That’s what exactly happened in the recent memorandum on the Lokpal Bill in Parliament. Welcome to the Trinamool Congress’s brand of organic politics where an absentee landlord sitting in Kolkata governs how affairs of the party will be led in Delhi.
The last week of 2011 had provided us with ample drama in Lok Sabha, where the Congress and the Opposition fought tooth and nail to pass a version of the Lokpal Bill that the Congress had drafted. The Congress, obviously, was determined to engage in some quick-fix face-saving formula on Lokpal after a positive mass movement from Anna Hazare. So the UPA believes a pedestrian version of the Lokpal would pass in both the houses of Parliament.
The Congress definitely needs the support of its allies to make it happen and the government still holds a majority in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. So their self-confidence was not unfounded in the face of a crumbling Anna Hazare movement.
However, little did they know about what Trinamool Congress, the largest ally with 19 essential votes, had in store for them.
Trinamool is known for its vulnerability towards the emotional oscillation of its leader Mamata Banerjee. But in this particular instance the emotional octave of Banerjee had reached such heights that it brought the representatives of its own party down, a rare precedence indeed.
Now let me narrate the story to create a context. Earlier, the two parliamentarian leaders of Trinamool — the seasoned Sudip Bandopadhyay and the veteran Kalyan Bandopadhyay — had publicly supported the UPA version of the Lokpal Bill. Thanks to their support, the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, the lower House of Parliament, a week before yearend. The two leaders were seen rubbing shoulders with Congress legislators during photo-op sessions soon after the Bill got passed. Their appearances and prompt support in favour of the Bill had made an impression that everything was hunky-dory about this Bill within Trinamool. But such obvious logic belies the party’s tendency to churn out sudden surprises.
The very next day after this public display of affection between its two leaders and the UPA, the Didi from Kolkata condemned the duo openly for their audacity to bypass her opinion while supporting the Bill that now, it seemed, she opposes. She immediately summoned her Rajya Sabha reps and instructed them to oppose the Bill that her Lok Sabha reps had just helped pass.
Bizarre as this may sound, the same party, like a person afflicted with bipolar disorder, contradicted its own self twice within one week.
During the two days prior to the voting, however, Banerjee did not clearly communicate her opinion either to these two leaders or to the media. Thus, this tirade from Didi had not only taken these two hapless Trinamool leaders by surprise, it also shamed the UPA government as such.
Rumour has it that soon after his leader’s public exposition, Sudip took to the bottle and an embarrassed Kalyan has left for a long pilgrimage to Lord Jagannath in Puri.
I can’t stop wondering how a political party that holds such leverage on the federal government could be so whimsical in its own intra-party communication. The answer lies in Mamata Banerjee’s mood swings. Her whims are so expensive these days that not only the leaders of her own party but even the US Senators came knocking her door to convince her to support the Bill that allows direct foreign participation in retail.
So, Mamata Banerjee ko gussa kyon aata hain?
The answer may lie in Aristotle’s disposition that our belief is the source of our emotions. Thus, there must a belief system, which Banerjee holds, that may be guiding her to run the affairs of her party, state government and the country at large.
But what is this internalised belief that is guiding Didi’s emotions? Is it her desire to be omnipresent? Micromanaging? Narcissism? Self-esteem issues? Lack of confidence? Mistrust? What?
Well, your guess is as good as mine.