Sister, Soldier

The hard-won victories of Mamata Banerjee

National headlines focus on the misdemeanours of her government and her personal foibles, but within Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is the most popular mass leader since the communist chief minister Jyoti Basu in his heyday.
Jayanta Shaw / REUTERS
National headlines focus on the misdemeanours of her government and her personal foibles, but within Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is the most popular mass leader since the communist chief minister Jyoti Basu in his heyday.
Jayanta Shaw / REUTERS

[I]

DELHI’S CONSTITUTION CLUB was quiet as Kisan Baburao “Anna” Hazare read out the details of his seventeen-point programme to transform India, one afternoon in mid February this year. A group of journalists huddled in respectful silence before him, listening to an expanded recitation of the objectives that had fuelled his tremendously popular movement in 2011—an end to corruption, the return of black money from the shadowy overseas accounts of India’s rich and powerful, comprehensive electoral reform, and so on.

Hazare’s agenda had been sent out, in the form of a petition, to several chief ministers late last year, in the run-up to the Delhi assembly polls. Only one had responded. Seated beside Hazare, dressed in her trademark white sari, the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, listened to him for over half an hour with unusual patience. To their left, just off the dais, sat the Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Kanwar Deep Singh, the billionaire owner of the Alchemist Group, which is currently under investigation for its ownership of several tainted chit funds.

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    Sambuddha Mitra Mustafi is a Fulbright scholar, media entrepreneur and freelance journalist.

    Keywords: Mamata Banerjee West Bengal Maoists coalitions CPI(M) Rajiv Gandhi Atal Bihari Vajpayee Tata Nandigram Singur United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Jyoti Basu political violence
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