How do you solve a problem like Mamata?

Rupa Gulab

We're all agreed that scams have been hitting UPA-II where it hurts since last year. But Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee hit the ruling alliance even harder. And she hasn't stopped kicking and screaming yet, like a spoilt brat determined to get a pony for Christmas instead of a Lego set. My heart goes out to senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, who has the unenviable task of attempting to mollify her. I'm pretty certain that he sings a different song in private, though. I'm thinking of that song in The Sound of Music, the one that goes, How do you solve a problem like Maria... Since I'm rather fond of Pranabda, I've adapted the lyrics to help him let off steam. Here goes:

How do you solve a problem like Mamata,
How do catch a cyclone cloud and pin it down?
How do you find the word that means Mamata,
A whimsical despot, a paranoid schizophrenic, a clown?

Gosh, I can hear him singing it in the shower in his deep baritone!

Frivolity aside, I really do feel tremendously sorry for people who have to deal with Mamatadi. Much as I appreciate her for getting rid of the Left, I'd appreciate her even more if she saw a good doc and sorted out her problems that, as far as I can see, include paranoia, bipolar issues and megalomania – to name just a few.

I know that there are a fair number of Mamataphiles out there and to them I say, love her by all means, but do get her treated first!

Let's start with the paranoia: When Mamata was Union railways minister, she blamed every single accident or attack on a conspiracy. That's much easier than actually taking responsibility for it, isn't it? A few months ago, she blamed the Left for infant deaths that occurred during her reign because the babies were conceived while the Left was in power. Ridiculous! Recently, when a mother of two was raped in Kolkata and had the courage to report it, Mamata called her a liar and accused her of being used by political forces to malign her government. It didn't help that one of her favourite ministers (evidently on hire from the Taliban) made several nasty insinuations about the victim's morality. According to the cave man, good mummies don't drink and visit nightclubs.

I'm hugely grateful that the cops finally solved the rape case – and shocked at the same time by reports of how the cops were pulled up for finally doing a great job and making Mamata look like an insensitive jerk.

Let me make it clear that I do not know Mamata personally, and if I do get to meet her, I'm open to the idea of being charmed by her. But even if we get along like a house on fire, I will never allow myself to be her best friend. That's because of the new twist on an old saying that's doing the rounds: "With friends like these, who needs Mamatadi?" I have spent hours explaining to my young nephews and nieces that they must not treat their friends in the shabby way Mamata treats her allies. They are hopelessly confused because her attitude is just like the footwear she favours: flip-flops.

But I must give the devil her due: as an agitator and popular singer of West Bengal's beloved song We shall overcome, she has always been brilliant and will continue to be so. In fact, she's inspired so many leading washing machine manufacturers to make their agitronic-soak function more dynamic.

I have spent hours explaining to my young nephews and nieces that they must not treat their friends in the shabby way Mamata treats her allies

The time for agitation is over and we need efficient administration to right the wrongs of the Left. Nothing so far, sigh. The jungle tom-toms remain eerily silent on this point. Mamata refuses to do anything because everything is "anti-people". If she carries on like this, at the end of her reign, she will be branded as being "anti-people" herself. History will remember her not as a heroic game-changer, but a petty name-changer – that's all she's actively done to date. And even there she has failed to impress.

Can another secular political party step in to save West Bengal, please? Hurry, because we may be forced to take back the (gulp) Left parties!

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: MARCH 2012