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” Killer of giants, threatens us all, mountains of madness, standing so tall… ” – Ozzy Osbourne

The results of Bengal election is out. Communists got a dusty death. An era ended. Well, they are only communist by name, in economic principles they are rather Fabian socialists…but however… The longest serving “democratically” elected communist government, ruling the once leading state since 1977, routed.

In between a whole generation like us were born. I was born in ’83. And since my childhood I have only known the “left” in power…with their traditional arrogance, rhetoric, and economic stagnation. A whole generation who had to go out of Bengal to study, as the state colleges were basically places of Student politics, a boiling pot of dangerous populist left ideology. No good education standard, no good hospitals, no jobs, no industries, economic stagnation, subsidies at the cost of taxpayer’s money, armed goons in voting booths…

For those of us who have seen the communists at the peak of their power, during the late eighties, and the early nineties, this is a strange feeling. Its almost surreal. The myth of Red invincibility in Bengal broken…

Then came the early 2001. World trade center. And the world changed forever. Here in Bengal, that year started a change. I gave my High School final exams. The fights in rural Bengal, Keshpur, Garbeta, Panskura erupted. The first cracks in the poor supporting class of the left. The first dissent. The first heavy handed action by the government. Thousands died. Street fighting in morning and evening. Gunpowder smells in dark alleys. Hidden murders. Crude bombs, soda bottles used as missiles. Open murders. Policemen killed in action. Students murdered and faces mutilated with acid to make them unrecognisable. Women raped.

The leadership changed. A new pragmatic pro-industry chief minister came. Buddhadev Bhattacharjee.

New Volvo buses, new shopping complex, malls, multiplexes, flyovers, the look of Calcutta changed. Industry was coming.

But by then the damage had already been done. Over 20 years of left rule has changed the whole psyche of the people, and made populism a religion in Bengal. Farmers shivered in anger and rage, if someone comes and said they need to give lands for industry. Or that the State Government won’t pay subsidy at the cost of the urban city people.

The blood was already poisoned with leftist ideology. And it was hard to change.

No one asked why the farmers are protesting land being taken by government, when it was not their land at the first place, as our Constitution doesn’t guarantee the “right to property”, and every land is state land. No one asked why the NANO industry was driven out of Bengal. No one asked why there are opposition to Nuclear plants when Bengal suffers from power cuts, and is in a huge power deficit. No one questioned why, just why will we support those people who have the EXACT SAME economic policies of subsidies and populism, of those people who we oppose?

Rage is blind…and Buddhadev Bhattacharjee would go down in posterity as a man, who tried, but couldn’t…

The Communists nurtured a class of people, who went on to become their Frankenstein…the landless farmer class, the low lives of the urban slums, and the illegal aliens from Bangladesh, who were given voter identity cards and ration cards en masse for vote bank politics, who have given subsidies year after year, who we in common Bengali parlance call “Haramkhor” class (those who earn without any work, or those who earn what they don’t deserve…) have paid them back. In a drastic measure to stop that they resorted to “Chinese Democracy” and emergency reforms, but Bengal is already by then a socialist epicenter of India, and Mamata Bannerjee the “new left”.

In Bengal that is a huge floating vote, a huge swing percentage. The bane of the communists…

Still I would welcome the change, just for the sake of my love for democracy. Any monolithic block needs to be uprooted.

But as of the change itself? I prefer not to be a part of it…yet. I am too old and cynical for that. For those of us staying outside Bengal, I prefer to be a silent observer as I am…hoping that the place I was born, the place I have my proud roots, the place I love, the motherland, doesn’t take a turn for the worse, with revenge killings, and more economic stagnation…

I hope Maoist problem is solved, I hope industry returns, I hope the students get good colleges, which we didn’t get, good jobs, which we had to search outside the state.

Siddhartha Shankar Roy, former chief minister of West Bengal went to see Jyoti Basu, another former chief minister of Bengal, and from the other party. When asked why the leaders of today doesn’t interact publicly with the members of the other party, he smiled and said, “Those were different times…”

I hope the civility to return to politics. These uncultured and uncouth practices of not seeing even the face of the leaders of the “other” parties, to stop…

After all, a man can only hope…

(Also, Arnab Ray on WSJ about Bengal Elections.)

(Also, this post was selected for Blogadda’s Spicy Saturday picks… so well, great! Never knew cynicism is so cool! :))


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