Mamata the dragon-slayer to Mamata the ice-cool politician

She tried to be humble in victory. Maybe it’s time to junk expressions like ‘fire-brand’, ‘street fighter’, ‘stormy petrel’ and ‘enfant terrible’ to describe Mamata Banerjee. It might be wise if she focused on getting out of that image, fast. It’s different when you are fighting a government and, running one.

“This is a victory of democracy, victory of Maa, Maati, Manush (mother, land and people). There will be end of autocracy and atrocities,” she said, dedicating her landslide victory to the people of West Bengal. She promised good governance too. It’s time she settled into this task. Bengal needs good governance, and to break out of that ugly stereotype of a moribund state.

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee addressing her party workers and supporters at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata on Friday. Mamata is poised to be next Chief Minister of West Bengal as her party is heading for a thumping win in the assembly elections. PTI

But let’s not burden her with expectations on her big day. “It's an unprecedented win,’’ she said. If there’s a hint of arrogance in that, ignore it. The powerful Left is finally humbled in its bastion, for the first time in 34 years. In the protracted David vs Goliath battle, David has won. The credit goes to the tenacity of the diminutive woman in chappals and a crumpled cotton sari and her great courage.

A 14-year-long running battle -- one must give it to Mamata. She has the guts. If she’s shrill and her oratorial skills down-to-earth, blame it on the odds she was up against. It’s not easy to build a party from scratch and make it battle-ready within 14 years.

Today’s development closes that chapter of Mamata’s career and begins a new one. Now she stands on an equal footing with the Left. And in a position that requires great maturity. Street fighting ways won’t work anymore, neither would the quality of a firebrand. With great power comes great responsibility.

She will need great political acumen to handle the Maoists and the Left. It won’t be easy for her to settle the vexatious land acquisition issue. She made political capital out of it. But now the shoe is on the other foot. She will have to meet the aspirations of the young and the restless in urban and rural West Bengal.

Her success will depend a lot on how she takes along so many expectations. A landslide victory creates its own traps. The transition of Mamata to a mature politician will be interesting to watch.

Updated Date: May 13, 2011 15:18 PM

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