This was really the mother of all polls, or rather, didi of all polls. As it turned out, it became didi’s polls, both before and after and all through. And finally, the counting day, the D-day became didi’s day. And with a stunning, staggering number of 215, which the BJP haughtily claimed would be its, didi has set the tone for a new math in the nation’s political arithmetic.
Bengal has always been an unruly State. Basu’s ‘commies’ had laid it waste for over four decades till around 2010. Earlier, when Cong ruled, Bengal was the bastion of Naxalites. This was all quite unlike Bengal’s hallowed history. This first British Capital was also the intellectual Capital of India. It bred reformers, revolutionaries, rationalists and religionists alike. From Ram Mohan Roy to Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Vidyasagar to Bankim Chandra, Satyendranath Nath Bose to Subash Chandra Bose, Aurobindo to Tagore, greats of all shades shone once from this land from where the Holy Ganga bids goodbye to Bharath.
But today, as these nasty elections have once again shown, Bengal has moved some more light years from its historic moorings. While it was a savage fight from all parties, the BJP plunged new depths in its campaign and tactics. The most obvious and much discussed one is that all the top leaders were continuously camped up in Bengal, when a most devastating disease was raging across the nation, laying waste lives and livelihoods. For them, defeating Mamata was more important than defeating the pandemic. Is she a terrorist or a national threat, warranting such hostile attention, from PM to his whole parivar?
Personal vilification of Mamata was the pivot of BJP’s campaign. It beats me why these leaders had developed such hatred for her. It seems more than political. A chauvinistic urge to destroy a simple lady who dared to defy them. Amit Shah particularly had made Bengal his home, Mamata-abuse his mother-tongue and baiting and berating her his whole-time vocation. All this during Covid. The HM’s unbecoming utterings rendered in a sarcastic baritone were at best revolting and at worst nauseating.
But then, the HM despite his own personal animosity and agenda, was only the cutting edge. He was just echoing the booming, bombastic voice of his master, the PM and the overlord of all he surveys, Hail Him! For a person in high official positions, there are protocols. Our man loves them, besides the daily designer suits, Covid or no Covid. But rallies and roadside meetings impose no such rules or restrictions. Indeed, the crowd was a matter to be proud of, to hell with Covid and critics. So, there he was, Modi unplugged, back in his vintage village teashop days, dishing out stuff like ‘didi o didi’, ‘didi hare’ and so forth delivered in the most contemptible, sexist lingo and lisp. The cheap taunts were endless and would haunt the finer feelings of decent folk for long.
BJP’s Bengal siege was long and intense. Apart from HM, PM, the party chief often pitched his tent, as did a host of biggies. And for all of them, Mamata’s constituency Nandigram was the target. They had put up a last-minute TMC turncoat as her opponent. The entire army rallied to fell one woman, with the PM mocking Mamata during the third phase that it was still not too late to choose another constituency. She did not. Her seeming loss there is a shameful victory for the BJP.
I am tempted to call her a giant-killer; But then they were all not giants but small, petty men gnawing at her soles, fit only to be stamped out, as it finally happened. So, for now let’s congratulate her for making Bengal play a critical role in the nation’s history, as it had in the past.
Thanks, didi! You did it.