Mamata sees allergy in red but doesn't green denote jealousy?

West Bengal chief minister’s decision to change red beacons on VIP vehicles green/yellow is just another stunt that’s leaving the state further stunted, rues a proud Kolkatan


Puja Bhattacharjee | August 21, 2013

Move aside ‘Mirakkel’. You are no competition to Mamata Banerjee’s whole new range of comedy series. Gone are the days of stand-up comedians with their prepared acts. As Mamata-didi plays out her fears and insecurities as chief minister of West Bengal, we get to watch a live comedy show. I pity all those contestants of ‘Mirakkel’, the popular stand-up comedy show, who had to labour, toil and exercise their brains to make sure they made their audiences laugh.  

Look at didi, instead: she effortlessly brings a smile on our faces.
With Banerjee now at the helm of my home state, I have two options. Number one is to slap myself repeatedly at her ridiculous ideas and immature behaviour while silently grieving over the further devastation of West Bengal in the hands of a megalomaniac. The other option is to sit back and enjoy the show she slowly but very entertainingly unravels. I choose to do the latter.

Back in 2011, when she dethroned the Left Front government, I had my share of apprehensions and expectations. Truth be told, it was always known that Banerjee, popularly referred to as Didi, is effervescent in energy and mercurial in temper. The Left Front, especially the CPI(M), had antagonised the people so much during their 30-plus-year rule that they chose the rather jagged and tactless Banerjee over the suave and charismatic Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Initially when Banerjee started painting Kolkata in varied colours of green, blue, purple and white, people were mostly disinterested as they were keener to find out the development the new chief minister had promised to usher in.

So, at times, you would hear someone gushing to a friend that with the new colours, Didi has brought hope to the otherwise sleepy city.

But as time progressed, Banerjee’s actions did more than just unsettle people. By labelling any dissenter as Maoist and CPM supporter (the Presidency College student who was among the first to be called so – on a show on CNN-IBN channel – could not stop smiling even while she was being accused), the chief minister drew the ire of the middle class people who had rooted for her.

And now comes the decision to replace red beacons of VIP vehicles with green or yellow, ostensibly because red is the colour of allergy – and the Left. If there is a method, meaning or logic behind the madness, most of us have missed it. Many of my friends and relatives, till now upset with Banerjee’s behaviour, are now embarrassed to identify themselves from Bengal!

Decades of being associated with politics has surely earned Mamata Banerjee quite a few faithful and tail-wagging yes men, which ensures that her wild schemes of ridding the city of the colour red, instead of focussing on more pressing infrastructure demands, goes unopposed in her own party.

But looking at the lighter side of it, when has a chief minister ever been such a source of comic relief? Yes, Didi, red is the colour of allergy, but isn’t green the colour of jealousy?

Within two years of coming to power, the chief minister has put much of her energy in vindictively wiping off the last remnants of the Left Front government. Writers’ Building and the railway station at Howrah, two iconic structures of the city, along with many smaller insignificant structures are counting their days before they will fall victim to the red allergy.

Leaders should deal with their fears and insecurity of losing power in a composed manner. But Banerjee, it seems, never matured and left the realm of youthful anxiety. Her reactions are akin to those of a jealous lover (love for power) or that of a child being possessive with her toy. She would not let any harm come near the object of her affection (power). As she plays out her insecurities, it is up to the electorate to decide whether they want her antics for a second term. As for me, I will diligently keep scouring the papers every morning to look for her follies. And laugh my guts out.



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