Calcutta Notebook


At the time of writing The Lok Sabha Polls lie midway and the spate of allegations and counter-allegations continue to hit the headlines. As one goes through the daily newspapers or listen to the TV channels, one would scarcely find an item not directly or indirectly related with the parliamentary polls, barring events like IPL. One notable characteristic of the wave is the continuous projection of Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister, along with an almost nauseating propaganda in favour of the so-called Gujarat Model of development. Those who have been working overtime to highlight Modi Model, which is ideally suited to the profit-maximizing drive of the corporate hourgeoisie, have found it convenient to eschew issues like reduction of child morality, raising expectation of life and adult literacy rate, and lessening economic inequality.

In West Bengal, revelation of the Saradah Scam and the government’s desperate bid to suppress important facts, coupled with various other nasty scandals, have severely hurt the political hegemony of the ruling Trinamul Congress and its chief Mamata Banerjee. In quite a few places, this outfit, with the tacit acquiescence of a servile police force and an elite bureaucracy have successfully implemented the policy of intimidation, capture of booths and false votes. The utterance of a few TMC leaders are by themselves revealing. The CPI(M) and its Left Front allies have not been able to provide any effective resistance owing to the depletion of their strength.

The dailies have been pouring out reports on the poll process, as if election is the only panacea left to the people. The issues facing the dispossessed, discounted and deprived hardly feature in the reports published by them. The bania press in general favours corporate-led growth without bothering to analyze whether it goes against the interests of the broad masses of people. Hence the reports published by them ordinarily fall in line with the corporate view of development.

Some honourable exceptions, however, are there. For example, a commendable piece written by Bolan Gangopahdyay has been published on 29 April in a leading Bengali daily which is incidentally the largest circulating daily in this country and is not shown to be opposed to corporate-led growth. Gangopadhyay made four specific case studies in Maharashtra and Orissa on the damages caused by the so-called ‘development projects’ and narrated briefly episode of popular resistance. It is tempting to quote from the last two paragraphs from the piece.

‘‘The hot breeze of the polls is blowing throughout the country and everybody is carrying the baton of ‘dream India’. If this battle is the best celebration of democracy it must be admitted that this celebration is by no means ubiquitious, because the downtrodden India of the country-side has nothing to do with such a festival. Its problems, its daily sufferings, are nowhere to be found in this electoral battle and yet the battle is conducted in its name. This is a strange paradox. The message of the movement comes out in the common man’s own language, and the state stands unmaksed. Perhaps worthlessness of parliament is exposed.’’ [Translation by this writer]

Gangopadhyay has tried to portray a face of India that the major political parties are afraid to see, lest they should have to act and thereby to incur the displeasure of corporate capital. The more such investigative pieces are published, the less difficult it will be to mobilize public opinion in favour of a more democratic and humane society.

Vol. 46, No. 46, May25 -31, 2014