Institutionalised Myths – Bengal

Chief Minister

Courtesy ET

Over the past two weeks, the social media platforms have gone into frenzy over “fascist” actions of the government of West Bengal. Cartoons, which have been at the center of it all, have been floating on the net criticising the high handedness of the present regime. Albeit, there is no smoke without fire, but sadly, most of the outrage was misplaced and fuelled by half baked truths sold by section of visual and print media.

A furore arose on Twitter when a Delhi based English news channel reported that the “Chief Minister” of West Bengal had “banned” Marx from the History syllabus. Without delving into details, and without bothering to cross check facts, think tanks (including veteran historian and exiled writer) on the microblogging site started hitting out at the “dictatorship” of the current government which was “bent on rewriting history”. It took an interview of the chairman of the syllabus reforms committee to TOI and official statement from Higher Education Minister to set the records straight. None, however, bothered to express apologies for their hasty reactions.

The Chief Minister came under scathing attack from the Twitter celebs when a professor of Jadavpur University was arrested by police for circulating cartoons on the CM. People, who had not the slightest idea about the state, became experts on the affairs of West Bengal overnight. From sarcastic tweets to personal insults – the woman who freed Bengal from the communists had to bear lashes for a crime unfounded.

A reputed media house (followed by all other English news channels) reported that Bengal CM personally ordered the arrest of JU professor who “created” that cartoon. The truth in this statement is as prudent as the existence of Santa Claus. Not only was the professor NOT the one to create the cartoon, the CM was not even in Kolkata when the incident happened. Government of West Bengal did not appear in the list of complainants against the professor, neither were any complainants remotely related to the ruling party.

Hajra

Courtesy India Today

To even imagine that a lady, who has had to undergo vitriolic attacks in her career spanning four decades, will take offence to something as trivial as a cartoon. Someone who in the past has been compared to sex workers, dragged by her hair out of state Secretariat (despite being a Central Minister), beaten to near death for defying a Bandh, would be so immature. To even suggest that a lady who has books on humor and cartoons to her credit, who in recent past had offered all help to ailing cartoonist Narayan Debnath, would be averse to cartoons. Had she not possessed the patience, her struggle would always have remained a myth.

The national media tactfully “forgot” to mention in its reports that the CM, upon finding out the case of the professor, ordered Kolkata Police not to oppose his bail. If some women (out of their respect for CM, as they said in their complaint) find a certain picture derogatory, how is the CM to be blamed for it? This is akin to blaming the woman for inviting rape.

“Beware, the Big Brother is watching”. Another piece of fiction sprung from some fertile mind, that the government was monitoring social media for all contents that spoke badly of the present government of West Bengal, started surfacing during the weekend. Despite assurances from party general secretary on TV, there were hardly any takers for the contrary.

The CID, as part of its job, asked for some IP details based on a complaint from a resident of Salt Lake. The complainant, in an interview to TOI, said he made complaints against certain forums on Facebook, out of his reverence for Didi. The national media chose to pin blames on “fascist” government “which has lost the plot” “to paranoia”.

The most tragic of it all, the statements from a revered scientist who was detained for being in a protest march at Nonadanga where illegal encroachers were being evicted to make way for developmental projects of KMDA. Dr Partha Sarathi Roy saw “dark days of democracy” in Bengal under this regime which sought to displace “innocent slum dwellers from their property”.

maa mati manush

Courtesy Indian Express

Dr Roy is an honorable scientist. Probably due to the deluge of work that he has to perform for furthering the cause of science in India, that he missed reading two reports on Nonadanga, one in TOI, and the other in Telegraph (yes, the BIGGEST critic of the CM currently). Had he seen them, he would have known that the Government of WB has rehabilitated all the 200 families that were placed in makeshift arrangements at Nonadanga when they were evicted from Gobindopur Railway COlony in 2006.

Dr Roy would also have come to know from these reports that brokers, who happened to be CPM workers, had leased out property to emigrants from various villages in 24 Parganas, Hooghly and even Bankura, who had emigrated with the hope of having a share of the pie of government rehabilitation. Can Dr Roy hold the CM responsible for this? Is the government responsible for the future of these slum dwellers who had encroached upon government property?

Dr Partha Sarathi Roy is an honourable man. When he speaks of dictorship it pains me. He is genuinely unaware of the latest report from Ministry of Home Affairs which cautions GoWB against rising Maoist influence in Kolkata (with ISI help) and their involvement in Nonadanga. The report names Matangini Mahila Samiti as a frontal organisation (Debalina, a member of the same, was arrested with Dr Roy from Nonadanga during protests). When Dr Roy says he has no links to Maoists, i believe him. Of course, he is being framed by a dictator to silence the voice of freedom.

What is a dictator? A leader detached from the masses, intoxicated by power, who cares least for civil liberties or welfare, right? Does our CM fit the bill? Yes of course! She is the first person to rush to North Bengal when earthquake strikes (probably the first CM in 4 decades to visit NB 5 times in 34 years), the first person to rush to monitor flood relief in South Bengal, a CM who goes on district tours every month to monitor the pace of work at grassroot levels, a leader who gives lift to stranded citizens on the night when Kolkata was under siege of a storm – all signs of a dictator?

