From the Viewsroom

Street fight in Bengal

Poornima Joshi | Updated on March 11, 2021

The attack on Mamata Banerjee takes the battle of Bengal on a turf where she has practiced her game to perfection

History does repeat itself and this time, it is decidedly in the nature of a farce. At the centre of it is the Queen of Street-fights in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who first exploded into politics by dancing atop the bonnet of a car that ferried Jayaprakash Narayan into what was then Calcutta to oppose the Emergency. She was at the forefront of the anti-CPM struggles over the decades, getting severely attacked at times.

Banerjee has once again been hit. Late in the evening on Wednesday, a group of men allegedly pushed her and slammed a car door, injuring her foot and ankle in the process. It all happened in Nandigram where she had gone to file her nomination earlier in the day. Looking pale and pained, Banerjee could still muster enough wits to broadcast on live television that the attack on her was a “conspiracy”.

The sight of an injured Chief Minister being ferried to a hospital has pained her opponents; although not for the obvious reasons. They suspect that the Chief Minister would be out the very next day, possibly wheelchair-bound, and still campaign. Pictures of her in a hospital bed, leg bandaged up are circulating widely.

Being a woman, at the receiving end of violence and bodily harm, the probability of the spectacle evoking public sympathy cannot be overlooked. Thus, even before she reached the hospital, pre-emptive strikes had already been launched.

The attack on Banerjee was variously dubbed as a “political stunt”, “nautanki” by her political opponents, mainly the BJP, Left and the Congress. Some have suggested that the injuries were self-inflicted to gain waning sympathy. The BJP apparently plans to complain to the Election Commission that the CM is “spreading lies about the attack for politics”.

The BJP naturally feels there is enough support for such a sentiment to be articulated so forcefully. They are playing at a pitch Mamata has laid; mocking BJP President JP Nadda when his convoy was attacked, “They have no other work; sometimes the Home Minister is here then this ‘Chadda, Madda, Fadda, Bhadda, Nadda’ are here.” This is Banerjee’s turf and she has sustained injuries whether or not there is a political conspiracy. Attacking her in a street-fight may be just playing into the game that she has honed into a craft over the years.

Published on March 11, 2021

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