23-Jun-2010

Mamata's Ascendancy : Mum's The Word?

Singur and Nandigram seem to have been a turning point in Mamata Banerjee's political ascendancy in West Bengal. Both were basically against the pro-industry and anti-people stance of the Left. How many media outlets have discussed this angle? Not surprisingly, given the general pro-industry slant of the media, not many if Google is anything to go by. With one exception. Rasheeda Bhagat in Business Line:
The question, then, is how Trinamool managed to break the Left's winning streak in West Bengal. Surely, the principal reason is the growing disenchantment of the voter with the Left, and a definitive turning point was the manner in which Didi took up the cause of the farmers and the peasants who were set to lose their land in both Singur and Nandigram, to make way for industrial projects.

As she took on Mr Ratan Tata's Nano project in Singur, and eventually forced its exit to Sanand, Gujarat, the elite and educated Indians, as well as mainstream media, were clearly on the side of India's most admired and trusted corporate icon that Mr Tata certainly is. Some pretty unsavoury stuff was written about how Mamata was stalling the industrial development of West Bengal.

But then came Nandigram, and we saw the unleashing of ugly violence on the protestors who refused to part with the land which either belonged to them or over which they had enjoyed rights for several years. With charges of the Left workers getting into the act, along with the police, to “punish” the protestors, beat up the TMC workers supporting them, and wreak vengeance and violence on the women and children, it no longer seemed right to endorse the government's stand.

After Nandigram, Mamata clearly emerged the definitive political leader who had the spunk to take up the cause of the deprived and the downtrodden, even as the Left leaders continued to be arrogant and indifferent to the real public mood. Suddenly the leader sans frills, who lives an austere lifestyle in a single-storeyed house in Kolkata — here is she as different from Mayawati and Jayalalithaa as cheese from chalk — had become the darling of the Bengali masses and intellectuals alike.

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