Sunday, April 29, 2012

Towards a new political intolerance in Bengal

Is it Mamatagiri or Dadagiri in Bengal
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

West Bengal chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s antics are proving to be too dangerous for the country. It seems she is either blackmailing the already fragile UPA government or finding a way out to dissociate with it. Whatever are the differences, her posturing and unprofessional attitude have not helped strengthen her image. Moreover, they are proving too populists which will harm the interest of the people in long term.

Her stand against the railway minister Dinesh Trivedi was highly objectionable and absolute anarchist. The prime minister finally succumbed to her unreasonable demand by forcing the railway minister Trivedi to resign after presenting his maiden railway budget. Ms Banerjee is carefully nurturing her image as ‘messiah’ of the poor and has reacted undemocratically against all those who, she feels, are creating obstacle in her way. The way entire issue of resignation of Mr Dinesh Trivedi from railway ministry was dealth with by the United Progressive Alliance at the Centre does not bode well for the health of the country. India is in a coalition age and there is no chance of a single party government in Delhi in near future. It means stability at the policy level must be there despite coalition nature of the government otherwise all of us will have to pay for a heavy price of the instability of the political class. India has grown over the years and people of different regions are looking for their participation in power in Delhi. Therefore, it is more important for all the political parties to behave reasonably and not make their personal issues as national issues. Internationally, we will be reduced to non entity if the government ministers speak different tones according to their political ideology because they happen to be from different political parties. And Mamata’s action on Mr Dinesh Trivedi has rightly been criticized by journalists, writers and intellectuals who had supported her. In fact, one of the first persons who supported Mamata’s Singur and Nandigram movement was Mr Kabir Suman, MP of her party, has openly challenged her to take action against him. Even an icon like Mahashweta Devi is finding it difficult to support Mamata’t action.

In politics differences are natural and they are resolved democratically. There is no problem in Mamata’s asking for more from the Central government and demanding different schemes for her state but that need to be done according to coalition dharma not through humiliating your coalition partners or those who differ with you. Unfortunately, Mamata’s actions on the ground are looking like a person who is in a hurry to destroy the legacy of the left front government.

In her bid to control criticism, her supporters got a senior professor of Jadavpur University, Mr Ambikesh Mohapatra arrested for ‘spreading derogatory messages’ against ‘respectable’ persons. Actually, Prof. Mohapatra had circulated on email a political cartoon on Mamata’s treatment to Dinish Trivedi and appointment of Mr Mukul Roy as the new railway minister. Trinamul Congress workers continue to threaten the administration and politicizing the issues of public. Mamata has also asked the state education department to do away with the writings of Marx and Angels, two all time great political thinkers. Her actions are only proving that she is not different than her predecessors in playing vindictive politics and believe in politicizing the educational system according to her own ideological perspectives.
Mamata’s populist measures will cost Bengal heavily which is already reeling under severe debt crisis. Her continuous ranting of not increasing railway fares has already proving heavy on railways as it would be difficult to run railways on such charitable way. Just to make the train fare cheaper, she forced to compromise on the safety and infrastructure of railways. Unfortunately, like in Delhi where every wrong is thirst on the Congress party, Kolkata desperately wants to see changes which Mamata had promised before she took over the Writer’s Building.

Dictators are not really courageous but very cowards. They are afraid of public criticism as they fear the hollowness of their arguments will get exposed soon. Therefore, attempts are being made to divide the public opinion and blame the past for everything today. Despite all shortcomings of the political class, they did not carry the political differences home. Many of them were part of different political parties but would meet warmly on a tea party. But, the recent order by Mamata to her colleagues in the party that her party workers and sympathizers must not have any relationship with anyone who is close to CPM, is disgusting and sickening to say the least. Political differences do not make you enemy of each other and will not take our society anywhere.

We have seen differences of outlook and ideology between father and son, husbands and wife, between brothers, between mother and brother but that did not make them enemy of each other. It would be better for Mamata to concentrate on her work and leave the media doing its duty. She must not feel offended by media criticism. Now, she is in power and obviously the focus on the government’s work will automatically bring her in limelight. Is not it a fact that you like constant media glare when in opposition but when come to power feel they are offending you. Political satire keeps us going and we should be bold and liberal enough to accept our mistakes and allow this criticism to go. As Sudhir Telang, noted Cartoonist said that if people disappear from political cartoons means his or her political death. They keep politicians in lime light. Mamata would be damaging herself and her party if she feels that she can stop criticism by starting her own channels and dailies. We all know despite a dutiful Doordarshan and Aakashwani, people rose up against emergency in 1975 and defeated Congress Party in the general elections in 1977.

Power corrupt people and absolute power corrupt you more than anything else. Very few people survived this politically. In India such examples are too many where simple politicians got corrupted in the corridors of power. Their life style changed and they started maintaining distances with their own people resulting in their down fall. Mamata has got huge mandate and there is still a great good will towards her. She is considered to be honest and hardworking and it is time for her to concentrate on her work and not on her critiques. No politicians in India could survive because of their mouth pieces. If that were true then Ambanis would have been ruling India as they have everything at their disposal. Most of the big political families in the South have their own channels but they also got defeated. Karunanidhi, YSR and Jayalalitha have their own channels but they also have tasted heavy defeats and their corruption cases also unfolded. CPM has Gonashakti as their party mouth piece but then they were also defeated after 35 years. Mamata must not think that she would be able to control people’s mind through her newspapers. It is time for her to move beyond her critiques and focus on development of Bengal. People will take care of her critiques if her work help the people otherwise the same people would not wait till she is ousted.

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