Bengal has given her verdict loud and clear. Mamata Bannerjee has been entrusted to govern the state for the next five years with a thumping majority. For the first time in 34 years, the Red Citadel has crumbled. And how. Almost everyone i know had moist eyes when Mamata delivered her victory speech and dedicated the victory to Ma, Mati and Manush. The much anticipated moment of change had arrived in Bengal.
This 54 year old lady, from a humble background in Kalighat, surprised everyone with her Lok Sabha win from Jadavpur in 1984. There has been no stopping her since then. From early childhood, we have known only two leaders in Bengal – Jyoti Babu and Mamata Didi. An ace street fighter, she always took up the cause of the people, the oppressed.
Mercurial, maverick, moody, loud, aggressive, the epithets this woman earned over the last 27 years of her struggle would even put the Hindu Gods with 108 odd names to shame. From comparisons to all types of animals to being called a call girl, she has borne it all with silence and resilience. Firm on what she believes is correct, Mamata never budges from her position. Determination and Integrity define the essence of the incumbent Chief Minister of Bengal.
Being a woman in this man’s world and fighting against a system which is completely under the male domain, requires immense guts. Every woman in South East Asia who made it big in politics had a male mentor. From political widow Sonia Gandhi to the political orphan Sheikh Hasina, from Mayawati to JayaLalitha, each one of them capitalised on the experience provided by their male counterparts/guides. Mamata never had any political Guru. She started her career and chartered her course according to her own whims.
From 21 July 1993 (when she narrowly escaped being killed by the police when the latter opened fire on Youth Congress agitation) to Netai, Mamata has come a long way in her struggle. But she has not changed a bit. Clad in the cotton sari, wearing chappals and carrying a bag (which she calls “Jangal Mahal”) Mamata has rushed to the need of people every time circumstances demanded.
People (specially residents of Non Bengali states) remember and visualise Mamata as the woman who drove the Nano out of Bengal. They do not know/want to know the history behind the tragedy. (We can save the Singur debate for some other time. It is now well known that the Left Front government was at fault). Chandmoni’s displaced tea workers, Sain bari’s political martyrs, Nandigram’s hapless villagers, Mamata became synonymous with Messiah. She became the alternative that the people of Bengal were waiting for.
Mamata is the answer to CPI-M’s arrogance. Mamata is the answer to CPI-M’s state sponsored terror. Mamata is the answer to Unnoto toro Bam Front. In Bengal where development means an increased floor to the CPI-M party office, Mamata’s frugal lifestyle is a matter of envy for many. Across religions, across castes, across genders, across all divides, people reposed their faith in Mamata, their faith in democracy. The time has come for the fighter to don the administrative hat (she has already done that with her stint as Minister in the Union government, not once but on multiple occasions, but every time she resigned to come back to Bengal and fight the terror machinery emanating out of Alimuddin Street in Kolkata).
Never before have i felt so liberated, so euphoric, so emotional. Not even on 2 July 2009 when homosexuality was decriminalised. We are indebted to her for making us have faith in Change.
Aaj aami matha tule dariye bolte pari ami Bangali. Kalima lipto 34 er ondhokar, Bijoy dhwani te obosan. Punorutthan hobe Banglar. Aj amar protibad korar odhikar ache, aj amar nijer kotha bolar odhikar ache, aj amai parar dada, rastar mastan, beyadop autowallah’r theke bhoy pete hobe na, aj Bangla abar saadhin holo
The road ahead is full of thorns, but people are with her. All the best to Mukhyo Mantri Mamata Bannerjee. Or as she prefers, sudhui Mamata.
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It is known to my readers that i had decided to quit the pen (much to the chagrin of Sukhi) because i was of the opinion my purpose of writing was dead. Fate, if it exists, had other plans for me. As is known to many, i am a politically outspoken person and keep tweeting about political developments in my home state of West Bengal. And by virtue of being connected, they get posted to Facebook too. As a comment to one of my posts on Facebook a friend of mine commented about Jyoti Basu, which led to a series of comments and counter comments. AT this point it would be opportune to declare that this friend of mine is anti Mamata Bannerjee for personal biases of which only she has knowledge of. So much so she seems to have lost her rationale thoughts.
Being politically ignorant is no crime. I do not claim to be aware of all happenings in this country either. But i do try to read up and support my ideas with facts. What outraged me was Rituparna’s claim that the “Education system” and “administration” under Left rule was worth appreciating and “Railways was under 2000 crore debt to government”. God bless her. I seriously wish to know where she got her facts from.
All i would like to state in this post are some facts i read up o the internet after reading her hilariously pathetic comment.
1. The Indian Railways as on July 2010 had a turnover of 2.13 trillion USD and made a profit of 1328 crore in fiscal year 2009-2010. Not only is the Railways on the positive side of the spectrum, it has already planned to convene a meeting to discuss strategies to increase revenue to keep pace with rising inflation without hiking passenger fares. Development with a human face i would term that. Most recent news says that BHEL and SAIL have signed MoU with the Railways.
2. The goodwill of the administration of West Bengal is for the people to decide in 2011 assembly polls. The Netai carnage is just a tip of the iceberg on the incompetence of the administration. The butchering of villagers started at 9.20am in the morning while the police (P.S. located 3km away) took more than 12 hours to “walk” to the village. In their affidavit to the Court, the SP said they were convinced (without showing what drove them to the conclusion) calls from villagers were actually hoax calls from Maoists. A joint military offensive is in place in the state, but still the CPI-M has to maintain armed cadre camps (accepted by various leaders of the Communist Alliance). Says a lot about the competence of state administration. Why, have we forgotten Rizwanur incident when even the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata was “bought” by a rich businessman.
