Society & Lifestyle
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Mamata Banerjee Depends on Subalterns
for her Votebank
|by Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee|
The subalterns are groups of people who exist outside of a society’s hegemonic system, often because of poverty or ethnic discrimination. (Rodriguez, ‘From Representation to Recognition’ in The Latin American Subaltern Studies Reader, 5).
Overmuch reliance of Mamata on the Subalterns and the Muslim Votebank has made many to raise their eyebrows. But this is a new venture of Mamata as the politician who now embarks on a journey called ‘From Representation to Recognition’. She wants to establish herself as the champion of these downtrodden people, adivasis, tribals or muslims whatever they are, the moot question is that they must be minority. The minority if all of them are united, can pose a big danger of survival to those who now flaunt their majority status. The process has started and Mamata will surely reap the benefits of this transition.
Mamata Banerjee never belongs to the subaltern in any sense. She belongs to the upper caste Brahmin. She lives very close to the madding crowd and far from the ‘Other in the society’, whom she describes as her ‘Ma, Mati Manush’. During her fight with CPI(M) in the past, she used the Maoist support in her favour and at that time she seemed to be a little pro-subaltern. The very slogan ‘Ma Mati Manush’ speaks a lot about her support for the ‘Other’ in the society, whom we may fancifully call ‘subaltern’ of the society.
Not from the social, but political point of view, it may distantly seem that in her lonely encounter with CPI(M), she with one MP in the Parliament really once looked like the ‘Other’ before the resurgence of Trinamul in the state of West Bengal. Like the slogan of Hindutva, she also had a slogan, although very different from that of BJP, which is shouted now and then by herself and her party men in favour of the ‘Other’ in the society. All these do not yet fully explain that she is gradually becoming overmuch reliant on the Muslims and the tribal people for her votebank.
It is true that the Muslim votebank was at one time belonged to the Left parties in Bengal. Muslim votes decide the defeat and win in the state elections, not because muslims are a big number, but because they vote as a cohesive group. The minority in all countries of the world work in this fashion. In Bangladesh, hindus as minority for the sake of protection become a secure votebank without any disunity. Now along with the muslims, there are the people belonging to the BPL level. They have not got any recognition in the Left Front regime. But now they are getting aware of their rights and the Ma, Mati, Manush slogan has given them a new energy. So in the next panchayat elections, Trinamul will do better.
CPI(M) is now a party of the bourgeois upper class based on urban and semi urban society. The promoter classes and rich businessmen who backed the Communists are trying to get some hold in Trinamul and with some success till now. But Mamata is trying to retain the image of ‘Saviour of the Poor’ as she knows that her rise is due to Nandigram and Singur.
Once upon a time, the communists shouted slogans against TATA and Birla for coming to power. Now Mamata is doing the same. Singur is symbolically a fight against the TATA and people have supported the fight against TATA even at the cost of industry promises. As the leader of the subaltern she has no other way to choose. Their support is very much needed for her to check the resurrection of the nearly dead CPI(M).
In a similar way, Mamata is wooing the Muslims for their support who at one time favoured the Left parties. Muslims belong to the minority and Mamata has in a justified way ensured 10 % reservation for Muslims in OBC reservation. But other backwards classes should not be neglected.
Those who think that Mamata’s disenchantment with and separation from Congress means the closeness and alliance with NDA are fully mistaken. She cannot do anything that sends a wrong message to the Muslims. The BJP is projecting Modi who made multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red by washing his hands after the communal riots. Mamata cannot support Modi in any way and it is question survival of Trinamul in West Bengal. Modi’s hands are red with the muslim blood and Mamata cannot go with the NDA in any way.
Her position is more critical than that of Mayavati. It is quite interesting that she is not in a position to support Anna Hazare, nor is she supported by Mulayam. She follows the Aristotelian ‘golden mean’. She does not support the Lok Pal bill nor goes vehemently against it. The equidistance she is maintaining from both Congress and CPI(M) makes one very sure that Mamata wants to function in the Mayavati or Jayalalitha style. So she is wooing muslims, subalterns and the other oppressed people. In this way she is making the communists isolated from the poor.
For the last two years, the CPI(M) is not getting any issue to mobilize the people in favour of them. The violence in the academic institutions makes everyone concerned. But the CPI(M) knows it very well to what extent they have done the politicization in the Anil Biswas and post – Anil Biswas period. Today in the transition period some untoward incidents will occur and people very well understand that. Except this issue, other accusations against the Mamata government do not hold much water.
The huge deficit that the Left Front has left for the Trinamul government is really shocking. No package from Congress is yet available. Still Mamata is announcing this and that project for the deprived sections of people including the muslims and the adivasi and tribal people.
The happenings in Darjeeling even after the GTA formation are really frustrating enough to make her a little pessimistic. But she is very much determined to develop the hills as well.
Mamata does not support the corruption of the Congress government, their hike of petrol and diesel, she fought tooth and nail the retail issue and privatisation, she does not want Congress to raise prices of daily commodities. So the communists are in no position to organize any movement against her government. In all these she needs the majority support. The minority, subaltern in a broader sense has come to her rescue. So she does not bother what the upper class people and the bourgeois say against her in the city. She wants to establish herself as the Messiah of the Ma Mati Manush.
This is journey of Mamata from Representation to Recognition.
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Comments on this Article
a voter against misuse of power
06/04/2013 05:48 AM