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'Vintage Didi' Emerges as Opposition-in-chief With Face-off Against CBI

Things changed a little after she became the CM in Bengal. She banned bandhs, which for long was considered Bengal’s biggest bane – and the prime arsenal of her arch-rival CPM. And being in power she couldn't sit on dharna either.

Subhajit Sengupta | News18.comSubhajitSG

Updated:February 5, 2019, 11:09 AM IST
'Vintage Didi' Emerges as Opposition-in-chief With Face-off Against CBI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses media after comes out from Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar's residence, in Kolkata. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi: Remember the Chief Minister who sat on a dharna against the police force she herself commanded, in her own constituency? Yes it was Mamata Banerjee. That was in 2011 when she had just become the CM, but hadn't moved on from the 'opposition-in-chief' mode.

Her street fights against the “ruthless” Marxists and the hunger strikes for “maati and maanush” have been the stuff of legends. During the landmark Singur agitation – which eventually put her on the path to power – she fasted for 25 days at a stretch. And she ended it only after the intervention of the then President APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In Parliament, she once threw a black shawl at the speaker to express her protest.

Things changed a little after she became the CM in Bengal. She banned bandhs, which for long was considered Bengal’s biggest bane – and the prime arsenal of her arch-rival CPM. And being in power she couldn't sit on dharna either.

But it seems the Vintage Didi is back again. Only difference this time, her ambition is even bigger.

She started this New Year with a massive show of strength, managing to get more than 20 opposition leaders for her annual ‘Brigade Rally’ at Kolkata last month.

And within days, she is out on the streets in the middle of the night, defending her police force and claiming to be a victim of a Modi-engineered, CBI-led coup.

She had an inkling that CBI could be soon trying to arrest her favourite IPS officer Rajeev Kumar.

Sources say the success of the opposition rally in Kolkata made her feel CBI could be up to something. In fact, she is said to have expressed her apprehensions to some close aides about possible confrontation with the Centre on the ongoing CBI probe in chit fund case.

This was just after raids in UP mining scam just after SP-BSP firming up their alliance in UP.

And her moment of reckoning came on Sunday evening when CBI officers arrived at Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s residence. Not only did her police stall the arrest by detaining the CBI officers, she then sat on a Dharna which continues even now.

Mamata also got the entire opposition leadership to rally around her, with some flying down to Kolkata in solidarity. She has managed to grab the eyeballs for more than 24 hours now, and this is not limited to Bengal - Didi is now a national leader.

Mamata has been everywhere: On the streets, on television screens and in the newsprint.

Her attempt is to mobilise regional players against Centre's intervention. She has been getting the support from most of the non-BJP ruled states apart from KCR’s TRS. From Rahul Gandhi to Chandrababu Naidu to Arvind Kejriwal, all called her up and assured their full support.

This is not the first time that the TMC chief has taken on the Modi government. Post demonetisation, she had questioned the deployment of Army to carry out inspections at a toll gate near her office, and has made it very clear on several occasions that her men and the party was targeted by CBI and ED at the behest of their political masters in Delhi.

She also took the battle to Assam when her MPs travelled to Silchar to protest against the NRC.

And in the last one month, as the BJP has upped ante to challenge her dominance in West Bengal, she pre-empted her adversary to launch a counter-offensive.

In the last one month, rallies of BJP leaders have been postponed or cancelled. To its surprise and dismay, BJP has found on many occasions that public parks and potential rally grounds have been booked in advance by hitherto unknown organisations.

Earlier, BJP’s plan to capitalise on the Citizenship Amendment Bill fell flat after the apex court agreed with the West Bengal Chief Minister’s decision to ban the ‘Rath Yatra’ fearing communal violence.

Seasoned Mamata watchers know her ability to project the right optics. Non-issues can make banner headlines, an emergency landing can be termed as a conspiracy to kill, and a cop’s impending arrest can turn into an unprecedented face-off between state and the Centre.

Like Chief Minister Modi in Gujarat, Mamata Didi has played her 'victim' card. The rank 'outsider' being persecuted by the powerful centre.

And elections are less than 100 days away.

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