Tathagata Roy

Former Governor, States of Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, India

IS THERE HOPE FOR WEST BENGAL?

Of course there is hope! There always is, even for a moribund patient. Having said that, it must also be emphasized that West Bengal is not very far from entering a moribund state and there is very little time left to start corrective measures. In order to do that the first thing we have to do is obviously to diagnose the ills of the state. Here they are, according to this author’s perceptions: Over-politicisation of the polity. Near-legitimisation of political murders and other crimes, especially extortion. Encouraging militant trade unionism. Vandalism and general disorder in the name of exerting peoples’ rights.. Erosion of work ethic.
Domination of the cultural scene with Leftist rhetoric. Discouraging all premium on excellence. Deprecating prosperity, glorifying poverty and squalor. Supplanting a common-sense value system by a politicised value system. Encouraging separatist tendencies, especially Islamist ones. Each one of these requires some explanation.

Over-politicisation of the polity has several aspects and may be said to be the core of the ingredients that constitute the ills of the state. This, like most other things, are creations of Bengali Leftists who have dominated the thought process of the Bengalis., especially Hindu Bengalis, from the 1930s till the present. This has given rise to a mindset that the author calls BengaLeftism, which is an amalgam of idleness, jealousy, irrational defiance of authority, povertarianism and many of the tendencies described above, but after wrapping and dignifying everything in Marxist dogma and jargon.

Among its different aspects mentioned above, a significant one in everyday life is politicisation of the police and civil administration. Similarly, in the field of thought, culture and literature, disparaging prosperity and glorifying poverty and squalor is another important aspect. And finally, the supplanting of a common-sense value system by a politicised value system may be said to be its ultimate goal in an intellectual sense, because once that stage is reached, people start thinking in Orwellian idioms in which, in their ideal world, war would be peace, freedom would be slavery, and ignorance would be strength. In fact, by the turn of the century, after a quarter-century of Marxist rule, Bengalis had almost reached that stage. After that there was a slight climbdown – but only slight.

Encouraging militant trade unionism, vandalism and general disorder in the name of exerting peoples’ rights and erosion of the work ethic were the economic manifestations of the BengaLeftist mindset. Bengali Leftists added the word gherao to the English vocabulary, which is nothing to be happy about, because it is one of the things that drove out industries from West Bengal. BengaLeftist vandalism takes the form of setting fire to buses and trains, blocking traffic arteries like highways and Railway lines and so on. These have acquired such a permanent place in the Bengali mindset that no political party, not excluding right-wing parties, is taken seriously unless it has been able to do some of these things. So long as these tendencies endure no industrialist or investor would touch the state with a ten-foot pole.

Discouraging all premium on excellence in all fields other than politics is a natural outcome of all the above. For example, an eminent poet, in the new Bengali order, is one who writes not about love, beauty and spiritualism but about how the poor had supposedly suffered in the hands of the rich. Thus Rabindranath Tagore, a poet of extraordinary profundity, and a Nobel laureate besides, is placed in the same class as Sukanta Bhattacharya, a very ordinary political poet and pamphleteer.

Encouraging separatist tendencies, especially Islamist ones, is too simple to require further explanation. All that needs to be said is that, the Communists having discovered that Islam is a far more potent philosophy that Marxism, had decided to sail with it in spite of fundamental differences between the two.

So far whenever the words ‘Bengali Leftists’ have been used what has been meant are not only the marked Left parties like the CPI(M), CPI, RSP, SUCI, etc., but also Trinamool Congress. In truth that is a party without any ideology, centred around just one person on whom everybody swears; but that one person had figured out that the Left Front stayed in power this way for 34 years, so why can’t I.

That is all about diagnosing the disease. Now about finding a cure.

The cure obviously lies in taking the ills one by one and destroying them. In the perception of this author the thought processes must be attacked first. Let no one think that this evil called BengaLeftism will yield to the first push. Let no one doubt however, that it will yield to the last.

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