Mamata takes oath on Nehru's death date: Symbolic transition from elitism to populism

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Mamata Banerjee took oath as the chief minister of West Bengal for the second consecutive term on May 27, 2016. The date also marked the 52nd death anniversary of India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In a way, May 27 could be seen as a watershed moment. It was on this day that India's first and only elitist leader passed away in 1964. In was also on this date in 2016 that Mamata Banerjee made a phenomenal return to power despite the odds. The victory of Banerjee this year has been so overwhelming that renowned political thinkers have been forced to assess her success afresh. [Mamata sworn in as CM for second term]


mamata banerjee jawaharlal nehru

May 27, 1964, marked the end of politics which was driven by ideology and elitism

Nehru's death had marked an end to the dream of nation-building based on elitism and ideology (we are not counting the less-than-two-year-rule of Lal Bahadur Shastri) and paved way for centralisation of power and degeneration of public life under his ambitious daughter Indira Gandhi. [Modi, Sonia pay homage to Nehru]

It was the daughter of the champion democrat, Nehru, who had made populism and confrontation a parcel of India's political life and her idea was later borrowed by the future leaders in the country.

Today, regional satraps have mastered Indira Gandhi's populist style of politics

Today, most or all of the regional satraps that India eye mastering of the same art of populism that Indira Gandhi had popularised once to make up for her lack of ideology, unlike her father. Be it Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Akhilesh Yadav or Jayalalithaa---the underlying political philosophy is simple---keep the voters in a good humour and they will serve you when it matters the most, during the time of the elections.

With the deepening of democracy in a developing society, populism has prevailed over elitism

Whether India's transition from elitism to populism is good or not is a different story but the deepening of the democracy with each passing day has made populism a more weighty currency for the politicians to carry out their deals. The Nehruvian legacy is facing a strong challenge today, not just from Narendra Modi's BJP in terms of secularism but also on the ideological front from leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumars and even the latest to join the club---Arvind Kejriwal.

Mamata's emphastic win in 2016 dashed the bhadrolok brand of politics

Banerjee's outstanding victory in a state where the bhadrolok culture reigned for ages and despite all odds has also reinstated the above-mentioned theory that elitism is dead and populism is the order of the day. For a section of the audience, this might sound disturbing but politics always finds its own way.

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