West Bengal has always been a politically active state. The history dates back to the establishment of the East India company in India forming Bengal as its mainland and capital. Bengal has given birth to revolutionary leader Subhash Chandra Bose. Amidst all the heated politics, many faces have risen to fame since then. One of which is Mamata Banerjee, or as she is fondly called ‘Didi’.
Mamata- The Didi, Bengal is still reluctant about
There are two Indian states who know their politics better than their family tree – Bihar and West Bengal. From a highly educated man to a daily labour, everyone knows every leader that ever set foot not only in their state but also nationally. Every Bengali household knows Mamata didi as truly as they know about maach and roshogolla. Imagine living in a household with an elder sister always reprimanding the younger siblings. Well, the elder sister is Mamata didi and the younger siblings are the people of West Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee with her “clean” political party, All India Trinamool Congress came into the bigger picture back in 2011. In the 2011 Assembly elections, TMC ended the 34 year long rule of the Communist Party (Marxist) in Bengal. And with that, Buddhadev Bhattacharya lost to Mamata Banerjee.
Ever since, Bengal has seen major developments but whether it is in the positive direction or negative, it is for the people of Bengal to decide.
Not really sticking to her promises?
The Banerjee government rose to power promising “poriborton” or change in the political frame of the state. However, changes were seen not in the state as much as in the promises of the ruling government. Mamata Banerjee has been one fierce lady all her life. Even in the initial years of her life, Banerjee showed extreme political proweress.
She started her political career at the tender age of 15. When in Jogmaya Devi College, she established a Chhatra Parishad Union which won the student body elections. Having always been a Congress supporter, leftist politics has probably been in Didi’s blood.
When she suspected the Congress to having relations and working with the CPI (M) party, she decided to form her own party for she wanted clean politics.
The scandals that followed
However, events in the recent past have stated otherwise. With many scandals under her own belt, it is tough to say whether Didi ever knew the meaning of clean or politics. She and her ministers are said to be corrupt and there is proof.
In May 2014, shortly after the Trinamool Congress came into power, the Saradha Chit Fund scam was busted. With losses amounting to 2,500 crore across the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Tripura and Bengal of course, there were agitations and suicide everywhere.
However, the highlight of the entire scam was the arrest of prominent TMC leaders such as the sports and transport, Madan Mitra, who was a confidante of Didi, Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose and party vice president Rajat Majumdar.
The Saradha Chit fund scam exposed more than what it should have.
This is not all.
The next scam was even larger in scale. The Rose Valley Scam which had losses amounting to 17,000 crores saw the involvement of Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul.
This isn’t what they call clean politics or do they?
The final nail in the coffin about the party image was made when the Narada videos were leaked. The Narada news did a sting operation on TMC and in the video it was seen that TMC leaders got Rs. 5 lakh each as bribery for helping a Chennai based fictitious firm.
This was done by the investigative journalists of Tehelka magazine. And exposed a majority of the “clean politics” the TMC party had to offer.
Didi – The torch bearer of the Dalits and Minorities in the state
While the sting operation happened just months before the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, it is tough to say why the people of Bengal re-elected Didi and her party.
But there are probable answers for this as well.
Didi and communist politics.
It is known for a fact that Mamata Banerjee has been pro-Muslim rather than being anti-Hindu. Communalism for gaining vote bank is probably the most condemnable act any politician can do. And Banerjee has followed that path out in the open.
For instance, on January 3, 2016 a mob burnt down a police station in the district town of Kaliachak in Malda. Now, the special factor here is the fact that Malda is a Muslim majority area. There were riots everywhere. However, Mamata and her government did nothing to prevent the riots and even added to fuel to the already rampant fire.
BJP and TMC both played dirty politics over communalism as the entire town turned black. This reaped benefits for in the 2011 Assembly elections Trinamool had only 8% seats in Malda however, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the percentage increased visibly.
The main strength of Mamata Banerjee and the party is the organizational structure of it.
