Abhishek Banerjee

ED Issues Fresh Summons To Abhishek Banerjee

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued a fresh summon to Trinamool Congress General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee. He has been asked to join the ED investigation on October 9, sources said.

The ED had earlier summoned Banerjee on October 3. However, Banerjee did not appear at the ED office on that date, owing to the party’s MGNREGA protests in Delhi on the same date.

Banerjee alleged that it was a tactic used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led central government to squash the protests.

“The fight against the deprivation of WB and its rightful dues shall persist regardless of the obstacles. No force on Earth can hinder my dedication to fight for the people of WB and their fundamental rights. I’ll b in Delhi joining the protest on Oct 2nd & 3rd. STOP ME IF U CAN!” Banerjee said in a post on ‘X’.

The TMC general secretary had also alleged that the ED was summoning on days when he had pre-announced public programs.

“Earlier this month, the ED summoned me on a day coinciding with an important coordinating meeting of #INDIA. I dutifully appeared and complied with the served summons,” Banerjee pointed out in an earlier post on X.

The ED had summoned Abhishek Banerjee under section 50 of the PMLA. The summons to Banerjee came after the central probe agency conducted raids in the office of ‘Leaps and Bounds Pvt Ltd’ which the federal agency alleged was “used for making dubious transactions running into crores of rupees.” The ED claimed that Banerjee is the chief executive officer of the company.

Banerjee was earlier summoned by the ED in connection with the alleged teacher recruitment scam in September.

Abhsihek Banerjee on Tuesday had led TMC protests against the Centre in Delhi over what the party said was the centre’s refusal to provide funds to the state.

The TMC alleged that the Centre has been withholding Rs 15,000 crore in dues to the state under schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and PM Awas Yojana.

Several TMC leaders including Abhishek Banerjee and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien were also detained by the Delhi Police during the protest. (ANI)

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BJP MP chatterjee

Save Our Daughters: BJP MP Chatterjee Breaks Down

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from West Bengal’s Hooghly Locket Chatterjee broke down on Friday while recounting an alleged incident of sexual assault of a BJP candidate during Bengal panchayat polls. The BJP has claimed that Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers were behind this incident.

MP Chatterjee was addressing a press briefing along with West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar in connection with a viral video of Manipur, purportedly showing two women being paraded in the nude.
“We are also women. We also want our daughters to be saved… We are also India’s daughters. West Bengal is also part of this country. Yesterday Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on incidents of assault against women in Manipur. He not only spoke for the daughters in Manipur but for daughters across the country,” Chatterjee said.

“He said that the law and order in all states should be made strict to protect our daughters. Not just daughters of Manipur but daughters all over the country. So I urge you all to speak up for us also. Where will our daughters go for justice? There were incidents of violence against our daughters during the recent panchayat polls”, MP Chatterjee said during the press briefing.

Speaking to mediapersons before the Parliament went into session on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his heart was filled with sorrow and anger over the incident in Manipur. “What has happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven,” PM Modi had said.

Meanwhile, addressing a press brChatterjee broke down in tears as she recounted an alleged incident of sexual assault by TMC workers of a BJP candidate during Panchayat polls on July 8 in Howrah district of West Bengal.

West Bengal DGP Manoj Malviya, however, said that the police investigated the incident but no evidence was found of the alleged incident.

“Howrah Panchla incident is in news… An email was received on July 13. As per the email, it was alleged that on July 8, the victim was forcibly pulled out of the polling booth, her clothes were torn… That was only through the mail. Police then asked them to FIR. We investigated and found this alleged incident has no evidence or proof found,” DGP Manoj Malviya said.

The DGP further said that the police, central forces and even the Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly had visited the place on July 8, where the polling was taking place, but no one said anything about the alleged incident.

