I'm sure similar things have happened in history, but this is happening in the year 2012, in our city, Calcutta, where we otherwise show a lot of forbearance. And this is something that has seldom happened in India. First of all, that little thing at the heart of the controversy, it is not even a cartoon. It is an act of humour. A little piece of art. Popular art. You see such things regularly on the back of autorickshaws, buses, trucks. If you go to Bangladesh, you will see lots of them. In other states of India you will see them. Bhagat Singh with some Bombay matinee idol. It’s not that they are insulting Bhagat Singh or that there is some sort of innuendo. It’s just that people enjoy a piece of artful, apocryphal absurdity within the basic framework of reality. And it takes imagination to concoct such a thing.
Look at me. I faced it too. The moment I earned a little fame way back in 1992 and after a few people started to follow me as a songwriter, singer and musician, various cartoons made their inevitable appearance. Really well-known Bengali newspapers carried these cartoons. One pro-CPI(M) Bengali daily regularly printed cartoons of yours faithfully. And very vindictive ones too, those that belittled me. But it was, after all, a cartoon. In a world full of injustice that makes daily demands on our sense of outrage, it wouldn’t do to lose one’s shirt over such a thing. Where is our sense of humour? Why can’t we laugh at ourselves?
And consider this: there was not a single abusive word in that cartoon. So the mock-outraged reaction of the government, and that of the two cabinet ministers of West Bengal, who proclaimed that whatever the police had done was right, is totally unacceptable.
This, along with other acts of hauteur, like the case of the blacklisted newspapers and the banning of Marx in textbooks, reads like a script. And for what? For domination. The same authoritarianism against which we were fighting. Mamata Banerjee had been fighting a valiant war. And no doubt that she really sought the downfall of the CPI(M). And she always proclaimed her allegiance to democracy and freedom of speech. We became friends. We joined hands. And we started to fight shoulder to shoulder.
But that was a different Mamata. That was a Mamata with whom I could communicate. Who would give you a patient hearing sometimes. Though I saw even then that she was very impatient. Almost like me. And she also has something artistic about her. She is quite a good painter. I have observed Mamata closely; we have been very close, and both of us showed a lot of respect for each other. It’s not that I want her to vacate the chief minister’s post, like some people who are clamouring for her departure. But she should mend her ways.
I will now reveal something that I seldom speak of. She literally coaxed and cajoled me for over a year to agree to become a Trinamool Congress candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. She said every booth in my constituency (Jadavpur, in Calcutta) would be manned by the CRPF. If it is manned by the crpf it’s one thing; if it’s manned by the home guards, under the CPI(M), it is quite another. Time and again she promised me, “Don’t worry, Kabirda, you will have crpf personnel in every booth.” But no, not a single crpf man was assigned to my constituency. Maybe they wanted to see me defeated. I won the Jadavpur seat without any help. I still wonder why Mamata was so insistent on my joining up. Just to show the world that she had Kabir Suman, the well-known musician, activist, journalist, in her entourage?
As told to Dola Mitra
Power corrupts and absolute power.... Mamata is no different (Fortress of Unreason, Apr 30). After all, she also would like to rule Bengal for 20 years, like Jyoti Basu. Still, it’s odd how little time it takes for power to go to your head.
N.K. Singhal, Rohtak
Admittedly, Kabir Suman is a good lyricist and singer. He cosied up to Mamata and won a parliamentary seat only by riding on her skirt-tails. To anyone familiar with Bengal politics, the mere suggestion that he won the seat by himself is laughable. And by all reports, he still enjoys the influence, powers and pelf of an MP. Let Suman resign and fight the bypoll on his own steam, and we’ll forgive him his foolish display of moral courage.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Why did the Police arrest Ambikesh mahapatra when mamata's nephew posted obscene caryoons about CPM leaders in his facebook account...much more obscene than the cartoon being discussed.
A few words about Kabir Suman must be known. Admittedly he is a good lyrisist & singer. He cosied up to Mamata Banerjee & won a parliamentary seat riding popularity wave for Mamata Banerjee & with help of Trinamul workers. Any body familiar with Bengal politics will laugh it out of court if he claims that he won this seat all by himself.
And why he continues to enjoy the powers , priviledges & the pelf of a TMC MP even now , if he feels Mamata has turned authoratarain ? Come on lets have some display of moral courage. Let him resign & get re-elected all by his own. Or is it that MP salary , allowances , almost unlimited first & business class travel , many other facilities an MP gets is too much to give up for foolish display of moral courage ?
This little story about Mamata promising him CRPF in his booths is total give away. Who was Mamata then to promise such things ? It was police under Budhadev Battacharjee & under direction EC which decided pariticular type of security at particular booths. In any case Mamata made sure he won. So what he is complaining about ?
The problem in this whole cartoon discourse is that the obscenity was not even a cartoon. Cutting real pictures of three persons from news papers & the mast head of a railways, paste them on a piece of paper is not cartoon. One would have appreciated if the professor had it in him to draw even a bad cartoon. This man's creativity was limited to suggesting in his 'cartoon' - actually a cut & paste job - that Mamata is coveting wealth from the railways. Mamata greedy , Mamata corrput is one charge that will not sell.
The professor is involved in a dispute between a private society & its suppliers. He thinks these are Mamata's men. Though he now adores the talk show of a particular news channels daily hours on end , so far he has not put forth a shard of evidence that they were Mamata's men & why he has not gone to the police when attcked as alleged. Many rats flee a sinking ship. They try to get board the floating one. It is in the realm of possibilty here actually some did . 9Only today's papers came up with the news that man who impersonated Mamata's brother & demanded facilities from government officials. He was promptly arrested.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutelty. Mamta is no different. After all she also want to rule Bengal for 20 years like Jyoti Basu did. Hence she will have to follow thier ways. She really has gone berserk and is showing that power has indeed gone to her head.
Mani Shankar Iyer in his usual nasty way, once compared Jayalalthaaa to an elephant.Jaya waited till he left Tamil Nadu border,into Pondichery(now Puducherry),and then had Mani Shankar Iyer beaten black and blue,leaving him in a tattered Kurta on the road.Since then this Sonia loyalist has never dared make personal attack on Jayalalithaa.In our country,all these so called intellectuals attack people like Jaya or Mamatha but for ever remain servile to the white skinned family.
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