The politics of West Bengal (or is it officially Poschim Bangla now?) have always intrigued political commentators in particular, and the nation as a whole. The last decade however was rather boring, because the Left front resorted to cheap publicity stunts, like withdrawing support to the UPA, only to lose the State Elections later on. Now, it seems, the politics of WB (PB) have become interesting once again. Thanks to Mamata Banerjee—the defender of the Bengali people, the bane of the UPA, and conspiracy-terminator par excellence. She, it seems, is never short of controversies and is an incredibly perceptive, and woman of substance (in this case, a healthy diet of machcher jhol and rice; or is she vegetarian now? Then again, name me one Bong worth his/her salt, who is one? And Didi, as we know, is worth quite a bit if, erm, salt—well, enough to spoil the best laid recipes of the UPA, at least).
There is no challenge big enough that Mamata Didi cannot handle (and not make them into trending topics on Twitter). After a shocking revelation that the Left was to blame for the number of crib deaths which plagued state-run hospitals, and that rape victims were in fact a part of a conspiracy to malign her state (those immoral, loose s****!), Mamata Didi has left no stone unturned to take the blinkers off the eyes of the rest of the nation. This woman is one the country’s most tenacious, albeit amiable chief ministers, whose seemingly “paranoia” driven, and “knee-jerk” reactions only appear so, because they are portrayed by a media bribed by the Left & the UPA.
And this time, history itself is on her agenda of reformation. Her target, the person after whom a Facebook group, ‘Why the fuck is Karl Marx in every freaking subject?’ is named: the German philosopher, Karl Marx and his partner, Fredrick Engels (the connotations of the term go beyond the academic nature of their, erm, partnership. Hey, the group says so, not me).
Now history, we know, is always constructed in an authorial voice, or the perspective of the “winner”, as many have labelled it. Therefore, claims Derek O’brien, Trinamool MP (and the once host of the best quiz show on TV; see, Mamata has intellectuals in her company; how can she possibly be anti-intellectual?) the decision to remove references to Marx (which is, about two paragraphs spread across three chapters, and roughly worth 10 marks in the state board exams) was an attempt to “balance history”. And that is indeed an amiable move, considering they now wish to burden children with the tales of Mahatma and Mandela (and Steve Jobs, too, if rumours on Twitter are to be believed). However, considering the whole issue, why Marx should be at the receiving end of this ‘balancing act’, still perplexes most people, as clearly the Soviets lost the Cold War, and China has embraced capitalism (so, if anything, Marx—or more so: the losing side always had him on their side. Even the Left-front was defeated). Such unprecedented political victory, that too by a woman (who does not have a wardrobe full of pink salwar-kameezes and expensive kanjivarams) has led a class of sceptical commentators (who have made the hash-tag: #arrestmenow as a trending topic in India) to question both, Didi’s motives and methods, the former they allege is paranoia, and the latter, fascism.
These sceptics could not be any more further from the truth. And the truth is: Mamata is one of the last remaining practitioners of Marx’s teachings. Yes, you heard that right. Recall the Singur fiasco: she ousted TATA Motors, a capitalistic enterprise, benefitting from the arbitrary and exploitative policies of a neo-liberal economy, and gave away the land to poor farmers. Of course, the fact that 9,000 people were deprived of a guaranteed job is but a minor divot in the credibility of her intentions. But as I always say, it’s the thought—or in this case, the ideological engagement—that matters. And this was actually a critique of the Left’s corruption of core Marxian values. Shame on them!
Now that she got a professor arrested for circulating cartoons of her online, she’s in the public cross-hair. Again (sigh). What she actually meant to do was, to chastise the man (erm, well, by beating him up, and arresting him; nobody’s perfect, you know) for not drawing a real cartoon and using Photoshop instead. She was also miffed at the wrong reference he made to Satyajit Ray’s story. After all, she has great respect of Bengal’s artistic and intellectual tradition. Why, she’s contemplating playing Rabindra-sangeet at traffic junctions even! What did the Left do for the intellectual and artistic tradition of Bengal? Nothing! (Note: this category does not include Jyoti Basu). This leaves us with a question, a hypothetical one, of course: would her…passion for Marx be any different had he been born in Bengal, and not Germany? Like I said, one can only speculate on this matter.
And tomorrow, if she decides to ban left-lane driving, it’s only because the new rule may perhaps improve lane-driving in Calcutta altogether; a long-shot, but a valid hope nevertheless. Even her decision to paint Calcutta in Trinamool colours, is based on the scientific notion that these colours happen to have a pleasing effect on the eyes. Nothing ideological in there, now, right?
[This is a work of satire. And I do hope the Trinamool doesn’t understand what the word means and decides to hire me in their propaganda wing. Please don’t arrest me; I merely used the hash-tag to conform to Twitter trends, that’s all! Any resemblance/reference to people living or dead was, of course, intended—for the sake of credibility. And yes, you may think it’s unnecessary to write this little ‘note’, but you’d be surprised at the number of idiots who take satire seriously]