West Bengal has had a strange and eventful 2016

While 'W' of 'West' wobbling on its feet in Bengal, one alphabet that has been a clear winner is undoubtedly 'M'.

 |  4-minute read |   22-12-2016
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West Bengal made a sincere effort to shed off the “West” or what it felt was a sheer waste (of time).

Having had to wait for six hours to get her turn to speak at a meeting of council of ministers in New Delhi, just because the “W” in West Bengal alphabetically occupies the fourth position from the last, was torturous for chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Without wasting time, while waiting in the auditorium she texted the chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee to set rolling the exercise of name-change. She suggested Bengal in English and Bangla in Bengali, keeping in mind the positioning of the alphabet B.

The state Assembly saw a heated debate, BJP insisting on keeping “West,” as doing away will blot out the painful memories of Partition.

Though the Bill was passed in the West Bengal Assembly by virtue of majority votes, the final decision lies with the Centre.

“W” of “West” is wobbling on its feet whether to be or not to be with Bengal, but one alphabet, which has been a clear winner in the 2016 calendar of West Bengal was undoubtedly “M.” It was the year of Mamata, Mother Teresa and Mahasweta Devi.

The year began with Mamata facing a tough challenge from a combined Opposition of the Left and the Congress. On top of that allegations of scam and corruption were hounding her party and she had a difficult and severe Election Commission breathing down her neck during the run up to the Assembly polls. Yet despite all the odds oddly stacked against her, Mamata came out a winner trampling down the Opposition.

A landslide victory and a two-third mandate for her party sealed the fate of West Bengal, at least for the next five years. Riding the crest of success Mamata pledged to silence the voices of dissent and close the chapter of opposition, if any, in what Mamata proudly claims to be the altar of democracy.

mamata-body_122216031829.jpg West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. (Credit: PTI)

Not content with West Bengal alone, Mamata is spreading her wings in the Hindi heartland. The objective is to gang up with the regional satraps against Modi and challenge him in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

She’s crying hoarse against Modi’s demonetisation gamble and drumming up support among people, the daily wage earners, the farmers, the middle and lower middle class, who are sweating it out every day in long queues outside banks and post offices.

Mamata’s sympathy is bearing fruits. She has once again succeeded in upholding her image as an activist, a Didi, who felt for the commoners.

Bengal has lost another M, the Magsaysay awardee, “Haajar Churasir Ma,” (Mother of one thousand and Eighty Four), Mahasweta Devi.

Mahasweta, a renowned writer and social activist, whose writings focused on the marginalised communities, the oppressed, passed away on June 22, 2016 at the ripe old age of 90. Mahasweta and Mamata shared a good rapport. It was Mahasweta Devi, who wrote for the need for change or paribartan of the 34 years of Left Front rule in Bengal in her fiery columns in 2010-11, which made the civil society and the intellectuals give the call for change.

“Bengal has lost a glorious mother. I have lost a personal guide,” a heartbroken Mamata said at her condolence speech.

Amid the scene of despair and loss, the news that came as a shaft of light for the people of Bengal was Mother Teresa being conferred sainthood. Mamata went to the Vatican city to witness the canonisation ceremony. But not going by the old adage—“When in Rome do as the romans do,” Mamata chose to be a quintessential Bengali, singing lines of Tagore and popular songs in Bengali, as she trudged along on the cobbled roads of Vatican with her team.

It was a piece of Bengal in the land of Pope and Mamata in her trade mark white saree with blue border, the uniform for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, made a perfect sister-ly picture. After all, she’s Bengal’s Didi (the elderly sister in Bengali parlance).

Also read: Mamata Banerjee's idea of a military coup is ridiculous


Romita Datta Romita Datta

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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