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October 24, 2011

Mamata Banerjee on the way to re-implement `Bengal Renaissance`, brings about the aura of development

Mamata Banerjee on the way to re-implement `Bengal Renaissance`, brings about the aura of development

Bringing change is not an easy job though, one has to confront on all spheres, Mamata Banerjee is a name of conviction and she has taken a plunge to bring back the lost glory of Bengal. Many will like her style while some may prefer to differ, whether you accept or not, the fact remains that nobody can even dare to question her integrity towards Maa-Mati-Manush.

Pallab Ghosh

takes a close-up look.

When my editor assigned me to write a feature on the ‘winds of change’ blowing across the Paschimbanga after Mamata Banerjee taking over as the Chief Minister, I was bit confused and kept thinking as how to begin my story, for the simple reason that it is not easy to sum up her personality rather an enigma and no words can explain the mass adulation and admiration she receives as people are more than delighted to have her as their Chief Minister since past 34-years saw a sulk in all spheres from industry to education and even health sector. Her slogan of Maa-Mati-Manush is a philosophy which she inculcates in her and wants all to follow. Personally, having seen Mamata Banerjee in Delhi in various programmes and seeing her after the elections as the Chief Minister of the state is a huge difference, she was a then a representative of the people of West Bengal in the Lok Sabha and now is one of them who prefers to be their favorite `Didi` (elder sister) as it allows to have an interact with the masses.

The state rose to awakening during the Bengal Renaissance and a new cult in art, culture, theater, music, visual art and literature was introduced which took Bengal to the epitome of culture. Likewise, with Mamata Banerjee as the Chief Minister of the state, a new era has just begun. The history was written nearly many years ago when she was grabbed by her hair and brutally beaten up at the Hazra virtually left to die, while a protest rally, when she took a pledge within herself that she would defeat the Left Front regime and make her presence felt. However, after that there was a no stopping for this lady who came close to masses traveling many ups and downs. In 2009, the Trinamool Congress made its presence felt in the state bagging 19 MP seats, among them 5 women (including Banerjee). Until then, the Congress victory of 16 seats in 1984, by the sympathy vote after the death of Indira Gandhi, was considered the best show of opposition. Mamata Banerjee as the Railways Minister for second consecutive time announced numerous successful railway projects and presenting a passenger friendly budget. Though, on many occasions she was criticized by the opposition accusing her of being partial and diverting various projects to her home state. Mamata Banerjee always maintained, `I am proud of my state and will continue to work for it, I owe it to my state`.


Well, talking of `Paribartan` or change the first thing that come to my mind while going down the memory lane is how she had her calm on many occasions in the past when her arch critic, the Left Front government left no stone unturned to criticize and humiliate her but an undeterred Mamata Banerjee instead of getting provoked, preferred to keep her calm and requested other to do the same. Her slogan of `Bodla Noi Bodol Chai` (we want change not revenge) worked miracle when people realized that she was bringing a new philosophy into the Bengal politics and decided to give her an opportunity to express herself, thus the `winds of change` began blowing across Paschimbanga. The atmosphere around Paschimbanga was basking with positivity and freshness, gone were the days when walls painted with the symbol of hammer and sickle in red; green was seen all over instead.  `This is an unique gesture as anybody standing at this juncture and been humiliated by the Left would have infused hatred among the people but Didi asked the masses to maintain calm and concentrate on the development, only she can think like this`, said Someswhar Sengupta who also added, `A perfect way to start afresh and we are proud that she is our Chief Minister`.

`Audhotto charte hobe, manush r aro kachey ponchote hobo, jodi manush r kachey na jete paren tahole rajniti cheredin` (you will have to shed off the ego and audacity as only then you will be able to reach out to the masses and if you can’t then there is no place for you in politics) was the immediate advice to her ministers and MLAs and party workers. She made it very clear to them that in no circumstances she would tolerate harassment to people and if she comes across any such complains then she would not hesitate to take stringent measures. There are many occasions when she has went a step ahead and proved her integrity towards the public. One such example was when she openly announced that the party will not hesitate to denounce and even take action against those found indulging in threatening and collecting funds from businessmen in the name of party. She even instructed her people to keep a strong vigil on such matters and report to her.

