Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s penchant for art and creativity is well-known. The CM has written poems, played synthesizer, dabbled with painting, penned and composed songs, and even conceptualised short films.
Now she has added another feather to her cap by singing a famous agomoni (welcoming) song to welcome Goddess Durga — ‘Jago Tumi Jago (wake up)’ — on the occasion of Mahalaya Thursday and posted a video on her official Facebook page.
Mahalaya marks the beginning of ‘Devi Paksha’. It is said that Goddess Durga begins her journey from Mount Kailash to Earth after Mahalaya.
The CM’s post has so far received close to one lakh views, 11,000 likes and over 1,000 comments.
While many criticised Banerjee for singing the popular Mahalaya song out of tune, there were others who praised her.
But among the commenters were many unemployed youth requesting Banerjee to help them get jobs — there were aspirants of West Bengal civil services, state government jobs, and those who have already been named in teachers exam merit list 5-6 years ago, but are still waiting to be empanelled.
“We’re WBCSSC’s (West Bengal Central School Service Commission) clerk and group-D waiting candidates. Today is a special day for all Bengalis, but we’re not able to enjoy it because of the pain of our unemployment…” said one of the commenters.
There were others who requested Banerjee to “release advertisements for school service (commission jobs) before the elections” or “job vacancies in police”. There were also those who commented about how they’re barely managing to survive without any employment.
The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), however, blamed the Modi government for the unemployment, saying the state’s power on this issue is “limited”.
The opposition, meanwhile, compared Banerjee with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying they both are suffering from “Ostrich syndrome” and doing nothing to alleviate people’s crises.
But experts said the clamour for jobs is an “expected reaction” and it may even “take the shape of violent manifestation of anxiety and crisis”.
‘Clamour over unemployment will rise’
Talking to ThePrint, Anup Sinha, veteran economist and former professor of IIM-Calcutta, said in the wake of high unemployment due to the Covid pandemic, Banerjee’s supporters will try to reach her.
“Bengal has always been high on the unemployment parameters. And our present chief minister has always been a part of the de-industrialisation process in the state. She may have some good political reason for that, but it left a bad taste,” he said.
“Following the pandemic, the clamour over unemployment will rise as jobs have disappeared. Every chief minister will face this. This is an expected reaction. People, who have been her supporters, would now try to reach her through these pages,” he added.
Sinha said senior politicians and leaders should be more sensitive now as this “confused noise for jobs will play out at different levels and may take a shape of violent manifestation of anxiety and crisis”.
‘National economic policies responsible for joblessness’
Describing Banerjee as a “cultural person”, veteran TMC MP and former union minister Sougata Roy said by singing songs, painting, writing and playing instruments, “she relaxes her mind”.
“She has mental agility and determination. We never saw her getting overawed by problems,” he added.
“Mamata has always been a cultural person. She plays synthesizer, she has a strange connection with music. She used to learn Rabindra Sangeet when she was very young. She has a very sweet voice,” Roy added.
On the issue of unemployment, Roy said that the central government is responsible for it.
“Our chief minister always tries to mitigate people’s misery. National economic policies are responsible for such a crisis. The state has a limited role in creating employment, but Mamata Banerjee is doing her best,” he added.
West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Choudhury, however, said there is not much difference between the politics of Modi and Mamata.
“The political DNA of both the leaders are almost similar. Modiji is posting pictures of feeding peacocks and Mamata didi is sharing her songs. Naturally, there is no employment and these leaders have no answer to this,” he said.
“… they are trying to divert attention and in the process they are insulting people’s misery. Mamata Banerjee can do everything, but she should put a little more effort to govern the state. There is no governance,” Choudhury added.
“Earlier, Banerjee said that she earned crores by selling her paintings, now she can start playback singing in Bollywood to earn more. That money can be used to provide employment to people who have been waiting for years to get the appointments for government jobs,” he said.
CPI(M) politburo member Nilotpal Basu said both Modi and Mamata “are suffering from Ostrich syndrome”.
“There is no attempt made by them to alleviate the pain of jobless persons. On the contrary, they are belittling the crisis. We have seen how National Unemployment Day was trending on Modi’s birthday. The pandemic of unemployment is moving through a dangerous trajectory,” he said.
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