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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nandigram and West Bengal politics today

Despite being very upset over the developments centering on Nandigram over the last few months, I have deliberately refrained from commenting on the issue up till now (not that I imagine the comments of someone like me would give the powers that be some sleepless nights!): but now a few words are in order.

Before I launch into my current commentary, I should like to issue a disclaimer, to the effect that I have been politically non-partisan lifelong, avoided politicians of all hues as a matter of principle since I quit journalism back in 1988, I have strong leftist sympathies (as more than one post on this blog will testify); and if compelled to vote I shall still vote for the CPI(M) simply because I cannot see a coherent and credible alternative yet. I think I can clinch my bonafides by pointing out that despite becoming steadily more and more disillusioned with Left politics in Bengal over the last 20 years, I congratulated the present chief minister in the following letter to the editor of The Telegraph (published May 15, 2006) right after his massive electoral victory with a vigorous and seemingly sincere agenda for reform:

“Sir ,
While a decent, intelligent and hardworking chief minister like Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his team must be congratulated for having won so convincingly, they should also be reminded of the heightened expectations of the people. The first among them is that the ruling party should not grow too smug and arrogant (especially at the grassroots level); second, that all the deadwood in the government should be removed; third, that we should soon begin to see concrete evidence of the new development programme percolating down to the masses; fourth, that the law-and-order situation will improve; fifth, that power and water might become more easily and reliably available; sixth, that something might be done about the burgeoning population, the root of most of our problems; seventh, that serious steps might be taken to check and reverse the massive environmental degradation that has already taken place; and finally, that many more opportunities might be created for talented people in both the arts and the sciences, so that the exodus of bright young minds to other states and abroad might be checked. This might sound like a tall order, but without these, Bhattacharjee’s dream of Bengal again leading the country will never materialize, and that is sure to take an electoral toll sooner or later.”

Indeed, over the last year and more, Bhattacharjee’s government has been showing some alacrity in at least trying to ensure that a great deal of land is quickly acquired to facilitate the setting up of a variety of new industries and businesses in various parts of the state, which, they claim, is the only way to fulfil the economic expectations of the people – an enormous fraction of whom are unemployed, desperately poor, and increasingly impatient for change. That is as it may be: I shall not join issue with that claim here. They may be quite right (at least from the long-term perspective: even a titan like Amartya Sen seems to believe so); perhaps they don’t even have a choice – if they cannot show reasonably quick results, their political survival might be at stake, and so also Bengal’s best interests. It may also be true that the opposition, such as it is in Bengal, has for its own short-sighted reasons, queered the pitch rather badly over the last year by resorting to less-than-fair and legitimate means of agitation over the land-grab issue, at Singur first and at Nandigram thereafter, pushing the ruling Front towards more and more desperate measures to regain what they perceived to be rapidly shifting political ground. In this context, nothing is more apposite than today’s lead editorial in The Telegraph, and I quote:

“… the alternative was open. It was always possible for any of the warring parties in Nandigram to ask for a full debate on the subject in the Vidhan Sabha. If this was not allowed, they could have appealed to the governor of the state to permit such a debate. This route was never tried; there are reasons to suspect that such an alternative was not even contemplated. Political parties know of the irrelevance of the legislative assembly because they themselves have made the institution irrelevant in West Bengal. Thus the state is that supreme incongruity: a democracy sans democratic institutions.” (Wednesday, November 14, 2007)

