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Politics of Culture or Culture for politics?

Bengal has always been a trend setter for rest of India. From housing India’s original capital city to giving birth to nation’s noted philosophers, thinkers, freedom fighters and politicians, contribution of this state has in no way been trifle to the Indian society. Of late the present generation of state leaders have been setting the stage for a new breed of political culture. A new trend in India AGAIN.

Ever since the Communist Party of India (Marxist) came to power for the seventh time in 2006, Bengal has seen a downhill slide of morality, ethics and political etiquette. Arrogance fills the corridors of powers, and so blatant is the display of political prowess, that even common man is unabashedly humiliated time again in this state.

Our Chief Minister is known to be a man of culture. Born in a family with a rich heritage of “education”, he is known to be a patron of the arts. However his mask comes off too easily and the failed attempts to hide his unfailing human nature is defeated when he utters words like “amra ora” or “amar kache party boro”. His real “culture” shows when he takes potshots at the leader of the main opposition party. The communist party has a heritage of impatience and lack of political etiquettes. History is witness to what “unparliamentary” words the Left Front chairman used for the judge of high court when the latter ordered a ban on political demonstrations. Neither is it hidden from public how the leaders of the party publicly insulted the sanctity of the post of the Governor when then Governor Gopal Gandhi decided to take voluntary power cuts to show solidarity to people of Kolkata. Leave aside the words these people use for the opposition leaders.

Mamata Bannerjee inherited this culture of political vindictiveness from the Marxists, if not anything else. Boycotting any function of which the CM is part or staying away from all party meets to avoid being seen in the midst of the ruling party, blaming the state government for the presence of cockroaches on trains, to name a few is surely not healthy sign of democratic spirit.

It was really tragic that a government which “celebrated” the death of an ex CM just ten months ago with a 3 day state mourning and a fitting state funeral for the departed, did not bother to as the Central government for a state funeral for another ex CM who passed away last week. Reason? while the former was a leader of the CPM and CM for 23 years, the latter was CM for five years (that too from the Congress). [These words are not mine, Rabin Deb, a CPM leader uttered the same on Star Ananda in a panel discussion]. The CPM had done the same with another ex CM from the Congress party in the 1980’s. So this is nothing unexpected from them. Is this what Indian democracy has shrunk to? Even the government of Punjab announced a 3 day state mourning in honour of their ex Governor, although the party in power is an opponent of Congress in electoral politics.

Improvement of a state depends on the harmonious coordination of the rulers and the opposition. The need for opposition is not to “oppose” but guide a government, while a government, however huge its mandate may be, must always pay heed to the opposition. Sadly neither of the two happen in Bengal (and i daresay when tables turn in 2011, the situation would be worse, since we all know what fabric makes the communists).

Our CM is a very noble man. He is educated. He reads books, meets veterans from various fields of culture. Of course he knows better than a lady who fights with police on the streets. Undoubtedly. Inaugurating film festivals and book fairs is surely a mark culture. And shouting slogans in favour of the oppressed is politics. The question looms large, culture of politics or politics for culture?

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