How Mamata Banerjee has emerged as the face of the anti-BJP brigade

Leaders of opposition parties have called on her to play a key role in an emerging third front.

 |  4-minute read |   15-11-2018
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Move over big brother (Dada), Didi is here.

If Congress veterans and noted economists such as Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram have given erudite statements on the ills and evils of demonetisation on its second anniversary, Didi’s trusted lieutenants are quick to remind countrymen that Mamata Banerjee was the first to debunk demonetisation before anyone from the Congress.

Didi was also the first to come up with a hashtag, #Darkday, on demonetisation’s second anniversary in a tweet. Renowned economists, common people and all experts now agree. Perhaps she’s right but the constant bragging for being the first one to raise her voice against Modi and being the fearless one to “bell the cat,” is not just a child’s boastful talk. It has layers and layers of meaning and objective.

In this season of cobbling up an anti-Modi platform with different leaders coming up with diverse agenda, it has become essential to project and promote oneself; for the time when there will be a hard bargain for the topmost post. A heavily embellished CV – a ready reckoner as to who has done what to deflate the Modi halo, will surely come handy. At least, so feels Mamata and is pinning her hopes on that. One, therefore, understands the urgency and the frequency with which she is hard-selling her constant and continuous tirade against Modi.

Something else is also playing on her mind: under no circumstances can she allow the Congress to behave as the big brother of the anti-Modi front and let it orchestrate the show. Mamata Banerjee has already appointed TDP leader, Chandrababu Naidu, as the coordinator of her Federal Front, in a huff.

After all, post deserting the NDA boat, Naidu made the first call to Mamata and insisted her to go ahead with the anti-NDA platform. Based on this equation, Mamata thought it prudent to push Naidu to the forefront as an acceptable figure, as one who can bring all the Opposition heads on board.

Naidu has recently taken a major leap by forgetting old rivalry with the Congress and has made it up with Rahul Gandhi, even at the cost of having to risk the TDP’s position in the state. He’ll also be approaching Akhilesh and Mayawati and will request for a unified Opposition.

mamata1-copy_111418125521.jpgMamata Banerjee is cobbling up an anti-Modi platform. (Photo: PTI)

Mamata initiated the process as early as 2017, with leaders of Opposition parties calling on her and requesting her to play the key role. Though there was enthusiasm on the part of the Bengal chief minister, a marked loss of energy was observed on the part of her friends in the Opposition block. There was discontent and differences of opinion over the leadership issue.

In fact, some even called it quits and made it up with Modi, as Congress under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership flexed its muscle and was calling shots as the big brother. While Mamata fumed inside, Mayawati exploded – she was not going to be the part of any permutation and combination unless she was given the respectable number of seats in any form of adjustment.

An embarrassed and annoyed Mamata kept quiet for a while, postponing the exercise of headcount to a rally on January 19, 2019. By that time, the Assembly results of five states will be out and the picture of strength or weakness of the Opposition bloc would be clearer.

Meanwhile, Mamata wants Naidu to reach out to the various leaders and test the waters before her rally. This is because Naidu comes across as a veteran leader with a congenial personality. Moreover, since Naidu’s name is not figuring in the list of possible prime ministerial aspirants, his approach would not smack of personal ambition and greed. Again, Naidu’s new-found friendship with Rahul could be used as an example for those who are dithering to drown their ego.

Naidu, as the coordinator of the Front, is convening a meeting in the capital on November 21-22. He is requesting Mamata to be personally present instead of sending an emissary. In the past, Mamata had given many such meetings hosted by Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar a miss. But this time, Naidu is making sure that the Trinamool Congress supremo attends and a consensus is reached over the formula and strategy of taking on Modi.

Mamata, in all likelihood, might attend as she’s looking for a massive turnout of who’s who of the political world at her Brigade Parade rally. The presence of stalwarts, big names in the Opposition bloc, will not only add force and credence to the anti-NDA momentum, but it will also show the country as to who was the boss in the Opposition camp.

The Trinamool Congress has already started making preparations for the Brigade from October as the show of strength will definitely signal who’s the actual dada or the big brother.

Also read: What's coming in the way of Opposition unity?


Romita Datta Romita Datta

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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