[Following the publication of the previous post – the statement on the future of the Left, we have received some important comments that seek to take the debate forward, alongside those predictable, invective laden rants that we know only too well by now. We need to keep the debate on the future of the Left in India going, irrespective of these comments that seek to derail any meaningful discussion. We must continue to assert that ‘the Left’ far exceeds the decadent and decrepit lot that now goes by the name of Left parties in this country. This post is a slightly modified and longer version of an article that appeared in Bengali yesterday in Ekdin.]
In a recent newspaper article, former Left Front finance minister Ashok Mitra, observed: “The Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has not merely lost the poll in West Bengal, it has been made mincemeat of.” He was underlining the obvious, catastrophic significance of the results – at least from the Left Front’s perspective. The signs are there for everybody to see, especially when all important leaders of the LF government have faced resounding defeat and the overall vote share of the LF has declined by almost 9 percent since the last assembly election. Mitra’s reference is important as much was being made of the fact that he signed in support of the LF in the course of the election campaign.
But such was the state of drunkenness in power, that only a Biman Bose could say, when virtually everyone knew what was coming, that the LF would still gain a comfortable majority and those who were predicting their decline would have to “swallow their own spit.” More incredibly, even after the elections, indeed after the results came in, both Bose and Prakash Karat in Delhi focused on the fact that their votes had increased by 11 lakh votes in absolute terms. Of course, the minor detail they mentioned in passing was that the TMC alliance had increased its votes much more. The even more minor point that there had been as many as 4.8 million more votes polled this time as compared to 2009 was, of course, beside the point.
ममता की संघर्ष गाथा जीत का जश्न बन कर कोलकाता की जिस राइटर्स बिल्डिंग में प्रवेश कर रही है, उसके गलियारों में कुछ वक्त के लिए ही सही, सन्नाटा-सा तैर गया होगा। यादें उभर आई होंगी। चौंतीस साल का साथ पत्थरों तक के लिए कम नहीं होता। वे मूक दीवारें एक इतिहास की गवाह हैं। एक अपराजेय-से लगते लंबे दौर की; जिसने चुनावों के सात समंदर पार किए; अभेद्य लाल दुर्ग के तिलिस्म को खड़ा किया। अब लोकतंत्र में सबसे लंबे शासन का एक अंतर्राष्ट्रीय कीर्तिमान विदा हो गया। विदाई इतनी करुण और क्रूर कि पिछले मुख्यमंत्री विधानसभा की ड्योढ़ी तक नहीं पहुंच पाए। तैंतीस में से पच्चीस मंत्री विधानसभा से बेदखल हो गए। माकपा बंगाल विधानसभा में कांग्रेस से भी छोटी पार्टी हो गई।
2008 से एक के बाद एक पंचायत, संसद, नगरपालिका चुनाव हारने के कारण इस नतीजे में आश्चर्य की कोई बात नहीं बची थी। सड़क चलते राहगीर तक को पता था क्या होने वाला है। मगर व्यापक वाम से जुड़े बुद्धिजीवियों और पार्टी के भीतर के ही बौद्धिकों तक के आलोचनात्मक विश्लेषण माकपा की आंखें नहीं खोल सके। वाम मोर्चे को बंगाल में अपनी अपरिहार्यता के तर्क पर इतना यकीन था कि उसने अपने लिए आश्चर्य और धक्के का सृजन कर लिया। उसके लिए यह ‘अभूतपूर्व उलटफेर’ हो गया। आलोचकों को मुंहतोड़ जवाब देने की फितरत माकपा को आखिरकार जिस आश्चर्यलोक और रंजो-गम के गढ़हे में ले गई, उससे सावधान रहने की चेतावनी देते हजारों लेख अखबारों, पत्रिकाओं, ब्लॉगों में कदम-कदम पर बिछे थे।
Ham wahaan hain jahaan se hamko bhee kuchch hamaaree khabar naheen aatee
Roughly translated literally, this famous couplet of Ghalib’s would mean: “We are at that place from where we do not get any news about ourselves”. A somewhat surreal place to be in! It is not just that you are holed in, a place where you are cut off from the world and no longer get any news of the outside – say Plato’s Cave. This descent is into a Cave from where you get no news about yourself! You are in a state of incommunicability with your own self. Clearly, a Self that is deeply at odds with itself.
This is clearly the place where the Bengal communists have descended. Else, who could not have seen the avalanche coming? Even when they lost the 2009 parliamentary elections, they thought that they lost because those sitting in Delhi’s AK Gopalan Bhawan chased the chimera of the Third Front (and they have been repeating this till yesterday, everyone from Buddhadeb to Gautam Deb)! Of course that was a chimera but to delude yourselves that your defeat had nothing to do with your own doings, that ‘the people’ oh love you soo – that is only possible when you have descended into that surreal space. The interesting thing is that apart from the self deluding communists of the CPM brand, even the ordinary person on the street knew what was coming. Continue reading We Are Where We Know Not What Befalls Us… in Bengal!→
While waiting endlessly at the CPI-M headquarters in Delhi, we, the Left-beat reporters, often used to say how incredibly dull the beat would be in the absence of Jyoti Basu, Indrajit Gupta, and Harkishen Singh Surjeet. With their distinctive personalities and distinct style, each one had livened up the tedious job of keeping track of the Left parties and their leaders. Indrajit Gupta would speak in a baritone voice, trotting out gruff answers; the ever-amiable Harkishen Singh Surjeet, never failed to pick up the phone, was always ready to share a laugh with us. But of these three colourful Communist stalwarts, it was Basu who used to keep us most preoccupied, with his ‘read-between-the-line’ one-liners, exasperatingly short, brusque replies, sometimes even with outright sarcasm or rudeness.
Buddhadeb with a laterally inverted Tata as backdrop, courtesy Calcuttans.com
As the true magnitude of the West Bengal election results sank in, a sulking Buddhadeb responded, stonewalling the media as if to say that had it not been for them the Party would have romped home victorious! Here is a conversation reported in The Telegraph (May 18,2009). The reporters in Writer’s Building asked the Chief Minister:
Is it true that you have offered to resign?
Will you step down as chief minister owning moral responsibility for the party’s debacle?
Why didn’t you go to Delhi to attend the CPM politburo meeting?
Silence has rarely been so eloquent in the corridors of Writers’ Buildings as when a grim-faced Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee walked out at 1.30 pm for lunch at home.
Faced with a volley of questions whether he had offered to resign, the Bengal chief minister left without replying. The Telegraph had reported that the chief minister had offered to resign but CPM boss Prakash Karat had been trying to make him change his mind.
This is not the first time Bhattacharjee has faced tricky questions but he usually deflects them by saying “I don’t reply to questions flung at me from the corridors’’.
But this afternoon, he opted for silence.
[Note: Television was often referred to as the the idiot-box. For very sound reasons. It produced idiocy on a regular basis. It still does. But in these days, this is no longer the monopoly of the televisual media. Newspapers too are doing pretty much the same. Let us call this specific form of media-generated idiocy, rampant among media persons, mediocy and the phenomenon, mediotics. Those affected by it will then be mediots.]
I know that someone will immediately step in to correct me to say that Indian Express is not an NGO. But if one looks at the completely illiterate use of the term made by the Indian media, then anything that is not ‘governmental’ is ‘non-governmental’ and can, hence, be called an NGO. Except that for the large mass of ignoramuses peopling the media i.e. mediots, this is a safe term to describe an animal that you cannot identify. Continue reading Singur, Mediotics and an NGO Called Indian Express→