But this is not merely troublesome but terrifying as a prospect: it means that we are rapidly moving towards anarchy or some version of totalitarianism, where all notions of right and justice, decency and reason and compromise will be thrown to the winds, only the rule of raw might will prevail: one is automatically and always right as long as one wields the rod (and isn’t that pathetic when it is claimed by those whose only legitimacy comes from being democratically elected?) In such a situation, what difference can it make to very ordinary people like me whether the rulers call themselves liberal or communist or fascist or theocratic? A democratic government must listen, and occasionally defer to, the strident demands of the minority in the opposition: that is the only condition on which the minority can be expected, day in and day out, to accede peacefully to the impositions of the majority! But now it seems that if I do not toe the official line, I am not only bound to be wrong but immediately deserving of being abused, harassed and punished, whether I am a mediaman or a private citizen! Now if we all sadly agree that this is precisely what has happened, it is not surprising (though I find it most heartening) that a separate voice should arise to make the vitally necessary protests against crude highhandedness and callousness on the part of the people in power – that a large number of non-partisan (and normally apolitical) people; civilized, talented people, too, considerable achievers many of them, and held in high social esteem, should have taken (quietly and peaceably) to the streets, demanding that the government get off its high horse and start behaving with responsibility and restraint again. And it is the ruling party/government’s reaction to that development (as evident in the mass media till this evening) that dismays and frightens me. Leave alone the faceless apparatchiks and unlettered strongmen, a chief minister who publicly flaunts his cultural credentials – whom I had all along thought to be a basically decent, sharp and open-minded man – has now not only used strong-arm methods on poor villagers in Nandigram and also on a whole procession of intellectuals of the highest pedigree right in the heart of Calcutta, but blatantly insists that he has been right throughout, that whoever criticizes anything he does is a fraud, a nitwit, a stooge of the opposition, badly deluded – and, worst of all, that they are all apparently ignorant, trivial, worthless people hungry for the limelight!!! In a state where a ‘cultured’ chief minister can get away with branding people of the stature of Mrinal Sen, Sankho Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh, Mamata Shankar, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Shubhaprasanno, Mahasweta Devi, Nabaneeta Deb Sen, Bivash Chakraborty, Anjan Dutta, Joy Goswami and Sumit Sarkar like that, what hope do ordinary people like us have of getting fair treatment – leave alone the millions of ignorant and obscure poor in the remote villages when they get into the rulers’ bad books for one reason or the other? And if the whole educated urban middle class (together they should count in millions!) does not rise up in angry protest to compel such a chief minister to apologise unconditionally and promise to behave better in future, how can we ever again boast of being a far more enlightened and free-spirited people than the denizens of many parts of India whom we still privately love to denigrate as ‘benighted’? Given a perfectly free hand, what kind of utopia is this government likely to create for us – what better than a window dressing of snazzy call centres and shopping malls and multiplexes thinly covering up a reign of abject terror and enforced servility? Firing on armed and hostile villagers I could condone, even putting some places temporarily beyond the reach of the media I could wink at – but abusing, ridiculing and manhandling the intelligentsia was the last straw: because that means that only people with deep pockets and private armies and top-level contacts in the ‘right’ party (no matter how stupid, uncouth and ignorant such people might be) can feel safe and live with a modicum of dignity in this state from now on!

And one final warning to the current rulers: anyone who lives by the sword is condemned to die by the sword. If brute force is allowed to decide everything, then some day a far mightier force can boot the CPI(M) unceremoniously not only out of office but in the ‘dustbin of history’ – one way would be to unleash the public’s real anger and bitterness and disgust at the polls after putting the state under President’s rule, thereby taking away control of the police from the ruling party’s hands and keeping the cadre locked up at home under the shadow of army guns and tanks. They have been shrewdly avoiding that horrid eventuality for thirty years now, but how much longer before the central government’s patience breaks, and political compulsions no longer prevent either the Congress or the BJP (or some bizarre combination of the two in the Lok Sabha) from deciding that enough is enough, and the CPI(M) should be permanently wiped off as a nuisance too big for its boots on the national political map by the simple expedient of eradicating it from the only state where it continues to really matter? Hubris leads rulers to their doom: that is one historical rule to which, I believe, there has not been a single exception in 6000 years of history!

10 comments:

Sudipto pondering said...

I've been thinking about this issue for a long time now. I agree with you on several points.

Let's face it: CPI(M) never was too idealistic party (but then which political party is?). All along it's reign, CPI(M) kept the whole situation in West Bengal under control by manipulating, bribing, and ruling with an iron hand wherever and whenever necessary. What is actually terrifying is the scale to which the party has taken that policy to. Never before in it's nearly 30-year history did the party actually kill so many innocent farmers all at once, and that too before wide media coverage.

I remember that you once said that CPI(M) is no Gestapo, but now I ask you again. Of course, it hasn't reached that height of shamelessness and cruelty even now, but I guess CPI(M) cadres aren't too different from the Brown Shirts-- at least in principle.

