If I say there isn’t a dull moment in Indian politics, I am quite sure my statement wouldn’t be disputed and if I say a certain lady from the state of West Bengal is the prime actor involved in a majority of those ‘moments’, then I am doubly sure that I wouldn’t be contested to heaven! While penning an ode to the lady in the Writers Building, who I admire for her ‘steel’ and heartily laugh at her amusing antics at the same time, might be difficult, it is comparatively easy for me to enumerate the many reasons which make her a truly one-off politician. Oops! Sorry! She is more of a political personality.
Now then, let me first start with her achievement for they need to be acknowledged. Dethroning the CPIM definitely ranks among her crowing glories. Becoming the first woman chief minister of her state after a period of 34 rather tumultuous years under the Communist regime is no small feat. Yes, she was helped by the fact there was a strong anti-incumbent mood prevalent in the state but let’s not take anything away from her.
She warrants the credit of ushering in the change that people wanted at that time. Riding high on the express mandate given by the people, she wore the robe of a ‘female saviour’ of the masses to the tee. Indeed, her simple Bengali attire with no extravagance (not yielding to the usual womanly desires) coupled with her common man language (Bengali) makes it hard for people not to understand her. Given the occasion and an opportunity, she usually brings out the ‘one among the public’ attitude within her to the fore. Often bracketed with the likes of Mayawati and Jayalalitha amongst other celebrated women leaders, she appears to be the sole driver of all her party’s policies. She adopts a very adamant stance and doesn’t budge an inch. She knows or at least claims to know what she is doing and I wouldn’t argue with her. A solid politician she is!
Now as a media personality, how does she rank? Her trysts with the media have often yielded memorable moments. Dealing with the media has been an intrinsic part of her daily responsibilities. With her trademark English, she makes it a point to not refrain from making her point. Not that she is bothered by her broken diction, as she herself once remarked in an interview to NDTV on March 19 2012, “I cannot speak good English that is why you cannot just bulldoze me every day.” Neither does she shrink from a challenge nor from making statements like: “Sometimes I speak unpleasant truths though knowing it may cause harm to me. It is my habit since childhood.”
Her one defining feature though will be the fact that she blames her opponents for everything and anything happening in the state. Perhaps one could say that she is paranoid of her opponents, but to be fair, so is every ruling party. Be it any issue, ranging from rape, law and order disorder, chit fund fraud and scheduling of elections, her favourite punching bags are the Communists. Lately though she has taken to lambasting the media too. “It is women who dress up. But these panellists are dressing themselves up to tell lies against us for money,” she said, while commenting on local news channels whom she alleged were ‘furthering the interests‘ of the CPIM.
Putting everything aside, the small man (in her words) is indeed a political personality who is hard to ignore. Whether all the talk of a new federal front ultimately fizzles or materializes, I don’t know, but I am placing my bet on one thing; Mamata will be equally responsible for either of the two possibilities.