Didi

Courtesy ABP

I knew dictators lived lavishly at the expense of tax payers. I did not know the definition of dictator includes them who do not draw any salary for a public post, travel by their own car and refuse to travel in a cavalcade, causing discomfort to public. It irks me when someone calls this woman heartless, for we have seen her cry for Tapshi Malik. It pains me to hear someone call her Hitler, for we have always heard her say “Ami tomader e lok”. It anguishes me to read figments of imagination propagated as news, just to embarrass a government run by a woman who lives on her own terms.

(Chapter 2 : Why The Indian Media Loves to Show Bengal in bad light while eclipsing good stories emanating out of the State).

To Be Continued…..

About agnidattagupta

Typical Bong intellectual,reader, writer (blogs, articles et al),news addict, opinionated, tweet-a-minute King of SMS-tweets.Aspiring Journalist/politician

Posted on April 19, 2012, in Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Archit Agrawal

    You are just presenting alternate explanations for Mamata Banarjee’s actions without presenting any evidence to support it. You sound like one of the people who think that there is a conspiracy at work against Mamata Banarjee.

    • agnidattagupta

      What evidence do you want? I have mentioned every source of information i have talked about. And yes, there IS a conspiracy against this govt. Proving it is beyond my scope, i wish i could.

      • “Proving it is beyond my scope” — yes, it is understandable since you are an aspiring journalist/politician. if you aspire to be a journalist, practice what you are preaching… if you say something, you should substantiate it… just saying “i wish i could” is not enough. and the politician bit… u might make a career… coz your political leanings are pretty clear. and like your leader who sniffs a “cospiracy” in everything, you too do that. go through ruchir joshi’s open letter to your leader. perhaps you are unaware that joshi had written reams of praise for la belle during the runup to the polls. and your leader forgets that the rule is to practice what one preaches not to practice what one criticises.

    • Conspiracy against Mamata is not just possible, it is a continuing event line. She is a politician with very fierce rivals after all. Conspiracies, stratagems, plots and decoys, inciting public ire, etc are too much a part of the political game, and every politician would have to do it.

      As to your saying ‘alternate explanations’, that phrase itself includes that ‘explanations’ is what the reports in widespread popular media houses have been doing. Their only ‘evidence’ is the appearance of a happening. Everything else can be cooked up to back the colour they give to the events, and forgotten in the deluge of other news and the IPL. They know how to set fire on the public and on the social media, so they easily employ their ability at the service of rival political interests. Some media houses seem away from this pattern, but the general trend is that.

      Your way of attacking this blog post is what’s out of keeping. I’m not a Bengali resident, I don’t vote for the parties in question but the way you dismiss this blog’s view is silly.

  2. Hmmm… good to have a different take for a change!

  3. Read the first part of your post with interest. I happen to be equidistant from the extant schisms that are practiced today; as mush away from the Left Front as I am from TMC. All political parties are equally deplorable in this country today, if not the world over, for politics is the chessboard of avaricious gamblers – commercial institutions on the one hand and the underworld on the other. It is common knowledge that is difficult to prove in a court of law. But, being a keen student of people, parties and their mores, I am sorry to say that I see a dangerous pattern in Bengal politics today. It reminds me of Adolf Hitler’s Germany before the rape of Warsaw: the gestures, postures, the style of oratory, the noxious arrogance, the marching denizens at the party’s grass-root level, the monocentricity (if you will permit the coinage, please) of grandiose decisions, in their individual elements and in the entirety points towards a gathering storm. I feel the doom in my ageing bones. I am like the Bengal cattle that get restive when the passing clouds at twilight, for it is the colour of fire.

  4. We may respect individual but If we support their wrong work,it means we are making harm to him or her.These counter point from government side will do harm 2 government only…it’s better for govt 2 rectify their work…..

    • agnidattagupta

      This is in no way a counterpoint from government side. I just highlighted some facts deliberately being not highlighted by media

  5. “For every bad move this Jo’anna makes, they got a good explanation” – It’s for people like you I guess, I’d request you to stop being the goebbels to this modern day hitler , bfore the morning comes @TMCQuitBengal

    Gimme Hope – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNNfAuMq-M0

  6. A very very impressive and a rational blog-post. Thoroughly researched and superbly presented. I’m a neutral person ( a selfish guy who votes for anyone who works) and i myself was sort of surprised on seeing the media jumping conclusions like an entertainment channel. No doubt, ur post will receive negative comments, these are the same people on facebook who share any cock-n-bull story that has to do with trashing the government ( read TMC to be precise). If the government is strict, they call her ‘fascist’. If there is an arrest, they call her ‘Hitler’, and it’s sad. Sad, that people have come to think of unlawful behaviour as natural, and any action to prevent that as Fascism. My point is simple, Respect the woman, who fought through what not to reach the position she has now. She holds a place in the most prestigious of lists(100 most influential people of the world, TIME) right now, something that the bygone CPM’s would only imagine of. I’ve seen facebook and twitter posts and comments which not only ashame me as a brother or a son, but ashame me as a bengali. these conspirating attitude and constant mud-slinging will do no good. If the Opposition party thinks they’ll come back to power by trashing a woman, i must say, they’re completely headed the wrong way.

