Mamata Banerjee was, till recently, a heavyweight politician in national politics for her weight used to be felt more in New Delhi than her state West Bengal. Since her spectacular debut in the Lok Sabha in 1984 when she defeated a strong opponent like Somnath Chatterjee from Jadavpur constituency in Kolkata, Banerjee was always in the scheme of things in politics at the Centre till 2011, when she took over as the chief minister of her state after a historic victory over the Left who once looked invincible. [The rise and fall of Mamata Banerjee]
Since her 2011 victory, Mamata has lost her ground nationally
Since that victory, Banerjee, quite surprisingly saw her image diminishing fast as far as the politics at the Centre is concerned. Between early 2012 and end of 2014, Banerjee saw herself at the receiving end whenever she tried to reassert her influence on the national stage.
Dilli Ka Laddoo not suiting Mamata anymore?
We have four examples from the recent past which tell that the Dilli Ka Laddoo is somehow not suiting the leader any more, irrespective of her identity as a popular leader who rose from the grassroots level.
Take the example of June 2012 when Banerjee, in a zeal to corner the Congress, decided not to support Pranab Mukherjee as the then UPA government's presidential candidate.
She was embarrassed by Mulayam Singh's U-turn on Pranab Mukharjee's presidential candidature
Despite being a part of the UPA, the Trinamool Congress supremo tried to stage a political drama with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, giving rise to the speculation that the two regional parties could forge an alternative alliance to the UPA (Narendra Modi was yet to begin his sprint then). But the cunning Mulayam took a U-turn at the last moment to jump into the Congress's fold, so drastically that Banerjee was left red-faced before the entire nation.
Heckled by alleged Left supporters in Delhi and the retaliation in Bengal
The next incident occurred in April 2013. Banerjee and her finance minister Amit Mitra were on their way to meet the Planning Commission officials when they were heckled allegedly by Left supporters in retaliation to the killing of a SFI student in Kolkata. Banerjee was furious with the incident and a huge political revenge was witnessed in Kolkata within hours.
This instant revenge impacted Banerjee's image as an administrator before the entire nation for she was expected to author a change from the routine violence in the state as was seen during the Left's dominance.
Anna Hazare's mysterious absence stunned Mamata ahead of the Lok Sabha polls
The third event took place on March 2014 when Banerjee went to Delhi to attend a rally with social activist Anna Hazare but the latter pulled out at the last moment, leaving Banerjee facing almost an empty audience arena. It was a big blow for a leader who has known to be a crowd puller.
Frequent changing of alliance has hit Mamata Banerjee's credibility in Delhi
Hazare had endorsed Banerjee as the prime ministerial candidate a few days ahead of this fiasco and with a few showing interest in her rally as against Modi who was sprinting ahead of all at the time, Banerjee's all-India stature was damaged badly.
Congress's 'lack of interest' at Nehru's birth anniversary celebration left Mamata Banerjee dejected
The fourth and the final instance of Banerjee's ‘national failure' happened last week when she went to the national capital to join the Congress's event commemorating Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister. Banerjee was even found hinting at patching up with the Left, her eternal enemy, to stop the rise of the BJP in Bengal in the recent times. This is also the time when serious charges of corruption has rattled Banerjee's party and her administration is accused of compromising with the nation's security by giving shelter to terrorists.
Banerjee even met top BJP leaders except Prime Minister Modi who was not in the country then, which left political observers guessing about her immediate plans.
The TMC leader was clearly in a dual state of mind of putting up a 'brave' ideological battle up front while engaging through back-channels to save the faces of herself and the party. But all in all, Banerjee's latest trip to Delhi was far unsatisfactory for her political plans about a future alliance against Modi never took off.
Did Banerjee make a mistake in taking over the CM's responsibility in Bengal? Should she have continued with her presence in Delhi?
Was Banerjee's decision to take over as the CM of a beleaguered state like Bengal a big mistake? For given her performance as the administrator, would it have been better if she continued as a politician at the Centre and keep herself away from the daily hassles of state administration? For now, it looks the leader has lost her touch with the capital of politics and might find it difficult to reclaim the lost space.