Mamata Banerjee's 'Save Democracy' dharna reeks of hypocrisy; West Bengal CM's stand aimed to further her PM ambitions

Mamata Banerjee is playing the victim card and trying to portray herself as the valiant fighter who is going all out in her fight against the Centre to establish herself as an alternative a national alternative to Narendra Modi

Sanjay Singh February 04, 2019 18:45:34 IST
Mamata Banerjee's 'Save Democracy' dharna reeks of hypocrisy; West Bengal CM's stand aimed to further her PM ambitions
  • An incumbent chief minister on a dharna, acting as a shield against the potential arrest of a police officer, who is perceived close to her, is itself an unprecedented act

  • Mamata's actions suggest that she believes that she is a law unto herself in what one can say is the Republic of West Bengal

  • Mamata is playing the victim card and trying to portray herself as the valiant fighter who is going all out in her fight against the Centre and against Modi

"Save Constitution, save democracy, save federalism", these are the high sounding keywords which West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is using to justify a constitutional crisis which she is attempting to create in West Bengal. The West Bengal chief minister is sitting on an impromptu dharna in Kolkata since Sunday evening.

It saw another bizarre situation where serving senior police officers, some in uniform and some in civil dresses, including Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar who CBI wanted to question in connection with Supreme Court-directed investigation on the Chit Fund scam, too sat on dharna with the chief minister. The incumbent chief minister on a dharna, acting as a shield against the potential arrest by the central investigative agency of a police officer, who is perceived close to her, was itself an unprecedented act in Independent India.

Mamata Banerjees Save Democracy dharna reeks of hypocrisy West Bengal CMs stand aimed to further her PM ambitions

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

By late night a tent was erected and other facilities were put up for a long drawn battle. The big banner in the backdrop extended the issue to include save Indian Police Service, save Indian administrative service, all ranks of civil services and so on. It seems that the idea was to have the officials serving in West Bengal, all India services and state services, side with Mamata Banerjee and by extension with ruling Trinamool Congress. In short give fillip to the idea of a committed bureaucracy. Another manifestation came when on Monday afternoon when top cops and some other officers landed at the dharna venue in full uniform and climbed onto the podium to receive awards at the same venue.

This is all happening when the state Assembly is in session, and today, the budget was to be presented in the state. Ironically, the chief minister and leader of the House would be present in the House when the budget would be presented. But Mamata is happy to be in the role of an agitator than fulfilling a constitutional role that she is expected to perform as head of the government in the state. It is an unprecedented situation where the chief minister has gone to such extent to shield a police officer from interrogation by the CBI.

From unfolding developments since Sunday afternoon, it is apparent that Mamata is the one who is creating chaos and a constitutional crisis but is preaching theme of "save democracy". Welcome to the Republic of West Bengal!

It’s a classic case of preaching what one does not practice. Mamata's actions suggest that she believes that she is a law unto herself in what one can say is the Republic of West Bengal. It’s a state where someone like Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has difficulties in getting permission from the state authorities to hold public rally in a chosen venue; Amit Shah, the national president of the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, faces difficulties in getting his helicopter land to address a public meeting; chief minister of the biggest Indian state, Yogi Aditanath, is denied permission to land his helicopter at two places to address public rallies; the BJP is denied permission to hold a Rath Yatra for pre-poll campaigning in the state; the chief minister withdraws the consent to the CBI to operate in the territories of the state; the CBI is prevented from questioning a suspect — Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar is suspected to have either concealed or destroyed evidence he recovered as SIT chief in the in Chit Fund scam in 2013 — in an ongoing investigation that is being carried out under the directions of the Supreme Court; CBI officers are restrained from carrying out their duty by the local police and later detained at a police station; panchayat and local bodies elections are about violence; rival BJP office at Bhanipore in South Kolkata is vandalised while the Trinamool chief is leading save democracy protests.

Yet in a polarised national politics divided into pro-Modi and anti-Modi camps, Mamata is playing the victim card and trying to portray herself as the valiant fighter who is going all out in her fight against the Centre and against Modi. She is pitching herself as a national alternative to Modi.

She has prime ministerial ambitions, no doubt. Last month, Mamata had organised a rally of all anti-Modi forces and parties and got an endorsement as a prime ministerial contender from the likes of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. Now Mamata has pulled support of Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, MK Stalin, Tejashwi Yadav, Omar Abdullah, Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu and others. Support for her dharna is pouring from various quarters in the opposition.

While Congress president Rahul Gandhi has gone all out in supporting her and taking on Modi, he has conveniently forgotten that it was his party sympathisers who had gone to the Supreme Court on the Chit Fund scam and it was on that plea the court had directed CBI to investigate the case. Rahul had also tweeted against Mamata in early May 2014. Senior West Bengal Congress leader and MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary is opposed to Mamata’s politics and dharna, but the Congress central leadership position is the complete opposite to what Chowdhary and others in the state unit are openly saying.

Mamata is on dharna but nobody is quite sure how will she end it. The earliest response on save her save democracy demand can come in mid-May 2019 when results of the parliamentary poll are announced.

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