September 22, 2010



KOLKATA, 6th Sept. (B. Prasant): We ventured out on a hot-and-humid afternoon on 6 September to have a listen to the ‘young’ man from 10 Janpath, whom the Naxalites – we mean one their many splinters and fractions existing within the splinter, the mind boggles- have chosen to describe in this metropolis as the ‘prince-in-waiting,’ we are sorry but we do not see any sarcasm going around here, rather a trembling confession that the left deviationists always scrabble around for and find, in the political debris, for comfort-- and then we found mud being slung at us. There was that in the form of rhetoric from the dais too, and thankfully, we were timing, for exactly 9.5 minutes. The place of occurrence was a sparsely covered patch of the Shahid Minar maidan.

The other, real, rather than rhetorical, parts of mother earth, wet from a recent splash, that came bounding at us, covering the better part of the ancient body corporal, in a thick lay of dark grey, were hurled by irate Congressmen who had earlier been instructed to ‘step up to the dais,’ and the accusing finger guided them to where we the men and women from media sat slightly atremble, tightly packed. Earlier to that, the media have been heard to remark how empty some of the’ frontal’ areas of the meeting ground were – committing thereby a near-fatal mistake in a Congress gathering.

As we were saying, we were constantly reminded by the present Shahid Minar ‘rally,’ of the desolate meeting addressed by the late Rajiv Gandhi at the Park Circus maidan late in the 1980s where, too, policepersons gave a tough fight to the actual audience and participants in terms of sheer numbers. The present ‘rally’ was not expected to be an aberration, and it was not.

What was said in those eager nine minutes-and-a-bit, deserve a semblance at least of a rejoinder. We shall ignore for the present, the ‘young’ person’s call, in an emotion-laden voice, about maintaining the ‘izzat’ of the Bengal Pradesh Congress even while going about a ‘mili-juli’ co-existence with the senior political partner here. We are sure a whoop of derisive laughter arose in the air at the Kalighat residence of the chieftain of the previously mentioned ‘senior partner.’

Then the lies started to pour out. There was a faux pas in the beginning though. It was said that ‘there now exist two forms of India,’ one for the poor the other inhabited by the rich – how true. Let us put in a small if discomforting refrain to that, if we can. For example, we can point to actual figures and say that close to 80% of the population is not able to spend Rs 20 per man-day for the very basic needs of living out even a poverty-ridden life as the super rich luxuriate in the comfort of tax havens within the dictates of the finance department.

The speaker would not bring out the glaring fact about the very parliament he is a member of, where there are 306 crorepatis, and that, of these super-rich, there are 141 Congress MPs. Dare we recall whose names feature on that list and whose do not? In the meanwhile, the tax concessions to the rich amount to Rs five lakh crore per financial year and increasing. The Left demand for Rs 450 crore worth of food subsidies is ignored

The speaker accused the Left Front government for leaving about ‘unutilised’ NREGA funds. Would the ‘young’ Congress leader kindly elaborate why, while even after repeated reminders, the union government is not willing to release Rs 1400 crore scheduled and earmarked for Bengal for that particular employment scheme itself?

There was a saving grace of a kind elsewhere at a ‘closed door’ meeting that the speaker took of the various segments of the Pradesh Congress in their office on the CIT Road, and one which we chose rightly not to attend although all the cameras of all the major TV channels and news crews, print and audio-visual, would troop in, and were covering the gory details ‘live.’

At that meeting, the speaker is supposed to have said-- we don’t give credence to the TV cameras of the corporate media, there could well have been a maligning voice-over or dubbing/remixing, who knows-- that he would like to come to Bengal so many times in the future to unfold, that ‘aap pareshan ho jayengey.’ We would reserve our comments on this especial bit of internal affairs of the Congress, Pradesh and otherwise.(INN)

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