In Indian politics, megalomania comes in different packages. For someone like J. Jayalalitha, it’s about amassing wealth, for Bal Thackeray, it’s becoming Lord of Mumbai and for Mamata Banerjee, it’s an inexplicable love for being loved — to be ‘Didi’ of all things Bengal and Bengali.
So, when the debt-ridden West Bengal government is grappling to convince the Centre to lend them more money even after a Rs 21-crore bailout package in August, its chief minister, it seems, also has the time to get anxious over her image on Facebook.
Yes, please believe it. Writers’ was witness to this insanity not so long ago when Mamata Banerjee asked party man Derek O ‘Brien to “investigate” certain pages on the popular social networking site that she claimed “made personal attacks” on her.
“I have heard that a lot of things are being posted on Facebook to defame me and my party, apart from making personal attacks. I have asked Derek to take immediate steps,” she was quoted in the Kolkata Edition of the Hindustan Times on October 6.
Banerjee’s ego it seems has become so huge that she can’t take any criticisms any more. She suffers from so much paranoia that she cannot imagine that people might have something that they dislike about her without owing any allegiance whatsoever with CPI(M). Her thumping victory in the Bengal polls, it seems has done nothing to assuage her fears of the Left. Why would someone who had such a resounding victory, toppling a 34-year-old government be so insecure?
So, what is Banerjee incensed about? One of the “I hate Mamata Banerjee” pages on Facebook lists the Trinamool leader’s activities as: “False promises, idiotic attitude, false degree of education, interrupting the process of civil improvement, contact with Maoists and many more…!!”
Pray tell me Ms Banerjee, which politician worth his salt has never been accused of all this?
Ironically, Banerjee, during her election campaign in Bengal used Facebook to her advantage — her partymen, especially the savvy Mr O ‘Brien, has used this very medium to garner support for his leader. In the last few months leading up to the elections there were more than 20 pages dedicated to Banerjee with one page having 9,082 likes. Even now, a search would yield as many as 40-plus pages in her name and just about two which said they hated Banerjee.
The problem here is that Banerjee has really never risen beyond local petty politics. She is neither a statesman like Jyoti Basu who was a shrewd and sharp politician, a game changer, nor a rustic charmer like Lalu Prasad. She is still the woman who can activate the masses in huge numbers — but once they get activated and hand her power, she doesn’t know what to do with it.
A case in point is her recent stand of not signing the Teesta deal with Bangladesh. She not only embarrassed the Prime Minister of the country, but she also managed to alienate many, many of her supporters, albeit not her constituency. Yet again she proved that she doesn’t or can’t see the bigger picture. She can never, has never risen above that local para politics in her mind — thus her obsession with her image in the virtual world means so much to her. She is like those small-time gossip mongers: “O ki bollo re? (What did he say?).”
The point is that it isn’t Facebook. The point is that here’s a CM who managed to topple a 34-year-old reign through sheer mass support but she still has difficulty believing that she has won because people like her. She would rather, it seems, have more “LIKES” on her FB page!