Didi in Trouble? Not ReallyIs Mamata Banerjee scared of the poll outcome? Taking cue from her recent utterances where she has told people at rallies that if they find her to be a thief, they might not vote for her, analysts think that she feels that the TMC citadel is under threat from the CPM-Congress alliance and is hence putting her own spotless reputation on the line. Some analysts have also perceived the relative silence of the voters in Bengal as a pointer to another poriborton in the offing.
By Sunil Garodia
Mamata Banerjee has always been an emotional leader. She wears her squeaky clean image on her pallu. Any insinuation, even if indirect, is immediately taken as an affront and why not. In her several decades of public life, no one can accuse her of hobnobbing with undesirable elements or being corrupt. But the same cannot be said of some leaders in her party.
Mamata has for long tried to insulate herself from the corruption charges leveled against her trusted lieutenants. A section of the press in Bengal has been most vocal in highlighting these charges. But now, with Sharada, syndicates and sting all combining to create a pressure cooker situation before the assembly polls, she knows that people will vote for TMC only if she puts her image on the block. The euphoria of 2011 is no doubt missing and the body language of TMC leaders, including Mamata, is down, but there is not a buzz around the opposition either.
There is no doubt that corrupt leaders have sullied the image of the party. But how this will translate into negative voting is anyoneâs guess. All talks of a resurgent CPM are just talks because neither does the party have a leader to match Mamataâs charishma nor is its famed cadre force as potent as it was say, 15 years ago. It was unable to start a peopleâs movement after successive scams that rocked the TMC government. Perhaps, after 34 years in the government, Bengal CPM has forgotten the art of opposing. Or, after enjoying the fruits of ruling the state for so long, the pot-bellied comrades do not have any fire left to renew the class struggle.
Mamata Banerjee is going to win â maybe with a reduced majority. One says this because there is very little to choose between the two major opponents (BJP is not a factor in the state) and TMC scores with Mamataâs charishma. Even that would come as a shock to her for she genuinely feels that she has done a lot for the betterment of the masses. She may not have been successful in attracting capital or creating jobs, but TMC feels they have provided reasonably good governance to the state, notwithstanding the corruption charges.
But if she is voted back to power, Mamata should recognize that this is only due to her own clean image. Rather than seeing it as an endorsement of her corrupt lieutenants (some of whom might even be shown the door by the people), she should take it as a chance offered by the people to rid herself of riff-raff and rule the state with better people â if she can find them in the party. Else, it would not be a bad idea to outsource experts and make them ministers. She has one in Amit Mitra. Others will join if didi wants them.