Mamata Banerjee is Indian politics’ original dramatis personae but is that effective?

Written by | December 3, 2016 | 0

Long before Narendra Modi emerged as a leading dramatis personae on the scene of Indian politics, Mamata Banerjee was Bengal’s undisputed queen of political melodrama.

The recent events that have unfolded in rapid succession – first, the fracas over an IndiGo aircraft’s delayed landing in Kolkata airport, and then the row over army deployment in Bengal – reveal that the Trinamool Congress chief still has a flair for the dramatic; never mind that she now occupies the highest governmental office in the state.

Mamata’s refusal to leave the state secretariat (Nabanna) till the army withdrew from a toll plaza near it, provides further testimony to this aspect of Banerjee’s character.

“I won’t leave unless the army is withdrawn from near the secretariat. I’ll keep vigil to protect democracy, to protect my democratically elected government,” Banerjee told a hurriedly convened late night press conference this Thursday.

Arguably, her on–going battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as Banerjee’s own national ambitions (now that Bengal is firmly under her thumb,) are potent enough incentives for such theatrical skills to flourish further.

If Modi can tearfully choke up in the process of exhorting people to bear the agony of demonetisation, Banerjee can easily outperform the Prime Minister in the department of unleashing powerful emotions.

For instance, consider how facts relating to the efficacy of demonetisation as a means to eliminate black money have been pushed to the background in the face of the Prime Minister’s emotional outbursts.

Scores of economists have questioned the wisdom of a policy as drastic and painful as demonetisation. But what seems to stick is the rhetoric of ‘feeling,’ the emotional pitch orchestrated by Modi.

Instances like these show quite plainly, the ineffectiveness of fighting political fights purely through data and ignoring the emotional appeals at the core of the message.

Filed in: National

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