No media joker (and that is what Mamata Bannerjee is, inspite of her apparent worries about the poor farmers in Nandigram) can effectively and efficiently run a state. I would have agreed to your claim that no other party in West Bengal ever has had any realistic experience of ruling in the state. Only if CPI(M) hadn't turned so ruthless now. Arresting respected intellectuals and calling them puppets of the Opposition is not only reflective of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's arrogance and callousness, it also says that Buddha won't think twice before curbing and overruling democratic rights of normal citizens whenever required.

Is it too long before we have to requote Gandhiji's call?: "Leave West Bengal to God!" Or shall we, the concerned citizens, sit quietly and see the paupers die?

Anonymous said...

The might of the Indian Union is no lame one, as best demonstrated by the brute suppression of the Mizo nationalist movement, the Punjab Khalistan movement, and to a certain extent the Kashmir and Assam separatist movements. But when this same might is used against poor farmers defending their means of livelihood, then the issue is certainly serious and to be condemned strongly. So I fully agree to Suvro sir's comments on the Nandigram incident. The opposition political parties too can't escape the blame. If some recent reports of Maoists elements infiltrating Trinamool ranks are true, then Bengal (and later on maybe the rest of the country) are truly heading to another era Naxalism (or should I say Nandigramism).

Sunup Varghese Kurien

contramental said...

There are certain observations that I would like to make here:
Systematic encroachment of land or property is a universal phenomenon in this country. But the fact that the antecedents of the ruling communist party in this regard has been quite phenomenal has put the dark spotlight squarely on their face and they have been caught with their pants down. The fact is that the government, in a callous giveaway have wanted to broker the deal in the hope that appeasing industrialists would help in the much needed industrialization and employment of the youth of the state (most of whom have been trying to seek a decent livelihood in other states and have been clinically subject to apathy and other forms of booting). In which case I really respect the line that Buddhadev Bhattacharya has been towing, and the level of desperation that he has been able to exhibit.

Lets think about it this way. An opposition which can call anything but constructive, neighbors which we can neither boast off (Assam, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bangladesh – seem landmines for infiltrators catalyzing the cause, not only now but for every other opportunity in the past), and an intelligentsia (the definition of which is someone who can carry out a thorough bashing of the incumbent ruling party!) is what makes West Bengal such a heady concoction. Imagine the intelligentsia talking of a similar language on the Shiv Sena in Mumbai, which brings us to the situation where Mumbai is today, lots of glitterati but too little sense. A similar routine has been happening in Udan, a stone’s throw away from Mumbai where Mr. Ambani and his ilk has been trying to set up his squire system with some classy assistance from the government so much so that by the iterative EMIs, the peasant is very happy and the media has gone gung ho by the equity returns that the company is providing (making Mr. Ambani the wealthiest person in the world! And the place where he establishes his kingdom continues to perish of thirst) so much so that there is total disregard of any corporate citizenship. Who has the time to discuss such stuff when real estate rates have grown by 40 times dictated by a modern international airport and a state of the art special economic zone that will not only create employment but impart a lifestyle.

As they say, “the show must go on,” and in the mire of Singur, Sourav, a despondent opposition, Rizwanur and all, the West Bengal government missed to create that mist of showmanship.

Sayan said...

