They, Modi-Shah, threw everything at Mamata Banerjee, but her citadel, Fort William, held together. The British, they built it well. Modi-Shah encouraged defections, they campaigned like men possessed, they knew what this election meant to them.
They had already slayed the Congress. Only Banerjee stood between them and forever power. If they could slay the Bengali tigress, they could rule India forever. The Bengali tigress got wounded, but she fought back like a wounded tigress. The former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath, has just declared Banerjee the leader of our country today.
Which country? Is Nath living in an alternate universe? The leader of the country is Narendra Damordas Modi, at least until 2024. After that, it remains to be seen. The interesting thing is that Kamal Nath is not even part of the Congress’s G-23 gang of rebels. He has always been seen as a Gandhi family loyalist since his Sanjay Gandhi days. Nath was one of the few Sanjay orphans who was able to switch over to Rajiv Gandhi’s side, perhaps because both attended the Doon School (which Sanjay also did).
His ties with the Gandhi family have remained firm. Jyotiraditya Scindia tried to dislodge him as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, but Sonia-Rahul did not acquiesce. Scindia defected to the BJP, bringing down the Congress government in MP. Sonia-Rahul could easily have made Scindia the CM and retained their government in MP, a crucial state, but they took the side of Nath.
The G-23 has suddenly become the G-24, with Nath as its newest member. Nath has stabbed Sonia in the back. With so much rebellion swirling in her party, how is she expected to take on Modi in 2024? The traitorous twenty-four are determined to end the hegemony of the Gandhi family in the party. Modi only dislodged the Gandhi family from power. The G-24 seems determined to finish the political legacy of the Gandhis.
Mamata made a bid for leadership of the opposition in 2019, but Sonia-Gandhi did not give their blessing. Will they do so now? Remember that Mamata was once part of the Congress. She says that Rajiv Gandhi had said that she would go on to become the president of the Congress. Rajiv was known for his vision, but he might have been slightly off the mark. Banerjee seems headed for 7 Lok Kalyan Marg instead.
The Bengali tigress has dealt a grievous blow to the Gujarati lions (Modi-Shah), but they are not going to give up their hold on power so easily. Governors are the watchdog of the centre in a state. They have a difficult balancing job because they have to consider the interests of the state as well. The CM and the governor often share an uneasy relationship. While the president of India cannot dismiss a prime minister with a majority in the Lok Sabha, a governor can dismiss a CM with a majority in the Vidhan Sabha, albeit only under exceptional circumstances.
Jagdeep Dhankar is the governor of West Bengal. He must be one of the most erudite and articulate people in India. Before swearing in Banerjee for her third term as CM, Dhankar pleaded with Banerjee to stop the post-poll violence in the state. He used the word retribution. It was clear who he was pointing his finger to as the instigator of the violence. Banerjee has had an uneasy relationship with Dhankar, but he was one of the first ones to congratulate her after it seemed that she had won from Nandigram. Banerjee stood grim-faced right through Dhankar’s hectoring.
Banerjee needs to keep the lumpen elements in her party under control if she has to become the PM of India. In defeat grace, in victory humility. The prime ministership is the biggest job of them all. Banerjee has come a long way. But she has a long way to go before she ascends the throne of India. Stopping the violence in West Bengal is the absolute first step for her.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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