Merciless Mamata

Mamata Banerjee is her own worst enemy. After single handedly dislodging the Left from power and becoming Chief Minister of West Bengal, she’s at war with herself. Her impetuosity is a proof that good agitators do not necessarily make good administrators.

Before Mamata, the Asom Gana Parishad had belied hopes of good governance after leading a protracted agitation in Assam. Until Parkash Singh Badal’s peers such as Longowal, Tohra and Talwandi were around the Akalis would spend time fighting among themselves rather than serving the people.

Badal had relatively smooth five year as Punjab CM and earned another five in the recent polls, largely because he now is the sole surviving Akali old-guard.
His son and successor Sukhbir’s bete noire and cousin Manpreet’s challenge might have fallen by the wayside like that of the Congress. That isn’t by any means the end of the Akalis’ Gen-X feud. Manpreet shall be to Sukhbir what Longowal, Tohra and Talwadi were to Badal senior.

Mamata’s story is a tad different in comparison. Her worst adversary is her temperament. Be it individual freedoms or foreign policy, she’s prone to throwing tantrums. Restraint isn’t her forte. Tact doesn’t easily come to her. When in the NDA, she was in a no-holds-barred slugfest with then Rail Minister Nitish Kumar
Mamata’s over the top response to a cartoon that caricatured her and party colleague Mukul Roy is seen as another proof of the intolerance that guided Roy’s appointment at Rail Minister after Dinesh Trivedi’s unceremonious ouster.

So much so that Mamata didn’t think twice before pulling out of the PM’s delegation to Bangladesh over the Teesta River water issue. She justified doing that in Bengal’s interests. But is she stifling individual freedoms for public good? So much for her support of democracy and federalism!

Mamata’s treatment of Trivedi had dented badly her image among the Kolkata Bhadralok who rooted for her in the fight against the Left. Prof. Ambikesh Mahapatra’s arrest in retaliation of the spoof that angered the CM has compounded public disillusionment, raising fresh questions about her ability to govern without fuss.

Mamata’s a popular leader. But by no means more popular than her erstwhile mentor Indira Gandhi. About time she brought some balance to her thinking. She sure must be aware of the price the mighty Indira paid for curtailing speech and civil liberties during Emergency.

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