How TMC’s Mahua, Mimi & Nusrat Are Smashing Heckling & Patriarchy
Three first-time parliamentarians from West Bengal, all from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, are dominating the political narrative and popular consciousness in the early days of the Monsoon Session.
Mahua Moitra, Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty don’t have much in common. Moitra, a former investment banker with JP Morgan, who ditched a flourishing career in London and New York to join electoral politics in Bengal, has already been hailed as a hero for her legal fight against the BJP’s bid to ‘control’ and ‘censor’ social media.
Now, her savage take down of the NDA’s so-called ‘fascist’ moves in her maiden speech is breaking the internet.
Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty, both in their early 30s, are the glamorous faces of the Bengali entertainment industry.
And they are doing it in their own ways.
How Mahua Moitra Blew The Old Boys’ Club’s Cockiness To Smithereens
In a Parliament tarnished by heckling, sexist jibes, and blatant misogyny displayed by the old boys’ club, Moitra just blew their cockiness to smithereens. And the best part is, she did it with so much grace, dignity, and fierceness, that the men, mostly her political rivals, were evidently flummoxed.
She roasted the BJP using an unsparing seven-point attack to articulate what many in the country have been feeling, talking about curbs on mass media, ‘crony capitalism’, lynchings, unconstitutional moves, the NRC and citizenship, unemployment, farm distress, and the so-called specter of national security. Mahua Moitra is being hailed as the voice that the Opposition should have spoken in, but failed.
Too bad, Moitra represents a chief minister who has a notorious track record for freedom of speech and expression. Moitra’s fan following has surged overnight, prompting many women in her home state to root for her as their next CM. If her party survives, that is.
Mimi Chakraborty: Bengal Electorate Voted For More Than ‘Just A Pretty Face’
No matter what happens in Bengal over the next two years and in the Centre, Mahua Moitra has ensured that she will be keenly followed, and the country will hang on to every word she utters in Parliament. Every time she urged the speaker to control the “professional hecklers”, she spoke for thousands of women at the workplace, who have always struggled to be heard over the ruckus created by men who believe that mansplaining is their birthright.
Nusrat Jahan and her Tollywood sister Mimi Chakraborty, trended for all the wrong reasons. Chakraborty, who won from the Jadavpur constituency in South Kolkata, has been trolled and ridiculed by her own people for refusing to switch into a less glamorous avatar for her subsequent parliamentary debut.
BJP candidate Anupam Hazra is a teacher and activist, who has a doctorate in rural sanitation, has authored several books in rural development and contributes regularly to international journals. CPM’s candidate is a former mayor and practicing lawyer, who joined politics as a student.
That the voters would go for Mimi Chakraborty, who is, to most people, no more than a ‘pretty face’, shocked a large section of Bengalis, who were ready to disown their own for this perceived betrayal.
Nusrat Jahan Snubs Hecklers With ‘Jai Hind, Vande Mataram, Joy Bangla’
It did not help that both Mimi and Nusrat appeared on Day One in Delhi, dressed in smart casuals, sending the internet into a tizzy.
The fact that these two women are redefining politics was evident when an anchor from an English news channel flew down to have puchkas (gol gappa/panipuri) with Chakraborty, as she took the crew around the shinier bits of her constituency, travelling in a luxury sedan and pausing for selfies with women and young girls.
Nusrat Jahan, meanwhile, chose to get married in Turkey to her fashion entrepreneur partner Nikhil Jain, the day she was supposed to take oath. She later appeared in the same news show as her colleague, taking the camera crew to her upscale gym as she performed planks, and later drove around town in a shiny green luxury convertible.
But here’s the thing. Having fought the tough elections as a Muslim, Jahan took oath as Nusrat Jahan Ruhi Jain, with sindoor on her forehead, sporting mehndi and chooda.
Back home, Nusrat has suddenly found herself a new breed of supporters, who see her as the perfect poster girl for a TMC that has been fighting hard to retain its inclusive space.
It is much too early to say how any of these appearances, speeches and interviews will shape the political careers of these three women from Bengal, a state that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It is however a pleasant change from the toxic masculinity and the abrasive culture of name-calling and personal attacks that defines Indian politics today.
(Chandrima Pal is an author and senior journalist. She tweets @captainblubear . This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)