Monday, April 23, 2007


Kolkata Korner
The CM may be saying that he is owning moral responsibility for the massacre, but his body language, words, tone and gestures do not make him seem contrite. Meanwhile, Raja Sen and Sunil Gangopadhyay are fielded to mock the critics.
Jaideep Mazumdar

What Damage Control?
After having received a lot of flak from all quarters, including its allies and the Left-leaning ‘intellectuals’, the CPI(M) has gone into a damage control mode, mainly by holding public meetings to explain the need for industrialisation to the people. But, truth be told, the exercise is bound to be an eminently futile one. The reason being that our Marxists, especially CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, have no genuine regrets for the mayhem at Nadigram and won’t shed their arrogance or won’t approach the problem with an open mind. This became amply evident from recent statements made by top CPI(M) leaders. Earlier this week, Bhattacharjee told a gathering of student activists belonging to his party’s affiliates that he’s owning moral responsibility for the massacre. But his body language, the words he chose, the tone of his delivery and his gestures showed he was far from being contrite. And then, he exposed himself by castigating the people of Nandigram for continuing to wallow in ignorance and not realizing that had they handed over their lands, their lives would have changed dramatically for the better. Bhattacharjee mocked them and thundered that the chemical hub that was to have come up at Nandigram would definitely be set up elsewhere. Bhattacharjee’s senior colleagues have also been speaking in the same vein, mocking and insulting all those opposed to the CPI(M)’s arbitrariness. That is why the damage control launched by the party is bound to fail.

Just Another Incident
This is how filmmaker Raja Sen, drafted by the CPI(M) to counter the anti-CPI(M) outbursts of prominent artistes, actors, litterateurs and other prominent personas, described the Nandigram bloodbath. Sen, a prominent player in the newly floated Shanti-o-Sanghati Mancha (Peace & Unity Forum) along with writer Sunil Gangopadhyay and others known for their proximity to the CPI(M), said the Nandigram killings were "condemnable", but "deaths resulting from police firing were not extraordinary and could not be a reason for Left-leaning ‘intellectuals’ to lambast the CPI(M). Gangopadhyay blasted author and activist Mahasweta Devi and others for using "provocative and irresponsible" language and condemned those demanding CM’s resignation. And West Bengal, he added, would slip into anarchy if Buddhadeb steps down! Wonder who Gangopadhyay is kidding. His, and Sen’s utterances, provide more proof that the CPI(M) hasn’t learnt any lessons from Nandigram. If it had, it would have shown remorse and not deployed its henchmen to justify the massacre or pour scorn on critics.

Undue Haste
We’re very often told that Bengal needs to catch up with other states and, hence, the hurry to attract capital for industries. Land acquisition for industrial, commercial or housing projects takes a long time and, in the normal course, this process would have taken more than six months at Singur (for the Tata small car factory). But since time could not be wasted, what with many other states wooing the Tatas as well, the process was put on fast-track and completed in a little under two months. And this haste caused the problems at Singur, we’re told by the Bengal government. But then, why has Bengal slipped compared to other states? Who’s responsible for the decline spanning the three decades of Left rule in Bengal? For all these years, the CPI(M) and its Left allies allowed Bengal to slide into decline. They, in fact, were singularly responsible for the downslide and did their best to hasten the southward movement. And now that some among them have realised how disastrous the Left’s policies have been, they’ve slammed the brakes and reversed gears. And what has just happened to Bengal is just what would happen if the driver of a car speeding downhill slams the brakes and tries to do a U-turn—the car would skid or overturn or careen or crash into the side rails.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, in the driver’s seat, would’ve been well advised to apply the brakes gently, bring the downslide to halt gradually and only then reverse gears to make a U-turn and climb uphill. Now that his car has crashed, he would be well advised to allow time for a complete repair job instead of a patchwork that would only lead to a disastrous breakdown during the far tougher journey uphill.