“On July 8, there were police and central forces in the booth and also there were many people who came to vote, but no one said such an incident happened. Even the LOP had visited that place and the fact-finding team visited once, but no one said about this incident. Though we reached out to the complainant and her husband and called her for a medical examination they have not given anything. If this kind of incident had happened the police would have taken action. This is a digital era and everyone records if anything happens”, the DGP added. (ANI)

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West Bengal panchayat polls

Elections Must Be Through Ballots, Not Bullets: WB Governor On Panchayat Polls

Amid reports of violence in the West Bengal panchayat polls, Governor CV Ananda Bose on Saturday said that elections must be held “through ballots not bullets,” and said the day should be considered as the “most sacred” for democracy.”

Various incidents of violence have been reported from different districts in the state.
Earlier in the day, while the Governor was on his way to cast his vote in the North 24-Parganas, Bose was stopped by a few CPI(M) candidates. The CPI(M) candidates shared their concerns with the Governor.

“I have been in the field right from the morning…People requested me and stopped my motorcade on the way. They told me about the murders happening around them, told me about the goons not allowing them to go to the polling booths…It should cause concern to all of us. This is the most sacred day for democracy…The election must be through ballots and not bullets,” the Governor said while talking to the reporters here.

Several incidents of ballot box and ballot paper looting, as well as destruction, were reported from numerous polling booths in the State.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of being involved in the incidents.

“Bloodshed in West Bengal in Panchayat Election. TMC candidate killed an independent Muslim candidate in North 24, Parganas dist. TMC knows only language of violence, murder and booth capturing. CM @MamataOfficial along with @CEOWestBengal is responsible for these murders,” BJP state chief Sukanta Majumdar said.

Meanwhile, West Bengal minister Shashi Panja asked why central forces “failed to protect the citizens”.

“TMC workers have been murdered, two have been shot at. Those who were asking for deployment, saying that these central forces are the guardians of peace – the guardians have failed, faltered to protect the rights of citizens,” Panja said.

The panchayat elections are underway for a single phase, with the counting of votes scheduled on July 11.

The polls are likely to see a fierce tussle for control of local administrations between the ruling TMC and the BJP and will be a litmus test for both parties ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

Around 5.67 crore voters are likely to exercise their franchise to choose representatives for nearly 928 seats across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat Samiti, and 63,239-gram panchayats seats.

West Bengal has 3,341 gram panchayats and the number of village panchayat election centres is 58,594. There are 63,239 seats at the Gram Panchayat level, 9730 at Panchayat Samiti, and 928 at the Zila Parishad level.

In 2018, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) won uncontested, 34 percent of the seats in panchayat elections, which also saw various instances of violence. Trinamool Congress has won many seats uncontestedly in the 2023 elections as well. (ANI)

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Mamata on politics

We Don’t Want Danga: Mamata On Hate Politics

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday claimed that people are trying to divide the country through politics of hatred while asserting that she would not let the country divide in the name of religion and is ready to lay down her life for it.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee visited Red Road in Kolkata where people offered namaz on the occasion of Eid-Ul-Fitr.
Addressing the gathering, Mamata Banerjee said, “We want peace in Bengal. We don’t want riots. We want peace. We don’t want divisions in the country.”

“Those who want to create divides in the country – I promise today on Eid, I am ready to give my life but I will not let the country divide. We don’t want danga, we don’t want a clash. We want shanti (peace),” she added.

“If democracy will go away, everything will go away. Today Constitution is being changed, history is being changed. They brought NRC; I told them that I will not let them do that,” the Bengal CM stated.

Earlier, on the occasion of Ram Navami, several vehicles were set on fire after two groups clashed in Howrah. During the procession, the rioters vandalized public and private properties and set vehicles on fire.

Launching a scathing attack at the BJP-led Central government, the West Bengal CM said, “Someone takes money from BJP and says that they will divide Muslim votes. I tell them that they don’t have the courage to divide Muslim votes for BJP. It is my promise to you today. There is one year to elections. See who will get elected and who won’t.”

