Three Leaders& Three Narratives

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | April 09, 2024 IST

Sutanu Guru

Sutanu Guru


Executive Director, C Voter Foundation

There is not much doubt about what the results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be. Every opinion poll including the much-awaited C Voter nationwide survey projects a comfortable victory for the BJP led NDA with the number of seats ranging from 330 to 370. The author has been personally travelling across India since February 1 and meeting ordinary citizens and families to understand their aspirations, disappointments and hopes. In every corner, even in places like Tamil Nadu where the BJP is a marginal player at best, there is much admiration for Narendra Modi as a leader who has delivered to the poor. Not surprisingly, Modi is poised to equal the Jawaharlal Nehru record of winning three consecutive Lok Sabha mandates. But then, so much has already been written about Narendra Modi that the author doesn’t have much else to offer. But one thought that has stayed with the author during his travels is that individual leaders can and do make a difference to a nation and a state. I am talking about three leaders who have been ruling Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal for considerable periods of time.

The author spent days each in Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. In each, I encountered both admirers and critics of the three chief ministers. But then, Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar and Mamata Bannerjee offer unique and vastly different lessons in how individual leaders can have a massively positive impact on the state and also damage their states, often irreparably. When Naveen Patnaik became the chief minister of Odisha in 2000, it would compete with Bihar in being rated as the poorest state of the country. West Bengal was far ahead of both Odisha and Bihar even though the destructive impact of communist rule was already manifest. Compare the situation of the three states in 2000 and now. Unless you are blinded by ideological blinkers and political partisanship, you will have to agree that despite his many missteps, Naveen Patnaik has been a far more successful elder than Nitish Kumar and Mamata Bannerjee. 

Let me point it a few things that I witnessed during my journey on behalf of C Voter Foundation. First Bihar. In Siwan, locals still talk about the toxic legacy of mafia don cum politician Mohammed Shahabuddin. A journalist there assured me that Bihar rads have improved a lot and that Siwan to Patna is a “national highway”. Well, on the national highway, it took me four and half hours to reach Patna from Siwan. The distance is about 135 kilometres. In Patna, “paltu  Chacha” Nitish Kumar is a subject of scorn and derision. Imagine this ease was once hailed as a role model and a “sushshan babu”. In West Bengal, I was requested to remove the press sticker on my car and leave my media credentials at the hotel before visiting a village in Basirhat. The family I was meeting was terrified that TMC goons will “punish” them for meeting and taking to a journalist from Delhi. In Basirhat, I hard horror stories about the depredations of TMC “workers”. In Odisha too I found issues concerning people. There were complaints of widespread corruption among lower ranks of the BJD. Besides, many people seemed unhappy with the meteoric rise of bureaucrat turned politician V. K. Pandian. But the problems pale in comparison with what ordinary folks in Bihar and West Bengal face on a daily basis. 

Disclaimer:

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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