It’s not just one gaffe. It’s a series by now. Each time a gaffe happens, Mamata’s response has been predictable and totally unacceptable. She has been insensitive; paranoid about the CPM; has seen skeletons when none existed and acted like a bully most of the time. They usually say that a new leader has a honeymoon period of a few months – a period when the people are less demanding and more understanding of the leader’s new challenges. In Mamata’s case however, the honeymoon’s gone away even before it started. And she and she alone is responsible for this.
It all started with a whole series of infant deaths. What was more tragic than even the deaths was the attitude that Mamata took. She blamed it on the CPM’s 36 year old rule. In those initial days, people sympathized with her – after all, she could not be held responsible for the mess that existed in WB’s public hospitals. Surely the CPM had to take the blame for that. Then there was that unfortunate fire at the AMRI hospital – but again Mamata’s attitude was to sensationalize the matter, cover her back side and focus on the arrest of the Directors of the hospital – not try to understand what went wrong. We haven’t heard of the case since then. Was any analysis done on why the fire happened? Were there any lessons learnt? Can the CM assure her people that such accidents wouldn’t happen again? No, as far as Mamata is concerned, she’s done her job by arresting the Directors. So what if most of them were not even looking after the affairs of the company on an operational basis? This revolutionary trait – one that separated her from the rest before she became the CM – had not vanished….in fact; it had only become worse after she became CM.
This revolutionary image came back to the fore yet again when Mamata marched into a police station in Bhowanipur to get two of here partymen released after they had been arrested by the cops for hooliganism. This was bizarre. The CM of the state almost looked like she was “protesting” against her own government! She was still the revolutionary protesting against the cops under the rule of the Leftists. But then Mamata has never gotten out of her revolutionary mould. Protesting against your own is just one of the prices you pay when the revolutionary trait has penetrated your genes!
No sooner had seen won the WB elections with a handsome majority, she started protesting against her partners, the UPA at the Center. Clearly, she realized she didn’t need the Congress to form the government in WB. In behavior that smacks of dumping friends when they were not needed, she turned her partners into foes. She was ready to protest against anything the UPA did, even if her own ministers were part of the decision in the cabinet. She opposed the Lokpal Bill – not worried about the political fall-out of being seen as opposing the Lok Ayukta clause – a point that Anna’s team had made inseparable from the concept of Lokpal itself (why Anna’s team didn’t protest against the BJP when it too did a u-turn on this is another subject!). She snubbed the Congress on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail – in fact going so far as to make the announcement of the decision to put the matter in cold storage herself – almost as a sort of a victory announcement. She joined forces with the BJP in blocking insurance and banking reforms. More recently, she has joined up with a motley mix of opposition CMs in blocking the setting up of the NCTC.
Turning against friends and partners is nothing new for Mamata. She did that to the NDA when she junked them after having been a part of the government. At least at that time, she officially quit the NDA. Now, she prefers to attack the UPA from within.
The only good thing – and really the only different thing from the Marxists – that Mamata has done has been to oppose the strike call given by the communists (and supported by the other unions). And she succeeded. Newspaper reports indicate that the strike call in WB was at best a partial success. Mamata had absolutely no qualms in announcing that though she had always supported strikes when she was in opposition, she had “learnt” that such things do not work. How convenient. Now, she might as well invite the Tatas with folded hands back into Singur! In reality however, its not that she has started loving industry and business – it’s just that she saw the strike as a CPM initiative. Obviously she had to block it….
Mamata seems to be under the impression that she has decimated the Left. That they have been completely annihilated. That she has absolutely no competition left. She believes that her anti-Left stridency will continue to help her win favor with the people of WB. But the people of WB did not vote her to power because they wanted Mamata to behave like the Leftists. If they had wanted that, they could have continued with the Left for another 36 years. They wanted change. They wanted better governance; less assertion of power; less goonda raj; a more progressive attitude towards economic reforms. For Mamata, the biggest joy appears to be to upset the Left’s applecart. She is happy to take over the Left’s traditional strategic position just so that she can throw them out of that position. Not because she believes in it. Rather than being a little Right of the Left, she is happy to be the Left herself!
That is why with every new incident coming, Mamata’s ship appears to be sinking. Her insensitivity in the two rape cases that emerged in the last two weeks shocked the nation. In one case, she doubted the claims of the woman. In another, she saw the hidden ghost of the CPM again. This is surely not what people expect from a woman CM. The least a woman CM would do would is to order a time-bound inquiry. In fact, a savvy woman CM would seize the opportunity and take strict action so as to build her constituency amongst the women. But Mamata did the opposite. She converted her opportunity into an opportunity for her opponents. And this time, the opponents included the Congress. As you reap, so shall you reap they say. Mamata is soon learning this!
And then yesterday’s incident. Mamata’s nephew attacking a traffic cop. Now we’re all familiar with this kind of abuse from the powerful. But what is shocking is that Mamata’s government refused to arrest the uncivilized nephew. It was only when the media took up the issue that he was arrested. How is this any different from what the people of WB saw during the worst of the Left’s days?
Its obvious Mamata is in serious trouble. The media has already given up on her. The media is a barometer of the people’s moods – it rarely drifts too far away from public sentiment. If the media is starting to oppose Mamata, she should understand what it means.
The real truth is that unlike the other state satraps who have converted their huge mandates into sustainable strengths, Mamata appears to be doing the opposite. Give her another 6 months – some would say even 3 months – and she will soon be rated as one of the poorest CMs in the country. Is it too late for her to amend her ways? I don’t think so – but then when someone has a bee in her bonnet, logic and common sense are the first casualties…..