The Political Bangalee
Politically-inclined to begin with (here on any given day – or night for that matter – if you walk down the streets you are likely to encounter groups of people sitting around in street corners discussing politics), election-time in Bengal is a time of suspended reality with everyone from the morning milkman to the night watchman trying to engage you in a conversation about which way the political wind is blowing. "Ki hobey boley mone hochhey, Didi?" (What do you think will happen?) the neighbourhood news-stand man asked, flipping through a news magazine from his stand. "That toh, you should know better," I said, trying to get him to answer his own question, adding "You're the newsman." With all those periodicals and publications, newspapers and news magazines at his disposal, he did, after all, have the entire gamut of predictions laid out right there in front of him. "Jhoolbey…" (It will 'hang') he said definitively. The news-stand is stationed beside a rickshaw stand, and a rickshaw puller was listening, reclining on the seat of his own rickshaw, stretching out his legs before him, his hands behind his head. Now he butted in. He said, "Amrai jholabo. Na jholaley toh bohut baar berey jabey," (We will make sure it hangs. Otherwise 'they' will grow too big for their boots.)
Modi Vs. Didi
Narendra Modi, the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, who had earlier tried to be cordial with Didi (Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee), perhaps in the hope of striking up some sort of a political tie-up to push up his numbers in the scenario of a hung Parliament, has now completely discarded that strategy. Now he is openly baiting her, even questioning her role in the chit fund scam that rocked the state recently. In his last visit to Calcutta, where he addressed a rally, he had said that Bengal was blessed enough to have "laddoos" (goodies) in both hands…in the state they had Mamata and in the Centre they could, if they chose to, have him (if they voted BJP). (Later he told a Bengali news anchor that he should have said "roshogollas" but that's besides the point.) But with Mamata herself nurturing the Delhi-dream and refusing to get dragged into another coalition with either the BJP or the Congress (at least not at the crucial pre-poll stage), where she was sure to only play a secondary role and then with her repeatedly alluding to Modi as "the face of communalism," it may have got too much for him.
This week Modi decided to drop in on Bengal again. His third visit in less than three months. Ostensibly to lend weight to the campaign of the star BJP candidate musician Bappi Lahiri from Bengal's Srirampur, it was really to show Didi how much support he commands in her state. It was at this rally that he finally threw down the gauntlet at Didi. He challenged her to come clean on the chit fund scam and raised questions about whether she was protecting those who were involved and why. Modi also hinted at the dubiousness surrounding the sale of Mamata's paintings and demanded to know what she had done with the money. (Mamata's paintings which had over the years become well-known, less for their artistic value than for the fact that these were hers, has often been in the news because these were auctioned at high prices – several lakhs – and the proceeds were supposed to go to a charity. But the painting questioned by Modi was reportedly sold for over one crore and the charity which was supposed to have received the funds denied having done so.) Modi even went to the extent of declaring that the Trinamool Congress government has caused more damage to Bengal in 34 months than the Left had done in 34 years.
The Apparent Heir
Mamata Banerjee has decided to field her nephew Abhishek Banerjee as a Parliamentary candidate. He will contest from the Diamond Harbour seat in South 24 Paragans District which goes to polls in the last phase on May 12. Diamond Harbour is the constituency from which veteran parliamentarian Somen Mitra won the seat during the 2009 Parliamentary elections on a Trinamool ticket. For the most part of his political career he had been in the Congress party but decided to defect to the Trinamool only to defect back to Congress after falling out with Didi earlier this year. Though it is rumoured that Mayor Shovan Chattopadhyay, who is also the Trinamool Congress District head of South 24 Paraganas, was eyeing that seat – something which Chattopadhyay has denied – Mamata, say political observers, wanted to hand this almost sure-shot seat to a family member who would be loyal to her. "She has her suspicions and she wants a trustworthy aide in Parliament, whom she can rely on blindly," said a source. The young Abhishek – in his early 30s – reminds me of the Akhilesh Yadavs and the Rahul Gandhis. Perhaps Mamata, who is known wants to hold onto the reins lest someone should betray her, is training the heir to the throne for the Trinamool? Clearly nepotism or the rule of dynasty is not limited to the Gandhi family.
The Slogan War
A TMC campaign in the Jadavpur constituency where CPI-M's Sujan Chakraborty is the rival candidate to their own Dr Sugoto Bose: "Shono ebar Sujan Mama/Tomar mukhey ghoshbo jhaama" (Listen now, Uncle Sujan…we are going to rub your nose in the dirt)
A CPI-M campaign in another constituency: "Ma-Mati-Manush er shorkar…cheat fund…nari nirjaton…aar nei dorkar" (The government of Ma-Mati-Manush…that of the chit fund scandal…where crimes against women have risen…we don't need anymore)
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT