The entire ambience at the Howrah station as I alight from the Steel Express en route from Jhargram on 30 December (with stops-over for the pre-poll picture obtaining at Para at Purulia and Nandigram – more of which later) is one filled with tension. Six state buses have been put to the torch. Several dozens of motor vehicles including taxis have been stoned to battered, mangled heaps of metal and plastic – and then as a grisly finale, have their fuel tanks blown up.
There is worse of the same in the offing, a shell-shocked station attendant tells me and I follow his quivering, pointing finger to take a look at the rows of TV sets overhead. Each screen is filled with the raucous image of the Trinamuli chieftain whose body language itself is fearsome as she and her men, oh-maybe-a-couple-of-thousands in all, grimly, menacingly, nosily, and with lighted torches, and more dangerous instruments of violence, make an approach towards the ground-floor two-room flat at the housing estate at Palm Avenue buttressing the beginning of the Ballygunge locality. This is where Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee lives with his wife Meera and teen-age daughter Suchetana.
The cause for this completely irresponsible and terribly dangerous provoking manoeuvre, you query. There is no cause as such; I may like to point out. Listen to what the ‘chief’ herself has to shout out. ‘The state government must allow the [polluting, as per the high Court order] two-stroke engine auto-rickshaws to remain in place, and the government must instead wind up the excise department as it causes pollution.’
There is a perfidiously beautiful word in Hindi for which I in a moment of confusion do not recall a Bengali linguistic equivalent. The word is bahana. This is what the chief is indulging herself, as she is in a bind. Biman Basu, LF chairman and senior CPI (M) leader later tells me to take a look at the newspapers of the period of the time I am away from the thick of things of the metropolis.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
It appears that one senior CBI officer much beloved of the Trinamulis has been caught and quite red-handed and if you pardon the cliché, with a hand in the pot, and the pot comprises large amounts of illegally acquired bundles of currency notes (Rs 13.80 lakh or thereabouts, and counting), around 70 lakhs of rupees worth of savings schemes, ten or so bank accounts, and so many pieces of bejewelled ornaments that the enquiring (CBI) officers are hard put even to count them all (what is this, a fetish for gold?!).
This is the same officer who looked into the Tapasi Malik killing case and was alacritous enough to find quickly the seventy-plus Suhrid Dutta of the CPI (M) guilty enough to be put in long jail custody where the elderly comrade yet rots. This was also the CBI operative who failed miserably to locate and recover the Nobel medallion of Tagore. Finally, he is the man ‘on the spot’ who looked after the sad instance of suicide of Rizwan-ur Rahaman and nearly made the case into a communal imbroglio. Each of his actions had been lauded by the chief whose mendicant penchant for even cases of petty thievery to be ‘handed over to the CBI’ is now seen as concomitant with the cases being handed over to the supervision of this officer whose political options are known and exercised.
Bimanda later tells the media when he meets a whole lot of them at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan during a late sultry evening, today, 6 January that this is the hidden agendum of the chief and her not-so-merry men, a counterweight to draw popular attention away from the CBI officer’s misdoings, and her frustration at his being caught in the act, that prompted her, irresponsible to her very existence, political and otherwise as she has proven herself to be, to move to mount an unprecedented attempted assault on the chief minister’s residence at nine in the evening, and then again at the same time the next day – till the local people got a bit tired, and chased away not only the police barricade that had successfully halted the attacker on their tracks but the whole lot of Trinamulis, bag and baggage, once and perhaps for all.
Nevertheless, the events showed that, as the Lok Sabha elections approach, just how capriciously, expletively sinister the main opposition outfit Bengal has the misfortune to put up with, is capable of, can become and in a carefully planned-- even orchestrated manner.
NANDIGRAM, PARA, SUJAPORE BYE-ELECTIONS
On the bye-elections held, well, I would say that a fear psychosis was allowed by the Trinamul and the Maoist remnants to spread around Nandigram’s three blocks long before the polls came around. More than a couple-of-thousands of genuine voters were intimidated into not straying out of their hutments come the Election Day. Several thousand more simply had fled the locales for fear of assault from the Trinamul-controlled Gram Panchayats, and Panchayat Samities whose buildings now house hordes of potent and portentous criminals—developmental perspective given new dimensions under the régime change, Trinamul style. The EC has been kept duly notified.
That is all there is to it. Sujapore in Maldah has always been a Congress stronghold. We the CPI (M) have never lost the Para seat. What is regrettable is the very communal approach of the Congress leadership at Sujapore, speeches and acts that are on record on TV-- regrettable, but given the fight put up by the dour CPI (M) unit of the Maldah district under the state leadership and direction, not quite unexpected of the Congress, which is never unwilling to compromise with the forces of religious fundamentalism as the imperatives of time and occasion demand.