A 20-year-old woman, who fought all odds to receive education and make progress in life, was gangraped and brutally murdered in a village near Kolkata on June 8.
The chief minister of the state, who has a 'reputation' of feeling the pulse of common people, sent two of her men first to pacify the angry residents of Kamduni village but both failed. Ten days after the incident, the CM herself went to meet the distressed family (more because of the pressure created by the media and public opinion rather than a goodwill) and to everybody's dismay, started abusing a few local women when they started asking her 'uncomfortable' questions.
The CM called the women agents of the CPI(M) and later, her ministers and sycophants even termed them as 'Maoists'. The women had only asked the CM to look after their situation, how they live amid disadvantages, both civic and social. Mamata Banerjee answered their genuine queries with a volley of abuse.
It is heart-breaking to see that a chief minister raised the eternal CPI(M)-Trinamool debate even while dealing with a humanitarian crisis in her state.
Parivartan has indeed come in West Bengal, not in the system, but in the popular leader's psyche. It was the same Banerjee who was once thrashed by the police for adamantly assisting a challenged woman, who was raped, to the then chief minister's office. The circle has come full in West Bengal's eventful history.
Mamata's inexplicable behaviour
But how does one explain Banerjee's inexplicable behaviour in the public? Being a popular leader who had bagged a massive mandate two years ago, why is she so unsettled when it comes to facing the electorate? Why does the woman term an entire locality as CPI(M)-dominated knowing full well that the latter doesn't have a minimum presence there?
Eleven out of 12 panchayat seats in the village where Banerjee abused two women belong to hr own party, the Trinamool Congress. Yet, she was heard accusing the CPI(M) of arranging for all the opposition against her.
Has she gone mad?
Not exactly. Rather, her ill-capacity to govern has been completely exposed and it is something which has made her more insecure with each passing day. Banerjee was always a street-fighter and never had any opportunity to show her administrative mettle, thanks to the long-entrenched rule of the Left Front in the state. Her identity as a symbol against Left atrocity helped her to emerge as an alternative once her political adversary collapsed but that never guaranteed that she had a viable system to offer.
The only way Banerjee could thrive in Bengal through initiating a sort of social engineering based on ideology but she never had the resource, political or social, to undertake such a project. The result: West Bengal has just stood and blinked for the last two years, not knowing what to do and how to go about it. The chief administrative head did not find any way to proceed, either.
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Banerjee has failed to formulate a land policy, ensure women's security and even fumbled to lead the government to smoothly organize the panchayat polls. She fumbles at every step, mainly because she has no training in administrative matters.
The only way she knows while handling things is means of abusing and one interesting aspect seen in the recent Kamduni episode is Banerjee is slowly entering into a direct conflict with her support base. We had seen an urban woman drawing the CM's flak by asking ‘uncomfortable' questions at a public forum but when we see the CM confronting rural women over a sensitive issue, it means that something is going wrong for Banerjee somewhere.
Election victory isn't the last word
Electoral outcomes do not always judge a leader's relevance. Banerjee is most likely to win the 2016 assembly elections in Bengal but that doesn't mean to be a reward by the people of the state for her ‘good deeds'.
Banerjee's political capability has been exposed but she will continue to call the shots for some more time since there is no alternative to dislodge her at the moment. There aren't many options for Bengal in case a potent political force fails to emerge as Banerjee's alternative. Civil war won't far off in the state in that case, leading to imposition of President's Rule.
For a 'politically mature' race, it amounts to massive humiliation.