Mamata Banerjee has always been sympathetic and compassionate towards the masses and have always identified with them and tried to stand beside them in the time of distress and pain. This reminds me of two occasions in Delhi which left her mark among the Delhi-ites. The incident took place on the day of Mamata Banerjee was to be sworn-in as Railways Minister, while on her way to Parliament she came across a man being hit by a car and she immediately stepped out of her car and asked the officials to do the needful and reached house late but she was received with applause. In yet another incident Didi was the first to reach the Lalita Park area in Laxmi nagar in East Delhi when a house collapsed killing nearly 70 and injuring many, a majority of the victims were migrant workers. Mamata Banerjee rushed to the site straight from the airport and made arrangements for the dead bodies to be sent back home. There are numerous instances in the past when she has stood beside Maa-Mati-Manush, a philosophy which she firmly believes in. In the recent weeks her trip to Sikkim and North Bengal after a devastating earth quake rocked killing and injuring thousands also depicts the same sentiments and concern for the Maa-Mati-Manush.   

`I will not tolerate any inconvenience caused to public in the name of my security and I will be happy if extra attention is not given to me rather interest of masses is foremost to me`. The Chief Minister expressed her dissatisfaction and said, `I will forgo my security if I am taken seriously as I am concerned over the harassment being caused to people`, reiterated Mamata Banerjee. The recent incident which made the onlookers spellbound when on her way back from the Jangalmahal trip when the security stopped the incoming traffic (a regular feature under any security movement) to give way to her convoy but Ms. Banerjee got down from her car and asked the police to let the traffic pass as she can wait and decided to wait till the traffic passed waving hands at their favorite Didi. Many would feel this is an isolated incident but actually this shows the attitude and temperament of the person and when it is the Chief Minister herself coming out on the road to wave hands at the crowd or interact with them it’s bound to make headlines.

The year 2011 being the 150th anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, many programmes were organized across Paschimbanga, the major one took place on 22 e Srabon (Tagore’s death anniversary as there was election during the time of his birth anniversary) She initiated many special programmes on this occasion including instructing all the educational institutions across the state to organize programmes. However, a compassionate Mamata Banerjee requested not to ask the children to attend school on Sunday on this ground as she would not like them to spoil their Sundays. An excited Mamata Banerjee was seen taking part in a walk along with the children and masses. In a unique initiative, she introduced playing of Rabindrasangeet at the traffic signals. Many accepted it while some criticized as good initiatives always face criticisms.

Talking of changes that she has brought in Paschimbanga is endless ranging from art and culture to health to education and even on the administrative front and she made it a point that the people in the state are able to express their grievances and anguish to their Didi. To bring this change she began with a complete revamping of officials at the Writers’ Building and bringing many senior officers from New Delhi. This was the eye opener for those who had basked in the glory of being government servant and doing nothing at the Writers’ Building during the Left regime as they could hear the warning bells ringing. `My brother used to go to office little before lunch, I used to tell my elder brother that he must be in the office on time but he did not bother to even listen to me but with Mamata Banerjee taking office he not only gets on time but at the same time is scared of his past records`, said Subankar, a taxi driver whose brother works in health department at the Writers’ Building.

However, her recent visit to Jangalmahal and Darjeeling too reflects her concern for the problems which if solved will not only make the locals happy but at the same time will be able to contribute in the economy of the state. She not only warned the separatists to give up violence to enter a dialogue but at same time openly challenged terror outfits operating in Jangalmahal to come forward and kill her and her men if they feel that the voice of gun was mightier than that of peace as she was least scared of death. `If you feel that you can kill me and that will serve your purpose then I request you to kill me, remember you are a coward and acting like `Supari Killer` but I will prefer to stand in the open to face your gun, I will take masses with me and I challenge you of the consequences`, she said. This in itself is a beginning as nobody bothered to visit these affected areas in the past unlike Mamata Banerjee.

Call it a ` Bengal Renaissance` or `Paribartan`, this is just the beginning and there will be many hurdles and obstacles on the way. Some will accept her style while few will criticize but the fact remains that inspite of everything she is taking the initiative to put the state on the world map as for her nothing exists beyond humanity.  Mamata Banerjee is a name of conviction and the initiative she has taken is immense, to infuse the philosophy of `change` is like breaking into the barrier of reluctance that existed for 34-years of misrule in the state and will require both time and patience.