It can take years, even a lifetime, for a man perceived to have fallen from grace, to recover confidence trampled by defeat and reclaim the esteem in which he was held. Many who fall back do not recover from the loneliness of failure.
For former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya—who was held responsible for the convulsions in Singur and Nandigram, and on whose door the subsequent blame of the Left’s 2011 poll debacle was laid—the vindication has come less than two years after his fall.
In the last one week alone, Buddhadeb, who had virtually withdrawn into a shell, repeatedly refusing requests for interviews, has given lengthy, confident and combative interviews to two Bengali TV channels.
He has also in recent weeks delivered fiery speeches at CPI(M) rallies in rural Bengal, where he had lost much credibility ever since the Trinamool Congress poll campaign painted him as an anti-poor villain out to grab farmers’ lands and hand it over to profiteering industrialists. Those potent accusations, coupled with differences with his party colleagues, had evidently told upon him.
But things are changing. Buddhadeb has not looked this positive since his glory days in the early 2000s. “His body language—the confident stride and beaming countenance—is reminiscent of the times which will be remembered as his ‘do-it-now’ days,” says political commentator Tarun Ganguly.
Clearly, the myriad failings of the Mamata Banerjee government is at the root of Buddhadeb’s renewed vigour. This is especially true in the area of industrial development, which was the former CM’s most important agenda.
Buddhadeb’s re-emergence followed an industrial meet in mid-January 2013 organised by the Bengal government in an attempt to attract industrialists. Named Bengal Leads, it turned out to be a resounding flop that failed to attract even one big-ticket industrialist.
“Which industrialist in their right mind will invest in this state?” thundered Buddhadeb at a rally soon after, throwing the question at a gathering which was reminded repeatedly that had Mamata not chased out Tata Motors, the state would have been reaping the benefits. “Why should any industrialist come to Bengal?” he continued. “To witness the madness that has been unleashed upon us here?”
The reference was as much to the alleged whimsy of Mamata—as reflected in a spate of shocking incidents, including several arbitrary arrests, threats to ‘whip’ policemen and ‘slap’ photographers—as to the state’s ‘impossible’ industrial policy. Indeed, saying that he did not believe Mamata to be symbol of honesty, he invoked a dire future in his two interviews. “Set aside the CPM, set aside Trinamool. You ask where the state will stand after five years. Where will the children of this state go?”
Making things worse, the TMC government has ruled out any state help in acquiring land for setting up industries.
CPI(M) Politburo member and former industry minister Nirupam Sen told Outlook, “In Bengal, where it is difficult to find large tracts of land owned by any one individual, it is next to impossible for an industrialist to acquire land without government intervention, as it would entail going from one farmer to another who own small plots of land. In Nandigram and Singur we were in the process of doing that when the Opposition movement stopped us.”
There are other impediments to industry too. The TMC government has declared that it won’t accord sez status to any industry, forcing companies like Infosys to rethink their decision to invest in Bengal.
The gathering force of the TMC’s ineptitude in attracting industry couldn’t come at a better time for the CPI(M). Panchayat elections are in two months and the ‘no-industry means no-jobs,’ message is being spread in the hope that Mamata’s populist land policies will be exposed for what they are: neither pro-poor nor pro-people.
The example that Buddhadeb repeatedly cites is Singur. Farmers there feel they got a raw deal by joining Mamata, who still hasn’t been able to keep her pre-poll promise of returning their land, a move that remains mired in litigation. “We made a mistake by joining her movement,” declares a Singur farmer. “If the Tata factory was here it would have been good for us economically.”
Clearly, Buddha has the satisfaction of one who foretold the future.
Apropos Waving The Red Flag (Mar 4), Buddhadeb Bhattacharya may feel satisfied with the mess the Trinamool and Mamata are in but a look at his own CPI(M) should sober him up—marginalised in Calcutta, party workers confused and badly in need of purposeful leadership.
Subhabrata M., Calcutta
The TMC’s eventual decline was not entirely unexpected. The gameplan was to rid Bengal of Left rule, but in the event it has assimilated all of the Left’s worst policies, in addition to the attendant evils of being a one-man show. Still, one didn’t expect the tmc rule to turn shoddy so fast. It took the Left at least 34 years to achieve that.
C. Chandrasekaran, Madurai
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.
Buddhadebbabu may have a satisfaction but ground reallity is somewhat defferent. its hard to smell from Kolkata. Ground level workers confused and nervous.top leadership must assure them THE FULL SUPPORT, what badly needed to them for coming fight.
It is amusing, highly amusing (to say the least) to see some Highly selfish, elitist ,feudal leftist bengalis drooling at the prospects of the return of the LEFT in W(ASTED). BENGAL...
The West Bengal story is darkest tragedy of Independent INdia which none of our so called Intellectual secular JNU educated elitist media will never talk. A state gave free run to one political formation for 35 long years and the results have been disastrous. Considering the headstart W(ASTED) Bengal had during the 200 years of british rule, and at start of independence, the 35 year regime has been a monumental disaster of sorts...
But then it is little use talking these about professional liars aka intellectuals who will claim that it is Moon which lights up the sun and will cite their own fictious theories to claim the same.
The rant of pariborthan which echoed over the sky of Bengal when Mamataji entered Writer's building appears to die down. The rise and fall of TMC is not unexpected. The yester rulers missed to raise up to the expectations of the Bengali voters. The paradigm shift from the stagnated agriculture to industrial development of Buddadev faced innumerable bottlenecks. TMC threw spanners just to gain political mileage over the move. In the process,Buddadev had to reckon with Nandigram protesters who then were illtutored by TMC.The Congress did not fail to grab the opportunity as Left rule did not budge an inch to allow the neo-liberal economic policies to infect Indian economy. In its gameplan to rid of Left rule, an unusual alliance was forged with TMC. The media true to its allegiance was less favourable and things were blown out of proposition creating an impression of chaotic rule. Hence, the change of guard was inevitable. Nevertheless, even the arch rivals of Marxists could hardly pick holes in the leaders' probity as they are all above board. But none would have expected the rule of TMC to turn shoddy,as we come across.None would have expected such an ugly display of lawlessness,attack on freedom of expression, shameless collution with history sheeters, and the increasing injustice to women in the state. The voices accusing the misrule of TMC will continue to be heard through out the nation till the voters script their judgement on the basis of the performance.
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