August 30, 2008


This was the rhetorical question that Biman Basu, Bengal Left Front chairman posed before the assembled media at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan in the afternoon of 29 August. This was the day the Trinamulis and their assorted hatchet-persons had called for a ‘satyagraha’ across Bengal for two hours.

Out in the streets of Kolkata, we saw gangs of Trinamulis, Maoists, and SUCI workers plus splinters of Pradesh Congress –hooligans all, waving the tri-colour- and putting the nationals colours to disgrace- fully ‘active, and how: stoning vehicles, blocking up important crossings in Kolkata and beyond, extending their ‘hold’ on the two major arterial highways that runs through Kolkata, NH 6 and NH 34, and generally making a great nuisance of themselves.


We were witness to a smallish car of a well-known corporate media house, with ‘press’ stickers prominently displayed on the front and the rear glasses, being attacked by a gang of roaming ‘warriors’ of Maoists. They sought to drag out the driver-owner of the car, despite desperate protestations on his part, waving his press pass frantically for everyone to see. Having failing to do the deed they wanted to achieve- the mediaperson hung on stoutly to the steering wheel, for he knew his fate once he succumbed to the haul – the ruffians just went ahead and deflated the tyres of the vehicle with quick, expert slashes from large knives, leaving the elderly man fuming in silent condemnation.

We later found out that he in fact was coming to attend the LF chairman’s media conference, and the event of hooliganism occurred right at the Moulali crossing with a patient posse of police hanging back, and rightly so, when he was less than half-a-kilometre away from his destination. His mistake was to have taken Mamata’s words literally that press vehicles would not be blocked and detained. We have little doubt that the elderly newsperson will be wiser in the future, and certainly less trusting of the outfits his corporate media house continues to sponsor.


The Trinamuli-Maoists-SUCI ‘satyagraha’ comprised of threats, violence, and more threats, followed by more violence -- across those areas of Bengal where Trinamulis have at least a semblance of ‘hold.’ Biman Basu was saying that people around Singur, in the villages and gunjes, were quite determined to participate as they have been doing in the past in developmental work and work of social welfare. The violence and the sit-in demonstration with its fear factor up front, had served to interrupt, halt, and put on hold all such pro-people and pro-poor endeavours.


The state government is eager and for a pretty long time, to ensure that, the disgruntled among the kisans whose land had been acquired, received something more than the sumptuous compensation package they already enjoyed. What deters the Mamata Banerjees from coming forward, showing boldness of the right kind maybe for once, and sitting across the table with Bengal’s chief minister for a full and frank discussion? The Mamata brigade had promised Buddhadeb at the Writers’ Buildings that their ‘satyagraha’ would be just that – peaceful demonstration. The recent events have proved how much deceitful the leadership of the rainbow opposition could be in practice.

The Maoists and their lackeys have today completely blocked out the portals of the factory, trapping inside a large number of technical personnel of Indian and foreign origin. The foreign technicians, pointed out Bimanda, ‘are our guests, guests of Bengal, guests of India,’ and yet, the ‘agitationsists’ would ‘show little respect for them, keeping them trapped inside the factory sans food and potable water.’

‘Is this their version of ‘Satyagraha,’ Bimanda again asked, anguished clear in his voice and demeanour, and ‘does it reflect the lofty cultural heritage of Bengal: can any sane, good-thinking person,’ went on the senior CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, ‘ever think of isolating the motor vehicles factory at Singur and divorcing it from the general process of pro-employment and pro-people industrialisation in Bengal under the Left Front government?’

Elsewhere thousands of trucks, lorries, and ‘matadors’ stand still on the highways and the perishables gradually rot, medicines go bad, and the people have started to feel the pinch on the markets already. ‘Does not,’ said Bimanda, ‘the Trinamuli chief have any control at all over her stormtroopers, asking them to keep at least one lane of the four-lane NH 6 open for the entry and exit of the vehicles?’

The state administration, Bimanda was saying ‘has shown an inordinate amount of tolerance and patience. Provocations galore notwithstanding, a peaceful ambience of a kind could be maintained until now. It is high time for all concerned to realise that the issue brooks no delay for resolution and early.

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