State within a state: Decline and Fall of the Mamata empire
Dr CV Anada Bose
Imperium in imperio (empire within an empire or state within a state), is an age-old precept of political science. But the Mamata Raj has taken it to a comedy show of ludicrous proportions. If democracy means putting the will of the man-on-the-street onto the seat of government, here is Mamata Ji as a Chief Minter putting government back on the street. The street smart Mamata’s governance seems to give anarchy the undeserved respectability of dictated democracy. In the days of the holy Roman empire (not the unholy Roman on10 Janpath), where the infallibility of the Pope was sacrosanct, any dispute of import used to be resolved with the decisive statement in Latin, ‘Roma locuta est, causa finita’, i.e. ‘Rome has spoken, the case is closed’. In Mamata land, the dictum is, ‘Mamata has spoken, the case is closed’.
Sans constitution, sans the rule of law, sans federal propriety, Mamata wants to rule the roost with anarchy on the one hand and intimidation, on the other. Sultana Mamata wants to be the ‘monarch of all she surveys’, reminding students of history about the presumptuous assertions of James I of England who stuck to the divine origin of kings or Louis XIV of France who claimed, ‘I am the State’. Mamata ji believes and tries to make others believe that she is the ‘be-all and end-all’ of Bengal. Her macabre actions and quixotic deeds point to a situation where the democratic world finds itself baffled and bewildered. The police is used not to prevent crimes but to protect the criminals, particularly of the political variety who dominate the corridors of power.
The perpetrators of Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams may have looted and plundered more than a million and a half citizens of the state, the proceeds of which would have fattened the bellies of the power-hungry politicians but Mamata ji finds it her moral (immoral?) responsibility to shield all of them as they happen to be ‘our men’. The complicity of Mamata herself in the mother of scams in Bengal is an open secret and the talk of the town. In the great writer Dante’s ‘Inferno’, the welcome sign reads, ‘abandon all hopes, ye who enter here’. Mamata ji seems to have adopted this as her fond greetings on the Writer’s Building in Kolkata. If sonar Bangla means golden Bengal for the patriots and nationalists of the state, it only means gold filled political future for the looters and hoarders of Mamata’s corruption brigade. With street-smart political stratagems and ruses, Mamata could throw away the three-decade-old rule or rather misrule of the Communists in West Bengal by masquerading before the public as a damsel in distress. Once in power, Mamata started to outcommunist the communists by unleashing a reign of terror on her subjects. She made the peaceful society of Bengal come under the oppressive impact of a politics of terror, of intimidation, of murder, all under the protective garb of the ruling government.
Opposition parties flocked to the dharna pandal of Mamata ji reminding one of the locusts who come in sweep not to protect but destroy the emerging greens of democracyWaylaying the opponents through wanton display of muscle power, booth capturing and political deceit became the hallmark of ‘Didigiri’. In her State within the State, the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution were thrown to the wind with impunity, and political opposition was brutally suppressed by defacing and defiling the Constitution. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was denied permission to land on the independent republic of Didi’s Bengal. Formidable political rivals like Amit Shah, the undisputed leader of the ruling party at the Centre, was denied the ‘Didi visa’ to enter the territory of Bengal. Freedom of speech and freedom of movement were subjugated through subterfuges, and Mamata land became the blunder land of political chicanery.
Latest in the series, perhaps not the last of these absurd dramas on the quixotic stage of Didi, is the ‘arrest’, or rather roughing up of the custodians of law, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Mamata ji, in her self-assumed role as the centre of brazen Intimidation (Didi version of CBI), turned the cops into thieves and thieves into cops. Never before has Indian democracy reached such a humiliating nadir of degeneration than in the perverted republic of Didi. In Samuel Butler’s book, ‘Erewhon’, right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. There sickness is a crime and punished mercilessly. Crime is considered sickness and treated empathetically. In the topsy turvy Republic of Didi, Erewhon seems to be the holy book. Mobocracy has replaced democracy.
The latest victim of the abominable Didiism happens to be the prestigious investigating agency of the nation, CBI. To set the record straight, what did the CBI do? Under instructions of the apex court, the CBI went out on its mission of probing the Rs 60,000 crore Saradha and Rose valley chit scams. The chief of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) setup by the Mamata Government with the IPS officer Rajeev Kumar as its head was found to have erred in his task and CBI reported this matter to the Supreme Court. Despite three notices sent to the Rajeev Kumar over three years, he deliberately evaded the CBI interrogation. The Supreme Court chastised the CBI also for its laxity and ordered them to expedite the probe. Armed with this authority, the CBI went to the residence of the recalcitrant officer to elicit information vital to the probe. Rajeev Kumar was also suspected of having suppressed, withdrawn, tampered with or even destroyed substantial documentary evidence. The attempt of the CBI to enter the residence of the Police Commissioner Rajeev was well within its powers and duty as ordered by the Supreme Court. CBI interim chief, M Nageswara Rao, said that CBI officials had gone to record Kumar’s statement as the agency had evidence of irregularity in the probe conducted by the state SIT. The fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court, at one stage, had directed the state of Bengal to ‘cooperate’ with the investigation and the state police wrote to the CBI offering cooperation.
