Time to Vote

It’s time to vote. All are busy in making image. This is a tricky business. For the ruling parties this is no problem. They spend huge sums from public exchequer to display their achievements. And Congress being at the centre, has extra advantage in highlighting almost daily through full page advertisements in dailes about the gospel of development and how their ‘pro-people’ schemes are helping particularly vulnerable sections of the society to strive for a decent living. Regional outfits don’t lag behind. Uttar Pradesh’s young Chief Minister has invented a nice way to project his image—Delhi-Lucknow cycle-march.

It is sheer wastage of precious man-hours of several young persons presently on a Delhi-Lucknow 'cycle-yatra' for image-projection of UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his ruling Samajwadi Party on eve of forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. What is more, government sign-boards on national highways are fully covered by banners of Samajwadi Party with big photos of Akhilesh Yadav causing great difficulty to users of highways. And in this rat race the ruling Trinamul Congress of West Bengal steals the show.

For the last one or two weeks, the dailies of West Bengal have been pouring out advertisements given by the Trinamul Congress-led Government. The largest circulating Bengali daily, which is incidentally the largest circulating daily in India as a whole, has, on 26 February, filled a little less than two pages of it with advertisements about the reported success of the Trinamul Congress-led West Bengal Government. Such advertising spree, done by spending public money, has caught many unawares. To discerning eyes, this seems nothing but a clever ploy to cover up the scams the Trinamul Congress leaders are faced with, as well as to suppress the massive corruption that has already engulfed the party at various levels. One Trioamul Congress MP, Kunal Ghosh, is now in jail custody for his involvement in the Sarada scam. But when the scandal came out, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tried to defend Mr Ghosh, who used to draw unbelievable fat salary per month as a Sarada executive, in a language that was as brazen, as it was hypocritical. Now Mr Ghosh has been made a scapegoat and the state government is trying to keep the task of investigation in its own hands lest further heads should roll, although the activities of the Sarada group were spread over several states. Mamata Banerjee and her men are now trying to blame the earlier government for their alleged complicity in the cheating activities of such chit funds, seemingly in the belief that such campaigns will exonerate them. It is true that some dishonest intellectuals, writers and artists till try to stand by Ms Banerjee; to them power, pelf and publicity at official expense are prime considerations.

In the countryside of West Bengal, a phenomenon has emerged conspicuously. A large number of earlier CPI(M) hands, who used to flex their muscles in favour of their political bosses, have now become active Trinamul hands. In the Jangalmahal area, the former Maoist hands, who refused to allow anybody except the Trinamul Congress to campaign during the last parliamentary and assembly polls, have now become Trinamul Congress activists. Mamata Banerjee thus scored a victory over her covert allies in Jangalmahal. She has used them to her advantage and then, with the help of the police and the joint forces, suppressed them. Now her party, with the help of the administration, police and the joint forces, are ruling the roost there.

Vol. 46, No. 37, Mar 23 - 29, 2014