‘Powerful’ Mamata has much to lose
Time Magazine’s decision to name Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee one of the world’s 100 most powerful people couldn’t have been more ironic.
No doubt Banerjee is still powerful. She’s been instrumental in stalling some of India’s biggest economic reforms and key policy decisions. But the state of West Bengal is now facing the heat of her maverick actions.
As the state chief minister goes from strength to strength in charting her own course, critics wonder what lies ahead for the 57-year-old firebrand leader?
Banerjee’s ouster of the world’s longest-running elected communist government was hailed as a watershed event last year. The Trinamool leader came to power on the promise of bringing ‘poribartan’ (change) to West Bengal. But her obstructionist attitude at the centre and the functioning of her own state government could derail her political career.
Perhaps the people of West Bengal didn’t know ‘poribartan’ could translate into — jailing a university professor for posting a cartoon on Banerjee, dubbing rape cases a conspiracy against the government, rewriting history textbooks in schools, banning English-language newspapers from state-run libraries. The list goes on and the opposition Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) says Banerjee’s rule could be described as “semi-fascist”.
The most devastating fallout of Banerjee’s decisions could be the threat to freedom of speech in West Bengal, a state of intellectuals, artists and thinkers. Her critics argue she should focus more on industrial development, boosting jobs and enforcing law and order in the state.
Although Banerjee says no one can deter her from serving the people, it might be worthwhile to point out that in democracies it doesn’t take long for power to wane.