The reports of brutalities committed in Nandigram (and Singur)over the past year have thrown up certain important questions, especially if we consider them with respect to reports of other recent atrocities (such as the Gujarat riots).These are as follows:
<1> Would it be better to leave the decision to impose President's Rule in a State in the hands of the President entirely and not in consultation with the Council of Ministers, as required by the Constitution(I apologise if I'm bloating my legal credentials...anyway, where were we...)?Especially if (as in Gujarat and as in West Bengal now) the ruling paerty in the stae is an ally or provides support to that at the Centre?
<2>Should the judiciary be given more teeth so that it can impose harsher punishment for the contempt of itself?(I mean,all the directives of the Calcutta High Court with regard to the issue has been conveniently forgotten by the ruling party ...and now this whole thing about bandhs.I vaguely remember Mr Biman Basu yelling"Lala Bangla chhere Pala!" when Justice Lala (forgot his surname..I think it's Choudhary though..)when a Bench of the Calcutta High Court had prohibited bandhs about 3 years back)
<3>A "how" question...how do you ensure that the police is not serving the interests of the ruling party (I'd prefer any political party, but that kind of Utopia seems ..well,Utopian)?
<4>(a)Not an entirely relevant question (hope I'm not cut off for this one..ha ha)-when the National and the Federal machinery of a country fails (or seemingly neglects)to safeguard the basic civil and political rights of its citizens (All that has been indoctrinated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights,UN Charter,the EU Charter,Our own Constitution- Chapter IV,French Declaration of the Rights of Man...phew!the list is endless..if only we had been half as sincere implementing them as we were in drafting them...)can the United Nations or the ICC act suo moto to restore peace or better, to prevent them from occurring in the first place?What are the views of the enlightened blogosaurs frequenting Sir's blog regarding limits to a nation's sovereignty when it is used as a defence to justify atrocities and to rule out any external intervention?(I mean, sure, the UN has made some major goof-ups in the past-Somalia,Congo,Nicaragua,Srebrenica etc. etc. but then it also (alongwith a few of my favourite rockstars)ended Apartheid in South Africa, lawlessness in East Timor, made Afghanistan at least slightly safer than what it was under the Taliban etc. etc.)
<4>(b)The International Criminal Court (ICC)came into existence in 2002 (Mysteriously India is not a party to the Statute governing it -try Wiki-ing it for more detailed information)and it was set up to try major war criminals...my question is how should a war criminal be defined?What should be the minimum figure/scale/extent of casualties be to qualify as a genocide? And shouldn't perpetrators of such mindless violence like Narendra Modi and the leaders of the ruling Party Cadres who ordered the butchery of the people in Nandigram be brought to task on global platform, so that they can feel the wrath of the entire world upon them, rather than in their own country where they can still be a head of a federation and present Man-of-the-Match awards at cricket matches? Lastly,where do we draw a line between police action and police excesses?

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Please, an earnest request: do sign your comments with your real and full names. I cannot publish any further comments otherwise. I am not asking any commentator to do any more than I am doing myself, am I? So kindly oblige.

Sudipto pondering said...

I don't know if the following comment says anything new at all. I just happened to think that it may make some sense in the current context. The comment is something I wrote as a reply to one of my friends, who was discussing Nandigram with me. Here it goes:

"The world is bad, ugly, cruel and vicious-- but only because we make it so! And when I say 'we', I actually mean the citizens of the globe-- naturally including ourselves. We are, in a most direct way, the architects of anarchy and unrest. I know people will protest against what I am saying if they get to read this, but I consider myself a part of a group of sinners.

Everywhere around us in West Bengal, you see our misdeeds. Nandigram, the Rizwanur issue and the less-cited but equally bad scenario in Amlasol-- all these are direct consequences of our foolery, avarice, materialism and blind greed.

They call industrialisation the saviour of any economy, and its supporting pillar. I've read what Amartya Sen has written on this agro vs. indutrialisation debate, and I respect his verdict. But to an extent, my conscience orders me to disagree with him. Don't get me wrong-- I believe he is absolutely right to say that industrialisation is the long-term answer to economic development. But industrialisation at the cost of lives of thousands of poor farmers who are directly and adversely affected by land-seizure? No, I can't agree on that. I may grudgingly say 'yes' to the State's plans to promote industries on fertile agro-land; but only when the farmers are satisfied with the compensation and the treatment they get. And quite certainly, I don't support the State's crude and violent ways to appoint party-cadres to force people out of their lands and homes. That is bloody violation of the minimums of both law and human decency! And if a certain Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee decides to keep mum and let the party high-command order the death and torture of poor helpless farmers, I question whether he is human after all. Does he have anything called a heart, a sense of the bare minimums of justice and a little bravery in him? Do we have to honour cowards as 'Respectable Chief Minister' henceforth? Let me clearly state here that I am a totally apolitical person, and since I have no political affiliations, I have no fear to state what I feel.

