To match Mamata Banerjee together with her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik is like making an attempt to tell apart chalk from cheese, although such an try has been occurring since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s post-cyclone assembly with the West Bengal chief minister led to a fiasco on Friday.
Ever since Mamata skipped a deliberate assembly at Kalaikunda airbase with the Prime Minister, who visited West Bengal and Odisha to take inventory of the injury finished by Cyclone Yaas, BJP politicians and the Twitterati with a specific political bent of thoughts have been extraordinarily harsh on the chief minister. That the PM had a particularly ‘cordial and civil’ assembly with the Odisha chief minister on the identical day was cited to sentence Mamata.
“It’s a brand new low,” mentioned Union house minister Amit Shah. Ministers from Rajnath Singh to Dharmendra Pradhan additionally criticised her closely whereas some indulged in below-the-belt feedback. Suhel Seth, a businessman and commentator with an opinion on nearly something, was caustic. “It’s good to keep in mind refinement and sophistication deliver added worth. As does a good schooling and a excessive degree of studying…” he tweeted referring to Naveen’s trademark civility that was once more on show throughout the Prime Minister’s transient go to. However that the praise was additionally a veiled barb on another person with a less-privileged background and completely different temperament was not misplaced.
For all these commenting on the way during which @Naveen_Odisha handles issues: you should keep in mind refinement and sophistication deliver added worth. As does a good schooling and a excessive degree of studying. Therefore he’s completely different…
— SUHEL SETH (@Suhelseth) Might 28, 2021
Whether or not Mamata was proper in doing what she did is a matter of debate. Maybe she may have proven extra tact and attended the assembly no matter her intense displeasure over what she believes are fixed and deliberate provocations by the Centre. However Mamata is mercurial and he or she selected to snub Modi in her means. She stored the Prime Minister, together with the state governor and two central ministers, ready. Then she walked in together with her chief secretary, handed over a listing of calls for to the Prime Minister and exited, leaving Modi to conduct the assembly. Pictures of the 2 conferences the Prime Minister held in Bengal and Odisha instructed the contrasting tales. Footage of the Bengal assembly confirmed chairs on one facet of the venue empty. In Odisha, the venue was full with the chief minister and different state officers in attendance.
Now, the query is why did the chief ministers of two neighbouring states hit by the identical cyclone react in a different way to the PM’s go to for the aim of figuring out damages and increasing assist in rebuilding? Properly, the reply lies not simply within the completely different personalities that Mamata and Naveen are, but in addition within the sharply completely different political realities of their respective states. No much less necessary, the 2 are completely different prospects for themselves. Aggressively challenged by the BJP, Mamata is preventing to carry on to her chair and safe her political future. In distinction, Naveen—at present the nation’s longest-serving chief minister who has been within the place since 2000—has far much less at stake for himself. In his seventies and never in good well being, he’s searching for to safe his legacy, and niceties are completely so as in his scheme of issues.
Had a really productive evaluation assembly in Bhubaneswar. We are going to proceed working collectively to strengthen catastrophe administration capabilities, an space the place Odisha has made commendable strides. https://t.co/1mcAxub4nE
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) Might 29, 2021
However greater than their contrasting private traits and particular person stakes, it’s the political realities of the 2 states which are the explanation behind Mamata and Naveen reacting in a different way. For instance, Naveen received the 2019 re-election handsomely, defeating a resurgent BJP within the state squarely. It’s not that the BJP didn’t go all out towards him. However having bitten the mud on the polls, the saffron occasion has gone nearly quiet in Odisha. However for perfunctory statements and some odd protest rallies, the BJP has left Naveen undisturbed. It’s a tacit admission that the occasion can not match Naveen in a state the place polarisation is tough due to its miniscule Muslim inhabitants.
It has, nevertheless, been a wholly completely different story in Bengal. Having misplaced the elections—securing a disappointing 77 towards the projected tally of greater than 200—the occasion has not given Mamata a respite even for a day. As quickly because the outcomes have been introduced, the occasion launched a high-decibel marketing campaign towards political violence that they claimed was focused towards their staff. The accusation although was solely partly true. Whereas extra BJP staff have been probably killed within the violence, supporters of Mamata’s Trinamool Congress too have been focused in locations. The BJP was additionally discovered to be giving the violence a communal spin by making specious claims.
For that matter, the BJP has not let the warmth on Mamata ease in any respect. It has launched one offensive after the opposite, searching for to unsettle and provoke the state authorities. The arrest of two Bengal ministers and a legislator for his or her alleged involvement within the cash-for-favour Narada sting was no much less a provocation, significantly when the central company didn’t present comparable alacrity in going after BJP politicians allegedly concerned within the bribery rip-off. Probably the most distinguished in fact is Suvendhu Adhikari, as soon as Mamata’s trusted aide who switched sides, defeated the chief minister in Nandigram, and is now the chief of the Opposition within the meeting. He too was seen accepting money, however has not but discovered himself behind the bars.
That the BJP is making an attempt to roil Mamata is clear. And he or she was greater than roiled when she was instructed that the identical Suvendhu can be current on the assembly with the Prime Minister because the chief of the Opposition. The Opposition chief’s participation in such conferences is uncommon. When Modi came around West Bengal final yr following Cyclone Amphan, he held the same assembly, however the then chief of Opposition, Abdul Mannan, was not invited. As a matter of truth, Modi went to Gujarat final week within the wake of Cyclone Tauktae, however the state’s chief of Opposition, Paresh Dhanani, was to not be seen. Extra considerably, when Modi held the same assembly with Naveen on Friday, Odisha’s chief of Opposition, Pradipta Nayak—by the way from the BJP—was absent. Officers, nevertheless, defined that Nayak was recovering from Covid and so couldn’t attend.
Nonetheless, the presence of the chief of Opposition at such conferences is quite uncommon, and Mamata can’t be fully faulted to suspect a plot. That the Centre recalled the West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay hours after the Modi-Mamata assembly fiasco will heighten her suspicion. As it’s, the political slugfest that she is engaged in with the BJP has lengthy degenerated into a private struggle. That the Prime Minister throughout his marketing campaign had repeatedly resorted to taunts by calling her “Didi-O-Didi” was additional proof of the dearth of mutual respect. Mamata had responded in form, calling her rivals names, together with Amit Shah, as Hodolkutkut (rolly polly).
Gentle-spoken and a person of few phrases, Naveen has by no means shot off his mouth in the same method. He has been spared by opponents of savage assaults too. When the BJP is working extra time to deride Rahul Gandhi as a ‘Pappu’ and decrease his public standing, the occasion has by no means tried the same trick on Naveen—the unique Pappu. Naveen’s nickname is Pappu and his shut buddies—only a few now—name him so. The BJP has additionally desisted from making enjoyable of Naveen by calling him Chhamu (king) that many Odias deal with the chief minister as in personal.
There may be a proof for Mamata’s risky reactions to the BJP’s fixed needling. Not like Naveen who grew up in a rarefied social circle and had his political place nearly served on a platter due to his household lineage, Mamata needed to wrestle onerous to attain no matter she has. From a lower-middle-class background and minus a convent schooling, she is a street-fighter who battled entrenched Communists and braved murderous assaults to excel. Her wrestle has been infinitely extra intense and fierce than that of Naveen. And this explains why she would guard her turf towards the marauding BJP extra zealously. Naveen’s trademark niceties might imply nothing to her.
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