The great humbug of democratic power devolution!
The rural poor continue to be neglected!
Luckily, the West Bengal’s long-time claims of fame for its ideological purity stands exposed. The Left managed to brainwash a whole generation or two about its real intentions.
It has never been a patriotic front. The CPI was better. The CPI (M) became the real villain from day one. By a process of long-term suppression and oppression by the socio-economic forces we see today rural Bengal a pathetic picture of decay and demoralisation. For miles and miles you won’t see any sign of modernity. Except for the National Highways that run through the state you don’t find even a decent tea shop to stop and sit. The very many outfits you see dotted on the wayside are all so dirty and unhygienic that you have either to shut your eyes or prefer to drive on with a hungry stomach.
All these years, again by a process of sheer intellectual dishonesty or otherwise, the state’s many intellectuals who are all spread out in far off lands, in the USA or UK, from such mighty names like Amartya Sen to Suhgata Bose (a nephew of the great Nethaji Bose) have chosen to pursue their own career under some cushy surroundings, rather than take up arms on behalf of their poor Bengali brethren!
In a recent book I came to see how even Amartya Sen (I quote here just to show that if even Sen could dodge such sensitive issues, as he had done) then what chance is there for others to come out in the open. Mr.Uadayan Namboodiri, a journalist, has exposed the humbug (Bengal’s Night without End, India First Foundation,2006)that is both West Bengal government as well as the humbug that is the Bengali bhadralok hypocrisy.`
On page 420 of this book Mr.Namboodiri actually meets Sen and confronts him with some uncomfortable questions. Says he: “Amartya Sen is an embodiment of this denial system. No previous icon of the Bengali people Netahji, Tagore or Satyajit Ray moved millions by their work but Sen is read by few and understood by fewer”. When he won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998, he became known and the Marxists who suddenly found a kindred soul in Sen and the Left found an organic relationship between their ideology and his theories. The author met Sen at a Seminar in New Delhi at Teen Murthy Bhavan and the subject was riot victims in Gujarat.” Nobel Prize or no Nobel Prixe, Sen was one of the most prominent cheerleaders of the Kolkatta Marxists. He was their greatest trump card and he fell in line whenever they were in desperate need of a favourable article on their rogue panchayats or phoney development model. He reminded me of Maxim Gorky, that intellectual whore who had even visited a gulag at Stalin’s invitation and returned to praise the excellent conditions under which dissenters were housed”(page 421).
Sen spoke of Best Bakery massacre, says Namboodiri but not about the West Bengal’s own Nannur massacre, three years earlier. The West Bengal panchayat elections are the Left front’s own specialist model and every time the vast number of seats there go uncontested. As many as 60,000 nominations submitted on the last day, most bogus but no one said so openly and as much as 41 per cent went uncontested(the sixth panchayat elections).We see the barbarism for long ,not just now only. There are many de fact local kings and no less than Debabrtata Bandyopadyay, an IAS officer who was for long the poster boy of the Marxists for his efficient execution of “Operation Bargadar” called the panchayat elections as “rigging at source”
Now for Sen, Namboodiri confronted Sen at the above mentioned Seminar and asked” Dr.Sen, I hear all about what you said about Best Bakery? But tell me something, why don’t you speak up about your own state? Bengal”
The “economist frowned. I knew I had made an impression” You know I was in Bengal during the panchayat elections. What I saw there was plain murder of democracy…”I had heard of his themes, democracy as the only panacea for poverty etc…Mass starvation is always man-made etc…”
“But now Sen knew he was in a corner. He forced a smile and said in his nagging voice: “But of course, terrible things are going on there.”
“But why don’t you mention them in your speeches?”
“Oh, I sure do. In Kolkatta I do speak on it”.
“Another bluff. But I played along”
“Right .But don’t you think these things should be raised in Delhi>That way there will be a national awareness”.
Suddenly Arjun Sengupta came along and put a hand on the shoulders around Sen and took away Sen from him 1
Says Namboodiri: “The reservoir of support that India’s Communists enjoy in Delhi’s intellectual circles is truly the envy of the other political parties. The Communists reward loyal supporters, Mushirul Hasan, a distinguished historian and intellectual wrote in support of West Bengal’s panchayat elections as “an unblemished record” and within weeks of UPA coming into existence, he was made the VC of Jamia Millia. Arjun Singh obliged them.(page 424).Namboodiri goes into great many details of how the Left is managing to brainwash or browbeat(as they are doing now about the Sonia Gandhi leadership) and the latest panchayat elections where the Left front lost significantly is no big deal, from their points of view.
Now, Biman Bose, the CPM state secretary has come out and confessed that corruption among their lower ranks and the lower ranks have accumulated wealth and became rich. There is now much arrogance in evidence about this new found wealth as if it is their ancestral wealth (baap thakurdar taka), their fathers and grandfathers’ money the party men are distributing among the voters!
Bose is being more candid than his other comrades: “You didn’t once have been bicycles, but now you flaunt cars and houses!”
The best thing that has happened to West Bengal today seems to be the rift between CPI (M) and the RSP, a key constituent. Abani Roy, an MP and also the state minister of RSP, Khiti Goswami are now leading the split that one hopes would lead to some healthy democratic and open type of politics in the otherwise gulag-like administration under the vice0like grip of the more fanatical CPI (M) party redheads.
Thank go, the West Bengal government is now faced with some more new headaches. That is the Gorkha land agitation and the much-feared backlash by the ethnic groups across the Siliguri borders. The Indian army that is posted at the border is also called upon to assist the state government over the Gorkha land agitation.
The West Bengal government has to act very carefully, so many imponderables are involved. Gorkhaland demand, the other ethnic groups that are likely to be agitated, across the border is China, Nepal and also the very many small ethnic groups and there is of course, the Bangladeshi refugee issue, plus the troubles in the North East. Tibetan issue is another troubling point. Then, there is the unpredictability of the Chinese behaviour over its many perceived illusions and letdowns etc.
A recent article in the Economic and Political Weekly (June 7-13, 2008), on Whither the Subaltern Domian, examines the ethnographic profile of the unchanging socio-cultural and economic realities of rural Bengal.
It is as old and as pervasive as in any other societies, in other Indian states. We find the same high caste and low caste, the bhadralok vs. Chota lok, the same upper castes accumulating landed wealth through so many holes in the law, the same low caste, and wage farm labour cultivating the land as an unregistered bargadar!
So, what revolution you have talked all these years? There is fear, no freedom to speak out, the subaltern live in fear of the party domain and also of the landed gentry and the upper castes.
What comes out clearly, even in the current elections, the amount of violence and bloodshed and the so-called elections under the surveillance of the central reserve police force!
The trouble with the Bengali people, more their elite, is that they write and write, volumes of words and throw choice phrases(like Dipankar Dasgupta in the Telegraph)and yet we don’t get a clear stand of really honest and concerned intellectuals. That makes for a sad commentary about where to start the cleaning operation, to save Bengal, from its current steep descent?