Bhangar: What is at Stake?

It's predictable that the Left front, like other left-democratic forces, would organise protest on recent Bhangar episode. But why the mainstream left fails to make a distinction between the land-grabbing in Singur-Nandigram to serve the interest of big private capital and in Bhangar by the local land mafias to serve the interest of local promoters raises many eyebrows. Regaining the lost credibility is not the journey a posteriori. Their protest is destined to lose credibility if the conceding of the mistake on the land grabbing issue during left front rule and the apology to the people thereon is not forthcoming. The fact is that sarcasm against Mamata Banerjee’s Government does not augur well in the backdrop of Left front's policy persuasion through abject surrender to big capital. It is also surprising that Left Front finds no issue raised by Trinamul Congress (TMC) against despotic act of the centre even for qualified unity.

But this is one side of the story. The social milieu of West Bengal is agog with resentment or even surreptitious acts of protest or revenge against the old patriarchal economic and physical power and this becomes evident in the outburst of public fury on any issue of public nuisance. The emergence of large scale wage labourer and the erosion of feudal patriarchal control lead the society-in-transition with restlessness. The society is waiting for class hegemony with new dimensions. These are the Achilles heels for Mamata Benerjee and her party which came to power in this void. But she so far failed to create a new political leadership in the Gramscian sense from her rural support base in the emerging classics. Mamata Banerjee's aid de camp and the TMC leaders who come to the fore from the emerging class apply the same old method a la mode for blatant display of patriarchal muscle power and economic power as property appropriator. The national political issues and issues related with statecraft from above are articulated by the few educated and sophisticated leaders, but to carry this down to ground level, TMC still has to rely on the old-styled and old-fashioned leaders who are suffering from gradual diminishing social credibility. This diminishing credibility of rural leaderships is naturally prone to diminishing return for political control of TMC over the masses.

The Bhangar imbroglio has unveiled this phenomenon quite prominently. The accumulated resentment of the inhabitants of Bhangar against the muscle power and the economic power of the leaders like Arabul et el turned into rebellion.

The argument that the TMC failed to convince the people about the benefit of Power Grid Sub-station and line is not convincing. The fact that the villagers could not get adequate compensation of the land due to the middleman role of local TMC leaders who themselves acted as land-grabbers is adequate to contemplate the narrative of accumulated anger to get burst out with a triggering effect Power Grid issue. Mamata Benerjee and her party are making half-hearted efforts to nurture new alternative of articulate political leaderships organically linked to the rural masses and thus failing to build a sustainable hegemony over the masses for a long time. This hegemony must be based on a cultural value that takes into account of the denouncement of the masses to be obsequious to "your worship or master" and on indigenous industrialisation route. Building of alternative cultural hegemony is more urgent because of the fact that the challenges are coming from an obscurantist all-out cultural hegemony of Hindutwa.

If Mamata Benerjee does not understand this rule of the game, her meticulously portrayed crusader image against the ultra-nationalist fascist forces cannot be the cementing factor to bind the people of West Bengal as a coherent whole behind her to fight the fascist menace. In that case, she is destined to lose ground and to be dethroned in near future.


Vol. 49, No.31, Feb 5 - 11, 2017