Why Mamata, the streetfighter should worry the BJP

Kolkata, DHNS: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has returned to the streets again. This time in protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Instead of using her position as a chief minister, she is taking the BJP-led government at the Centre head-on as a rebel and moreover as a street fighter.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo has hit the streets for three consecutive days since Monday against the CAA and is scheduled to hold more protest marches. The last time she has gone all out with street politics was during her anti-land acquisition agitation during the Left Front era. Her speeches in the last couple of days have shifted to the opposition leader mode talking on democracy, people and Constitution.

Mamata has repeatedly emphasised that the CAA was passed in the Parliament in an undemocratic manner backed by sheer strength of numbers by the ruling BJP. She has also described the Act as “divisive and unconstitutional.”

She made it clear at a TMC rally on Wednesday that her agitation on the streets will continue until the CAA and NRC are scrapped. She even dared the Centre to dismiss her government. It was such dodged agitation against the ruling dispensation which catapulted her to power in 2011 when she dislodged the once-mighty Left Front from power in West Bengal.

Mamata's agitation is aimed at two key objectives. First, she is determined to throw a spanner into BJP’s plan of gaining the support of Bengali Hindu refugees in Bengal by using the CAA. She is constantly trying to convince the Hindu refugees that both the Act and NRC are part of BJP’s strategy to drive out Bengalis in the name of identifying infiltrators. She wants to further consolidate her minority support base though her opposition against the CAA.

If one takes a look at her political career, the BJP certainly has a reason to worry. The Left Front learned it the hard way when they tried to curtail her movement against the acquisition of about 1,000 acres of land in Singur for the Tata Nano car factory.

Mamata’s 26-day-long hunger strike in 2012 demanding the return of 400 acres of land to “unwilling farmers” shook the Left Front government to its roots and it finally collapsed in the 2011 Assembly elections.

It was with this kind of streetfighter-like tactics that she defeated the late expelled CPM leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee in her electoral debut in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections.

Over the years, Banerjee has matured as a political strategist but she has also improved as a street fighter politician. Mamata Banerjee as the rebel and street fighter will be a much more formidable adversary against BJP than as a chief minister.

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