I see no reason behind the Bandhs either. Yes, it gives me more time to prepare for examinations-- but that isn't reason enough to let the State's economy suffer for more than a day, and that too so often! Like a reader in TT wrote to the paper, the CPI(M) cadres wrong the poor farmers. But are the Opposition supporters too different? Burning buses, harming dutiful and brave citizens, and imposing bandhs now and then doesn't make any sense-- that puts you on an equal level with the CPI(M) cadres. Yes, it's certainly admirable if you are helping the farmers in Singur and Nandigram-- I appreciate that. But kindly don't be immature enough to axe the very branch you are sitting on-- by which I mean paralysing the economy.

In no way am I disrespecting politicians or saying that they are all scroundrels. My only statement is that a politician without a heart is as bad as a terrorist. For God's sake, our noted politicians: please do some good to the country, and if you can't manage that-- at least don't do something bad. Be guided by something more than the thirst for power. Of course, power is an important part of politics: but it's not the highest ideal which governs political good.

How are we to blame then? We are to blame because we (speaking with a broad generalisation, of course!), like cowards, sit in our homes and don't protest. We vote for the same guys who care two hoots about the paupers: and therefore we are equal, if not more, sinned that those in power."

Arnab Kar said...

Sir I am reminded of the poem The Man with the Hoe by Edwin Markham, after reading this. The poet had predicted something similar to this in the paragraph of his poem.

"O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings--
With those who shaped him to the thing he is--
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world,
After the silence of the centuries?"

We the citizens have probably forgotten our own responsibilities. We keep on thinking that as a so called responsible citizen of the country our duty ends as soon as we have taken the pains of casting the vote. After that we can go about discussing and criticising the various steps taken up the ruling body.We can stand at the street corners and go on abusing the government. But none of them will actually dare to raise their voice against the government and lead a protest. Then they side off by giving lame excuses as they have their own work and all.
In this context I would like to give the reference to the following movie - Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. The movie describes the rebel that was taking place in Bengal during the naxal period and how many of the students had given up on their studies to bring about a change in the ruling system. But the movie ends off on a sad note when one of the main active workers who was involved in the protests is badly injured. After that the guy gives up all hopes and goes abroad for his own studies. Anyway the movie demonstrates the rage and anger that made the public rebellious in those days and shows the courageous and brave attitude of the public.

I think we need something similar like that today also.

Arani said...

Sir,
From Akbar to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, and from Tansen to Bibhas Chakraborty, intellectuals, creative individuals, well read people, have always been the residual portion of acctual support maintained via force. Akbar needed armies to silence the Deccan sultans, Maratha and Rajput kings and many more. Inspite of all that, he found some time and space to indulge in music and religion and architecture. These are the necessary but not sufficient conditions of political survival. Aurangzeb did without them and would have happily carried on if he did not make tactical errors. George Bush is doing a second term and no civilised American thinks much of him. The same applies to Narendra Modi. The CPI(M)supported Indira Gandhi in 1981, the same person whom they agitated against, ruining the lives and careers of so many young men(including some in my own family),in the 70s. Salwa Juloom in Chattisgarh, Ranvir Sena in Bihar, VHP in Gujarat, Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the CPI(M) in rural Bengal have been supported by the state without much remorse. Today, when the state sponsored terrorists called the CPI(M), were beaten back to wilderness, the state and the terrorists took little time in re-asserting themselves. In a feudal country, where territorial control is the key to political survival, what else do you expect? It has always been so. I know from a relation of mine who is a monk and whose order runs a mission in Hooghly- Midnapore border, that, the CPI(M) goons have wiped away, using force all forms of opposition. There has rarely been any protest. Buddhadeb, tried to alienate the urban middle-class space from the semi-urban/rural one by constructing facades. Thankfully, the facades and spatial boundaries have been dissolved. Should we dissolve the consequent differences in the language of protest too?

Rupkatha Roy said...

Dear Mr. Chatterjee,

You have stirred up quite a few emotions in me and you can’t possibly fault me if my ramblings run somewhat astray!

