The ‘Sanjay Jha’ of Trinamool Congress, Mamata’s trusted confidante and the blue-eyed boy of the liberal brigade has gone missing since 23rd May (at least from Twitter). Derek O’Brien is nowhere to be found. Known for his sarcasm, wit and rebuttals, Derek was very vocal on social media to voice his anti-Modi/BJP opinions. We try and explain why Derek has gone into hiding after the results.
As counting day was approaching, Derek O’Brien vigorously dismissed the exit poll numbers and almost convincingly believed that BJP would make no inroads into Bengal. For a person so confident of victory, to see BJP snatch 16 seats from under Mamata’s nose would indeed have been disappointing. He is probably now seeking answers and discovering an introspective side to his personality. Or maybe he’s just quit the TMC or has been sacked? This was one of his last tweets before vanishing:
— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) May 19, 2019
Derek was the ace spokesperson of the TMC which it fielded on TV debates regularly, but we haven’t seen him on any channel recently! Is it because he is dumbfounded by the sheer magnanimity of the BJP’s victory, or is he avoiding public speaking in order to not be seen as defending Mamata’s imminent collapse in Bengal? Derek has always had his reservations about EVMs (except December 2018). What I consider the primary reason for Derek’s absence from social media is that there is absolutely nobody who is willing to support his claims of EVM manipulation. Not even the other opposition parties! They all have collectively fallen silent on the EVM front.
Derek wouldn’t want to be seen as a lone crusader for a false cause. It was always easy to defend Mamata by blaming the EVMs for him, however, now that he can’t possibly take that risk, lest his limited knowledge of controversion be exposed, he has perhaps concluded that it is best now for him to leave the party matters to the best of the knowledge of the goons that the TMC employs. His intellectual and ideological politics clearly didn’t help the TMC resist the BJP. He has probably arrived at the view that violence is the only tactic available to stop the BJP’s proliferation in the state.
Derek O’Brien, prior to counting day, was adamant about the impossibility of Narendra Modi returning to power. He was also convinced that Mamata Banerjee would be the next Prime Minister of India. Finally, he very often arrogantly commented that BJP would bag next to no seats in Bengal. I am placing some of these fantasies of his before you for a reason. Suppose you have three goals, and it’s a do-or-die situation, and you achieve none, how would you feel? Derek is in the same situation right now. If anything, we should all be sympathetic to him for getting everything so wrong, by such large margins. Also, having a boss like Mamata can often land someone in difficult situations. I can’t help but wonder how she would be treating all her subordinates after the massive poll drubbing. In totality, I can only imagine what a tough time Derek must be going through.
The most striking aspect of Derek’s absence, however, is now, when there is an anti-Mamata movement being heralded by the doctors of Bengal and is backed by the entire nation. Mamata Banerjee needs Derek O’Brien now more than ever. The goons cannot win her either sympathy or control over the narrative. And the only man who could attempt to turn the narrative in her favor has decided not to put out even a tweet in this regard! I am assuming that Derek has finally realized that Mamata cannot be defended any longer. Her recent theatrics in Kolkata only prove how terrified she is by an opposition, which further exposes her dictatorial tendencies. As such, Derek has probably decided to take a break from the madness of the TMC and venture to a new strand of politics, where there is still some sanity.