Bengal: Ma Maati Amanush

Freud would call it a Freudian Slip as a public spectacle for all to see

Amit Sengupta Delhi 

So why are they so eternally tense and distinctly unhappy?

They should be buoyant, upbeat, eyes sparkling, touching hearts and hands, riding on the wave of a massive electoral victory and great expectations, marking an epistemological rupture after over three decades of a discredited Left Front. They should be reaching out in the inner lanes of Bengal’s beautiful villages with lush green landscapes and fish ponds, and rediscover, why do people starve here, why is there so much malnourishment, is the public distribution system rigged, or, are farmers’ really committing suicide? They should be breaking the stagnations of the past, restore land to the tiller, create jobs for  the urban youth, open up the stifled, suffocated atmosphere of the past to creative dissent, pluralist political currents, leaps of imagination, the rainbow colours of a million coalitions and schools
of thought?

Instead, why are they filming Kolkata with that horrendous blue? Why? And why are they forever in denial mode, almost always aggressive, arrogant and one-dimensional, refusing to accept criticism or black humour or the first doubts of young intelligence, using strong-arm tactics of the bully, unleashing police repression or the threat of police repression, and generally behaving in the most uncouth, indecent, undemocratic and irrational manner? Why are they indeed so eternally tense and distinctly unhappy, with not a smile crossing the mass leader’s face, or that of her incompetent, ineffective, insensitive sancho panzas?

It’s just that their faces in the new power dispensation tell a story. It is the story of how they have trampled upon ‘Ma Maati, Manush’ with such brazen impunity and cold blooded display of maverick totalitarian power, that even the worst case scenarios of the Left rule seems to be paling into a shadow vanishing into the blue.

Why are they so eternally tense and distinctly unhappy, with not a smile crossing the mass leader’s face, or that of her incompetent, insensitive sancho panzas?

This is like the Great Dictator who viciously hates not only cartoons, caricatures, chain e-mails, critical commentary, public protests, students’ or farmer’s questions or alternative viewpoints, it is also that she will unleash the cops on you, threaten you openly, walk out, shut you up, brand you a Maoist or CPM, put you in jail, and generally gloat and bloat with a spectacularly melodramatic and megalomaniac show of supreme hysteria, like someone possessed with sudden grandeur who just does not know how to handle it. Hence, if Justice Markandya Katju calls her “totally dictatorial, intolerant, and whimsical” he is right on the dot.

Freud would call it the Freudian Slip as a public spectacle for all to see. You ride a wave of democracy and you turn up as small time autocrats — can that bring a smile on your sour faces? You use civil society groups, media, activists, intellectuals, artists to ride the wave of power, and then you start hounding them as if they are your enemies! You ‘use’ the Maoists and other resistance groups across Bengal, you use their public platforms and mass base, you create electoral shifts with their support, you promise to release all innocent prisoners from prison, and in the end you end up celebrating organised repression against the same protagonists — so how can you sleep peacefully at night?

Young activists are put in jail under draconian laws for peacefully opposing slum demolitions for the building mafia. A Trinamool Congress farmer asks yet another revealing question on dying farmers in a public meeting, and he is put behind bars, branded Maoist by the great lady herself. Even a young girl is hounded and branded ‘Maoist/CPM’ simply because asks a reasonable question in a TV show to the chief minister of West Bengal!

They might claim to have broken world records, but if they read the history of the world, they can very well choose to become uncanny prophets of their own failed destinies – and they won’t need a sycophantic quiz master for that! They seemed to have already wasted their mandate, and, surely, it reflects a stark sense of political and ideological myopia, a marked arrogance, a denial of both history and a vision of the future. More than that, there seems a definite lack of literate refinement and aesthetics, a shallowness of mind and soul, and a relentless mediocrity, which is as transparently jarring as a beautiful Tagore song rendered meaningless, ravaged by a lousy singer with neither a sense of music, nor melody. 

 

 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: SEPTEMBER 2012