AGLI BAAR: The next time it will be Mamata-didi being sworn in as prime minister, after she defeats Narendra Modi in the 2024 Parliamentary elections!

By Radharao F Gracias

RADHARAO GRACIAS was the president of the United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP). A former MLA and the best speaker of the then Legislative Assembly, he insists that West Bengal’s Mamata-didi has every right to challenge Narendra Modi for the prime minister’s post!

THE BJP is sitting pretty with two successive electoral victories. And the third appears to be a whistle stop away. There is no real challenge, as many tend to believe. Or, is it really so? Actually it is, but only if you look upon the great-great-great grandson of Ganga Dhar, the last police chief of the Moghuls, who fled down the Ganga in the tumult of the mutiny, settled by a canal (nehr, hence Nenhru) in Allahabad and fathered a dynasty that has made the Indian National Congress its heirloom.
Why must we look only at Rahul Gandhi as the sole challenger to Modi? Does this country of a billion and more people only have a person of Italian-Persian-Indian lineage as a potential leader? Can we not look elsewhere?
Modi made it to the top after consolidating his position as chief minister of Gujarat. Among the present CMs do we not have Mamata Banerjee? Let us look at her credentials. Is she not the one who took up a challenge and threw a challenge? And emerged victorious?
Rahul could not even nurture his family fiefdom of Amethi and when he smelt defeat he insured himself by running away to a safe seat in Kerala. But Mamata, when her aide Suvendu Adhikari defected to BJP, forsook her own constituency to fight him, in his home constituency of Nandigram. This daring act galvanised her party and forced the BJP to concentrate their forces to defeat her. But the Trinamool swept the polls as the BJP was routed all over the state. Mamata Banerjee displayed the mettle of a true leader prepared to sacrifice personal interests.


HAS Bengal not contributed so much to the wellbeing of the country? Has the national anthem not been composed by Rabindranath Tagore, the national song by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee? Do we not have Nobel laureates in Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa, Amartya Sen and Abhijit Banerjee? And a Booker award winner in Arundati Roy? Was it not Subhash Chandra Bose whose tragically untimely death enabled Nehru to grab the PM’s chair?
And does the BJP not consider Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, after whom a stadium has been named in Goa, its mentor and founder? Are they not all from Bengal? Has Bengal not given us “dada?” Has he not taken Indian cricket to the top? Has Bengal not given us “Didi?”Can she not take the country to the top? Is not the answer, Yes, she can!
Look at the way she tamed the BJP in Bengal. The BJP sought to disturb Mamata’s meetings by shouting “Jai Siya Ram” and challenge her to say it. She declined. She was accused of being pro-Muslim. But when campaign time came she pointed out: “In Ramayana, Rama went to Lanka to rescue his abducted wife Sita from the grip of Ravana, the king of demons in Lanka. Before starting for his battle with Ravana, Rama wanted the blessings of Devi Durga.
“Lord Rama was aware that the goddess would be pleased only if she was worshipped with a hundred lotuses. After travelling the whole world, Rama could gather only 99 lotuses. He finally decided to offer one of his eyes, which resembled blue lotuses. Durga, pleased with the devotion of Rama, appeared before him and blessed him. Eventually, Ravana was killed.”
She concluded by saying that Bengalis worship Durga. And so does Ram. “When we worship Goddess Durga, who Ram himself worshipped, where is the need to separately worship Ram?” she queried. The BJP was outfoxed and outflanked. The “Jai Siya Ram” taints came to a halt. Such is the power of Didi!


GOA shares its love for fish and football with Bengal. The friendly football rivalry between the two states is legendry and despite our miniscule size we have stood up to them with goals. Have the times not arrived to convert our rivalry into camaraderie for mutual benefit?
Goans have a relationship with Calcutta long before it became Kolkata. Sometime in the 1930s Rev Paes, a priest from Assolna, was posted there. He noticed the lack of a medical practitioner in the city and consequent suffering. He requested his brother Dr Pedro Paes to come over. Accompanied by his wife Marlaquinha, the good doctor dutifully obeyed his elder brother and settled in that city rendering medical services.
Dr Pedro Paes raised a brood of eight children, three of whom joined their father’s profession. Among them was Dr Vece Paes, a specialist in sports medicine, who was a member of the bronze wining hockey team to the Olympics in 1972. He went on to marry Jennifer Dutton, captain of the national basketball team and a great-great-grand-daughter of Michael Madhusudan Dutt, the acknowledged father of Bengali poetry. The couple has given Goa, Bengal and India, Leander Paes the bronze medal winner in tennis at the 1996 Olympics and the most successful Indian tennis player of all time, with 12 grand slam doubles wins.
If a Goa-Bengal combination could do so well in sports, why will such a combination not do equally well in politics? And who else can lead it, but Mamata?


DO you not remember that ten years ago Modi was launched from Goa by the late Manohar Parrikar and proceeded to be the PM? Is it not time for Goa to atone and undo the sufferings (demonetisation, anti- farmer laws, fuel prices, et al) being inflicted on the country, possible due to that single act? And what better opportunity, then afforded by the elections, due in a few months?
The sun is due to set in the west over Gujarat, in two-and-a-half years. In the meantime, we have to bear with the scorching heat. But what next? The answer is obvious. After the sun sets it has to rise. And the sun always rises in the east. And Bengal is in the east! Shall we not make a new beginning? And sing didi didi didi didi…….?

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