Can We Ever Go Back To Our ‘Maati’ Which Is Still Fertile And Has A Chance At Revival?
In 2011, 14 people became the victim of ambitions of a political party..Their bereaved kin cried for justice but only became the prey of another regional satrap. Bengal chose ‘poriborton’ over violence and thus began the ascendancy of ‘Matir Maa’ who hailed ‘Maanush’ once.
Scripting history this month, Mamata emboldened her clout with a clear mandate and demolished few remnants of the left. Surprisingly a city which boasts of intelligentsia with every gulp of lemon tea chose incumbency despite disapproval of Didi’s variant policies. Washed with colours of ‘nouveau’ blue and inherent red, Kolkata was promised ‘London’ but in the last 5 years the city turned into a paltry musical concert embedded with traffic snarls and collapsed buildings or the doomed flyovers. Then why did the middle class vote Mamata back into power when there are lakhs of young achievers who had to move out of their homes in search of jobs.
They have been driven out of their homes. They are left drooling for food and spend their fortune on laxatives. Their woes remain unheard as Didi’s pro-poor policies take centre stage. Appeasing her rural voters at the expense of others has left many fuming but still the tri-colour flower blooms. While the election plank of Left and Cong bordered on development, Mamata presented her report card of bringing peace in Jangalmahal and Gorkhaland, improving fate of impoverished class and transforming the ‘cultural’ capital. She failed to woo the young guns. The educated young seeks ‘Reform’ but Didi fails to appease. Did she fail to realize that ‘culture’ doesn’t mean lighting up the city and establishing musical fountains ? Did championing of ‘Culture’ replace the much needed progress in Bengal ? What about cashing in on communal violence in Malda for electoral gains? Why did Bengal’s youth get disillusioned with the chants of ‘Poriborton’?
PM Modi increased about 4% fund allocation to the highly indebted State but Mamata spent it all. The state needed revenue rather than freebies. Today she boasts of 47% vote share but failed to woo the young voters. Election Commission has put out the figures of Young Voter turnout. In the 2011 assembly polls, only around 65.6 per cent voters from Kolkata had gone to the booths while the state average was much higher at (84.4 per cent). In the 18-25 age-group, officials said the voter turnout ratio has been way below than the average. As a result, the Election Commission has been focused on young voters particularly in its awareness campaigns in 2016.
Sitting on my porch, adjusting with the extreme weather conditions of Delhi, I wonder about the enigmatic people of Kolkata. My Bong friends who want to go back and pursue a career keep thinking about ‘Development’ which was promised. Mamata drove out Tata while some companies are on the verge of shutdown but ‘She’ continues to remain apathetic. ‘Our branch in Kolkata do not receive enough projects, only solace is the standard of living in the city’, lamented my friend (sought anonymity) who works in TCS.
Just before the polls, I visited my city, visited my favourite joints and overheard conversations ranging from Saradha scam to Narada sting to flyover mishap. A comingling of urban middle class and middle class people openly slammed the poll violence that has gripped Bengal and lambasted Didi over the rising crime in the City. I might have failed to judge the overall mood but I was convinced of a minor setback to TMC in this poll season.
She rose to power and the middle class intelligentsia was snuffed out in a snap. Cannot totally blame people of Bengal as they are not left with any other options but they repeatedly fail to bring about a strong and critical opposition. Is this the rise of Despondency? Can Mobocracy speak in one tune and demand fulfillment of promises? Can we ever go back to our ‘Maati’ which is still fertile and has a chance at revival? Will this Nostalgia be replaced with jubilance when we sway in the dampened Kolkata breeze?