Despite her claims and despite a section projecting it as a mega success, what must worry and haunt Mamata Banerjee is the spectacle of empty spaces all around in the Brigade Parade Ground on 19 January. The empty spaces were a reflection of her own diminishing clout, an indication that the crowd, she prefers to call her party and the conglomerations of violent lumpen elements that she addresses as her political workers, have begun losing the connect with the people.
For a ruling party in West Bengal, the Brigade Parade Ground is a reliable barometer of its political future and eventual fate. The oust-Modi gathering of leaders, many of whom have long past their political expiry date and their acerbic and yet disconnected rhetoric against Narendra Modi, could not ensure that the historic ground be filled to the brim. The empty spaces, thus, must necessarily give rise to the question as to whether Mamata Banerjee herself is approaching the date of her political expiry.
The Trinamool Congress, fragmented into factions and syndicates, is itself fast turning into a family conglomerate with Mamata’s nephew not only controlling the levers of power but meddling into the affairs of the party and the state. It is no longer the party that had promised change and had sworn allegiance to the people and the soil of West Bengal, it is no longer the “Ma-Mati-Manush” party, it has, instead, transmogrified into a violent syndicate of interests and become an exact replica of the many parties that it hosted in Kolkata on 19 January.
Certain fatigue is setting in among the people vis-a-vis the TMC. The violence, the factional clashes, the violent dictates of party apparatchiks, the intolerance displayed towards political opponents – over 70 BJP workers have been killed –is gradually but surely alienating the ordinary voter, the empty spaces in Brigade were also a clear indication of that irritation and fatigue. It is in irritation that Banerjee hurls expletives and her expletives laden howl at the Brigade circus was also a clear indication that in Modi’s continuation, Mamata sees the eventual end of her own politics.
Prime Minister Modi described Mamata’s Brigade jamboree best when he said that it was a gathering of frightened leaders who had no ideal, no ideology, a collective of dynasts and nepotists who have grown out of or perpetuate lineages, a teaming up of the corrupt, of negationists and destabilisers. There were some leaders who had no party, such as Sharad Yadav, and yet addressed the gathering, there were also a few “Career Nationalists” such as Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, whose uncontrolled hatred for Modi, has led them to abandon all that they have espoused in the past or pretended to represent.
Shourie, for example, a vocal critic of radical Islamists, of infiltration and demographic change, of appeasement politics and a proponent of the need to strengthen national security, did not hesitate to share stage with Banerjee whose politics stands and survives on appeasement, who has allowed West Bengal to become a hub of Islamists and has encouraged anti-national non-state actors to have a field day while abetting illegal infiltration and casting aspersion and blocking the functioning of Central institutions and agencies in the state, pushing a political line that is dangerously separatist in its essence.
That Shourie’s nationalism was only lip deep, that his concern for India’s national interest and security never stemmed out of a genuine and fundamental nationalist conviction has been proved now that he has sung paeans to the likes of Jignesh Mevani and mounted on a TMC stage. The public repudiation, at this juncture, of everything that defined him, is indeed a pathetic political cul-de-sac for Shourie. It is a political nadir from which he will never rise again.
But what is the future of the Brigade jamboree, what is the fate of this second attempt at cobbling up of a “Federal Front”? Mamata’s past attempts bore no fruit; she has little understanding of the undercurrents of national politics and has always tripped in her periodic attempts of arrogating to herself an impossible national role. The Brigade gathering of frightened leaders clearly indicated that there was no defined leader, no defined strategy, no driver and no allotted seat for the leader. The only apparent glue that brought them together was the fear and hatred for Modi and the realisation that one more term for Modi would spell the end of their political formations and their politics. For the TMC, the entire effort was to project their “Didi” as the next prime minister while the other leaders insisted that the principal question of “who will be the leader of the Front” should be decided later. Mamata, while ostensibly endorsing that line, demonstrated that she was the natural claimant to the imaginary leadership of the imaginary “Federal Front”.
How will the Congress fit into this entire exercises, will it be a UPA and Federal Front coalition eventually, if so who will rule and own that mega political tent, whose authority will its constituents follow, Rahul Gandhi’s or Mamata’s and how will it stand on the weight of its hydra-headed contradictions? Will hardened regional satraps accept Mamata and Rahul as their leaders? These are fundamental questions and in them hides the seeds of instability, of compulsion, of weakness and of paralysis of governance and of decision making, in them hides the propensity to compromise and surrender India’s national interest, in them is reflected a leadership mindset that is halting and hesitant. A clear contrast to the last five years of decisive and result-oriented leadership which brooks no deviation when India’s collective good is concerned.
The author is member, Policy Research Department, BJP and director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation
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Updated Date: Jan 21, 2019 14:26:38 IST