…But, dear, dear, where is Mamata?
After the Aila devastation, she was the first to rush to the cyclone affected areas pre-empting any relief action by the state government. After she had gained centre stage and made the Left Front ministers look like lame ducks who shied away from cyclone waters, and used all her powers and resources to execute a perfect relief operation on a war-footing, Mamata Banerjee, who would have us believe that Bengal is first and last on her agenda, is now nowhere to be seen.
She is, you see, railways minister and she has a Budget at hand. In other words, she is too busy for Bengal now though she may be in Kolkata and mouthing the usual vitriol against the CPI (M). But, is this the time for all this politics; that the CPI (M) is to be blamed for the rise of the Maoists and that the Trinamool is not in any way connected to what is happening out there? Is this the time to drive the last nail when the chief minister’s coffin is anyway sealed and ready? Is this the politics that she talks of which has a ‘human face’?
And so what if Lalgarh reminds us of those terror days when we were kids and the Naxalites organised killing fields throughout the state in the early Seventies? And what about all those six ministers who were despatched all over the Aila areas in the wake of the storm? They are in Delhi too, may be helping Didi make up her mind on the Budget. Which ticket to cost how much, whether we should have biryani on the Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani or may be, it’s time we thought of a new train to the Sunderbans where if you showed an Aila card, you could travel for free. Something, anything which will make the big Bengali papers and TV channels sing Khaled’s chartbuster "Didi, Didi", may be, even invite Usha Utthup for a charity show with this song as the theme. Oh, Didi loves Usha-di, you must know!
In short, the chief Opposition party is nowhere to be seen when they were most wanted. Bengal is crying for help now. We are tired of terror. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is grasping at any straw that he can manage to catch sight of. Even his detractors in the party and Front are with him in this hour of acute crisis. Now, when all political parties are required to sit and chalk out a plan to finish these Maoists to the last man, Didi has not even made a single conciliatory gesture, let alone visiting the Lalgarh area or sending her ministers.
We understand that no legitimate body rules Lalgarh any longer, let alone the Trinamool, which was never a force there. But surely, if the Aila was important enough for her to take oath in Kolkata instead of Delhi, surely Lalgarh, which may result in worst calamity in the long run, deserved at a least a dekho by Didi.
But she is content in Delhi and forgets now that she had promised that she would spend five days of a working week in Kolkata and look after our problems in this wretched city of dreadful nights. But the dreadful nights are already taking shape again. Aila was made by nature; nobody except some other power could resolve the problem.
Here, the Maoists are men, some even boys, and they are holding a state to ransom. The Railways Budget could have been handled by her babus for just a day. Mamata, we all expected, would call Chhatradhar Mahato’s bluff and being the lady of fire that she is portrayed to be, we hoped that she, along with her six ministers, would tour the ravaged forests and Lalgarh town bargaining for peace or meet fire with her brand of fire, now added with power.
But no, Aila brings tears; Maoists, contrarily, are harbingers of revolution. There are no drowning men and women, no bricks as pillows on embankments, no tides threatening to wash everything away. The hungry tides of the Sunderbans beckons politicians for more reason than mere whetting the appetites of the poor; the Maoists have just the opposite effect.
They give good reason to be perfect pawns in a larger game of Opposition non-participation and staying busy so that Buddhadeb suffers that extra more. And may be, given just one more round of police firing after the tragedy of Nandigram in 2007, be forced to resign. Act V, Scene V. Applause from the Trinamool benches. Encore, please.
There are more things in heaven and earth than our politics can dream of, our Didi should be told.
Today, we heard Home Minister P. Chidambaram take a pot-shot at Buddhadeb and tell newsmen, not without a smirk, that there seemed to be a division within the state government over the operation in Lalgarh and its timing. Yes, in Kolkata, we know there is.
Buddhadeb is not exactly a man who is loved by everybody in his own team but what is worse is that here, he has proven yet again that he is a weaker man, a man who compares shoddily with his predecessor, Jyoti Basu. He cannot take a decision if that means asking the CRPF to open fire. And fire they have to anyway because the Maoists out there are not exactly readying and arming themselves to the teeth wondering how to play a game of thieves and robbers. It’s a crucial decision, a decision which boys cannot take but men just have to.
But everybody knows one thing for sure. If there is single round of firing in Lalgarh and one man dies as a result, all hell will break loose and Mamata Banerjee will be the first person along with her six-man entourage to rush to Lalgarh sympathising with the mother, wife and sister of the victim and asking for Buddhadeb’s head. And the CM will then have to resign. He just does not have any epilogue option left in this novel or drama, depending on which sort of genre you fashion Lalgarh as.
But, dear Didi, politics is not always expediency. It is also a time when all parties, irrespective of the fact that you want to gouge the other man’s eyes out during the talks across the table, have to meet and thrash out a solution. Bengal is in danger. Forget the chief minister. Visit Lalgarh with your team. Make those men with bows and arrows see reason. Show the world that you do not have politics in mind when innocent women and children are being used as shields. And, finally, go out there before the chief minister does so and yet again prove that you are the girl who has grown up to be woman. You have a voice now which is pan-Indian. All of us applauded when you played supermom after Aila.
Now we want you to play Terminator. And please don’t say you don’t have the dates.