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Why Mamata Banerjee is wary of Rahul Gandhi

Romita Datta
Romita DattaDec 21, 2017 | 11:14

Why Mamata Banerjee is wary of Rahul Gandhi

She was hoping to bell the cat. But Gujarat did it, or to be specific Rahul Gandhi did it. A tad disappointed over the opportunity having slipped through her fingers, Mamata Banerjee was measured in her reaction. Or shall we say "balanced"?

"I congratulate Gujarat voters for their very balanced verdict at this hour. Gujarat voted against atrocities, anxiety and injustice... Gujarat belled the cat for 2019." The seven-line tweet from Mamata was full of praises for Gujarat and its people. Not a single congratulatory message was spared for Rahul Gandhi, even though Rahul had been leading his pack in Gujarat from the front.

The tweet came on the day poll results were announced. The following day, she called up Patidar leader Hardik Patel, congratulated him and was effusive in her praise for the power of the youth behind the emergence of leaders such as Alpesh Thakur and Jignesh Mevani. "The Congress has done well in Gujarat and for this I congratulate the three young men, whose contribution was immense," she said on Tuesday evening.

For some reason, it never occurred to her that another young leader was on the rise and he deserved some credit for single-handedly taking on the BJP, the collective strength of the heavyweight Union cabinet ministers, vociferous in their campaigns, the slanderous attacks and even insinuation of a deep-rooted conspiracy with dollops of Pakistan thrown in to invoke nationalist feelings at the final hour. He has braced it all, not to forget the spectacle of a seaplane and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's heroic entry on the last leg of the polls. A mix of masala, melodrama and a who'd-win-it kind of thrill, made the Gujarat elections the most watchable movie of the year.

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Albeit all this, the fact remains that Rahul has indeed "belled the cat", giving the BJP a tough fight in the Prime Minister's home turf. Ignored all along by the Trinamool Congress chief as a "bachha in politics", immature and imbecile, Rahul had not just sprung a surprise in Gujarat, he has sent many a political ambitions haywire. With Nitish Kumar in the NDA nest, Mayawati shorn of all her political prowess, Naveen Pattnaik not in the race and Rahul still a "Pappu", Mamata was not wrong to think that she was the most suitable person, the real contender to challenge Narendra Modi for the prime minister's post.

In 2012, before walking out on UPA II, she had announced, "Sometimes, someone has to bell the cat." So she belled the cat. And since then, she had taken upon the task of belling the cat at the cost of being victimised by political vendetta. Having given the kind of impression that she alone has the guts to bell the cat and has been doing it consistently, Mamata is finding it hard to accept that someone has done it already and quietly.

And that "someone" is a person she had always as stupid.

According to political analysts, Rahul's gritty performance in Gujarat has thrown a rug over her political ambition. Obviously, she's not liking it. In fact, Rahul's coronation as the president of the grand old party has made her position a little complicated in the Opposition.

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Since the last few years, she has been preparing to be the principal face of the Opposition, doing all the groundwork to cobble up a grand alliance of 17 political parties to trounce Modi and NDA in 2019. She has even risked her party to face the brunt of political vengeance.

The day before Rahul Gandhi was anointed, Mamata at a core committee meeting warned her Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs against cosying up with the Congress in disrupting the proceedings of Parliament. "They cannot take my support for granted. I will not help them in Parliament, while they will create ruckus in the Assembly," she reportedly said at the meeting on December 16. The message was loud and clear - the Trinamool Congress, the third largest party in Parliament, will not add further wind to the Congress's sail and help it in the 2019 elections.

Rahul has not only proved his mettle in Gujarat but also established his position as a challenger. He is raring to bell the cat and so Mamata is left purring.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Last updated: December 21, 2017 | 11:14
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