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  • Raghav Sand

Political Discourse in West Bengal is a Disgrace

West Bengal (WB) and its political landscape are determined to hit rock bottom. Grace and intellect are absent from the speeches of most politicians and their foot soldiers. If these prospective representatives of people are the best among the rest, then, the future of WB is extremely miserable. For their own sake, the common people from WB should start asking a few frank and fearless questions. And, for heaven’s sake, please stop living in the past. Invoking Netaji and Tagore at public meetings is a tribute to these luminaries, but isn’t it time to produce a new generation of heroes? Passing the buck is the favourite pastime for those charged with governance of WB.

Adda and Intellect

By choosing not to talk about state-level issues, the incumbent government has made a mockery of the festival of democracy. The deception does not end there, but is taken one step ahead by implanting fear among people who are seen as subscribers to the views of leading opposition parties.

Until a few years ago, the conversations people had in their office or neighborhoods’ groups contained basic intellect and civility. Contemporary conversations lack any sense of direction and dignity. Impolite words and high decibel interactions have become commonplace; the word bhadralok (prosperous, well-educated people, typically Bengalis, regarded as members of a social class) has forever been dissected into infinite parts. In earlier times, people listened and talked rationally, but now people keep conversations about common concerns reserved for gathering of like-minded people i.e., people of same political inclination. Way to go!

Worst Among Us

How and why do foul-mouthed individuals, whether holding or running for public office, roam scot-free? When common people do not disapprove bad behaviour and condemnable language, it can be easily construed as the norm. Those who are charged with conduct of elections, should not bow down to the reputation and clamour of the alleged wrongdoer. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has been inept in curbing the violence, both verbal and physical, and its toothless aggression has caused irreparable damage to countless families. Private and public property can be salvaged and rebuilt, but can any action taken as an afterthought infuse life in a corpse?

Vote for Sale! The Bid Starts at ₹5 (only)

The WB government was not able to deliver relief after the Amphan cyclone and during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the state assembly elections was about to be announced, several welfare schemes were implemented overnight. As per multiple estimates, WB has most number beggars across all states and one of the highest number of people working outside their home state.

One of the schemes announced by the Bengal government provided a wholesome meal for as low as five rupees. By employing such populist schemes, the incumbent government seems to have accepted failure on the socio-economic front. Wouldn’t it be nicer to have money and self-respect than queueing up for inexpensive meals? Most welfare schemes announced by the Central Government were kept in abeyance. Is running a state about who gets credit for welfare schemes? Shouldn’t public well-being rise above partisan politics? These are some of the critical and existential questions which the future generations of Bengal need to ponder upon.

Selective Feedback

Selective feedback is worse than no or constant feedback. Learned sons and daughters of the Bengali soil voice their precious opinion about national issues in support of their ideological cronies. These same people of academic distinction are absent from the discourse around political deaths and abysmal quality of life indicators. The descendants of revolutionaries and freedom fighters have chosen convenience and comfort over struggle. Writing books and research papers or while speaking at think tank round table, the sons and daughters of Bengal envisage an ideal and golden Bengal (Sonar Bangla). Sadly, none of the words get implemented on ground.

Eight Phase Election: Stretched Beyond Imagination

The simple thought of central forces being deployed in state assembly elections should be a wake-up call for all Indian citizens; WB is not the only state to attain this distinction. Though, having eight phase elections even after the presence of central forces for an eight crore (80 million) electorate is a worrying fact. The ECI made a scathing remark about the state of law-and-order situation in WB at the time of announcing the poll schedule.

When asked about the variances between Tamil Nadu (TN) and WB, ECI opined that TN is an ‘expenditure sensitive’ state, while WB is a ‘violence prone’ state. As a consequence, TN had higher number of expenditure observers and WB was assigned higher number law-and-order observers. Once again the perception about Bengalis being polite and well-mannered individuals was shattered. Some Bengalis, understandably so, take an offence about the disproportionate criticism. They argue that the miscreants are based in districts beyond the state capital, Kolkata.

Some polite enquiries, silent marches or civil society huddles can definitely take up the cause of infusing civility into polity. Fear is not good for democracy. An awakened and enlightened soul does not choose and pick safe issues. Let us keep mileage for automobiles, and not for everyday life situations.

Whosoever has a ‘voice’ should make it heard – loud and clear. Waiting for the crowd to rally behind will cause more harm than good. The first and foremost step in finding solutions to problems is acknowledging the existence of shortcomings. Instead of brushing issues under the carpet, Bengal and ‘Bengalis’ should pull up their socks for the real life scenarios, and not make a game (khela) out of it.

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