#UP2017 Effect: BJP Must Not Fall For Mamata’s Meek Remarks 

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Mar 17, 2017 12:03 PM +05:30 IST
#UP2017 Effect: BJP Must Not Fall For Mamata’s Meek Remarks  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has adopted a mild stance since the BJP’s colossal victory in Uttar Pradesh.

    The BJP must, however, not fall for Mamata’s antics. She is only hoping to save herself and her aides from scrutiny by an emboldened BJP.

There’s an appropriate Bengali term that would best describe West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s current status: a bheja beral (wet cat). This means being timid, bashful and subdued, exactly like a wet cat that mews very softly and remains in a corner.

Motormouth Mamata has not, since the results of the assembly elections in the five states were out, issued any of her typically acerbic statements, nor has she railed and ranted against anybody (mostly Prime Minister Narendra Modi) as she is wont to. She hasn’t been hyperbolic and hasn’t displayed her mercurial character. In fact, she hasn’t been herself these past few days.

On the contrary, Mamata has actually been a bit civil. Her two tweets are an indication of this: “Congratulations to winners in different states. Congratulations to the voters for making their choice. To the losers, don’t lose heart” and “In a democracy, we must respect each other because some will win, some will lose. Trust the ppl”. Compare these two tweets to her past ones (Twitter: @MamataOfficial) and the stark difference becomes apparent.

What would have been Mamata’s actions if the results would have been different? What if, say, the BJP would not have notched a landslide in Uttar Pradesh? No prizes for guessing that Mamata would have immediately demanded Prime Minister Modi’s resignation, and would have been shouting from the rooftops that Modi’s demonetisation and all other policies have been failed and rejected by the people. She would have gone ballistic against the Prime Minister and the BJP and would have been, by now, in New Delhi hobnobbing with Arvind Kejriwal, the Samajwadis and other smaller parties to prop her Third Front dream and position herself as an alternative to Modi. She would have been spitting fire at Modi, issuing threats against him in the most uncivil language and been extremely abusive towards the BJP.

On Tuesday (14 March), while speaking at a felicitation of farmers in Kolkata, Mamata stressed on the need for “an atmosphere of mutual understanding between the centre and the states. She said:

We want the centre-state relationship to thrive on understanding. Some party will come to power, another party will go, but the tradition of respect must be maintained. In a democratic nation, each respecting the others (sic) is the convention...this tradition is our civilisation, our culture.

She spoke of the principle of cooperative federalism and said that political parties would have to respect each other.

No doubt this dramatic change in Mamata, in all probability a temporary one, has been triggered by the election results. And even as she lectures her political adversaries on decency and mutual respect, she ought to remember that her own behaviour towards her political opponents has been ugly. Mamata has turned temporarily civil because she knows she can no longer fight the BJP politically. She knows that the BJP will cruise to victory in 2019. And she has to work with that reality.

Others, including the BJP, should also keep in mind that the civility being displayed by Mamata now is artificial. Combativeness outlined by intemperate outbursts in coarse and even vulgar language and uncouth gestures has been second nature to her ever since she entered politics. Old-timers will recall a college-going Mamata, then a member of Chatra Parishad (the Congress’ students’ wing) getting up and dancing on the bonnet of a car carrying the respected Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan (who was in the thick of an anti-Indira Gandhi campaign at the time). She has always been extremely abusive against her political rivals and has had no qualms in unleashing violence on them whenever she could.

Mamata is afraid of what a BJP strengthened after the massive mandate in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and which will, in a few months’ time, no longer need to depend on her members of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha to get bills passed in the Upper House, do to her. She is scared that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will go full steam ahead against her senior colleagues and even her family members and unearth their corruption. She is mortally scared that her carefully-cultivated image of honesty will get permanently scarred once her close family members are booked for corruption and misusing her office to accumulate wealth illegally. She also knows that her Third Front dream lies in tatters and there is no hope for reviving it in even the foreseeable future. She knows that her hope (unrealistic and fuelled by the sycophants around her) of becoming the Prime Minister of the country has ended.

It is precisely to ward off the CBI and the ED that she has turned civil and desisted from lambasting Modi and the BJP as she has been doing since 2014. She is now, no doubt, looking for opportunities to cut deals with the BJP. She wants to bury the hatchet and hopes the BJP will be taken in by her false proclamations of “mutual respect and cooperation”.

But the BJP ought to guard against such dubious tactics of Mamata. She is no one’s friend and can never be one. She believes in decimating her political rivals whenever she gets the chance. She is uncivil, intemperate, mercurial, vulgar and extremely vindictive. She is not to be trusted. To be taken in by her pretences would be foolish.

Far from falling for her overtures and show of humility and meekness, the BJP ought to up the ante against her. There is a lot of dirt against Mamata and her senior party members, and that should be exposed. She cannot be allowed to sleep in peace. Because she has to, at the end of the day, be held accountable for all the wrongs committed by her and her party men. She must not be allowed to go scot-free. She has to pay, and pay heavily, for all her actions and utterances. The BJP has no need to accept her overtures because she can never be a friend of the BJP. She will stab anyone in the back at the first opportunity. The BJP would, in fact, be doing the nation in general and West Bengal, in particular, a great service by stepping up its opposition to her and decimating her politically. At a time when the BJP’s goal of a Congress-mukt Bharat is nearing fruition, it is time to aim for a Mamata-mukt West Bengal too.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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