Why is it, as has been widely alleged, that the inspired intelligentsia has been forthright in unambiguously condemning the ruling dispensation in the latest Nandigram flare-up while molly-coddling the opposition when the perpetrators, on both sides of the political divide, were willy-nilly responsible for the violent carnage ? Why, even the august office of the Governor has received the ‘raj-wrath’ in ‘selectively’ expressing its anguish while choosing to look the other way when thousands of the sympathizers of the ruling party/their cadres ‘were driven out’ of their territories by the Trinamool backed BUPC supporters ?

Apparently, one cannot escape this element of a somewhat partisan reaction syndrome even among the public at large , most of them being fed by copious inputs from the mainstream media; (for the print, not all of them, consciously or otherwise, maintaining the sanctity of the lakshmanrekha of objective reportage/presentation of news and reserving the voice of the paper to find expression in the editorials, while for the electronic, the distinction has been done away with, a long time ago).

The answers to this are perhaps not far to seek. Even if you ignore a part of the public reaction, as stemming from an inchoate understanding of the complexity of the issue, collated/ half-baked, as it were, from a relentless outpouring of our ‘conscientious’ media, as partly uninformed, confused and hence easily driven to sensationalism and a short-circuited polarization (which also sustains itself from the first taste of ‘anti-incumbency’ factor), there are reasons to appreciate the solid grounds on which this apparent partisanship of the ‘vox populi’ are rooted.

Let me list them for a clearer and a dispassionate understanding of the same.

• This needs to be borne in mind that the Nandigram imbroglio cannot and should not be perceived in isolation from the Singur malaise. A perceptive lack of transparency in the procedure adopted by the Government in brokering the deal viz., in actual land acquisition, principle of valuation and mode there-of , compensation package being arrived at etc, and virtual lack of communication with any of the stakeholders had vitiated the process. Hence, in this background, the mere intention of further land acquisition at Nandigram for construction of a chemical hub within an SEZ (itself an alien concept), was bound to create confusion and resentment which was politically exploited by the adversary group to its advantage.

• Even after the Notification was formally withdrawn, the TMC with its other political shadow wrestlers , sensing a deep seated disenchantment among the populace towards the CPIM to which, even a couple of months back they have shown an unflinching allegiance, sniffed blood and tried to consolidate its political turf by politically marginalizing this alienated group of the ruling establishment leading to its eventual ouster and what followed was a series of political violence unleashed by both the warring groups, desperate to extract their respective slices of political capital out of this bloody mess.

• The process of recapture of the lost territory by CPIM resulted in that 14.3. bloodbath which caused widespread public outrage and as we all know, the political process of reconciliation was kept in a virtual limbo since then.

• The endless skirmishes, open and clandestine, continued unabated thereafter, across the borders of Khejuri and Nandigram, buoyed by the steady stockpiling of unlicensed arms and ammunitions brought from the MAO-infested adjoining states, not to speak of the neighboring theocratic country, currently in turmoil, while the political masters periodically uttered inane mouthfuls about the necessity of restoration of peace, rule of law etc. An inept administration, gradually losing its control over its armed cadres, desperate to make a counter bid, and too na├»ve to use its own police machinery to rein in the festering violence, floundered and allowed the situation to dither further to the point of its own helplessness and near political bankruptcy (with perhaps a Machiavellian intent, it seems on hindsight!)

• After about nine months of political dithering, skullduggery, CRPF was finally asked to intervene but again there were differences in party line (with the veteran CPIM patriarch openly dissuading its deployment till the political process was once again given a fair trial) and much procrastination thereafter. Then, shadily and almost reminiscent of the horror backlashes of the Nazi Gestapos, the action was re-enacted with alacrity when organized hoodlums of the ruling party emabarked on their mission ‘Recovery’, iron-curtained from the unsavoury intrusion of the media and social glare, while the political establishment, including the police were either rendered vestigial or were withdrawn , and the guardians of highest administrative citadels twiddled their thumb, finding solace in the cool comforts of “The Wind that Shakes the Barley”, screened in Nandan.