Mamata has the support of almost 90% of the leaders of the Indian National congress. Abu Naseer Khan of the Ghani Khan legacy joined Trinamool and left Congress in the midway.
The fact that Mamata is known for blatant Muslim appeasement speaks for itself here. Be it the the building of the Aliah University or Hajj houses. Or the open support to Maulvis issuing fatwas against Hindus or the Prime Minister or closing schools which are funded and run by the RSS, Mamata has only accelerated caste politics.
This is also very much evident by the fact that the budget for minority affairs and Madarsa education exceeded the budget for IT. Helping one religion expand over the expense of some other religion isn’t development.
Be it the Matua sect which is Bengal’s largest Dalit caste or the Namashuara or the Muslim Bengalis, Mamata knows how and when to use caste politics as her shield and armour both.
Didi and the IT industry
The IT industry and Mamata Banerjee has always been at loggerheads. While campaigning, the party preached for justice to the farmers of Singur who lost their lands for the setting up of Tata Nano plants. And once the party came to power, Tata had to vacate the lands for the farmers. Tata went on to establish their plant in Gujarat where both the company and the state reaped benefits.
Which is another of Mamata Banerjee’s political tactic. She finds a lot of support in the rural crowd of Bengal. However, the middle class still remains unaffected at large. Wipro and Infosys both have suffered major setbacks from the Begal government because of it’s refusal to grant SEZ status for the development of the industries.
In 2012, ABG quit the Haldia dock because of physical assault and threats from the Trinamool Congress. The fact that Mamata didi is aggressively pro-poor is not helpful for the generation of employment in the state itself.
But Didi has an answer to this as well. 2 lakh rupees are given by the party to the local clubs to ensure unemployed youth work for the party. Unemployment leads to the growth of crime rate in a state.
The issue of Women’s safety in the state
Speaking of which, again, crimes against women and Didi don’t go down too well. The park street case is still fresh in everyone’s minds. On February 6, 2012, Suzette Jordan, was raped by five men in the park street area. When the news came to light, all Didi had to say was that this was a “shajano ghotana”, a fabricated case made to embarrass and defame the Bengal government.
Damayanti Sen, the Kolkata joint commissioner(crime) who had identified all the five accused was also shunted from her post.
Another such incident happened in Barasat. The 2013 Kamduni gang rape and murder case. Didi visited the victim’s house and promised that a charge sheet would be filed within 15 days and capital punishment would be pleased for the accused by the Government. However, nothing of that has sort has happened since because of the strong foothold of the Trinamool government there.
Didi and her not-so-cordial relationship with the Centre
Being a leftist all her life, Didi loves Centralized power. And is almost always at dispute with the Centre. Be it the scrapping of the common entrance exam for engineering or the dumping of the Centre’s smart city project, Mamata has made sure not to collaborate with the Centre.
One of the major instances of which lies in the Teesta water dispute. Banerjee has clearly disagreed with the sharing of Teesta’s water with Bangladesh on the grounds of decreasing volume of the river.
But there are two things which should be taken into consideration here.
1) The Teesta river’s volume is kept a secret by the state government.
2) The Panchayat elections are due next year. The agendas of Didi seems quite clear.
However, it is not that Mamata Banerjee hasn’t done anything for Bengal.
From 2011-2015, Bengal had second largest no. of toilets in individual households in rural areas. And highest no. of villages declared free of open defecation. Policies like Sabuj Sathi and Kanyashree for girls have also been introduced by the Trinamool Government.
Also, Kolkata has a 3% attrition rate compared to 35% for Bangalore. The control of the government over the infiltration and attacks against the Maoists is also appreciable. The Trinamool Congress has gained a lot of support from the Maoists.
All in all, Mamata Banerjee is a fierce yet ruthless godmother of Bengal. She needs power and will go to any lengths and breaths to achieve that!
As Mamata Didi turns 63 today, we wish this fierce lady, a very Happy Birthday!