By Soroor Ahmed
The vagaries of politics have landed West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in a very unusual situation. The lady who, as the railway minister of the country held Marxists responsible for the presence of a cockroach in the meal supplied by the pantry car in a train and squarely blamed them for all the accidents which took place in her home state––she would not say so about those occurring in other states, for example Uttar Pradesh––is suddenly finding herself in their camp.
Ironically, the Left, which is making common cause with Mamata Banerjee, will be literally rubbing shoulders with the Congress in the opposition benches of the West Bengal Assembly for the first time in the state’s history. Mamata Banerjee would now be opposing the party with which she started politics more than three and a half decacdes back.
Mamata may have her own argument in opposing the Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail sector, or hike in diesel prices and cap on LPG cylinders, but in the process she would be losing her USP––the anti-Leftism. When she was in opposition in West Bengal she used to cash in on the anti-Left sentiments. She used to organize bandh, dharna and other types of protest against whatever the Left did. No other Congress leaders could match her skill to oppose the Left even those issues in which there were hardly any scope of doing so.
Even when she became the railway minister of the country she behaved more like any opposition leader of West Bengal Assembly. Within minutes of any mishaps she would, without any inquiry, directly launch allegation on the Left. And when her own party railway minister Dinesh Trivedi increased the rail fare he was forced to resign and the hike withdrawn.
What she failed to understand is that there is mark difference between a good opposition leader and a good ruler and administrator. After coming to power after 34 long years of the Left Front rule she, instead of learning the art of administrating the state kept playing the role of opposition.
Now with the situation entirely different it would be somewhat difficult for her to adjust. With both the opponents and supporters of FDI sitting in the opposition benches what would be her role in the state Assembly. If she continues to oppose the UPA-II on these issues she would be, in one way or the other, associated with the Left. But since she had gone too far away from the Left there is absolutely no scope to come closer to them.
As Mamata is a classic case of the phenomenon called, opposition-ism, and has no such strong ideology or political commitment there is more likelihood of soon running out of issues.
Opposition-ism demands her to oppose every step which the UPA takes in the Centre as now the Left can not do any such thing as they are out of power even in West Bengal.
But then as a leading light of the opposition in West Bengal before May 2011 she had nothing to lose. She was a street-fighter then. But now, very well ensconced in the Writers Building she can not act in a similar manner. Besides, she would be fighting Congress party not just at the home turf but at the national level too. Now as a ruler of the state she may face difficulty in getting package and other benefits from the Centre.
As the state is in crisis now and needs to be bailed out by the Centre Mamata may end up paying a price for this sudden change of gear.