“All I would like to tell you is – stay peaceful, don’t listen to anyone. A “gaddar party” with whom I have to fight, I have to fight agencies too – I fight them because I have the courage to do so but I am not ready to cow down,” she added.

Condemning the release of the 11 convicts who had gang-raped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots, the CM said, “Everyone was released in the Bilkis case. But we will not tolerate all this. We will fight and we will win.”

The Gujarat government granted remission to 11 convicts on August 10 last year following which they walked free on August 15, 2022.

“Leaders should always keep unity. We dont want to destroy anything. I pray to Allah to give us s
(power). If we are united then I am sure we can defeat them,” Banerjee added.

TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee also reiterated CM Mamata Banerjee’s words.

He said, “Be it Christmas, Durga Puja or Eid, we in West Bengal have unity. We dont want any division. This only happens in West Bengal. No other state or city has this. They want to divide and rule. But this can’t happen. There should be brotherhood everywhere.”

“The trees, roads, and soil don’t have a caste. Allah and God are not bad. Those people who divide people are. Those who will try to apply the divide-and-rule policy in Bengal will not be tolerated. We say, Jay Hind, we say Vande Mataram as well as we say Jai Bangla,” he added.

Muslims across India, as well as different parts of the world on Saturday, are celebrating the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr by offering namaz. The festival marks the end of the holy month of Ramzan.

Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The festival is of great significance due to the moon sighting which has been part of Islamic culture for a long time. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad used to wait for news of sightings of the crescent moon as it narrated the beginning of a new month.

Ending the holy month of Ramzan and starting a new spiritual journey also marks the beginning of a new Islamic year.

Eid-ul-Fitr marks the month-long Ramzan fasting and the beginning of Shawwal which is the tenth month per the Islamic calendar. Since the observance of the moon is essential for ending Ramzan month and celebrating Eid, it is celebrated in different parts on different days usually with a one-day difference. (ANI)

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Mahua Moitra ON Adani

Adani Approached Me, I Have Nothing To Talk To Him: Mahua Moitra

Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra on Thursday said that businessman Gautam Adani tried to reach her but on one on one basis she has nothing to discuss with him.

In this regard, she took to Twitter and said,” Adani tried utmost to get to me and few others through his friends/wheeler-dealers. He couldn’t even find the door, let alone get past it. I have nothing to discuss on a 1:1 basis with Adani. I firmly believe till govt takes action no politician should engage with this man”.

Earlier today on Twitter, TMC MP shared a media report of Gautam Adani meeting with the NCP leader Sharad Pawar and stated that we can only hope that NCP has the good sense to put country before old relationships.

“Adani hamaam mein to saare hi nange hai. I have no fear of taking on Great Marathas. Can only hope they have the good sense to put country before old relationships. And no, my tweet is not anti-opposition unity. Rather it is pro-public interest,” TMC MP tweeted.

Also Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi on Thursday wrote a letter to the SEBI chairman seeking details that the market regulator had initiated against some of the companies of the Adani group.

The member of Parliament on Thursday said in her tweet, “My letter to SEBI Chairperson, reminding her once again, after my letter dated Feb 3, 2023, that investigation SEBI began in some of the Adani Group companies in 2021 still awaits a closure report. It is only fair the investors know the outcome”.

Earlier On March 2, the Supreme Court set up an expert committee amid the controversy arising out of a report by US short-seller Hindenburg Research on the Adani Group. It directed SEBI to investigate whether there has been a violation of Section 19 of SEBI rules and any manipulation of stock prices. (ANI)

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AAp CPI Trimool

EC Recognises AAP As National Party; NCP, Trinamool Cong Lose Status

In significant decisions, the Election Commission on Monday recognised Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a national party and withdrew this recognition given to the Nationalist Congress Party, CPI and Trinamool Congress.

