West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in news again. And the reason is same, yet again. She lashed out at photojournalists at the Maati Utsab in her state, threatening to slap them for dangerously pushing and shoving near a makeshift kitchen in the fair premises where cooking was underway. She also described the jostling journalists as 'uncivilised'.
As expected, the incident has fuelled a big controversy for just a few days ago, the CM abused her security guards at the Kolkata Book Fair for failing to arrange for her car to exit on time. The opposition parties and civil society have started targetting the CM, some even terming her as one who has no culture or a literate outlook.
Two issues not same
But even if the two incidents apparently look similar and project Banerjee as a feudal leader, it will not be wise to equate them blindly. The problem is the leader has been catching the headlines for entirely wrong reasons and that when coupled with other factors, is making it difficult to prove that Banerjee can ever do anything right.
Journalists were equally at fault
If Banerjee crossed the lines by the way she spoke on Saturday, the photo-journalists who are gathering sympathy from all anti-Banerjee quarters were equally at fault. Why on the earth were they hustling and bustling near the fire and did not bother to maintain a discipline at the fair? One of the cameramen reportedly moved behind the cooking oven and all the daring act had a cumulative effect on the mercurial CM's temperament.
If politicians of today are often said to be suffering from verbal diarrhoea, the media, particularly the electronic variety, can also said to have gone overboard. Representatives of this world often do things to excess and in an unapologetic way. If a naïve administrator like Banerjee is blamed for her unsophisticated way of handling things and unnecessarily going at war with the media, the latter can also be accused of keeping the flames of adversity alive.
If Banerjee is often mocked at as 'uneducated' and 'uncultured', those media people who were jumping around a stove to shoot the CM do not deserve any better tag. Democracy does not give anybody the licence to indulge in excesses, sometimes even dangerously. Banerjee is turning out to be a favourite object of bashing for some of Bengal's media houses today. Is there be no other constructive avenues to focus on?
Irritated vs irritating
There is no doubt that Banerjee's language was unparliamentary but everybody knows what she is capable of. There can be no doubt over the fact that West Bengal today is being ruled by a 'sub-altern' political class led by a leader whose fame is earned more out of the legislature than inside.
The elite voice is finding its democratic leader shocking in every sense of the term and is waiting what worse is waiting to happen in a sinking state. But does that mean that the media start fooling itself also while trying to make a fool out of Banerjee? The CM-media equation in Bengal is increasingly looking like that between an irritated creature and irritating mob inside a zoo.
Rude way of taking careSome opposing voice, a compulsive one, said how can a CM talk to those doing their duties in such way? Does carrying out duty means to conduct carelessly? If anything untoward had happened in the commotion, it would be again Banerjee at the gun-point. If the CM was concerned about security, she could not be accused of that. Her party often portrays her way of conduct as that of a caring, elder sister and hence she is called 'Didi'.
Sougata Roy, one of the senior Trinamool Congress leaders said: "...she (Banerjee) is naturally angry that they are twisting whatever she says. They are blowing up whatever she says. So, the chief minister is naturally angry; any human being would be angry."
Her problem this time, to say again, was her language.
But again, the problem is Bengal today is there is a very thin line of difference, between the irritated and the irritating.