I am fond of Mamata Banerjee.
I feel that she is misunderstood. If one were to see her actions, there is one thread that runs through it all, a pathological hatred for the Communist parties and everything communist. If you understand this, you understand everything else about her, you begin to develop an appreciation for her actions, for her utterances, for the way she reacts.
Her moving into the seat of power must be seen in the same light as you and I moving into a termite infested house. The first thing you would do is to call pest control to exterminate the termites, isn’t that so? After the pest control chaps have left the house and you spot termites again, would you not go ballistic? You would start looking for termites everywhere, you would look for early warning signals, you will err only on the side of panic. If someone tells you that the beautiful mango tree is the problem, you will order it to be felled immediately. If yet another person told you that the termites have taken over one side of your house, you will order that side demolished. You will Google everything about termites and if there is the slightest indication that they could stage a comeback, you will stop at nothing, simply nothing.
To Mamata, the communists are worse than termites. Over the 3 decades they have been in power, they have taken over everything. They sought to control a great deal through the education system. In the early 1990s, teachers’ salaries became part of the state budget, with a crippling effect on state finances. The Communists believed that if you had the teachers on your side, you could control the people. Not only were the teachers in the advantageous position of filling the minds of kids up with communist propaganda, it was also useful to keep them happy as it is they who conducted elections. No surprise then that Mamata’s first move is to purge the education system of anybody with a fondness for communist ideology. She sees everything in black and white: either you are against the Communists or you are for her. If you are for her, you will cut her some slack. If you are for the Communists you will attack her, make fun of her, slight her at every opportunity. She did not set the rule on this one, the CPIM did.
The argument she makes is simple enough: You allowed the Communists so much latitude, you let them get away with even daring to take Tagore off the shelves, you let Jatin Chakravarty impose his concept of Sanskriti, banning everything (including, or should I say especially, Usha Uthup) else as apasanskriti, you let Subash Chakravarty and his goons run amuck at election time, you let the communists retain their stranglehold through what came to be known as scientific rigging of elections, and now you have elected me, don’t forget that it is your battles I am fighting. What probably irritates her to no end is that the media would not have dared to question Jyoti Basu thus or even his successor, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. She realizes that she is paying the price of being a Ma Maati Manush Chief Minister. She is accessible and therefore leaves herself open to ridicule. Not for her the idea of sitting on a lofty perch, far removed from the people she represents.
People ridicule her for her scatter brained ideas. I wonder how many people remember that the CPIM once tried to set up a power plant for which they tried to raise funding through blood donation camps. I don’t recall too many people making fun of Jyoti babu at that time, the media was too scared to raise the slightest voice of protest.
If you want tonknow how the Communists work, read what Kerala CPIM leader M M Mani said recently. According to him the party would not hesitate to kill to achieve its ends. In Kerela, there was atleast the Church to provide a balance and keep the Commuinists on their toes. Yet they behaved as Mani says they did. in Bengal, they had no opposition of any kind. How do you think they dealt with opposition?
I am not for a moment extolling the greatness of Mamata, I am the first to accept she has not shown too much evidence of that. She has not done too many great things that I can talk about. All that I am simply suggesting is that if you kept quiet during the purge by the CPIM, why don’t you extend the same courtesies to her? She has been through hell to get here. She deserves your sympathy. Give her a break.