Kolkata: Even her staunchest of critics would think twice before taking a dig at West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee now. The charismatic lady is on a roll owing to her newfound optimism after a reverberating victory in the state polls.
Banerjee braved all odds – injury, the might of the Modi-Shah duo, innuendos and so on to beat the BJP fair and square returning to power for the third time. And the rest is, of course, history!
The zestful leader is now on a mission to pursue her national ambitions, and why won’t she? TMC has the numbers notwithstanding her own defeat by a whisker in Nandigram to turncoat Suvendu Adhikari. An invitation to the World Peace Conference in Rome is a vindication of her acceptability beyond the borders.
The petite lady aims at not only ousting the BJP from Delhi in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls but also cementing her place as a pan-India leader with maximum outreach.
Banerjee’s venture to garner national support for her party is proof of how expeditiously she is upping the ante to challenge the Gujarati brothers. And there is not even an iota of reluctance in her moves. Be it Tripura or Assam or even BJP’s citadel Uttar Pradesh, Banerjee is steadfast in stamping her authority. TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien’s meeting with former PM HD Deve Gowda could be a precursor to the party’s entry down south.
Her recent decision to observe Khela Hobe Divas in Lucknow on August 16 may not sound ominous for her political opponents (read BJP) now, yet it would not be prudent on their part to brush her off. Didi is making a beginning and any dilly-dallying from BJP and allies could draw their nemesis if not in the next UP polls next year but in the longer run.
So, is Banerjee a PM aspirant? She may scoff at it, but one cannot repudiate that she is slowly and steadily winning acceptance among Opposition leaders. The zeal with which her party is playing a stellar role in attacking the union government is emboldened by her refurbished leadership now at the national level.
The scuffle in Tripura involving her party compatriots is all over the national media. Every jibe she takes at Narendra Modi is lapped up by journalists looking for snappy headlines, her recent Delhi visit in fact, enhanced her status manifold. To say her popularity as a political leader is second only to Modi in the country, may not be an exaggeration if the latest developments are an indication.
But wait! Over ambition can pull you back after a while. Banerjee would not want a repeat of the fiascos of the past when her Race Course Road dreams fizzled with a whimper – the Anna Hazare volte-face leaving her sulking at the Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi before the 2014 Parliamentary Elections and the Punjab dampener can’t be brushed under the carpet. You learn from your past, don’t you?
Finally, a Federal Front has a chequered history in Indian politics – too many cooks spoil the broth. Banerjee has the unenviable job of getting together a number of PM postulants who can pull the adieu trigger anytime. And on top of it, Banerjee has the daunting task of convincing the Gandhis to opt out of the PM race. Running TMC where the buck stops at her table is not in consonance with leading an amalgam of an array of parties with divergence galore. Banerjee would not take the futile path of running roughshod over her team members which could turn out to be detrimental.
But there is a perceptible difference between Mamata of the past and Mamata in 2021. The gaffes seldom appear, aggression is complemented by composure and obstinacy has made way for an ear to suggestions – call it the Prashant Kishor effect, but the change is visible.