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The West Bengal doctor crisis will go down in history as Mamata Banerjee’s Singur moment

Mamata Banerjee had several opportunities to deescalate matters and solve the ongoing crisis. Instead, she chose to quell the protests with an iron hand. Everyone could see what would happen if Mamata Banerjee continued on the path she had chosen to tread.

In Indian Politics, a ‘Singur Moment’ is defined as a devastating crisis of the ruling disposition’s own making, where everyone could see that the government’s action was only escalating the crisis, thus, alienating the electorate and virtually ensuring that it won’t be reelected to power the next time around.

The phrase has its origins in the catastrophic management of the Singur Movement by the then CPI(M) government in West Bengal. The crisis originated in 2006 with the Communist government acquiring land from farmers in a bid to bag the Tata Nano Manufacturing Industry. The acquisition inspired widespread protests which eventually led to the violence at Nandigram the following year over the Communist government’s intention to acquire land for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The Police atrocities during the protests played a huge role in Mamata Banerjee’s rise to becoming the Chief Minister of the state in 2011.

West Bengal in 2019 currently is witnessing extremely similar events. The saffron surge in the state was initially sparked by the ongoing demographic invasion but it is the Bengal Health Crisis that has turned out to be Mamata Banerjee’s ‘Singur Moment’. After the gross mismanagement by the state government and its sheer apathy towards the concerns of the medical fraternity, Mamata Banerjee’s defeat in 2021 Assembly Elections appears almost certain.

A lot of the blame lies squarely on the Chief Minister’s own shoulders. OpIndia.com has learnt that talks were ongoing for a speedy resolution of the impasse, however, Banerjee’s threats to the medical fraternity and labelling them as ‘outsiders’ derailed the entire process. The consequence of Banerjee’s statements has been the fact that doctors at various medical institutions are submitting their resignations en masse in protest. People also have taken great offence at being labelled ‘outsiders’ in their own country.

All the sins Banerjee has committed during the past few months are finally coming home to roost. Doctors are asking if she has the time to sit for a Dharna in support of her ‘Chamcha’ Police Officer, then why can’t she listen to the concerns of the medical fraternity? The people in her own party appear to have seen the writing on the wall. Banerjee’s own nephew and the daughter of the Mayor of Kolkata have joined the protests against the state government. It is absolutely catastrophic from her perspective.

She has no one to blame but herself for the ongoing crisis. The continuous patronage to a specific section of the community resulted in a situation where some members of it felt bold enough to summon others of the community in trucks in order to attack the doctors and interns at the NRS Hospital. The Police, which remained mute spectators during the communal violence against Hindus at Basirhat, Kaliachowk and numerous other occasions remained mute spectators on this occasion as well.

Moreover, Banerjee resorted to intimidation instead of reaching out to the medical fraternity to solve the crisis. She was under the impression that she could hide behind accusations of political conspiracy this time around as well. However, her growing list of failures had to burst the bubble some day.

The mainstream media had lionized her during the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. She was hailed by liberals for her resolute opposition to Narendra Modi and all her faults and follies were ignored. Perhaps, due to the fawning adulation, she was receiving from liberals, she believed that she could play the game she has been playing all this time to get herself out of this tricky situation as well. However, things are not going as well planned. The ‘street-fighter’ is now busy fighting the medical fraternity on the streets and it’s not a battle that she can win.

The Bengal Health Crisis has revealed Mamata Banerjee for what she truly is, a tyrannical dictator with a terrible law and order record who has never known diplomacy. The signs were always there but the violence thus far was directed primarily against her political opponents. However, it had to boil over someday and as fate would have it, it happened on the 10th of June, 2019.

Public opinion is totally against her. The intellectual community can no longer defend her tyranny as they have all this while. And more importantly, the youth, have become completely disillusioned with her regime. At the present moment, if free and fair elections are held in 2021, and it’s no guarantee given what happened in 2019, her defeat is almost certain.

Mamata Banerjee had several opportunities to deescalate matters and solve the ongoing crisis. Instead, she chose to quell the protests with an iron hand. Everyone could see what would happen if Mamata Banerjee continued on the path she had chosen to tread. Everyone, apart from the Chief Minister of West Bengal herself. And that is why, the 2019 Bengal Health Crisis will go down in history as Mamata Banerjee’s ‘Singur Moment’.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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