March 26, 2009


KOLKATA: The Lok Sabha elections approach. The opposition is panic struck. The rank of the panic struck includes reactionary forces here and abroad. Thus, we are at the receiving end of a wide array of conspiracies, some foolishly, overtly executed, and these are but few. The water runs dangerously deep in most instances of the orchestrated, concentrated, planned, scheming moves against the Left Front and the CPI (M).

Shall we begin with the obvious? Numerous groups of men and women are on the move across the villages and towns, the hamlets and the urban centres in Bengal even as you read this. They include women in widows’ weeds, young boys, and girls, with a gang of toughs hanging back.

The groups approach the households during the noon hour when the menfolk have gone out to earn their livelihood. They get hold of the women. They tell them horror stories of ‘atrocities perpetrated on us at Nandigram.’ Sometimes, the locale is a Singur hamlet. The refrain is the same. “Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has a yen for land. He will take away your agricultural plot and your homestead land. Buddhadeb represents the philosophy of the CPI (M) to ‘rob the poor.’ Beware of him, and of them. Chance comes to you every five years only. Take a plunge, and vote for change.”

Mostly, these ploys backfire. Curious women ask them of the details and for these bearers of the untruth the devil lie in the details. They cannot name the villages they inhabit. They will not give out their names, even names of their family members. They are then turned out, politely by the householders. The toughs slither closer, and utter whispered threats, and then they disappear in the waiting car or auto-rickshaw, their always engines awhirr as they wait.

That was the obvious. The conspiracy is professionally organised elsewhere. The target is the minority communities, or one minority community, the largest of them in Bengal, a community that has always been by the side of the Left Front and the CPI (M). Old men yet tell us with more than a touch of pride how most of the pioneering dozen of the founders’ brigade of the CPI had been Muslims! They recall the political-ideological-organisational contributions of such comrades as Kakababu (Muzaffar Ahmad), Abdul Halim, Abdullah Rasul, and Shahidullah in Bengal.

We find the imam of the Bada Masjid, up to little good-- for anybody. Shahi Imam of Bengal, who is the Mufti-e Azam, as well as the chief Mufti and Quazi of the state government of Bengal also being the Dar-ul Ifta and Quaza of Bengal per se, issues a press release of 21 March 2009, on a piece of paper that carries the official government emblem in the form of the Ashoka Pillar (Ashoka Stambha), as used in government documents, on the top left side of the page.

In that release, he falsely berates the present state administration for its ‘anti-Muslim’ frame of mind, and calls upon all ‘sane citizens,’ to ‘go ahead and make a change,’ while casting their votes. We find this not merely a perversion of facts but a dangerous communal approach that is also grossly inflammatory in character. Most Muslims would ignore the appeal. Nevertheless, the intent, or rather the severe malignancy of the exercise is sure to make happy and rock with pure pleasure, Mamata Banerjee, men, and women of her ilk, and, who knows, perhaps also the chieftains of their new-courted ally, the Pradesh Congress, and their patrons, here and abroad.

After all, even as a Bengali-speaking ambassador of the US to India is steps in, set to ‘begin the beguine’ for the imperialists from Delhi, the man on the spot of the US of A in Kolkata has chosen the cosy, air-conditioned, five-star confines of a central Kolkata hotel to meet more-than-once a chosen few Muslim leaders who are both familiar and comfortable with the idioms of fundamentalism and of anti-Communism. The agenda, we can assume, is not either religion or peace.

The Left Front has stepped up its election campaign. Smaller meetings are stressed on—baithaks, as well as pally or neighbourhood meetings, smaller gatherings at rural haats and urban bazaars are concentrated upon, discussions are opened to the masses on the issues of the day, the candidates march along the routes within their constituencies, always stopping by for a bit of political adda, and a glass or two of cool water, maybe an earthen pot or three of black tea – and while bigger rallies are held fewer in number, preference is gradually being allocated to intimate, personal, one-to-one, house-to-house contact with the masses.

The Left Front itself marches on in solidarity with the people, as one. Biman Basu, state secretary of the CPI (M) and the Bengal LF chairman has assured the people that the LF is united as ever, and that ‘we are fighting for all 42 seats, not one less.’ Wild predictions shall meet a wilder fate we are assured by the elderly and the young alike. In the meanwhile, Biman Basu rushes off to big and small rallies at several places in south Bengal having arrived at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan a few hours earlier from a lengthy trip to north and central Bengal.

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