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Facing do-or-die battle, "Khepatey Mamata" summons her best of charms - "the antics"

WebdeskMar 11, 2021, 12:00 AM IST

Facing do-or-die battle, "Khepatey Mamata" summons her best of charms - "the antics"

Kolkata/New Delhi: 'Drama queen' is at her best yet again summoning all trademark aggression and charms ? At least this is what her political detractors in BJP, CPI(M) and Congress have said about the latest mishap at Nandigram wherein the Trinamool Congress supremo - often mocked for her mannerism - has sustained injuries on her left foot. Believe it or not, a few years back, even the controversial US cable (said to have been leaked) had stated: ".....Due to her unpredictable and high-strung nature, she (Mamata) has succeeded in occupying the political limelight in West Bengal". Ms Mamata Banerjee is often described in Bengali at tea stall 'adda' or elsewhere as Khepatey (a unique mix of unpredictable and mercurial mannerism). And this is not to show any disrespect to her, and not without good reasons ! Not to forget - during the peak of Nandigram agitation during the Left regime, Mamata had reportedly "symbolically" carried the bloodied land of "Nandigram martyrs". Old timers in north Bengal say - in 1996 - opposing her diehard rival Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (then Mamata was also in Congress), the Trinamool supremo had threatened to 'hang' herself by using a 'Dupatta'. She had insisted that Adhir's ticket along with three others should be withdrawn. No doubt, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, now Congress floor leader in Lok Sabha, says - what Mamata has tried to build up about the March 10 incident at Nandigram is "Bhandami (a pure case of fraudulence)". Mamata had tried her theatrics in February 2019 also when she plunged into action and even sat on Dharna trying to prevent CBI officials from reaching the controversial police officer Rajeev Kumar’s residence. She hardly had anything in her favour other than the 'drama' as the CBI was keen to question the then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the multi-crore chit fund scams. Not to forget, her war with the CBI and the centre came on a day, the Left parties organised a successful rally with a huge gathering at the Brigade ground. But her protest drama changed the media headlines altogether! Once she sat at Dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Parliament premises and when Speaker Shivraj Patil flayed the move, she threatened to resign her seat leaving Patil embarrassed. Journalists covering Mamata Banerjee or her party in Delhi also have a share of her antics and typical one-liners. Once a bearded journo when asked her an 'uncomfortable question', she had shot back: "CPI(M)-er lok eshe gechhey (All CPI-M people are now in this room)". Once asked whether she would meet Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Mamata told the scribe, "You cannot decide my tour programme". Many say while Bengal has a tradition of pursuing 'anti-Delhi politics', even Congress leaders including the likes of Netaji Subhas Bose, Chittaranjan Das and Pranab Mukherjee - everyone had their share of glories; but Mamata's theatrics and aggressiveness generally used to be unique. It is not without good reason political observers say that Mamata has quite often used her instinctive understanding of power politics and got these synthesised with antics often turning the table in her favour. Her antics and bizarre administrative suggestion often has left Bengali middle class angry. The 'midnight curfew' on Kolkata's night clubs was her 'solution' to rape; but she has hardly bothered about these. Many say her antics often appeal directly to the poor, and thus such mannerism has often paid political dividends. "Why should someone try to attack Mamata (at Nandigram)?," BJP MP Arjin Singh, one time a Trinamool leader, questions the very rationale of her game. In 2013, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the then Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, got a piece of her mind when SFI and CPI(M) members chanted "Mamata Banerjee hai hai Hatyari Mamata sharm karo" on Lutyen's Parliament Street against lawlessness and anti-Left violence in her state. She claimed her Finance Minister Amit Mitra was heckled and that - "Delhi is not a safe place". She complained to Ahluwalia in front of journalists, "You have created a new precedent. My minister was assaulted". A soft speaking gentleman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia was left dumbfounded. In Lok Sabha, she had stunned her friends and foes alike more than once. If her arrival on wheelchair during Left regime in Bengal forced friends like Sushma Swaraj (of BJP) come closer to her and sympathise, she had left Marxist Speaker Somnath Chatterjee surprised when he disallowed raising of violence in Bengal in Lok Sabha debate. Mamata also has selective amnesia using some as pure theatrics. Once during the Narasimha Rao era, she said she would resign as Union minister when she was defeated by colleague Somen Mitra in elections for the post of President of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee. She never kept her words.

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