Mamata Banerjee is a street fighter, and certainly not an intellectual. Street fighters do have a role to play in a stubborn democracy like ours. What is not fine, however, is that she does not know the difference between a street leader and a government leader. She does not know what it is to be the chief minister of a state or the controller of Indian Railways. This is where she differs from the Communist Party of India (Marxist). She seeks power and does not have any ideology or ground rules to subscribe to.
Ironically, before coming into power she had said that she would turn Kolkata into India’s London. She can’t transform Kolkata into London with her present attitude. She does not understand what makes London London. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was once stopped by the traffic police on a motorway and fined for speeding. Mr. Blair did not walk up to the police station and shout at the officers. He just paid the fine. Can you ever imagine Mamata Banerjee do this? Can she ever have the mind to understand that kind of culture? London is a place where the red double-decker buses are maintained with pride. Models four or five years old are replaced with the latest ones, looking not only new but impeccably clean and gleaming. On the other hand, Kolkata is the only metro in India where the oldest, scariest of buses continue to harass people. The ramshackle trams and rickety taxis of ’60s are no better. In the run for becoming London, I wonder if Kolkata will even remain what it is today.
The problems with Mamata are unique. Unlike today’s politicians of India Mamata is neither corrupt, nor weak. But it is high time Mamata understands the ground realities, and above all the rules of a democracy. The Railway budget fiasco, the banning of newspapers in Bengal, the banning of freedom of speech and criticism against herself. Mamata is on a run for mayhem. If she continues to be a one-person universe, and allows nothing to move without her say, if those who are supposedly in her cabinet continue to be furnitures, Mamata’s own people, who were once swayed by her promises, will continue to leave her. The problem will accumulate, and when she is disillusioned, I wonder if we’ll have the time to save Bengal.