Mamata Banerjee’s first major claim to fame came with the launch of Forward People’s Party (FDP). The party, which was formed in 2004, had garnered a strong following among the masses. It represented an amalgamation of various political parties, religious groups, and trade unions that were previously either banned or disintegrated. FDP promised an end to corruption and nepotism in government and promised a cleaner government, replete with social justice, welfare programs for women and affordable higher education.
The Mamata Banerjee Bharat Party (Mamba-Bandem), now under fire for some of its actions, was formed after the formation of the FDP. The first move by the new party was to form a working group, which met at Sariska in West Bengal, to chalk out a concrete platform on which to build a platform for future political action. The idea then was to form a separate party from the existing ones, the Congress and the Left, and gain entry into the national assembly after gaining local council and assembly seats in districts where there was a Left dominance.
Initially, the Mamata Banerjee Bharat team concentrated its efforts on forming the FDP. Later, however, the focus shifted to forming a broader alternative to the ruling party, especially as many leaders from the Left and the mass parties lost faith in the Congress, and some even joined the ruling party. With increasing tension between the rural and urban poor, and increased poverty across India, there was a distinct shift in the mood of the people to vote for an alternative to the ruling party. This shift came at a time when the ruling party was riven by corruption charges against former premier Kajan Chelli, and Rajiv Gandhi, who later became prime minister, was accused of corruption, and forced from office.
Soon after the third anniversary of the formation of the Mamata Banerjee Bharat Party, the central government announced that it would be bringing in a new constitution, which would replace the existing Articles of the Constitution. The Mamata Banerjee Bharat team, led by her sister and son, Ajit and Jaya, contested the elections won by the Congress in six states – Assam, Goa, Kerala, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Despite repeated calls for a national unity government, the Mamata Banerjee Bharat party failed to win any state. Some political analysts opine that it was because of a failure to properly connect with the masses. They opine that poor communication and an inability to connect with the common man have prevented the party from reaching out to a section of the masses.
The party has also faced criticism from within, with some prominent members, like Kalikarayan Nair, refusing to support the party. Nair, a former union leader and trade union leader, has accused the Mamata Banerjee Bharat of pursuing ‘development through corruption’ and has demanded a probe into the real estate deals done by the former premier in the name of development. The Banerjee family has dismissed such allegations asbas and maintained that the Nair’s comments are ill-informed and taken out of context. They also maintained that if corruption is a reason to remove a prime minister, then the removal itself is not corruption.
Recently, a famous movie starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall was released. The movie- “Mann Ki Baatha” – pits the chief minister against opposition leader, General Periyar, played by Peter Sellers. This movie is indicative of the dangers that are associated with an unstable government grappling with corruption and public clamor for change.