Anarchy, violence and bandh – CPM continues to live in dark ages

CPM bandh

A mob of CPM harmads attack a female police officer

On 13 May, 2011 when the entire State of West Bengal heaved a sigh of relief after ousting the Left from power, one had hoped that the dinosaurs that inhabit Alimuddin Street would learn a lesson, introspection and opt for course-correction. That they have chosen not to is evident in the manner in which they chose to blame the electorate for their defeat. And if the last four years are any indication, the Left are still happily residing in the dark ages, relishing their archaic policies rejected by the people.

The manner in which Rani Rashmoni Avenue was taken over by armed harmads pelting stones and bricks at police, anyone could have mistaken Kolkata for Srinagar. Months before Assembly elections, the dinosaurs of Alimuddin suddenly woke up from slumber and wanted to “display their strength”. Police was attacked, a hundred laws broken, even women officers not spared by the murderous mob! The ugly scenes on TV yesterday reminded me once again why I had voted against the Communists in 2011 and will proudly do so again in 2016.

Old habits die hard

In 2001, when Jyoti Basu abdicated his throne for his successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, a section of media had hailed it as reform. Constant efforts by a popular Bengali media house portrayed Buddhadeb as a moderate who was interested in “industrialisation”. We all are witness to the manner in which he led his party in the ruthless game of land grabbing for his “Bourgeoisie” friends. Hollow slogans and muscle power of the harmads was all people got in return of the promises of moon before 2006 elections.

CPM bandh

CPM harmads beating up police with bamboo sticks

“Dheki Sworge giyeo dhan bhange” is a popular proverb in Bengal. CPI(M) too finds it hard to shed its politics of violence. In the past one year alone, the CITU has called over a dozen taxi strikes (foiled every time by people who chose luxury app-based cabs over yellow cabs which specialize in refusal). Like an annual vacation ritual, calling a general strike is also their favourite pastime! No lessons learnt from the past, these dinosaurs keep taking public sentiment for granted.

No To Bandh

People of Bengal are tired of bandhs. We have had enough of forced holidays, stalled productivity and brain drain. We want to work. No one is stopping those who want to exercise their democratic right to protest. But the protesters have no right to stop us from going to our workplaces. Forget the middle class; the hapless daily wagers are the worst affected in a bandh. These old men who shout their lungs out do not feel an iota of shame in depriving those poor people from earning a day’s wage!

Mamata Banerjee, when she was in Opposition, has also called bandhs. We have not forgotten that in December, 2006 we only got one week worth classes, thanks to her andolan! However, I admire her for she realised the futility of this archaic mode of protests and decided to give up the bandh culture in 2008. After assuming office in 2011, she made it amply clear that bandhs will not be tolerated.

From running extra government buses to making attendance mandatory (at the cost of losing a day’s salary), she has crushed the forces anarchy with a strong hand. The results are for everyone to see. A large number of people who would otherwise stay indoors on bandh day because of the fear of violence now fearlessly travel to their offices. The failed bandh on 18 August is an example for all. People were determined to work. The administration kept public life normal. The “bandh” was thus restricted to a pocket or two where the goons of Congress had a stronghold.

Footnote

The lesson in this episode is that people of Bengal are tired of the culture of violence and fear-mongering that prevails in our public discourse. People want peace and progress. We want jobs, not forced holidays because few old men with graying hair want to flex their muscles!

It is high time these out-of-work septuagenarians woke up and smelled the coffee!

Book Review: The Curse of Surya by Dev Prasad

curse of suryaThe Curse of Surya is a fast-paced thriller set against the backdrop of Indian mythology. I would not be exaggerating if I said Dev Prasad is India’s answer to Dan Brown. There is a dearth of good thriller writers in India. The few we have are repetitive or lack originality. This novel comes as a big surprise. Believe you me, this page-turner will keep you hooked until the end.

The plot involves three protagonists from different parts of the world who stumble upon each other in India. Twist of fate brings them together in a race against time to find Shyamantaka, the famed jewel which was lost 5,000 years ago. The plot is centred around Shyamantaka which Surya, The Sun God, gave to his disciple Satyajit as a boon. However, the jewel comes with a curse as it “can result in misunderstandings, fights, thefts and wars.”

The story is set in Krishna Brijbhumi encompassing various cities in a particular region in Uttar Pradesh, around Mathura and Vrindavan, where Krishna is believed to have lived. The descriptions, factoids and information capsule that the author provides as you turn the pages clearly shows how well-researched the book is. This is a treat for anyone in India  mythology and history. The crisp detailing, fluid narrative, simple language and short sentences are an added advantage.

International All Saints’ World Religions Conference at Krishna Janmasthan Temple in Mathura a day before the Presidents of Singapore and India will organise a photo-op at the Taj Mahal in Agra. It is believed that the location of Shyamantaka will be revealed at the Conference. A day before the Mathura event, a Tibetan is mysteriously murdered at Krishna Janmasthan temple. Incidentally, he was a reporter working for Channel 7 TV, Singapore. His colleague Sangeeta is sent to India to cover the Presidents’ meeting at Agra.

Sangeeta meets Alan Davies at the Taj and her heart skips a beat; they bond over coffee and decide to go for the conference at Mathura. Sangeeta hopes to find clues about the death of her colleague. However, fate has different plans for them. The narrative moves in the Dan Brown-ish format; every chapter begins at a different location and time. The author has imbibed hugely from Dan Brown’s writing; the protagonists are embroiled in cracking codes, solving historical puzzles in the hunt for a historical treasure that can destroy the earth.

Sangeeta Rao, the fearless reporter from Singapore will remind you of Sydney Sheldon’s novels which also have strong-willed, determined women as protagonists who fight against all odds. Unsurprising because the author has admitted in many interviews that he is a fan of Sheldon’s works. She and Alan not only fight against terrorist organizations in the quest for Shyamantaka but also against SP Nisha Sharma who thinks they are fugitives and thus wanted by law.

Overall, The Curse of Surya is a good rapid reader for a long train journey. After a long time, India can proudly boast of a mythological fiction that will keep you glued till the end.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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