In pieces such as this, it is important to first get the disclosures out of the way. Purely because the world is becoming increasingly impolite and the last thing I want is to have my Twitter timeline brimming with comments. I have no political leanings. No self-respecting individual in this country can. Anymore.
I was asked by a bunch of people to advise the AMRI Group on what they should do. I mulled over it for a day. And then decided to stay away from the issue. Above all, on January 26, I will celebrate 16 years of a rather happy marriage with a Bengali. So there’s no bile there. Finally, I genuinely believe that whatever happened at AMRI was shocking and deserving of punishment. It’s the means and not the end that I wish to ponder on.
Mamata Banerjee is a politician at the end of the day. And politicians don’t serve anything but their own purposes. And what Banerjee has consistently done is serve her or her party’s purpose. She is consistently unpredictable. Her behaviour towards the Centre on the Teesta issue, on the lokpal front as well as the FDI Bill demonstrates that she is just the up turner of apple carts.
Examine the AMRI issue without your rose-tinted glasses of emotions. Did the hospital flout safety standards? Absolutely. Was it responsible for the death of scores of innocent people? Undeniably. Did someone deserve to be punished? Obviously. Banerjee is Texan in her temperament. She’s quick at the draw. She is also populist and not always pragmatic. This Texan trait combined with the populism of a megaphone led her to arrest the directors of AMRI without trying them. That’s the summation of the story. Her comment, “Terrorists are terrorists and murderers are murderers,” clearly reminds one of ‘another’ Texan who picked up the phone and bellowed “Either you are with us or…”
In situations such as these, conspiracy theories tend to dance as if they are on drugs.
This bit about Banerjee being “anti-Marwari” is rubbish. Ten days before the promoter directors were arrested, she happily attended the inauguration of an exhibition held at an art gallery owned by one of the promoter directors. So there was no malice in her mind towards Marwaris. Or towards one set of promoter directors.
One set of promoter directors was close to the earlier regime. But Mamata is not naïve. The past regime was in power for decades. Every industrial house had to be close to it. Over time everyone will cosy up to her as well. Do we give industrialists a chance to not cosy up to regimes?
I was in Calcutta last week and had the good fortune to bump into several Marwari industrialists. Not one had the feeling that she is anti-Marwari. No point giving any credence to that rubbish.
Sentiment is, sadly, the spine of politics. And a scan of Mamata Banerjee’s actions will reveal just that.
They say, you campaign in poetry but you govern in prose. Banerjee’s governing with populist poetry. That can get you votes. That won’t get you development. And Mamata Banerjee no longer needs votes. West Bengal needs development. In other words, it needs Didigiri. Not dadagiri.
Swapan Seth is CEO, Equus Red Cell
The views expressed by the author are personal