Saturday, May 5, 2007

Basic governance Beyond the parameters of political economics

Basic governance
Beyond the parameters of political economics

Thursday’s message from the Division Bench of Calcutta High Court (coram: SS Nijjar, CJ; and Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, J) ought to be sufficiently resonant for the political class and in the wider context the peasantry. The ruling party, its allies and the opposition are on notice as basic governance in Nandigram has now been put on test. The Bench has raised certain fundamentally critical issues by taking the village beyond the currently fashionable subject of political economics. With land acquisition ruled out and the chemical hub being relocated, the court directive in a way reinforces the point that land and SEZ have ceased to be the central issues. It could well be relegated to the footnotes as both tend to overshadow the enormity of the task at hand ~ the restoration of normalcy and the return of people to their hearth and home. The observation that the people of Nandigram have been denied their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution is as much an indictment of administrative ineptitude as well as the opposition’s strategy of disruptive violence. The court’s directive to resume the Nandigram-Haldia ferry service, to allow free movement of people, to provide free medical aid to the victims of the carnage and to supply free ration and essential commodities to the affected are intended to terminate the government’s scorched earth policy and put the place on the rails again. The virtually deserted village has been witness to the collapse of such aspects of basic governance as belligerence has countered belligerence since January.
The package calls for immediate administrative intervention with the cooperation of the opposition. Any precipitate move or action from either side will be tantamount to calculated disruption. It leaves no scope for acerbic outbursts in the manner of Biman Bose ~ he has on occasion been contemptuous of the court ~ or Mamata Banerjee’s shrilling for army deployment or for that matter communal disaffection. Having received the status report from the government, the court has scripted the course towards a semblance of normalcy over which the Chief Minister has been floundering in search of a formula. He had given West Bengal some hope, a commodity that had for decades been in short supply. That hope now emanates from Calcutta High Court and Raj Bhavan.