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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 49, November 27, 2010

An Insidious Line

Wednesday 1 December 2010, by Barun Das Gupta


Sumanta Banerjee in his communication (Mainstream, October 30, 2010) says that he does not need to be convinced that the CPI-M in West Bengal is indulging in “fascist atrocities and crass corruption”. Fine. At least on that point, one believes, he has no quarrels with D. Bandyo-padhyay. He is also aware that the people of West Bengal are “tired and exasperated” with the CPI-M.

But the next moment he is assailed by a crippling moral dilemma. Can “exasperation alone” be presented “as a convincing justification for electing another set of politicians whose credentials are no less dubious than the present rulers”? So, Banerjee agrees that the CPI-M is fascist and corrupt. Implicit in his admission is that the people of West Bengal should vote out this fascist and corrupt party. But, in Banerjee’s opinion, they (the people of Bengal) should not replace the CPI-M with “another set of politicians” (read Trinamul Congress and Mamata Banerjee) whose credentials, he thinks, are no less dubious.

So, where do the two observations taken together lead the electorate of Bengal to? That they should vote out the CPI-M but not vote in the (equally corrupt and fascist?) Opposition Trinamul Congress which seems poised for victory in the coming Assembly elections. In other words, Banerjee wants that CPI-M should get out of Writers’ Buildings, but nobody should get in. Writers’ Buildings should remain untenanted and West Bengal should go without a government. The obvious conclusion is that Banerjee wants that after the CPI-M there should be total anarchy in West Bengal! That is his prescription.

This is an insidious line being propagated by a group of a particular brand of Left intellectuals. One of them, it is being bruited about, has his covetous eyes fixed on the chair of the Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University. Once a strong critic of the CPI-M, he is now trying to come closer to Alimuddin Street. The line this group is pushing is clear: Yes, the CPI-M is bad, but is not the Trinamul Congress worse and therefore should we not ………. and all the rest of it.

Now about Banerjee’s “mindset”. One’s mindset is formed by the values one inherits from one’s family, imbibes from one’s immediate social environment and acquires from one’s interactions with others in course of one’s passage through life. Mindset is neither defined nor determined by whether one has the “privilege” of pension or whether one enjoys one’s evening glass of “blended Scotch whisky” in one or the other of Kolkata’s elitist clubs or whether one lives in a modest hut in a small town. Let not Banerjee indulge in such cheap theatrics.

Talking about privilege, Banerjee obviously thinks that the pension earned by a retired civilian is a “privilege” and not a “right”. By the same token he may claim that the provident fund or gratuity or bonus earned by an employee or an industrial worker is a privilege and not a right. What a heart-warming thought for the capitalists, indeed!.

Barun Das Gupta

Flat IA, JC-9, Salt Lake, Kolkata-700098

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