The report card is out. Mamata Banerjee, the new love of Bengalis worldwide, is far more Left than the Left. Mamata Banerjee is not only more Left, she is far less democratic than the communists of India. She is autocratic, averse to criticism, and does not tolerate dissent. It is unfortunate that Bengalis are now thrown from frying pan into fire. But it is not just Bengalis who should be worried. In fact, whole of India should be concerned.
What happens in Bengal could happen to India. Bengal is the place where Great Britain installed their first capital city to create the Indian Empire. Bengalis then led India into our own version of enlightenment, if there is one. When most of us in the hinterland lands of India were still dwelling in forests, Bengalis were discussing Aristotle and Socrates. The sun first shone in Bengal and then over the rest of India, literally and figuratively. Bengalis were one of the forerunners of Indian National Movement contributing many great men and women to the cause. During the 19th century, Bengal’s stars shone the brightest in the sky. It produced many authors, artists, and scientists. Rabindranath Tagore won Asia’s first Nobel Prize.
But then Bengalis became obsessed with their leader Subhash Chandra Bose so much so that they distanced themselves from the Gandhi’s Congress. From then on light started to become dim in Bengal, passing the beacon to only those Bengalis who lived outside Bengal. And when Communist took over in 1970s they just shut down lights in Bengal.
Calcutta, renamed Kolkata now, because that’s what you hear when you say ‘Calcutta’ with a Rasogolla in your mouth, was described as a ‘dying city’ by Nehru. When I visited that city in mid 1990s, I hated it. The city was chaotic, had too many people and really bad streets. And yet, I could see traces of their esteemed culture glimmering through the darkness that enshrouded the city. The people were lively, but most importantly, took pride in their Bengaliness. They all pursued some kind of art – some into music, some into singing, and some into painting. Most Bengalis pursued a talent or discussed politics and philosophy. Even now, it produces some of the brightest minds, great talents, and the best authors. The recent Indian Nobel Laureate for Economics is a Bengali.
What happened to Bengal is that most of Bengal fled Bengal. Communism created a rot. It had to be expunged but it took lot of time for Bengalis to provide an alternative. Before Bengalis could celebrate the ouster of communists, Mamata Banerjee has started to lead this once-upon-a-time enlightened state into abyss.
Recently when she was asked some hard questions on a live TV show, she just walked out. [You should watch the video]. Before she walked out, she called the students and professors of Jadavpur University a bunch of Maoists, and she refused to answer their questions. Long ago in Europe, few fascist countries did the same. They called every critic and every detractor an enemy of the nation, and refused to answer their questions.
Earlier, in another incident she got pissed off because a cartoon was circulated amongst college professors. The professor spent time in jail for ‘defamation, outraging modesty and humiliating a woman’. Later, she called back the Railway Minister when he created a radical bill, and she routinely throws tantrums with the center. She is seen as whimsical and immature woman, known as as a peevish and petulant leader.
If the mature, talented and enlightened Bengal could go into abyss, so could India.