All eyes on Mamata as 13 years later she returns to her favourite dharna spot

Thirteen years ago Bengal's "Didi" had at the same spot, the Metro Channel in Kolkata’s Esplanade area, protested against the Left government. The difference this year?

Published: 04th February 2019 02:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th March 2019 07:52 AM   |  A+A-

Mamata Banerjee

Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee at the ''fight to protect the constitution' dharna. (Photo | PTI)

Online Desk

As soon as the CBI-Kolkata police stand-off started taking shape, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to her old political tactic and immediately sat down for a dharna, this time to protect the Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar. 

Thirteen years ago Bengal's "Didi" had at the same spot, the Metro Channel in Kolkata’s Esplanade area, protested against the Left government.  The difference this year? She is now fighting against the BJP at the Centre, which she says is trying to "take control" of West Bengal prior to the Lok Sabha elections.

The dharna came after a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team was detained by the Kolkata police on Sunday night when they tried to raid the top cop's Loudon street residence for allegedly holding back evidence in the Saradha and Rose Valley chit-fund, which had brought Trinamool leaders under the corruption lense.

Following a quick conversation with Rajeev Kumar, the West Bengal CM started her "Satyagraha to save the  Constitution". Mamata was accompanied by a few state ministers and senior police officials.

As mentioned earlier, the Metro Channel is the very spot where she held her hunger strike in 2006 during her Singur land agitation against the Left regime. Mamata then sat on a 26-day hunger strike. 

In January 2008, the land acquisition case after making the rounds of both the High Court and the Supreme Court, finally ended with a win for Mamata. A few months later, Ratan Tata formally announced that he would move the Nano project from West Bengal. That was the first time; Trinamool Congress tasted victory in Bengal.

The following Assembly election, with the success of  Nandigram and Singur agitation, the Mamata-led Trinamool won 184 seats putting an end to the 34-year long Left rule. She became the first woman CM of the state. 

Mamata vs Centre: Why the standoff now

The ruling BJP has been eyeing West Bengal for a long time.

West Bengal remains one big state where the party has failed to make their presence felt until recently. With the Left being the dominant party for a long time, the right-wing has had very little say in West Bengal's post-Independence political history. This is a fact BJP stalwarts like Lal Krishna Advani have often lamented, given that Bengal is the birthplace of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of Jana Sangh.

However, the vote-base of the BJP has slowly risen since 2014 and now the right-wing party has been making efforts to lure the Hindu voters in the state where Banerjee has been routinely accused of minority appeasement.

The BJP which only had a 17% vote share in 2014 made substantial growth in the 2018 panchayat polls. Earlier, the party's vote bank was limited to the non-Bengali speaking population, indications are that it is now making headway into rural Bengal. 

Mamata, who was once part of the NDA for a brief stint in 1999, has been critical of the Narendra Modi government. With the possible "mahagatbandhan" falling into place prior to the Lok Sabha elections, she is one of the Prime Ministerial contenders in the likelihood of a split mandate. 

She could also be a kingmaker in the elections. In 2014, out of 42 Lok Sabha seats, Trinamool won 34 and the BJP was left confined to two seats in Asansol and Darjeeling.

The Mamata-Modi stand-off took place in 2018 after her government started denying permissions to the right-wing party to take out Rath Yatras. Modi, who was in the state recently, launched an attack on her and held her responsible for the increasing violence. 

Now, we have the fresh stand-off brewing between Modi and Mamata. It is unprecedented to see a state police unit and the Central Bureau of Investigation clash with each other in this manner. No matter which way things now move, Banerjee sure has managed to grab the national limelight.


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