The contours of a Fascist political system in West Bengal are fast crystallizing under Mamata Banerjee . What remains to be seen is when such a system poses a final challenge to Mamata Banerjee herself and to her degenerative brand of politics.
It is difficult to say whether the periodic public display of derangement that the Trinamool Congress chief often indulges in these days is the result of the waxing and waning of the moon or of the manifestations of a deeper malaise in her own psyche and style of politics. Mamata Banerjee’s expletive laden histrionics are essentially symptoms of a failing attempt to hide her insecurities and her abysmal failure to lead West Bengal out of the ditches and potholes that three decades of uninterrupted Left rule had consigned it to. In short, the louder Mamata Banerjee harangues against Narendra Modi’s government at the centre, the more it exposes her own false promises for bringing about a real change – poriborton – in West Bengal.
But that is perhaps just one aspect of Mamata’s rule in West Bengal. The other crucial aspect of her rule, that has now begun emerging and emerging with a pattern and which is a direct reflection of her actual state of being and mind – is the dreadful mind-map of a Fascistic ruler who brooks no opposition, who is perennially obsessed and corrugated with theories of conspiracy and who ensures at every moment that West Bengal’s political climate is kept communally boiling by abusing and marginalizing the majority community. Mamata’s abuses hurled at the Union Government, her “bamboo like” barbs at Central institutions and her vicious, if somewhat unbalanced attacks on all those who oppose her or press her to accountability is the sole result of her feeling the heat in the Saradha scam.
Amidst all this, many uncomfortable questions still remain unanswered. Especially the ones on the issue of Mamata’s own paintings, her connections with a particular accused in the chit-fund scam, her links with the shady businessman who was part of her delegation to Bangladesh – which, as an aside, observers have noted, achieved nothing substantial beyond feasting on seasonal hilsas – and was arrested immediately on his return by the ED; or the one on how was it possible for an Alzheimer afflicted auditor to audit the funds of her party.
Other disturbing trends have emerged as well, and it all began with the cartoon which lightheartedly referred to “vanish.” It is another matter that Mukul Roy did eventually vanish from Mamata’s scheme of things as did many other of her once-loyal party men. It was ironical, for example, to see those very people who were at the forefront of her mission Singur missing from her much touted 8th April march in Kolkata against land acquisition. The latest issue however, appears to be that the documents finally submitted to the CBI, despite all the bluff and bluster, still evade the query of what happened to the proceeds from the “valuable” paintings that the Bengal Chief Minister had drawn up in fit of aestheticism.
To get back to the core issue of Mamata Banerjee and the renewal of Fascist politics in the state under her. Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, of Jadavpur University, till then an unknown academic, was threatened and imprisoned for a harmless cartoon on the Chief Minister and her then close aide Mukul Roy. Jadavpur University students protesting the Vice-Chancellor’s high-handedness on another issue were not only beaten up by the police but also by the TMC lumpens. The latter included a huge chunk of those people who had en-masse shifted allegiance across the state from the Communists to Mamata and were allowed entry into the campus and given a free hand to intimidate and molest students. The brazen directive to her party lumpens to shower the accused sports minister Madan Mitra with flower petals each time he was brought to court to face trial, the intimidation of judges by TMC led lawyers union, the Chief Minister’s indirect threat to those taking to the streets to protest her ways that she too could do a bigger and more threatening rally against them are the other indications of the consolidation of a Fascist political system under her direct tutelage.
A minor protest, a heartfelt counter point unfailingly evokes shrill reactions from “Didi”. Curses and accusations of conspiracies follow and finally the unleashing of lumpens and state law enforcing agencies to intimidate, silence and curtail. Somehow, despite all the hope that she would transform into an administrator and finally lead a Bengali self-renewal, Mamata has remained the perennial street-struggler and is doing exactly to the people, especially those who dare oppose her politically and intellectually, what the Communists did to her.
The other stark aspect of this rise of Fascist politics in West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee is the ceaseless and relentless demonization of the Hindu majority in the State. In her attempt to give out a false message to a section of the population that she functions for them alone, is concerned only for their welfare and is willing to go to any extent, antagonize any section for their sake, Mamata Banerjee has no qualms in continuously victimizing and lampooning the Hindus of Bengal. On the Ranaghat issue, the Hindus and their socio-cultural organizations were calumnised, an atmosphere was created that compelled Hindus of the state to feel accused, afflicted and marginalized till the truth surfaced and then promptly the Chief Minister went silent. What was essentially an issue of national and border security, an issue that glaringly exposed the lack of preparedness of state agencies was given a rank communal turn by the Chief Minister simply to keep a section of her flock pepped up and pander to the most rabidly communal Islamist and elements among her supporters.
When a “minor” blast took place at the most revered and exalted Belur Math, international headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, a compound that has been immortalized by the very presence of Swami Vivekananda, the Bengal Chief Minister and some of her leading underlings passed it off as a cracker-blast initiated by some local pranksters. Who would take notice, not her surely, that the blast was more than a cracker-burst and was instead the explosion of the famed “chocolate bomb laced with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil”. None of her minions questioned as to why someone or some group suddenly decided to observe an unseasonal Diwali or Kali Puja in the premises of one of the most iconic places of worship of the Hindus? No one asked that how could a firecracker shatter the glasses of the footwear counter – for those who have an idea of the Belur Math topography may well be aware of the crowds that gather during the popular “Sandhya Arati” on a Friday – and how such an explosion could have led to a stampede situation in the area.
“Didi” and a large section of the media on this matter were largely on the same page– referring to the incident as minor, prank, mischief. The method in her Fascistic madness prompted Mamata to desist from even making a statement, leave aside heaping calumny on a particular community. With calculated shrewdness she avoided giving it any focus – sentiments of the Bengali Hindus are for her to play with and manipulate at will.
The contours of a Fascist political system in West Bengal are fast crystallizing under Mamata Banerjee and her motley TMC – what remains to be seen however, is how and when such a system poses a final challenge to Mamata Banerjee herself and to her degenerative brand of politics.