But, in hindsight, before the enactment of the ‘inevitable’, quite a few avenues could have been explored by the present political establishment through which it could have redeemed itself in public eye and esteem :

a) make an effort to try and engage itself in an open dialogue involving the panchayats and other democratic functionaries, with its arch political adversaries to broker peace. A visit of the Chief Minister with his entourage in the affected areas, assuaging the scarred mind of the hapless villagers, could have done wonders.

b) could have sent social thinkers, political activists, NGOs, from a diverse milieu of social spectrum with police protection, if necessary, to the affected areas of both Nandigram & Khejuri and sincerely appealed to the general public at large including political outfits functioning under various banners to surrender their arms and join the process of discussion and dialogue.

c) An exemplary proactive action in terms of disarming the rebels and hardcore party sympathizers at Khejuri could have demonstrated the sheer goodwill of the government and sent an eminently sensible political message to his opponents to clear their Augean stables too!

d) Hold an intimate, no-holds-barred- dialogue and discussion with Fact-Finding Missions and politically pursuing them through carefully drafted agendas, debated in the Vidhan Sabha, with requisite counseling taken from the intellectuals (with leftist inclinations, no problems!) and other opinion leaders! This could have initiated a process of political correction which a government, least of all a leftist one, with a pragmatic CM at its helm should have undertaken with gusto. And more so after enjoying three decades of absolute power!!


Mr Buddhadev Bhattacharjee could have amply demonstrated that here was a government, which was ready to take its plunge, take the bull by its horns and is prepared to accept a fair share of political risk (in terms of party inalienation) to put the state out of this quagmire in terms of dictations taken from the highest principle of democratic governance. It would not have allowed the virtual withering of the state machinery and its attendant repositories, with concomitant usurpation of the socio-democratic space by the trigger-happy violent marauders, sheltered by his own party, ever ready to shortchange the timeworn principle of dialogue and reconciliation with the instant means of violence of power play.

But sadly, strangely , the Chief Minister is unapologetic and stoutly defends what his government has done with a vicarious glint in his eyes!

I recall the following couplets with an icy chill running down my spine!

“We would rather be ruined than change
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die”.

Sayantani said...

Dear Sir,

I learnt of your blog from my friend Sudipto. I’ve been reading your posts for sometime. Your words are quite inspiring and enlightening for youngsters like us, who are desperately in search of a guiding torch-bearer amidst a world where our mates are increasingly losing their individuality and their good faith on emotions.

I agree with you, Sir, about Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s persona. I too had a hard time believing what’s going on. I neither support any political party. I don’t, because I can’t find a good reason to find one. At the end of it, all of them seem to bark pointlessly at nobody. But, in the present political scenario, there are two men I hold immense respect for – our Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and our Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (for the latter one, atleast I used to hold). I heard Mr. Bhattacharjee on several of his interviews and speeches on various forums, and I admit I appreciated all of them. Someone once told me that one’s eyes are reflective of how genuine he or she is - they will be clear, transparent and fearless if the person is honest in his words. And, I always thought the truth shimmered in Mr. Bhattacharjee’s eyes when he spoke. But, a few days back, when I - along with several thousands of people – was eagerly waiting for our C.M. to give the right answers to the hundred inflaming questions enough to turn any conscientious person into ashes in shame, we were all doomed to utter disappointment. “Aren’t you happy? Aren’t you happy at what we have done to help the sufferers… that they are coming back to their homes?” Homes??? Can people live in ashes? What was he talking about? And when he was expected to give the most reasonable answer to an important question, what was he losing his tempers for?? And, I’m not sure whether you noticed it, Sir, but he was flinching and fumbling all through it while promulgating those irksome, loathable statements. Or what was it he doing – reading a list of commercials sponsoring an event? That was the number of people injured, homeless and killed. Where were his poems?? I was trying my best to reason his state – may be, the extreme pressure of his post and position had got over his nerves and temper. But, then, even a person with a teaspoon range of emotion would also feel sorry for the homeless children, the raped women and the dead peasants. Where were those truthful brilliant eyes??? Was I too imaginative? Gosh! I’ve led myself to question my own faith and philosophy! And I suppose a lot of people have done the same. It’s saddening and the whole scene might be rightly portrayed through the song, “Bidroho aaj, Bidroho chari dike, Bidroho aaj… ” (It’s all strife today, It’s all strife everywhere…). Most disheartening is the fact that this very poem was written by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s uncle Shukanto Bhattachrjee.