Box Populi

Mamata: Calling all Bengalis!

By Khristina Patra



"See, this person is ill. Please take him and get him some medication."

There are cheers and chaos all around the residence of West Bengal's to-be new Chief Minister, as she coaxed her supporters to help a fainting audience-member.

She was a simple woman from lower middle-class family. She was not anyone's daughter, anyone's wife, sister, or acquaintance. Say hello to Mamata Banerjee, a woman who fought the fight of her life, a fight for 'poriborton' (change) in Bengal, a sole woman in Bengal politics.

Indeed, today is a historic day for WB. A visibly moved didi, announced from the entrance to her home, "Bengal people are waiting since 35 years. This is victory of the people. We want to see the victory of the democracy. This is the public, they are the winners." Yes, the Left no longer rules Bengal; today the 'green' wave has swept off the 'red' that was dominant for 34 years.

From since I know how to read and write, I knew that the communist flag was an integral part of Bengal politics. Every election time, the Congress and BJP would 'try', mind you, just try to compete, but everytime they would fail miserably.

The woman is crazy, I used to think earlier, when I would hear in the news that she:

  • Danced on bonnet of an MLA's car
  • Brandished (or threw) a chair in Parliament
  • Stood in the pouring rain as an act of protest
  • and, not to mention:
  • Held full-grown men by their collars
Make no mistake; I am not a a political junkie or enthusiast. And yet, this win has an integral meaning in my life, as well as the lives of many Bengalis and Kolkatans, whether living in Bengal, Kolkata or are displaced.

Over the years, so many people have left Bengal to pursue the 'greener pastures' of other developing states. Whether for education, industry, or simply well-paying jobs, I know of so many who packed their bags and never looked back (myself included).

A closed economy, is that what we were known to be? Our roads, infrastructure, entertainment options, heck, even our airport, is one of the worst in the country. And why? Because of a government which believes in a movement that aims at a classless and stateless society?

I am happy that Mamata 'didi' (as everyone calls her) is becoming the CM of Bengal. Who knows what the future will bring? Few days back, on a particular TV channel showing a program about Mamata, I heard someone say, 'Now, it's the known devil versus the unknown devil.' True. But, as is evident by the landslide victory, people of Bengal want to experience the unknown devil.

Now, 'Maa, maati, maanush' (mother, motherland, people) is going to be the tagline of the new government in Bengal. Do we see 'probashi Bangali' (displaced Bengalis) returning to the motherland in a few years' time? I end with the done-to-death (but only apt) line, Only time will tell.

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