  7. aditya nandode

    For once this post is true, and I still say, this govt. does not have a good convincing spoke person who could put tit for tat, + there is total lack of information channel from bottom to top, the no action or negative action way of governance during previous regim has made most officials habituated to nervous/hasty actions which culminate in more negative image of govt.

  8. 1. She was not in Kolkata when the arrests were made, but it is rather naive to assume she was unaware. Her Durgapur address footage says otherwise. Giving Mahapatra a bail was simply an attempt to control the PR damage and backlash. And the TMC is not that foolish or bereft of spin-doctors to file a case against the man personally. Bhairav-bahini achhe ki korte?

    2. The question is not where the people of Nonadanga comes from, or when they were relocated from whichever place during whichever regime. If you want to displace people for, what is it, yes, KMD development work, you must have a provision for rehabilitation. Suppose CPM takes up this issue and blocks the Durgapur Highway for a month? I can fairly imagine what she will do.

    3. One, if he/she is sane and rational, does not hold the CM responsible for the mess CPM created. One merely expects, as a CM she will try to rectify those mistakes, even if they were a rival political party’s mistakes. CPM created potholes in highways, therefore I will not do anything about them — is an attitude that is insane and irrational.

    4. About Maoist links: such lovely irony when one thinks about the CPM’s reaction one and a half years ago about Kishenji and Mamata. Of course these people at Nonadanga are Maoists, since they have radical political opinions and against the government policy of eviction.

    5. Ah, yes, I remember Tapasi Malik. Then I can’t help remembering Katwa and Park Street.

    6. Now all this means I’m now either red, or Maoist. And when I say Nandigram, Singur, Lalgarh, Buddho-babu’s famous paid-back-in-their-own-coin sort of things I’m a trinomool. Tell mother star, where do I stand?

    Ramprasad.

  9. Dear Antorjatik Bangali,

    Aren’t you forgetting a few things? The Professor from JU WAS arrested…not for creating the cartoon, but for disseminating it? He WAS beaten up by TMC goons (who most probably belonged to the CPIM originally anyway but changed sides given the changing climate) and he WAS charged on ridiculous grounds. If you are claiming its the TMC goons and the police did it by their own volition, and the CM should be kept out of it, I question your sanity.
    Since when did the CID become so efficient that one complaint from a ordinary guy resulted in them jumping up and start investigating, and that too a non-issue such as a cartoon???? If you are claiming that this is purely out of goodwill and there is no pressure from the party and its chief (for every issue, not just this) then I think you live in a make believe world.
    And whether Mamata was in Calcutta when the arrest of the professor happenned is neither here nor there. People, especially CMs, have telephones, internet and a whole bunch of sycophants around her to bring her information and help spread her word back to wherever needed.
    I do agree about one thing though, the media did jump the gun on the syllabus change issue, without getting all the facts correct. But then again, knowing Mamata’s ability for histrionics, it just doesn’t surprise anyone if she had come up with an order to remove references to Marx and communism altogether. If the BJP/SS/RSS bunch can do similar things in the CBSE with regard to histroy, why not her and more importantly, the people around her. But then again, there is no evidence to show that she did.
    However, in the end, her one year of governance has been strewn with behaviour which just doesn’t suit her stature. The law and order in WB is in complete mess, and Calcutta especially has seen a total deteoration after TMC came to power. Some of it initially was understandable given the sheer scale of change from the Left Front government, and honestly the total utter mess that 34 years of misrule had left the state in. But what is happenning now is shameful and disgusting. Women are getting raped in the city, and Mamata, being a woman herself blames a CPM conspiracy???? The officer who actually fought against this and investigated it gets transferred almost within a couple of months?? Who is responsible for this?? You?? Me?? Or your idolized Mamata?????

    And you are so happy that Mamata rushed to scenes of disasters? She has to! She is the CM! If not her, who else?? Don’t try to cover up using such excuses. I

    If the accusation of a dictator is hurled at her, I personally think it is justified. Whether its her or her party, the move towards totalitarianism is apparent to anyone who is bothered to look. Aniruddha above is correct. Hitler came to power from a very very humble background. He was also fighting injustice and misrule and he was also elected to power with a massive mandate. And look what he turned out to be….

    WAKE UP! If you want to be a journalist, try taking off your tinted glasses and stop your idol worship. Nothing is perfect, but not everything is excusable either. And in the end, its the HEAD which is responsible for the tail….

    • Hear hear, Abhijit, wherever you are for speaking my mind out!

    • 90% of what u said is based on assumptions… u think the CM ‘might’ have used a telephone for the arrest, u think the JU prof ‘might’ have been beaten up by TMC goons, u think that the CID ‘might’ have acted promptly… where are your facts at?

  10. Can you please give links referring to all the TOI and Telegraph articles you have mentioned about in the article. I am an ex-calcutta dweller presently based out of Hyderabad. Your article is picking up on social media but without references, the genuineness is highly questionable.

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