I have nothing to add to the general consensus that Didi has acted like a large grotesque animal in a shop named after a country from where a dramatis personae from the past has given Mamata Banerjee many a sleepless nights besides of course getting her goat most recently on live TV.
I have long maintained among friends that she is the Uma Bharti of West Bengal. Meaning, both – and they are inherently well-meaning leaders – can lead an agitation to its logical culmination but cannot govern in the wildest dreams. In politics you require the chutzpah to ensure that the government – or people in authority – of the day bend before your agitation. But in governance you are required to listen, think, put one against another and act if you want to be your agitational self – or not act if you want to pick a leaf from the tome of Manmohanomics. It is only rarely that an Indira Gandhi comes along who has the capacity to call a Spade a Spade and also ensure that all the creases are ironed out.
The bottom line is that as a leader of agitations you require to be spontaneous and have the ability to cock a snook at your adversary. In governance you need to be routine (diligent if you prefer this word), ensure that the horse comes before the cart (meaning systems are followed) and above all grant the others, the right to disagree with you and agitate if they wish to exercise their democratic right.
CM Banerjee is doing none of the above. There is unanimity about her churlish behaviour also. The reason is why?
I am reminded of an honest confession by one of the stalwarts of Indian politics – Lal Krishna Advani. After the rubble of the Babri Masjid had settled down he had confessed that December 6, 1992 was the saddest day in his life. Why? Because the hate symbol that had propelled him and his party from obscurity to political dominance had been demolished.
Mamata Banerjee has a similar problem. Last year on May 13, when the tidal wave in West Bengal swept her into Writer’s Building, she discovered that the figurine she had used as a hate symbol in her pursuit of power had fallen by the wayside. With that symbol gone, she was without an ally as the entire campaign had been built on a negative plank – off with their heads. There was never an alternate plan. Not a manifesto (however much one dislike this word, it still serves a purpose) of what she wanted to do if she came to power.
Negative planks have never survived. Remember the Janata Party experiment of 1977? Whose manifesto would shape policy of the government? The government fell even before the question could be resolved.
Mamama Banerjee’s plight has lessons for every political leader. While chipping away at an edifice, it is also important to keep building your own platform. Like a writer does, one word followed by another with some mortar in between.
But more importantly, punctuations have to be precise. You cannot have a question mark when an exclamation mark is the order or the moment. A smile and smirk – both start with the alphabet ‘S’. The rest is different.