In other decisions, the poll panel gave recognition to Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) as a state party in Nagaland and Tipra Motha Party was recognised as a state party in Tripura. Bharat Rashtra Samithi has been derecognised as a state party in Andhra Pradesh.
The poll panel also withdrew the state party status of Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh and of Revolutionary Socialist Party in West Bengal.

The Voice of the People Party got recognition as a state party in Meghalaya.

Tipra Motha Party, Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) and Voice of the People Party got recognition as state parties based on their recent performance in the assembly polls earlier this year in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya respectively.

AAP rules Delhi and Punjab. Apart from Delhi and Punjab, it got national party status based on its performance in Gujarat and Goa. It is a recognised state party in Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat and Goa.

AAP has been looking for a national footprint and has contested polls in several states. (ANI)

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BJP’s Ideology Is Self-Centered: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and said that the BJP’s ideology is to be “self-centered” while her party Trinamool Congress abides by the Constitution.

Addressing a convention of Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in Kolkata, Banerjee said, “CPI (M) and BJP belong to the same team…BJP’s ideology is to be self-centered…Our compulsion is to obey the Constitution. But today history, geography, and politics are being forgotten; education and culture are being changed,”
The TMC supremo spoke on Trinamool Congress’ vision as it completed 25 years on January 1, and said “the party aims at a united India with a strengthened federal structure”.

On Sunday, she took to Twitter on the occasion of the 25th foundation day of the Trinamool Congress and congratulated everyone for believing in the power of Maa, Maati, and Manush (mother, soil, and people).

She also recalled the party’s struggle through the years and the role played by the party workers in empowering people, fighting injustice, and inspiring hope among the masses.

“This day, 25 years ago, TMC came into existence. I recall our struggles through the years & the role we have played in empowering people, fighting injustice, and inspiring hope. I heartily congratulate everyone for believing in the power of MAA, MAATI, MANUSH,” tweeted Mamata.

Trinamool Congress was created over Mamata’s difference from the Congress. She left Congress and formed TMC on January 1, 1998. TMC which emerged as a regional party was elevated to a national Party in 2016.

The party ended the 34-year left regime in West Bengal in 2011 and has been in power since then, winning three consecutive assembly elections.

Currently, it is the third largest party in the parliament after BJP and the Congress with 23 members in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha. (ANI)

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Elections And Yo-Yoing Popularity Of Modi

If you looked at a comprehensive list of festivals in India it could seem staggering. India is often known as the country of festivals. With its range of diverse cultures, languages, costumes, number of religions, number of gods or avatars of god that are worshipped, and different ethnic backgrounds that is not surprising. But there is one type of festival that is different from the others and, possibly, unique to India. These are elections.

In any other democracy, elections are only a necessity, a periodic group decision-making process through which citizens choose individuals to public office: a mere means to an end. But in India, elections, especially when they are for electing MPs or MLAs become supercharged events that can rival the most popular festivals in the country.

In roughly two months from now will begin a series of elections to state assemblies. The elections covering seven states (eight, if Jammu & Kashmir, where there is President’s Rule, also goes to the polls) will begin in February and go on till the end of 2022. And because these state assembly elections can have a bearing on what happens in the parliamentary elections in 2024, the entire political apparatus of the country will be obsessed with them.

Among the states that will hold elections are important ones. Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India (pop: >204 million) where the BJP has been in power since 2017 is one. Many believe that what happens in the UP elections often determines the outcome of parliamentary elections. Gujarat, a stronghold of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state where he was chief minister for over a dozen years, is another. Then there are other small but significant elections. In Goa, where the BJP is in power, and where the contest has usually been between the BJP and the Congress, there is an aggressive new challenger–Mamata Banerjee’s All-India Trinamool Congress (AITC).

ALSO READ: Nuts & Bolts Of Mamata’s Not So Nutty Plan For Goa

What happens in Punjab would also be interesting to watch. Although the Congress is in power in the state, a few months back the state’s former chief minister and veteran Congressman Amarinder Singh resigned because of internal discord in the party. Singh has now announced the formation of his own party and that may be a force to contend with. In Punjab, it has traditionally been a two-sided battle between the Akali Dal and its alliances and the Congress and its alliances. If the former chief minister forms a new party and enters the fray, the shape of the contest could change dramatically.

