Once upon a time there was a popular leader who was chosen to clean up a system, that had turned corrupt and cancerous, and corroded the very base of its existence.

He stood at the podium, took decisions that would have been politically devastating just a few months earlier, and throughout believed that things have to turn on their head to revive the state’s fortunes. The problem was the podium.

The appeal of any executive decision is inversely proportional to height of the podium, irrespective of the honesty or intent behind it. The perception of ground reality changes with every inch.

In the inertia of  its socialist past, a state may yearn for an industrial future, but its population is never ready for shock therapy.

Even today, let alone the legitimate concerns of the poor, the privileged who are pained at India not being able to transform like Singapore, fume at paying ‘market-linked’ fuel prices.

The chosen One appealed to the masses for faith and patience, as he tried to drastically change the state’s character to one that won’t depend on welfare and political largesse.

As he waited for people to accept his new ideas, someone else sprang up from the crowd, stirred up the hysteria, took control of the narrative and snatched the political mandate.

That was the story of the fall of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya – the former chief minister of Bengal- whose uncharacteristic courtship with private capital gave the current CM Mamata Banerjee a winning cause on a platter.

The farmers of two villages- Singur and Nandigram – broke the clutches of a 30-year old regime that had stopped listening to them.

Now, how much of it was stage managed, provoked by lumpen elements of the opposition and how much of it was real, barely matters.

If you think there’s a friend who could use the lesson from Buddha Babu’s story, please share.

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