Truth behind Mamata Banerjee calling on ailing Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Opponents believe it was a move to shift the focus from the ongoing violence allegedly unleashed by TMC workers ahead of panchayat polls in Bengal.

 |  3-minute read |   06-04-2018
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Why did Mamata Banerjee choose to call on Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on the same day as the latter's party colleague and former MP was thrashed by alleged Trinamool activists?

She couldn't have timed it better even as media channels showed a blood-spattered face and head of former CPI(M) MP Ram Chandra Dom, a victim of the violence, allegedly unleashed by the Trinamool Congress henchmen to prevent the Opposition candidates from filing nominations for panchayat polls.

Criticism and condemnation flew thick and fast, especially when senior Trinamool leader Partha Chatterjee feigned ignorance about the incident. As TV channels prepared to dwell on the ongoing violence, all of a sudden, the focus got shifted.


Chief minister Mamata Banerjee suddenly felt the urge to call on an ailing Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, still considered one of the biggest crowdpullers for the Left brigade. She dropped in at his Palm Avenue residence, spent half an hour, enquiring about his health, talking about books but not a word on politics.

She came out and shared with the media what happened inside. A little over a month ago, Banerjee had instructed her officials to repair her predecessor Bhattacharjee's house and had sent her best wishes and sweets on the occasion of his birthday. She was willing to visit him then as well, but since Bhattacharjee was not keeping well and was not ready to meet visitors, she had to drop her plans.

But visiting Bhattacharjee on the same day as her party supporters and workers allegedly unleashed a spate of violence was a politically calibrated move to shift the focus from the ongoing tension.

The purpose was to send a message to people that she as an individual has a big heart and can rise above petty politics. By dropping in at Bhattacharjee's place and spending some time with him, she succeeded in diluting the bile that the Left brigade was spewing on Trinamool Congress for mercilessly attacking their leaders.

The Left leaders definitely had to be cautious in choosing their invectives against the Trinamool Congress, for the chief minister yet again projected a rare example of political decency, irrespective of what her ultimate motive was.

Political observers, however, felt that the signal was for the masses - the Left comrades and supporters who were choosing to leave the flock and join the BJP. It was a clear message that party supporters and workers, looking for a shelter, should consider the Trinamool Congress and not the BJP as an option. This is because the nominations for panchayat polls filed so far indicate that only Trinamool Congress and BJP candidates are neck-and-neck in the contest, leaving the Congress and the Left far behind.

Rumours are rife that the increase in the vote share of the BJP is happening at the expense of the Left and so it could be a ploy to indicate that Mamata Banerjee is a firm believer of the Leftist ideology, as is often said she's more Left than the the Left, and had good relation with leaders such as Jyoti Basu and shares good equation with current leaders such as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Somnath Chatterjee.

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Romita Datta Romita Datta

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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