India’s Person Of The Year, 2010: Mamata Banerjee

She invites and ignites passions of one kind or another amidst a sea of indifference and ennui that W. Bengal politics has largely descended into, over the last decade and more.

She is an intensely polarizing figure in a State where the ruling entity has taken polarization beyond even the Bush enunciated credo of  ‘with us or against us’.

In a scenario where ‘instant politicians’ or anointed future heads of state are foisted on the country, she is one of the few politicians who has had a long, colourful political innings, starting at the grassroots level nearly four decades ago. She made it to where she is today, entirely on her own strength, without any godfathers or gurus lending a helping hand along the way.

In a country where politicians are virtually synonymous with corruption and serial scams, she personally has a spotlessly clean and honest track record. Even her sworn enemies have never ever been able to associate her with corrupt practices personally.

Her aggressive, in-your-face, often controversial brand of politics may be just what is needed to shake the masses and bring about change in a state which has reached its nadir in terms of development, progress and generally ‘getting ahead in the race’.

The vacuous, hypocritical, cowardly and shallow Bengali intellectual, sprouting largely irrelevant ideologies and out-of-context theories often had, historically, initially abdicated their responsibilities to society and then either meekly surrendered or crossed over to the side of the insidious, deadly Communist regime which then proceeded, over three decades, to dismantle the State’s industrial culture and education systems, let infrastructure rot and infiltrate, subvert & corrupt virtually every institution, including various state government departments, police, educational institutions, unions, associations and myriad non-governmental institutions.

In a political system where mostly descendants, family members and  close cronies of powerful political leaders, mafia chieftains and individuals who have gotten wealthy in a hurry, often through dubious means, emerge as leaders, she has made it on her own capabilities and steam, despite many handicaps, without benefitting from any of these factors.

She can be volatile, impulsive, emotion-driven and irrational at times. However she is the quintessential politician who is likely to succeed in 21st century India, given her mix of political opportunism, earthy mass appeal, ability to fight fire with fire and willingness to resort to apparently questionable means at times, to achieve her end objectives.

Mamata Banerjee is widely anticipated to come to power and become the Chief Minister of the state of W.Bengal in the no-too-distant future. If she succeeds in ousting the Communists after over three decades of uninterrupted rule, it is generally anticipated that the state will witness a period of chaos, anarchy and political violence. No one quite knows how she would cope with that kind of situation and how she would be able to implement her programmes and policies if such a climate prevails for a prolonged period. She could be the wind of change that the state of W. Bengal desperately needs after having been sodomized and strangled by the Communists for over three decades. On the other hand she may preside over a period of great uncertainty and political chaos and hardly be able to achieve the goals she may have laid out for the state. She  may even self-destruct and then gradually slide into political oblivion during the coming years. No one can quite predict with any degree of certainty which of these possibilities will come to pass.

Whether one likes her or hates her, no one can quite be indifferent to Mamata Banerjee. She is arguably one of the most prominent political figures that have emerged in India during the last three decades and the most prominent figure in Bengal politics ever since the emergence of Jyoti Basu.  In a state where the CPM had come to regard itself as the monarch of all that it surveys, she has succeeded, virtually single-handedly, in creating a situation where the Communists are spending sleepless nights worrying about what the future holds and the Chief Minister and his close coterie are quaking and wetting their pants, while contemplating what the future may hold for them after their near-certain ouster. She has indelibly carved her place in the political history of W. Bengal and India. She is a one-person army and, like Indira Gandhi, will possibly be the only man in her Cabinet if she succeeds in coming to power in W. Bengal. While the political party she founded and heads is possibly no better or worse than many other political parties in the country, she will continue to be the single most important driving force behind its ultimate success or failure.

  • Some related links:

Mamata dunks Kolkata mayor in pool

Mamata’s bouquet for Balurghat

Mamata challenges Buddhadeb to fight from Lalgarh

Mamata Sonia discuss Bengal

Mamata, Youth Congress, Congress & CPM – A gallery

Railways accidents and its Minister-in-charge, Mamata Banerjee


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  1. #1 by Arin Basu on December 21, 2010 - 11:41 AM

    Interesting observations and speculations about the future of the state of West bengal. Who knows what will happen when she assumes power in the state, but it’s also true that she has a formidable presence in Bengal, and she is much more politically mature than what she was five years early. Great choice for the person of the year.

  2. #2 by mitraroger on December 21, 2010 - 3:43 PM

    From Facebook:
    Biswajit Dutta: Well analysed

    Arin Basu: I liked this choice. I think we can expect a lot from her.

  3. #3 by Anand on January 3, 2011 - 8:39 PM

    Person of the year? Even god won’t be able to help the people of West Bengal when she assumes power. She and her party is even worse than the CPI(M).

    • #4 by mitraroger on January 4, 2011 - 3:25 PM

      Anand, can’t help remarking that you seem to have a clear edge over the Almighty in being able to visualize the shape of things to come. Also, if she comes to power, it will be because the majority of voters in W. Bengal opt for her party rather than any other. You are possibly implying also that the majority of people in that state are so uninformed and foolhardy that they don’t even have a clue about what may be good for them!

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