West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who remained silent in the wake of the JNU fiasco, chose Sugata Bose, the Harvard professor-MP, to speak on the Jadavpur University (JU) issue in Parliament.
Professor Bose, in his speech, defended the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government of Bengal saying it did not overreact to the student's protest in the JNU and defused the situation without worsening it. He also said the Indian democracy is too strong to perish under the impact of a few sloganeering here and there.
The MP's points were simple but showed the maturity with which the TMC leadership handled the matter. Ahead of the crucial elections, it was nothing short of a masterstroke by Mamata in the JNU and JU cases.
Mamata remained silent on JNU issue
Mamata and her party spoke little on the JNU episode. Neither did they support nor oppose the case, perhaps because Mamata neither wanted to annoy the BJP by backing the students nor her opponents by attacking them, which would help her critics put her in the same bracket with the BJP---something which is not desirable ahead of the Assembly polls.
She had to speak on JU, much closer home, and she did it smartly
The TMC, however, could not afford to ignore the JU issue, which is closer home. And when it came to facing the challenge, Mamata made her best move forward. She chose Sugata Bose and that did the trick for him without spilling a single drop of blood.
Mamata chose a respected professor to defend her govt and that gave a weight to her stand
First, by choosing a renowned professor educated in the West, the TMC ensured that its stand on the JNU issue won that much weight in face of possible attack from the opponents. Had an ordinary politician been asked to do the same, there was every possibility of the TMC getting embarrassed. Bose's refined background and his familiarity with the academic world made it easy for Mamata to win the debate without much fuss.
When a professor said that the state government did not overreact to the situation in JNU and handled it with a cool head, there was little scope to oppose the argument politically, especially for the BJP which made a mess in handling the controversy that snowballed in JNU.
Choosing Prof Bose, a kin of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Mamata blurred the BJP's nationalism weapon too
Secondly, choosing Bose, the great nephew of freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the TMC also nullified the question of nationalism.
The TMC and BJP are in a political race at the moment over the declassification of the Netaji files, eyeing the Assembly elections in Bengal. Against this backdrop, when Bose gave an impressive speech on nationalism with a liberal orientation, saying nobody is an univocal spokesperson of the nation, the proponents of the narrow right-wing nationalism were compelled to remain silent.
For had they tried to make a noisy argument (there could hardly be any substantial countering to what Bose said on nationalism), Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to compete with Mamata in the emotional issue of Netaji could have been in a jeopardy.
Not against BJP but not like it either is what Mamata has conveyed ahead of the Bengal polls
Mamata Banerjee's strategy in the JU issue has been very wise. Though many of he critics tried to show her as an unofficial ally of the BJP after the TMC did not condemn the JNU incident, they were silenced the moment Bose said how the TMC govement did not overreact to what happened in the univesity premises.
The fact that the Mamata administration already had a bitter experience with JU stduents a few years back also made he cautious about not repeatintg the blunder. Bose's statement made the TMC's balanced stand clear to both the votes of Bengal and the BJP leadership: We are not like the BJP but we are not against it either.