In the meantime, there are mixed perceptions about the popularity of Mr. Modi and his party, which won the parliamentary elections convincingly (the National Democratic Alliance, which the BJP leads, has 334 of the 543 seats in Lok Sabha) in 2019. That clearly meant Mr Modi and his party were in top form when it came to popularity. But in August this year, when India Today magazine did its Mood of the Nation survey, polling 14,600 respondents, just 24% of them said they considered Modi best suited to be India’s Prime Minister.

Mr Modi’s plummeting popularity may have quite a bit to do with the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has hit India hard and while infections, hospitalization, and deaths have soared, it is the economic impact of the pandemic that has hit Indians hard. As many as 70% of the respondents in the poll said their incomes had fallen during the pandemic, and a third of them charged his government with inability to rein in price rises across the board–beginning with petrol and diesel prices that have soared.

How accurate are such surveys? It’s difficult to say. Because, in October, barely two months after the Mood of the Nation survey, another survey by YouGov, an international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, found that Mr Modi’s approval ratings had bounced back. Based on YouGov’s methodology, his popularity among urban Indians had increased from 53% in August to 59% in October.

Part of the problem with such surveys is their sample size of respondents. India’s population is in excess of 1.3 billion. Even if we consider the urban proportion of that, it is more than 480 million people. The Mood of the Nation survey had 14,600 respondents. And, YouGov’s survey had 5,095. These are very small sample numbers relative to the universe that they try to find a proxy for and the accuracy of opinion polls based on such samples in a very diverse country can be questioned. For the record, the YouGov survey found that there was a North-South divide in Mr Modi’s approval ratings: he enjoyed a 63% approval rating among residents of Northern India, but 36% of those residing in Southern India disapproved of him.

There are, however, some fun facts in other survey-based research that YouGov has done. In YouGov America’s survey of The Most Popular Foreign Politicians, carried out among US citizens in the third quarter of 2021, Mr Modi ranks at No. 13, just below Russia’s Vladimir Putin (No. 12) and just above Mexico’s former president, Enrique Pena Nieto. And just in case, you are wondering who was on top on that list, here it is: at No.1 it was Angela Merkel, the former chancellor of Germany; at second spot, it was Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; and at the third position, it was France’s president, Emmanuel Macron.

A Calculated Risk to Enter a Small State

‘Mamata Is The Only Leader Who Can Challenge Modi’

Chintan Patel, a sports physiotherapist in Panaji, Goa, feels Trinamool Congress has taken a calculated risk to enter a small state like Goa before emerging on the national stage

Owing to the fact that Goa is the smallest state in the country (40 seats), its political landscape is a little different from that of the other states, especially from that of West Bengal (294 seats). Perhaps Mamata Banerjee decided to start her national political innings from here because it is good to start on a small scale. That according to me is a wise step: to take only as much as one can easily commit to and handle.

The physical and metaphorical distance between the voters and representatives in Goa isn’t that much unlike in larger states. The cook employed at my house is a Goan native and says that local representatives do pay their residential areas regular visits. The voters are aware too and take active interest in local politics. Politics isn’t just about making promises to the janta, but also executing them properly. Mamata Banerjee and her party candidates will have to build a very strong base in Goa, if they want to make inroads into national politics.

Goa, being a small state, is no stranger to personality politics. It is also no stranger to ideas of cosmopolitanism and being open to other cultures, given its thriving tourism industry. Mamata Banerjee will have to strike a fine balance and really try to understand the local lifestyle well. It is good that she visited the state last month for a few days.

The Goa Assembly elections are scheduled in February 2022. As a sports physiotherapist working with the Goa Cricket Association and Goa Football Association, I come in contact with many star players regularly. One of my friends, footballer Denzil Franco joined TMC recently.

