Yes, she has been in the news in the recent past for all the wrong reasons. It’s outright insecure for a national leader of an intellectual and free-thinking state like West Bengal to target a professor for forwarding a cartoon!
It’s also ridiculous to talk of turning Calcutta into London by painting the trees blue. Apart from arguably destroying the future of Railways by compromising on possible safety upgradations by not increasing railway fares, Mamata has hardly done anything worthwhile for the state’s education, health or employment situation while continuing to work in a very autocratic highhanded manner. Thus, many would argue she indeed has rightly won the ire of intellectuals of Bengal who supported her so wholeheartedly, and are now deserting her.
But in the middle of all this, one must not forget her achievements. Her biggest achievement has been to rid Bengal of the dictatorial CPM. Mamata has also done what Nitish in Bihar and Raman Singh in Chattisgarh have failed to do. She is the first and only leader in the country to have tamed the menace of the Maoists in the Junglemahal area of Bengal by genuinely giving access to food to the poor there.
And finally, she tamed the Gorkha problem in the hills of Bengal immediately after taking power. None of these two issues could be resolved by the CPM in their years of power. And these three things are landmark and historical.
However, if removing CPM was her big killer blow — taking her rightly into the TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful People’s list — I wonder whether she’s now planning to give a similar blow to the dynasty too? Her complete non-caring attitude towards the Congress leadership can look irritating but it looks like a very sharp and courageous political manoeuvre. She refuses to be cowed down by the Centre and keeps sticking out like a sore thumb.
But the fact is that unlike most other allies, she has no CBI case against her, nor has she any record of scams. Her complete integrity makes her the best politician in this country since the economic policy-making ability isn’t there with anyone in any case; and the one who was supposed to have it — Manmohan Singh — has long gone into a state of intellectual coma, leaving the country into a free fall of corruption and economic destruction.
When the entire nation was talking of Pranab versus Hamid, Mamata comes to Delhi, and instead of meeting Sonia, goes straight to meet Mulayam! And then comes out to give a clear piece of her mind. Manmohan is no more acceptable as the PM of this nation. That’s the big message. It’s not about who should become the next President; it’s about a new alliance and it’s about affirming that one doesn’t care about the High Command’s dictats.
It’s about a possibility of a strong third front which can shake up the Congress. And it’s all because of Mamata’s attitude of a non-caring, firebrand leader. She has succeeded in the past to turn the tides against all odds and ousted CPM. The question is, will she be the one bringing the dynasty to its knees?
And the bigger question is, does she have the PM’s seat in her scheme of things next? This really could be the beginning of a bigger role of Mamata in politics at a national level; although in that case, on a lighter note, she will have to allow cartoonists to breathe free!
— The writer is a Management Guru and Hony. Director of IIPM Think Tank