West Bengal's Shocktober and Mamata Banerjee's misrule
The years of misrule in West Bengal have not ended with the exit of the Left Front. The new government led by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) that took over last year has added another one-and-half-years of misrule and there is little hope that the dark phase will be over in the near future.
What is alarming is that the current chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, has let loose a negative force across the state and it is gradually going to a point of no return. Forget any development in the state, West Bengal is headed to a calamity if the current bunch of 'abhorrent elements' in the government is not pushed out with immediate effect. But who will do that? It is a government with a huge mandate and is all set to rule for another three-and-half years, if not more. Hence, God is Bengal's only hope.
Every October, Bengal celebrates its biggest festival in the form of Durga Puja. This year, the festive season was marred by certain negative instances and the shocking part was that the CM herself was found either leading the chaos or not trying to control the damage. West Bengal saw that nothing really changed on the ground in four years. In 2008, the Tatas pulled out and now, the Haldia port came to a halt, and in both cases it is Mamata Banerjee's party which delivered the vital blows. And we were dreaming about a new dawn in the state in May 2011!
National Highway toll plazas shut
I was driving on a national highway to my native in West Bengal last month when I noticed with great shock that two of the toll plazas on the highway shut with flags of the TMC workers' unions being put up in the empty cabins. Vehicles were even slowing down near the plazas to give the tax but the local people standing nearby were heard saying: "Chole jaan, chole jaan, paisa lagbe na!" (Go, go, you don't have to pay).
It was learnt that the TMC union-backed workers at the toll plazas in Dankuni and Palsit were not ready to vacate them even as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) decided to run the toll booths through a private agency. The shutdown is causing huge daily losses but the state government is not ready to assist the NHAI in handing over the toll plazas.
A state minister, who is the head of the TMC union at one of the Palsit plaza, said they want the existing workers to be employed but the agency would not agree. Mamata Banerjee, the leader who gave hope of a change in the state, is least bothered and why will she? It is the same Banerjee who had paralysed the same highway in August 2008 to protest the Tatas' entry in Singur.
Haldia port crippled
In Haldia port, it is alleged that one of the TMC MPs 'achieved' his aim to kick out private mechanised birth operator ABG Haldia Bulk Terminals Pvt Ltd to make way for closer lobbies but the CM was found saying that nothing was wrong in Haldia and that a section of the media was exaggerating the issue. The same old excuse by a leader who clearly has no control over the party goons and mischief-makers. The ABG authorities decided to pull out of the state after officials and their families were targetted by hooligans and the local administration remained indifferent to protect them.
The MP, called the 'new uncrowned emperor of Haldia' after his powerful Left predecessor, who belonged to the Left Front, has given a free licence to do whatever he feels and the government has no will to stop the anarchy that is gradually setting in. It is also said that factional feud, had started in the TMC over the Haldia crisis. The leaders have decided to send their 'loyal intelligentsia' (quite a misnomer, isn't it?) to Haldia to survey the situation where several workers have gone jobless after the fiasco.
The government has decided to hold the next Bengal Leads Summit in Haldia but what will all these empty show-offs lead to? The bottom line is: West Bengal has just moved from a stagnancy created by the red to an anarchy engineered by the green. That is all the change it has undergone. And most of the common people of the state, who have not seen an exposure to the liberal waves of the outer world and are happy to feel secured amid a stagnancy which is often misread as stability, fail to gauge what this new leadership under Mamata Banerjee has to offer other than disaster.
Shameless display of respect for pro-Left author's funeral
The third shocker for Bengal in October was the death of its noted author Sunil Gangopadhyay. But what was even more pathetic was the CM's display of 'admiration' for Gangopadhyay, who was known to be a vocal supporter of the former chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Mamata Banerjee's government had removed the late author from various honorary posts while he was alive for he was 'their man' but after his death, when the populist leader saw that remaining indifferent towards Gangopadhyay's funeral might challenge her popular image, she plunged into the scene and engaged in all sorts of exhibitions to prove her 'deep respect' for the Leftist author.
Such was her level of shamelessness that a major English daily wrote: "Ms Banerjee, if the unpleasant truth be written, comes out of a particular strand of Bengali culture. It is the culture that makes burning ghats the den of criminals and drunks. It is the culture that made people, in a mad frenzy, tear out hair from Rabindranath Tagore's corpse as the funeral procession made its way to the crematorium... It is this culture that makes a chief minister hijack the funeral arrangements of a distinguished author and then empty the occasion of all dignity and sobriety."
The Left Front had politicised every nook and corner of the society with the aid of its immense and well-oiled organisation. The state had lost its capacity to thrive even at a minimum level for all that was good and advantageous was sacrificed at the altar of petty party politics.
Mamata's misrule is just adding to Left's 34 years
Now, with that big machinery gone and its replacement not powerful enough to penetrate deep into the society because of organisational weakness, West Bengal today is witnessing the rise of anarchy led by undeserving people who lack both merit and experience to run the administration and neither have the all-encompassing influence of the Left that could ensure them a prolonged stay in power.
In the name of exercising power, these people are just flexing their muscles as and when necessary while their supreme leader, who also has little understanding of constructive knowledge and skills, is busy exploring her own petty world of populist politics. Why is the CM so bothered about fighting the cable digitisation war on the streets instead of taking up the more crucial Haldia crisis? What change will this individual's government bring in Bengal? Nothing. Mamata Banerjee's rule is just the extension of the rotten Left system that had buried the state long back.