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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 45, October 30, 2010

Response to D. Bandyopadhyay

Saturday 30 October 2010, by Sumanta Banerjee



Since from among those whom I addressed my open letter (in Mainstream of September 11), only D. Bandyopadhyay has come up with a rejoinder (in the October 9 issue), I feel obliged to respond to his observations with a few words.

One, he need not have wasted four long paragraphs on trying to convince me of the diabolical character of the CPI-M in West Bengal —since I had already in my letter denounced that party for its “fascist atrocities and crass corruption”, describing it as a party that “does not deserve to be called Leftist”.

Two, he has not answered my queries regarding the political credibility and integrity of Mamata Banerjee, and the allegations of corruption against her party in running the present panchayats. He has advised me instead “not to prejudge her performances as the future Chief Minister”. But should we not, as responsible citizens, take into account the past performances of a politician while considering her capabilities as a future Chief Minister? Surely, we should not join ‘those who cannot remember the past and are condemned to repeat it’. Although I live outside West Bengal, I fully understand how “tired and exasperated” its people are with the evil that is the CPI-M. But exasperation alone cannot be presented as a convincing justification for electing another set of politicians whose credentials are no less dubious than the present rulers. As for an alternative, may I request D. Bandyopadhyay to read the closing lines of my letter, where I surely did not project the “Maoist leader Kishenji” to fit that bill? (In fact, elsewhere I had criticised him.) I suggested a long-term strategy that goes beyond the immediate Assembly elections (which anyway will replace one Tweedledum with another Tweedledee, without making any difference to the plight of the common people)—exploring the possibility of creating a separate platform to bring together both Left-minded and liberal democrats to inaugurate an alternative mass movement for restructuring our society and politics.

FINALLY, on a personal note—Bandyopadhyay uses terms like “upper class bhadralok (elite)”, “elitist mindset”, etc. to describe my opinions. May I remind him that unlike him, I do not have the privilege of enjoying `pension’ as an ex-civil servant? Most of my life I have depended on irregular income from my assignments as a free-lance journalist, which have left me with little savings to enjoy ‘glasses of blended Scotch whisky in the Calcutta or Bengal or Tolly Club’ (the spots to which he traces the formation of my opinions on Mamata Banerjee)! I take this opportunity of inviting Bandyopadhyay to my village home near Dehradun and spend sometime with us so that he can observe for himself what sort of ‘upper class bhadralok elitist mindset’ I possess.

Sumanta Banerjee

Johri Jakhan Road, Sinola, Dehradun

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