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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!

Mulla Periyar – Life be DAMned

Water, water everywhere. Not a drop to share! As human civilization progresses, natural resources face the challenge of extinction. Geographical borders now decide the fate of bounties that should belong to the biosphere as a whole. Sizable majority of God’s own country  fear extinction now, thanks to a century old dam which has developed cracks. So, why not rebuild and renovate the existing structure to save lives? Well, Mullaperiyar faces test of political waters.

Mullaperiyar Dam, constructed more than a century ago has been a center of debate for over two decades now. Although, the bigger beneficiary of this dam has always been the state of Tamil Nadu, complaints of insufficient water being released by its neighbour have surfaced before too. Built in Kerala, on the river Mullayar and its tributary Periyar, water is mostly diverted from this 136 feet dam eastwards to Tamil Nadu.

Courtesy Jamewils dot blogsport dot com

A Supreme Court order in 2006 instructed Govt of Kerala to raise the height of the dam to 142feet, which was overridden  by the legislature by bringing in a law. Govt of Tamil Nadu challenged this in court and the matter is subjudice currently. The debate currently is not about the volume of water to be shared or the storage capacity of the dam. It is about safety of 3.5 million Keralites who live downstream of the dam site.

Govt of Tamil Nadu’s banning the film DAM999 clearly shows how jittery the state is on this issue. The Chief Minister’s claim “the dam is as good as new” met with uproar on social media platforms – reports of cracks developing in the dam, how water has been gushing out of those cracks and also pictures and videos showing the pitiable state of the dam site have been floating on wires for long.

Studies done by IIT Delhi, IIT Roorkee and IISc Bangalore have projected the vulnerability of the people of Kerala from the “hydrologically unsafe” dam. Tamil Nadu fought those claims with its own government engineers claiming the dam is safe and sound. Clearly, waters of Periyar have been polluted by politics.

TN and Kerala CM

Courtesy The Hindu

Leaders, known for their knack of fishing in troubled waters have already began their job. While both state governments have been attending Delhi durbar to make the Central govt party to their cause, local politicians have already observed a day of Hartal for the cause. Ethnic politics have started too, brazenly demonstrated by ban on Tamil Nadu bound buses from Kerala, in several parts of TN. And while state MPs and MLAs are busy voicing their support to the cause of their state, national parties like BJP and their supporters have been accusing people of making a mountain out of molehill.

Amidst all these, Mullaperiyar was increasingly shaken by earthquakes in the last 22 months, rousing fear among people even more. That the ongoing “movement” was not to malign the state of Tamil Nadu or deny it of its share of water, is clearly demonstrated by the slogan “Water for Tamil Nadu, Safety for Kerala”. Why then is the Chief Minister of TN not willing to send out a message of conciliation and humanity to people on the other side of the border? After all, they are citizens of the same nation.

Or is it easy to sacrifice millions of lives for staying in power? Life be DAMned, God knows the answer.

 

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