Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Mamata Banerjee: Losing her sheen?


She started her political career as a young leader in Indian National Congress but today Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo has grown leaps and bounds to become a linchpin in the political space of West Bengal holding the reigns of once a Marxist loyal state. Deceptively simple and austere for a political figure in India, Miss Banerjee is known not only for her simplicity but also fiery temper and straightforwardness. Trinamool Congress under her aegis rode on popular public sentiments to pulverize the left’s decades old bastion and claim the throne that once bore the signs of sickle and hammer.

West Bengal with over three decades in Marxist grip has failed to deliver upon people’s expectations and is left behind other states on the front of development. What brought TMC to power was people’s desire for change, the one that would show them the light of development. Expectations that soared during the political campaigns in Bengal have slowly started to die. A series of events and happenings that have unfurled in the recent past have raised a question on the Miss Banerjee’s image as a people’s person who promises to keep intact the values of democracy.

Arrest and assault of a professor of Jadavpur University for circulation of cartoons against Miss Banerjee was viewed by many as an annihilation of freedom of expression. Her storming out of an interactive programme terming the audience as Maoist students has not been viewed in positive light either. Many publications in effect termed her as ‘Dictatorial’. Her decision to force Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi to resign after he announced hike in rail fares drew flak from various sections of the society alike, further consolidating her image as an authoritarian. Her stern opposition to land acquisition for the production of TATA Nano, disapproval of FDI in Retail and forcing the rollback in petrol price hike too have been beheld as an anti – development stance by many scholars. Her opinion on certain rape incidents has been heavily criticized.

Notwithstanding the controversies she has courted on various issues, the developmental efforts undertaken by the Trinamool government under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership have to be taken into account to make a fair assessment of her term as chief minister. She has been pushing reforms in the health and education sectors that have been long vying for attention. She has been stressing on the improvement of law and order in the state and promotion of state’s culture and arts. Drive to beautify Kolkata is being received well. Her inclusion in TIME Magazine’s “100 Most influential People in the World” speaks volumes about her formidable personality.

Though it is too early to judge her term as chief minister with more than three years still to go, an evaluation based on the bygone one and a half year of her term seem to indicate a dip in her charm. We may have to wait for a final verdict but the question that is already capturing the imagination of multitudes is- “Is Mamata Banerjee already losing her sheen?”  



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