‘How dare you come to my police commissioner’s residence for investigation?’ This pernicious attitude of the Chief Minister is an open challenge to the constitution and the rule of law. It sounds like, ‘I am the Roman emperor and therefore above grammar’. Roughing up of the officers of the CBI by the Kolkata police is nothing but an affront, to say the least, to the rule of law. Here is a rare instance of dog biting dog under the crafty cunningness of a political fox. Finally, the Supreme Court had to direct that the commissioner of police should be questioned and Didi made a political somersault calling it a victory. Certainly, it is ‘much ado about nothing’ and, no doubt, ‘a comedy of errors’
The nation should read the writings on the wall. Democracy is in peril. Balkanisation of the country looms large in the horizon when local political satraps scheme and design to carve out their princely states in the sacred space provided by democracy and the Constitution. Mamata’s self-aggrandisement and megalomania is leading her down the dark alleys of destabilisation of the federal structure and will cause dissent and disaffection among the populace. India is for Indians whether they belong to the east or the west or the north or the south. This land cannot be divided into principalities where self-seeking myopic politicians can build their little fiefdoms, nay evil empires. The voice of the silent majority in democratic India reverberates in unison against the lurking danger of balkanising India and destroying the essential Indianness to create personal fiefdoms by turning Indian states into pocket boroughs of transient political power blocks.
Opposition parties flocked to the dharna pandal of Mamata ji reminding one of the locusts who come in sweep not to protect but destroy the emerging greens of democracy. For whom the bell tolls. The nation is watching. Jawaharlal Nehru once said, ‘freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might’. Do the scions of his dynasty realise that democracy is in peril and are they willing to defend it with all their might. RaGa of Congress may better realise that the raga of democracy should flow smoothly, with mother India at the centre.
The man on the street says this is the time when the Constitution should be activated, the court should act, the Centre should be proactive, and the public should react. Give Mamatagiri an inch, and Didi knows how to take a mile. She is undoubtedly taking the whole nation for a ride. This should end. When the politicians follow the policy of appeasement Hitlers come, conflicts come. What the nation now wants is action, not an alibi for inaction. India looks up to the incorrupt and incorruptible Narendra Modi to act decisively and end the massacre of democracy being plotted on Didi land in Kolkata. We believe in the invincibility of the Constitution of India which ‘we the people’ have given to ‘ourselves’. Free the people of Bengal from fear, and they will ensure Didi becomes the proverbial do do of Indian politics in the blessed land of, Sonar Bangla.
Who is afraid of Virginia Wolf. Who is afraid of Mamata Banerjee. The rule of law, definitely, is. Once upon a time, not very long ago, a state Chief Minister was interrogated by the CBI for nine hours. His Home Minister was not only quizzed but arrested and imprisoned. Neither the Chief Minister nor the Home Minister went on to stage a street play against the law and the constitution. Listen for a while, Mamata Ji, you might perhaps have heard the name of that Chief Minister. His name is Narendra Modi. His Home Minister was Amit Shah. Moral of the story? Those in power should respect the rule of law.
In Indian mobocracy, Mamta ji is the undisputed queen of hearts. Her stature has mythological proportions. In Greek mythology, there is a monster called Medusa. She vanquished all heroes who went to dare her in combat. Perseus, the hero, held a mirror before Medusa. Seeing her heinous and dreadful face in the mirror, she was frightened and fell down stone-dead. Sorry Didi, the great Indian democracy is sure going to show its mirror before your mobocratic loathsomeness, and the Medusa in you is slated for its dead sure end. Remember Didi, you can fool some people for all times and all people for sometimes but not all people for all times.
Who is afraid of Virginia Wolf. Who is afraid of Mamata Banerjee. The rule of law, definitely, is. Once upon a time, not very long ago, a state Chief Minister was reportedly interrogated by the CBI. His Home Minister was not only quizzed but later arrested and imprisoned. Neither the Chief Minister nor the former Home Minister went on to stage a street play against the law and the constitution. Listen for a while, Mamata Ji, you might perhaps have heard the name of that Chief Minister. His name is Narendra Modi. His former Home Minister was Amit Shah. Moral of the story? Those in power should respect the rule of law.
(The writer is retired IAS officer)