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How Mamata is fast losing the plot in Bengal

Amitabh Tiwari
·Columnist
·4 min read

The Election Commission on Monday imposed a 24-hour campaigning ban on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her ‘highly insinuating’ and ‘provocative remarks’ against Central forces deployed in the state on election duty.

The Election Commission further noted that the statements had ‘serious potential’ to lead to a law and order breakdown in the state. The Trinamool Congress termed the action as ‘biased’ and ‘undemocratic’.

In a protest against the ban, Mamata sat on a day-long dharna at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata on Tuesday. The ban ended at 8 pm yesterday. The chief minister also created a painting and shared some of her work with the media which were splashed across channels.

Mamata has been under pressure from a charged Bharatiya Janata Party which can sniff a victory, however distant it may seem. Her actions and words portray nervousness.

From calling out minorities ‘not to divide their votes’, to exhorting people to ‘gherao CRPF’, to calling the Election Commision names, she has done it all. Not to forget the yet-to-be-proven allegations of a mob attack on her in Nandigram resulting in a leg injury.

‘The leader who came from Hyderabad and the one who joined hands with the Left Front and the Congress are helping the BJP in the state by dividing the minority votes. Please don’t let anyone divide your votes. We must win more than 200 seats,’ Mamata said while addressing an election rally at Raidighi in South 24 Parganas district.

‘One group should gherao them (CRPF personnel) and another group should go and vote if CRPF personnel foment trouble,’ Banerjee said at a rally in Cooch Behar. ‘Do not waste your vote. Your vote will be wasted if all of you gherao them and that is exactly what BJP wants,’ she said.

‘EC should rename MCC as Modi Code of Conduct! The BJP can use all its might but NOTHING in this world can stop me from being with my people and sharing their pain. They can restrict me from visiting my brothers and sisters in Cooch Behar for 3 days but I WILL be there on the 4th day!’ Mamata tweeted.

Her strategist Prashant Kishor’s statements on ClubHouse have also created a furore and has been interpreted as an admission of impending loss. He is all over the town alleging twisting of facts and daring BJP to release the entire tapes.

‘PK was heard saying that BJP has gained a massive lead in Bengal. He said their internal surveys indicate the same. He acknowledged that the BJP is winning this election. To accept this after three polls, a day ahead of one of the biggest phases today is hugely significant. Significant because this election strategist is running TMC for the last few months,’ Amit Malviya said at a press conference after the leaked tapes.

The ban was forthcoming due to the irresponsible statements made by Mamata. She might have thought that such a ban will gain her some sympathy. She could play her victim card. But this has boomeranged on her just like the leg injury incident.

Mamata should understand that she is the only star campaigner of her party, the Trinamool Congress. One day of campaign loss could prove very costly in a close contest.

Raising aspersions on the conduct of EC only shows that she is not confident of victory and is finding excuses. EC has also banned BJP leader Rahul Sinha from campaigning for 48 hours and issued notices to State President Dilip Ghosh. EC had also banned Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam.

Elections are a lot about perception and this may impact the voting decision of the undecided and swing voters, 12%-15% of total voter base. They normally back the winning horse.

As polling phases pass by, the writing is becoming clearer on the wall for Mamata.

Journalist Sagarika Ghose in one of her pieces for NDTV refers to the reasons for this: ‘... in spite of her achievements, she faces the toughest test of her political life. She would have passed this test more easily if she had moderated her own fieriness, and if the Trinamool's power-drunk party bosses had not repressed voters so brutally. In trying to bring 'poriborton' (change) to Bengal, she perhaps forgot to become part of the change herself. In a bruising and tight election, this may cost her.’

Unless she mends her ways soon, sheds her confrontationist attitude, shuns theatrics and drama, and takes solid corrective action, Mamata is fast losing the plot in Bengal...

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