Saturday, Sep 18, 2021
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Stormy Petrel

So far Mamata made do with homespun radicalism. Will she rise to the next level?

Stormy Petrel
Illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Stormy Petrel
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The crowds had been collecting since early morning in Mednipur. Suddenly, Mamata Banerjee arrived like a whirlwind, clambered on to the stage and announced that, since it was Tagore's birth anniversary, she would start with Rabindra Sangeet. As she burst into song, the gathering seemed to fall under her spell—even the turbaned members of Punjab Police on poll duty, positioned on the rooftops, broke into a spontaneous bhangra. That was on May 8, 2001—three and a half years after Mamata, who had been expelled from the Congress, had created the Trinamool Congress in 1997. But despite her evident ability to sway a crowd, Mamata was still widely perceived as a whimsical, occasionally entertaining, political lightweight.

In 2009, of course, Mamata can no longer be dismissed as a sideshow. But after 2004, when Trinamool was down to just one seat in Parliament, she had been dismissed as a spent force, an impression reinforced after 2007, when the Left Front registered its biggest ever victory in the West Bengal assembly elections. The...
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