Mamata Banerjee, arguably India's most populist leader, has been badly exposed by the recent uproar over rape. A recent post made by the West Bengal chief minister on Facebook about the death of the victim of the horrific gangrape in Delhi has earned quite a few unpleasant reactions from people, who otherwise endorse her 'sympathy for commoners'.
Mamata Banerjee on Sunday posted a poetry titled 'Nei' (No More) on the Delhi rape victim. The poem read:"... jibon jibone nei, sobhyotar pradip neeve geche, tel ar nei, mombatir solte jolche..." (Life is no more alive, the lamp of civilisation has gone out, there is no oil, the candle is just flickering). Well enough. Like many other Bengalis, Banerjee also must have felt the urge to give wings to her painful thoughts and did it rightfully. But the problem is that for politicians, right comes with a duty, more in comparison to the normal citizens.
On Saturday, the Trinamool Congress chief wrote, following the demise of the woman: "It is extremely unfortunate and tragic that the victim of the heinous and barbaric crime at Delhi has passed away today. We are deeply shocked. The gruesome incident has perhaps surpassed all limits. The need of the hour is to make strong laws so that the perpetrators of crimes like this are meted out stringent punishments. This would deter others from committing these sorts of crimes in future. If necessary, the Centre can convene a special session of the Parliament to pass such strong laws and we would fully co-operate. At the same time, we need to increase mass awareness, responsibility and sensitivity among all of us so that crimes like this do not recur..." As usual, the FB status message was liked by thousands but at the same time, some of the reactions were unforgiving.
One member said: "Now will you please stop your bullshits called FB status message that shows your sheer hypocrisy when compared to your actions/attitude towards rapists and start taking actions against the rapists? Being a woman , you are an endorser of rape!..."
Another, even more angry, said: "Apnar oshobhyota borabor dekhe ashechhi aamra jara tara apnar ae kritikolape aktuo obak hoe na! koto dhong apni korechhen tar sakkhi aamra ! aaj apnar spordha amon jaygay pounchechhe je apni gota banglar ma-meyer rate tthik korchhen! ..." (We have seen your indencency throughout and hence do not feel surprised any more. We are witnesses to your endless drama. But your audacity has reached to such extreme today that you are now deciding the rate of all mothers and sisters of entire Bengal)
A third post read: "Park Street, Katwa-r gano dhorshon-e apnar protikriya dekhe e kothai bolte badhyo hochchhi je esob boro boro kotha apnar mukhe manay na... Apni to abshyo nije ekjon naari hoyeo narir dhorshon-mulyo 20000 takay bedhe diyechhen... Sabash!!! Aagey nijer raajyer dhorshnkarider biruddhe upojukto byabostha nin, tarpore boro boro bhashon deben..." (I feel compelled to say after seeing your reaction to the Park Street and Katwa gangrape cases that talking big on this issue doesn't suit you. You, being a woman yourself, has fixed the compensation for rape at Rs 20,000. First, take steps against the rapists in your own state and then preach)
There are scores of such comments. They show that politicians can not take their 'populist' popularity for granted. Mamata Banerjee might have written what she felt as an individual but as an administrator, such write-ups are only going to expose her inefficiency and her government's fragility. Rape is not an issue to romanticise and is a hard social problem that needs to be sorted out fast.
No 'paribartan', Mamata has just extended the misrule
Mamata Banerjee's problem is that her apparent 'sympathetic mind for commoners' hasn't been backed by sound administrative decisions. The chief minister, who has been known as a fierbrand street-smart politician before coming to power in 2011, has done little on the ground to improve her state's crumbling infrastructure, both economic or social. The reason is that she has little administrative skill and also a vision to affect any changes in reality. Her political language has been mainly to create disruption and attack the opposition.
But while dealing with an issue like women's security, the only option she can avail is to rise to the occasion and lead from the front. But the so-called 'paribartan' has not worked. The stagnation that was set in motion by the previous Left government has seen an extension under Mamata's regime. The only addition has been a dangerous trend of instability. The reason is: gradual collapse of the entire socio-economic system in the state.
Practise what you preach
Leaders like Mamata Banerjee doesn't understand the consequences social networking can result in if they don't know to deal with it responsibly. Publishing a viewpoint must be backed by solid action on ground and here where Banerjee lags miles behind a Narendra Modi. Mamata Banerjee doesn't have a control on her party's motormouths and even if she acts in an authoritarian manner, she hardly has any impact as an administrator.
Post-2011, West Bengal hasn't seen any economic development, the condition of the job market is appalling, the education sector has been witnessing destructive party politics, women's security has left ignored and amid all this, the party and the government are busy expressing 'pro-people sentiments'. Why doesn't Mamata take rape seriously and listen to advises given by various commissions and forums? Is her ego important than all? Common people are not that foolish that they will go on giving benefit of doubts to the Mamata Banerjee regime indefinitely.
Votes only don't count Ms Banerjee. Respect matters more. Perhaps the unfortunate woman at Park Street also voted for a real change. She was terrible betrayed. By a leader who only knows to shed crocodile tears.