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Millennium Post

The iron lady of Indian politics

More than a century ago Gokhale said, 'What Bengal thinks today India will think tomorrow'. The relevance of this outstanding tribute to Bengalis can be seen in the appearance of Mamata Banerjee in Indian politics. People are in great confusion about choosing persons in the national politics. But, on the question of Mamata Banerjee, they will not think twice, as her personal image in Indian politics cannot be challenged at present by any politician of national repute. She is a hope for the people of Bengal, nay of India. In such a situation, Banerjee is just on the verge of completing her one year of political power in the state of West Bengal successfully.

After a relentless struggle against the misrule of the CPI(M) led Left Front Banerjee assumed the office of the Chief Minister of West Bengal on 20 May 2011 with the people of West Bengal having overwhelmingly voted her to power. During this one year the people have seen many incidents and also Mamata Banerjee in the role of an administrative head tackling these in a befitting mannner.

The people of Kolkata tell of a remarkable incident which took place in the midnight of 19 December 2011 at Tiljala in South Kolkata. A factory caught fire  at around 1 o’ clock at night and the people of surrounding areas were about to be affected. Immediately after hearing this information, Banerjee rushed to the spot on this winter night and personally arranged the extinguishing of this fire. The people were astonished at this sight of the chief minister in this role. The people were more surprised when they came to know that she had just lost her dear mother. Similarly, on 23 October 2011, a bridge accidentally broke at Bijonbari in Darjeeling District and 34 ill-fated people were heavily injured. While Mamata Banerjee was in Delhi for an official programme, she cancelled all programmes on hearing this news and rushed to the place and took necessary steps for the sake of victims. This is Mamata Banerjee. Nothing can prevent her from discharging her duties to the people who are in need. This is the great message to all people that Banerjee is by heart a great humanist-politician. This approach of a chief minister towards the state must usher in change in society.

Another noticeable change that the present government has brought in, is in the aspect of paying respect to legendary Indian leaders. It has portrayed them on  lamp posts at the main crossing of the streets in Kolkata, and at the same time played Rabindra Sangeet and other patriotic songs in soothing sounds at the same places where emerged the revolutionary culture in West Bengal. This creates a great psychological impact on the people in and around Kolkata. This is a great job the head of government has done for it brings about the cultural upliftment of the people of the state and the nation as well, because we forget to recollect our hoary past. The previous government led by CPI(M), somehow, tried to manoeuvre to make sure that the legendary pictorial records of our hoary past faded out.

The first introduction to her administrative skill is the way Mamata Banerjee ended with an iron hand the situation that prevailed in rural and urban areas at the time of the declaration of the election result. The situation was such that it could have turned into a civil war. On the one hand, she did not allow her party members  to make any ‘winning processions’, anticipating that jubilation at the election results might vulgarise the situation and cause disturbances in the state. Instead, she ordered the party to enjoy by playing Rabindra Sangeet. On the other hand, she alerted the administration not to allow any unrest in the state. People cannot have any idea how difficult it is for a newly elected head of government to tackle such a situation.

The situation was grave. If there was any slackness in taking proper action to tackle this situation then Ganga would have been turned into flowing with blood rather than water. Mamata Banerjee foresaw this grave condition of the state in time and took appropriate steps to end the awkward situation. During this one year Mamata Banerjee, as a chief minister, has also shown mature generosity in behaving with opponent political leaders.

Apart from these general experiences there are successes of the present government. Even now we can find in the media stories about Maoist problem, which was practically a burning topic during the previous government. The present government has taken humane-measures to turn Maoists into members of mainstream society. Mamata Banerjee has occasionally visited their areas and cordially appealed to them to give up the vindictive politics.

Mamata Banerjee has rightly left no stone unturned in taking measures for developmental programmes in Maoist areas on an emergency basis. These include adequate food supply, immediate employment, infrastructural development like road, rail, bridges, water treatment and supply, schools and colleges, prioritising of Alchiki language of Saonthalee (the most backward inhabitants) in the areas of Junglemahal in Purulia. The administration has started functioning acccording to her advice and villagers are getting the benefit, which they never did during last thirty four years of Left rules. The villagers are satisfied with their facilities and they are resolved not to let any Maoist movement in their locality. In effect, Maoists leaders have retreated and have been killed in encounters with the joint forces. Here lies the success of Mamata Banerjee’s administrative prudence.

Similarly, the Darjeeling problems, which was also a burning topic during previous government, has been close to solved with the formation of the GTA. They also saw the good heart of Mamata Banerjee, while she was visiting the remotest areas of Darjeeling at the time of the devastating earthquake.

People have also seen her toughness from the standpoint of not compromising with anything at the cost of the suffering of West Bengal people. She has outright rejected the Teesta Water-sharing Agreement with neighbouring state Bangladesh. This agreement was made unscrupulously during the time of Jyoti Basu and the people of West Bengal suffered a huge loss of production in the agrarian sector with the irrigation sector hampered.  She has also stopped the bill of FDI in the retail sectors to pass in the Parliament to protect the interest of the small businessmen in the retail sectors.

By this time, Mamata Banerjee has been honoured as ‘The Politician of The Year’ by the Times Of India in national context and as ‘The Most Influential Personality In The World' by the Time magazine of the United States. These remarkable achievements in her career do not change her lifestyle and day to day functioning in the field of administration and politics. She is so down to earth that even now she shares tea with anyone in an earthen cup. She has renounced all sorts of comforts.  She uses economy class in airways. Never uses government car, pilot car, or even the salary. Besides that, she takes food purchasing from the canteen. As a human being she may have some faults, but her positive sides overshadow her negative sides. She is a rare exceptional mighty political personality – a mixture of Joan of Arc, Queen of Jhansi, Sultana Rizia and Sister Nivedita.
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