Monday, May 16, 2011

Time for some positive ‘change’

Three decades is a really long time indeed for any political party to cling on to power, any further and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to call it an autocracy. However, that wasn’t to be, as the ruling Left Front Government was booted out of power in West Bengal almost single – handedly by the resurgent Mamata Banerjee‘s Trinamool Congress.. That the CPI (M) managed to garner a measly amount of just about 40 seats in comparison to Trinamool’s 184 demonstrates the level of frustration the people of Bengal had against the Left Front’s rule (or the lack of it). The fact that they got a lower number of seats than the third party in the fray, the Congress, must have dashed their high level of arrogance to pieces. It is time for the Left Front to do some thorough soul-searching and serious introspection and not try and play the usual blame game. Their ideologies have long lost flavour with the locals, what with all those tall promises and neglecting all of them in the end, and if they do not alter their ways and means it could lead to a very long stay in the opposition’s chair for them.

For the TMC though the work has just begun. They have a massive task on their hands to cleanse the stained image of Bengal in the nation’s eyes, for which the Trinamool supremo herself is responsible too in some ways. Firstly, and most importantly industrialization has to be brought back at any cost. It seems strange, but it was precisely because of the Left Front’s want of trying to bring industries back in Bengal which actually cost them dear in the name of Singur and Nandigram and it was exactly on these issues that Ms. Banerjee rode to dethrone the Left (mis) rule. However, it was mainly to do with the way the Left handled the issue. It would be interesting now, to see how Ms. Banerjee manages to woo the industries back, which she once drove away, to Bengal. It would be essential she does that to boost the sagging industrial sectors and to provide jobs to innumerable youths who are leaving the state for other greener pastures.

The other areas that need to be seriously worked on are the health, education and transport systems which are at an all time low. The condition of the health industry is anything but appalling. According to a survey the number of hospital beds per one lakh people in rural Bengal is 3.8 compared to an all-India average of 17.5. In education, the dropout rate of students is over 75 % in comparison to an all-India average of 60%. But the primary cause of worry is that the whole education system has been taken over by party goons, which ultimately leads to campus infighting, and thus student deaths are regular in this mad rush for power. In the health services too, the status of the govt. run hospitals is shambolic to say the least, where they don’t have even have the basic equipments for treatment , no proper power facilities and patients in dire need are turned away from the doorsteps repeatedly. The transport department is another one which is being run over by party hoodlums, and thus we see arrogant auto-drivers, backed by their political bosses, frequently roughing up passengers, the buses refusing to follow any sort of decorum leading to endless accidents , and the less said about the condition of the roads the better. The state is currently under financial bankruptcy courtesy some inept mismanagement by a certain Asim Dasgupta. One could really go on, but the fact of the matter is Ms. Banerjee and her group has their hands more than full, and it would take nothing short of some miracle to bring Bengal back on track.

To her credit, she has accumulated a highly able group of people around her, ranging from former chief secretary Manish Gupta (who handed Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee his biggest defeat in his own den in Jadavpur) and quizmaster Derek O’ Brein. It remains to be seen how effectively Ms. Banerjee utilizes their resources to reign in a new Bengal. Her election manifesto, though very well made and impressive, would do well to stick to basics. Even if she does not manage to make Kolkata into London, as has been promised, anything closer to that wouldn’t be too bad either. The next 1000 days might very well give us an answer as to whether Bengal is moving in the right direction or sliding further downhill.

The deciding factor would clearly be Mamata Banerjee’s leadership. Whether she manages to shed off her image of a street fighter and become an able administrator would now decide Bengal’s future. She rode the slogan of ‘change’ to storm into power. A change of regime has now happened, but the real change would be first to change the mindset of the people here, more than the other literal changes, who have now made themselves comfortable with the ‘bandh’ cuture and the ‘chalta hai’ attitude, for which Ms. Banerjee herself can take a fair share of the blame along with the Left.

To say the Left has lost its touch with the common-man would be putting it mildly. Their high –headedness and arrogant behaviour even in the run up to the elections has put them in the situation they are currently in. It would be interesting to see whether they accept their mistakes and try and resurrect them. Ms. Banerjee should now be vary of them behaving the same way she had in her stint in the opposition. However, all said and done, it is time to give some credit and support to Ms.Banerjee, for single –handedly eliminating the Left and bringing a new wave of hope amongst the people. She would do well to learn a lot from leaders such as Narendra Modi of Gujarat, Nitish Kumar of Bihar and closer home from Tarun Gogoi of Assam, who have done wonders to their respective states by following the single-minded agenda of development and not giving in to populist measures which Ms. Banerjee is well-known for.

It is said that “Change for the sake of change should never be encouraged”... Only time would tell whether this phrase stands true or is proven wrong here. But it is beyond doubt that it is time for some ‘positive’ change here. Bengal has had enough of negative publicity in the past few years; courtesy bandhs, blockades blatant political animosity and other grave news. It is time the leaders in power change that image for the better. The greatest change though, could perhaps be the day when the political parties here stop treating each other as enemies, and try and move beyond refusing to see eye to eye; the day that changes that would perhaps be the real ‘poriborton’…


  1. really like the way u highlighted the current situation n also the desired would be situation of Bengal. man you have really grown mature in ur writing, i personnely loved ur writing.

  2. well said bhvesh, frist tym i read any political piece and i loved it... well written... hope some positive changes will occur...