Patel comes from a politically conscious family in Gujarat

Anyone who fulfils their promises or tries to show genuine intent to understand and solve local issues will win the voter’s minds and hearts. During the second wave of Covid in May, Goa wasn’t able to handle it well and in the post-pandemic world people are looking for leaders who can be strong and lead from the front in moments of crisis.

ALSO READ: ‘A Daughter Of Soil, Didi Is The Leader To Watch’

The voter nowadays is also more aware thanks to social media and understands that state issues aren’t independent from that of the centre. The central leadership does affect and influence state politics in certain cases, such as a pandemic.

I am a Gujarati who has been living in Panaji for nearly five years now and my family is based in Gujarat. A few of my close relatives are actively engaged in politics and I am aware that the wind can change direction any time on any issue in politics. It depends on the charisma of the leader at top apart from the hard work of the party cadre on ground level.

Modiji or let’s say the BJP has managed to somehow win over the attention of the janta, but Mamata Banerjee is also a formidable opponent. Perhaps she is the only one giving strong ‘opposition’ to Modiji. Despite Congress being the single largest party in 2017, they lost Goa, but Mamata held the fort strongly in West Bengal and came back for a successive third stint as Chief Minister this year. It would be interesting to see if TMC can build a strong base in Goa and go from being a strong regional player to a strong national player.

‘A Daughter Of Soil, Mamata Is The Leader To Watch’

Anil Bhutoria, 59, an industrialist based in Kolkata, says the Bengal CM’s ability to connect with people makes her transition as a national leader inevitable

It is interesting to see the Trinamool Congress (TMC) spreading its wings and seriously panning out from being a regional player to being a national player. Be it Tripura, Meghalaya, Punjab or Goa, Mamata Banerjee and her party seem to be confident of creating a solid base of voters in these states.

Even though it is too early to say whether she will emerge victorious or not, I am sure she will be able to definitely connect with the local people in these states and make some serious advance into the local politics. For example, Bengal and Goa both have large Christian populations and a shared love for football; who knows what factor might tilt votes.

Most probably she will be able to make the transition smoothly into a national figure, for she is a daughter of the soil. She might not be the most camera savvy or suave persons around, but she definitely has her heart in the right place. Plus, she is not new to national politics. She has been a Cabinet Minister at the Centre and definitely knows her way. Again, it might be too early to say anything concrete but she may prove to be a good fit at central leadership or the PM’s role.

Bhutoria says Banerjee leads from the front

As an industrialist who has operated business under both the Left Front and TMC in Bengal (I established the Stadel group in 2003), I would say things had started improving under Buddhadeb Bhattacharya itself. But Mamata Banerjee did make things better. Nobody had ever thought that the Left Front would go out from Bengal, but Ms Banerjee fought single-handedly and won. Who knows what the future holds as far as national politics is concerned?

ALSO READ: Mamata In A New Challenger Avatar

As far as I am concerned, I don’t follow any leader or party blindly and only go by the ground reality or statistics. And I must say that the statistics speak for themselves. Mamata Banerjee is a proactive leader. She is forever strategizing and figuring out newer ways to connect with people. And that according to me is the mark of a good leader, someone who has her ear on the ground. Be it the remote areas of rural Bengal or a metropolitan Kolkata, she makes sure to stay connected with the populace. She takes care that social schemes are set in motion and that people benefit from them. One of the things that personally make me the happiest is that Kolkata has begun to look much cleaner than before.

Also, while other states were just fighting the pandemic, West Bengal had to deal with the double blow of the pandemic and cyclone Amphan. And Bengal dealt with it well. Bengal was really well-prepared for cyclone Yaas in May 2021. A good leader should be able to multitask well.

All in all, I think the country is ready for someone who is unafraid to be herself and lead from the front. But Mamata Banerjee also has to take a more balanced approach in connecting with people across the length and breadth of the country.