhirup Bhunia:
Mamata has behaved in every possible way she said she would not in the pre-poll days. She has repeated every mistake that she mercilessly accused the Left of committing when she frequented TV studios those days.
It all started with her storming into a police station and freeing two of her party workers, charged of rioting in November, in a blatant display of exploitation of power to make the police conform. Ironically her message to the audiences in the pre-poll days (PPD) was that she would bring an end to the CPM-styled politicization of police-force and her tenure would see absolute independence of the law enforcement machinery.
One can go and on with the several disappointments Miss Banerjee ended up offering to the voters who were hopeful of change or parivartan as she called it in the PPD.
She tends to forget every so often that she is the administrator and doesn’t matter what, she is directly answerable. Her accountability is repeatedly, if not always, sought to be passed over by accusing the Left of doing things wrong for the “past 34 years.” And now even the High Court of Calcutta has directed Mamata to stop blaming the Left for every instance of failed governance. Clearly, people can see through all of this — it’s been more than nine months of Mamata-led Bengal now. And there has been no change. If at all, it’s been a journey downhill.
She has shown an absurd level of apathy to what’s been happening in her state. No matter what, from crib deaths to farmer suicides to gangrapes — the problem is attributed to a hypothetical CPM led conspiracy. She was heard shooting from her mouth absolutely unacceptable rejoinders on a gamut of issues. Here’s a pointer:
Case: Gangrape of a single mother in the heart of Kolkata.
Issue: Law & order breakdown
Mamata says: It’s a motivated farce. Somebody’s trying to malign my government!
Case: Rape of an underprivileged woman in Katwa
Issue: Law & order breakdown
Mamata says: It’s a conspiracy. No rape occurred. Wait for medical tests
Irony: As an opposition leader, Mamata was at the forefront of protests when a poor teenager (Tapasi Malik) was raped in Singur.
Case: Spate of suicides by farmers in Burdwan, the rice bowl of the nation
Issue: Agrarian crisis
Mamata says: None of the deaths were suicides. Reports are false.
Irony: As an opposition leader, Mamata acted farmers’ saviour. Agriculture was the plank on which her electoral campaign rested.
Case: Journalists thrashed by Trinamool supporters
Issue: Crackdown on free press
Mamata says: It’s staged. Nothing really happened.
Irony: As an opposition leader, Mamata condemned several episodes involving state suppression of journalists.
Case: Scores of infant deaths in government hospitals
Issue: Dismal public healthcare
Mamata says: Media reports false and hyped. Babies were conceived during Left rule!
Irony: In the PPD, Mamata argued that politics be left out of humanitarian issues.
For a state whose somewhat heterogeneous population was injected with the theory that the Left was Bengal’s supreme problem and deserved to be driven off, the nine months since Mamata’s entry into Writers Building has been a devastating underperformance.
She comes across as an arrogant Chief Minister who is bent upon tracing every hitch during her tenure to “years of CPM misrule”. The nature of her arguments (blame everything on CPM, conspiracy theories, denials, etc) points to an administrator who doesn’t realise the importance of her job — running the fourth most populous Indian state.
While the citizens are by no means open to the Left as yet, TMC doesn’t figure in Bengali’s good books any longer. If it took CPM 35 long years to be complacent, haughty and disorderly, TMC will take far less time to lose sheen. The TMC, quite simply Mamata, has repeatedly accused CPM of lacking in intra-party democracy. Now the very Trinamool is seen protecting its thugs blindly and engaging in severely harmful acts of nepotism.
Finally, what led to the biggest electoral debacle for CPM might soon lead to the quickest anti-incumbency sentiment in history — losing touch with ground realities.
West Bengal is a state that is reeling under a massive public debt of more than 2 lakh crore. Investments are stalled due to a hands-off government policy on land (Singur and Nandigram anti-land acquisition movements brought Mamata into limelight), the Maoist problem lingers as dialogue has come to a halt, separatist tendencies in the North Bengal hills stay behind as the problem is far from over, as Mamata claims. These apart, education, literacy, healthcare and employment levels are in a position that leaves much to be desired for. Is Mamata ready for the challenge? No, if the performance of the last 200 days is anything to go by!
Startlingly, Mamata, the guardian of the state, recently took to the streets and choked Calcutta’s streets by rallying the support of millions of stage-managed supporters who were tucked into lorries and brought to the spot. Unfortunately, she still is the gusty (& gutsy) TMC chief, not the Chief Minister of Bengal. What change was the tigress (yes, she calls herself that) really talking about, then? It’s a jungle, led by the tigress, West Bengal.
Abhirup is a columnist with Youth Ki Awaaz. He has previously been a Sub-editor with Youth Ki Awaaz and has worked with various other national and international publications.