3. Mamata Bannerjee has always been touted anti industrialisation. I hope Rituparna has heard of Haldia Petrochemicals. It was brandished as “CPM’s showpiece industry”. The much celebrated Haldi Petrochemicals is in tatters now. So is Bakreswar Thermal Power Project. More than 66000 industries (as on the 25th year of Left Front in power) are locked out in Bengal thanks to the militant trade union wing CITU. Mamata simply demanded fair rehabilitation for land losers in Singur. With almost identical land lying (except that it was unfertile) on the other side of the Durgapur expressway it is a mystery why Tatas were adamant on taking the fertile land, and why the WB Land Reforms Dept had to make FALSE documents to show the land was actually unfertile. Why not mention Teat industry? What about tourism? Despite being blessed with such a great biodiversity the tourism industry has suffered in the state. Most tea estates in north Bengal locked out and sold to realtors for big budget housing projects (Chandmari for example. really CPI-M is “peoples government”).
3. Let us not even talk about the economy of Bengal. The Finance Minister of West Bengal recently borrowed 5000 crore from the market, although signals are rare that the debt can be cleared off. Populism in their initial years and nepotism thereafter harmed the state economy so much so that the official debt of West bengal is now about Rs 192000 crores. Central funds (most recently the NREGA) had to be returned because of non utilisation. The “government of the people” had to burden the people with a 1% hike in VAT to meet the debt. West Bengal is on the verge of bankruptcy.
4. Education. The less said the better. Having studied in a government college, the sorry state of education in this province lay bare in front of our eyes for three years. Most recently, district head of CPI-M in Jalpaiguri had been indicted for “recommending” “known” people for posts of primary teachers. This is rampant all over. Posts in most government institutions are filled with members of the “Coordination Committee”.
5. Health – Need i say anything? Would Rituparna go to SSKM hospital if she fell ill? Leave aside personal comments. When my grandmother met with a fatal accident in June 2010, the ward boy at a local hospital near Digha demanded Rs 100 or else he would not even touch the stretcher. This is nothing new. Such stories are heard everyday in almost every govt. hospital in West Bengal.
6. Employment – West Bengal is officially the most debt ridden state in India with the number of registered unemployed youths in this state amounting to 4.14 crore in 2004-2005 (the figure sadly hasn’t had a downward slope). With elections looming in the horizon, the West Bengal govt decided to put 66000 teachers position up for grabs. After more than a decade. What stopped them from doing the same before? And with the state of economy, may i ask how the government plans to pay the teachers?
7. Rituparna also accused that since i enjoyed the luxuries of a city life i would not understand the trials of a small town life, of how people there suffered because of “Mamata”. I wonder if she forgot that i was born and brought up in a small town called Jalpaiguri. And let me also remind her that the Indian National Congress is in power in my town for the third consecutive term and with every passing year the civic amenities are getting better. TMC is their ally in the municipality. And what “sufferings” is she referring to? Does she not have a TV to scream news of CITU or CPM’s choking traffic almost everyday under some pretext (despite being in power in the state).
Has she forgotten in the last two years NOT a SINGLE BANDH was called by TMC. Instead the CPM, BJP and INC had troubled people of Bengal with strikes at the slightest of reasons. Right from Marichjhapi in 1979 to Keshpur in 2000, Dalgaon in 2003, Nandigram in 2007, it is the Marxist party which has violated human rights and killed people. Any such incident about TMC? I am all ears!
8. The present unrest in North Bengal was created by none other than the Left. Subhash Ghishing and GNLF are their products. DGHC which introduced corruption in the hills was just a barter by the ruling govt back in 1987 to keep control on the hills and the votebank. Now that a rival faction GJM has assumed reigns, they put up a communal organisation “Bangla Bhasha Bachao Committee” which is no less violent than GJM to put whole of North Bengal into brink of civil war.
Same with naxalism. Born in 1970’s against the anti populist policies of then United Front govt, Maoists recieved patronage from CPI-M. (Remember Buddhadeb banned maoists in Bengal as late as 2009).
8. Let us come to the last point. About Jyoti Basu. Yes i have no qualms in saying that Jyoti Basu was the architect of the fall of Bengal. There can never be doubts about that. His policies since mid 1990’s (only to be aggravated by the arrogance of his successor) has brought Bengal to the brink of bankruptcy. The ban on English, computers left a full generation uneducated while bright minds left the state for “greener” pastures. The present CM of Bengal had himself quit Basu’s cabinet saying it was “chor cabinet” (only to rejoin as the prospect of becoming CM loomed large). The same Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya were indicted by Supreme court of India for irregularities in allotment of land in Salt Lake. Death can not rid him of the charges. History will question his leadership.
We all agree TMC is not the perfect alternative to CPI-M. It is not an alternative at all. But when history has given us the opportunity to rid ourselves of a government which has pushed a state to extinction for 34 years, we should use it fully. Things cannot get any worse. We are at the bottom of an abysmal pit. And if TMC cannot live upto expectations we can throw them out of power 5 years hence. But if Left Front is allowed to come to power for 8th time, we shall never be take up the resolve to stand up against their (mis)rule. So let us give Mamata Bannerjee a chance. She is a woman with a lot of promise. A street fighter that she is, she is much closer to people than the leaders in Alimuddin. Their incompetence cannot be hidden in their mask of culture.
Its time we rose above personal biases and accepted the realities.
All figures stated in the blog post can be googled and obtained from websites of Central Government of India as well as State Government of West Bengal. They are also quoted from blogs and articles in the websites of various newspapers like The Hindu, Indian Express, Anandabazar Patrika, and Business Standard. This post has nothing to do with favouritism and is purely based on facts and observations. If people still choose to side with Communist Party of India (Marxist) i would term it as unfortunate for Bengal.