Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bengal Visit – Post-Rose Valley Turmoil – A Psychic tug of war

Never did I tend to draw a ‘troubled picture’ of West Bengal as this time around January first week in circa 2017. The arrest of two prominent parliamentarians belonging to Trinamool Congress over multi-crore Rose Valley scam has certainly left the people of West Bengal confused. Anguish against ‘Delhi’ is what Mamata Banerjee has tried to build up and repeatedly called for resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even called for formation of a ‘national government’ headed by the likes of L K Advani, Rajnath Singh or Arun Jaitley. 

The offer had no takers nationwide. BJP was certainly little amused. But the confusion is palpable among the people as many feel they are not sure of the future political road map of West Bengal.
Thanks to ‘maverick’ style of Bengal’s noted ‘elder sister’ – Didi – Bengal – as I find in the first week of January is struggling to find a stable and effective form of government. The general impression is Didi is busy elsewhere – either politicking, giving away awards to film stars or hopping between Delhi, Patna, Lucknow and Kolkata. The agenda is clear – her Prime Ministerial ambition. Modi-bashing and appeasing to minority vote bank would give her a ‘decisive role’ in the national politics --- so believe Didi herself and more certainly her advisers. 

Bengal deserves to give India - a Prime Minister ! But Mamata? 
Didi had replaced Marxists ‘dadas’ in 2011 – generating immense hopes of bringing in changes in many front. 

The law and order situation has only gone from bad to worse as the general understanding in Kolkata or Siliguri is the erstwhile Left cadres have changed flank. Thus – while Bengal represents a cultural and intellectual renaissance, the politics here has been sickening – wherein principal gift of the Left culture is work-shirking and being 'mere talkative' -- 'bol bachan' !! 
Poverty: An Issue
Some of this 'sound box'/talkative virtues are well seen in journalism too and – partly also visible in ‘liberal-Bonglish’ kind of journalism exported to the national capital.
Once upon a time – Bengal press was known for being increasingly free and outspoken. Today – the lesser said is better.
While media has done reporting of ‘Dhulagarh’ variety of  communal riots – there has been a tendency to give cushion to the Didi’s ineffective police force.
Mamata Banerjee’s focus is hardly on governance – little does she realize that Narendra Modi has made it big ‘nationally’ only after giving a semblance of ‘better government’ in Gujarat for over 12 years. Like most Bengali leaders and intelligentsia – Ms Banerjee is in immense hurry. If today – she finds the Modi regime and the CBI pursuing ‘vendetta’ politics – she must do some soul searching – on the kind of approach she had towards the Modi regime from very beginning.

On the other hand, BJP guys would point out how PM Modi made her a special guest during his trip to Bangladesh. The kind of ‘importance’ he gave her in his maiden Lok Sabha speech. But in return – she kept the battle ‘personal’.  On the other hand, look at Nitish Kumar – who is only trying to play a smarter game.But it could be fallacy to dismiss Mamata's hyped battle cry against Modi as 'nothing achieved so far'. She has definitely shown that when it comes to Modi-bashing --- with or without demonetisation, she is in the forefront. This may bring in some political dividends.

Now the ‘cultural and intellectual context’ of West Bengal – as one finds around the first week of January 2017.  But before dwelling deep on the subject, let us try to figure out few illustrations from history – as this would make a befitting backdrop to pursue the debate.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was ‘most popular’ of literary fugures from Bengal after Rabinranath Tagore. It is said during Bankim’s lifetime (1838-94) as reflected in his novels, Bengal was transformed into “an essentially Hindu nation in which Muslims were antagonistic outsiders”.
Blogger: Bengal Rediscover Voyage
Bankim’s Kapalkundala (1866) was popular in the context of mass reading and had a Hindu slant. It had described gruesome Tantric rituals and indicated the same cultural trend toward dividing urban middle class Hinduism from rustic Hindu cults. Rajsimha (1881) had Rajput heroes fighting Muslim oppressors while Mrnalini (1869) depicted a Muslim invasion of Bengal. His novels were actually historical fiction. In Anandamath (1882) Bankim brilliantly had depicted Hindu ascetics (sanyasis) fighting Muslim armies and similarly ‘Sitaram’ (1886) described Hindu struggles against Muslim tyranny.  
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay would be certainly remembered for contributing towards elevating Hinduism to the level of a global /world religion -- not understood in the west.
According to Debendranath Tagore, Bankim’s one of the first ‘Durgesh Nandini’, featured a Rajput hero and Bengali heroine and it took “Bengali heart by storm”.
So, how does these relate to our contemporary setting vis-à-vis Mamata-Modi battle royale?

I have always argued that the past is the foundation of present and similarly the present signifies to a large extent what future is stored in. Indian history as much as that of Bengal or the community of Bengalis, in 19th and 20th centuries, is akin to a creature tied to the earth but with the desire to flight. There are truly certain inherent paradoxes to such a situation. The coexistence of Hinduism and Islam is a remarkable aspect of India. But the religious affiliations are also our unmaking. 

West Bengal is no exception. Therefore, I was not much surprised when a section of Bengalis 'endorsed' retaliation-riot in Gujarat in 2002. The obvious reason for justification was: avenging the injustice of the past.

The two religious communities over the ages have only grown mutually suspicious about each other. These have helped political class no doubt. Mamata Banerjee wants to play a ‘secular’ politics to corner Modi and also replace him in 2019. She should not thus dismiss ‘Dhulagarh’ violence as “nothing happened” – "Kucch hua nahi" – rhetoric. ‘Prime Minister of India’ needs to take Hindus along and rather show them taking along convincingly! 

Should there be any psychic tug of war?

Didi will do well to remember that H D Deve Gowda was a national accident and later only a ‘catastrophe’ and she does not have a Marxist player like H S Surjeet to play the ‘all important Brahmanical role’. Sickularism, any takers?


1 comment:

  1. Antics do not help in getting the PM's chair. Which political party trusts her? A megalomaniac is blind and trusts no one, but self. Remember when earlier she was touted to come to power, but the Left Front again did, she shut herself in her house for three days.