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Silence, please!

By Ananya Bhattacharya | Last Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 17:51
Ananya Bhattacharya
Silent Assassin

A year back, hopes ran high in many hearts in West Bengal. Now, they have been wrung dry. The state has been reduced to one woman and her atrocious ways. There’s no questioning her, there’s no suggesting her, and there’s no criticising her. Althusser’s theoretical and Didi’s practical Repressive State Apparatuses transform that fact into reality.

Mamata Banerjee had taken up the post of the Chief Minister, thanks to the people of West Bengal. The question now remains – have we created a Frankenstein’s Monster? The recent case in point – the Chief Minister of a State storming out of a TV show, thanks to a few questions – probably sheds more light on the scenario of West Bengal than is warranted. Ironic that Mamata Banerjee left the studio due to a question that was asked to her – on a show that was titled ‘Question Time’. Couldn’t have been more apt.

There’s one thing that’s for certain. The woman is going nowhere for the next four years. She will continue to enrich the throne of West Bengal. Her first year has been ridden with splotches, and a lot of them have acted as outright blots on her and her government. What is astonishing is that Banerjee is just not able to get rid of her rose-tinted glasses. Or should I say red-tinted? She sees the CPI(M) everywhere, the CPI(M) sends ‘dangerous’ Maoists to <i>question</i> her on a TV show (They just quit the act of killing people, didn’t you know? They ask questions these days!).

One thing that struck me as absolutely amazing is the confidence with which Mamata Banerjee conducts herself in public. She somehow can just not see beyond the fact (according to her) that she is perfect. The recent fiasco where she stormed out of the aforementioned studio reveals in front of us yet another facet of this woman who has featured in the list of 50 Most Influential People in the Times Magazine. Mamata Banerjee, at one point during the discussion, proclaims: “They are the Maoist Cadres, I’m telling you... This is wrong, <i>I am not</i>.”

For a woman of her stature, who has a platform which, had it been utilised – in the real sense of the term – could have done wonders for a state which has been dealt with neglect and indifference ever since it came into being. CPI(M) was a bad ruler. There is no denying the fact. And what have we got thereafter? Someone who shouts her omniscience in public, minces no words and calls students Maoists, acts with splendid alacrity to transform smiles into fear. So much for the Chief Minister of one of the most potent states of the country!

If you thought you were at the tether of your tolerance levels, do not give up just yet. Sources now have it that Banerjee has ordered for photographs of the students who were present at the talk show, and have asked the State Police to look into every individual student’s background and probe into questions of their so-called Maoist links. And yes, this is a democratic state that we are talking about. The repercussions are deafening. The girl whose question was the reason Mamata stormed out of the TV show has made it pretty clear that she just doesn’t want to live her life in West Bengal. London is calling her, and she is more than happy to leave Didi’s state for a better place.

It isn’t as if West Bengal is not already a victim of brain drain. And with police probes ordered into students’ backgrounds, all that is left for them to do is to leave the state and chase their careers elsewhere. The depth of the irony is unfathomable. On the one hand when Mamata Banerjee is spending so much of her time trying to round up the ‘best’ professors from all parts of the world for Presidency University, a question from a student of that same place makes her react in a way fit for barbarians. Very soon we will be living in mortal fear of persecution, if we have not already been doing that. Mamata has managed to instil a deep, gut-wrenching, nerve-freezing fear in the hearts of people in West Bengal. They are now expected to let go of their freedom of speech and expression. She is not answerable to anybody, she is always ‘right’.

People in West Bengal will take a while to come to terms with the shock of this incident. Also, there is a sense of impending doom. The First Anniversary of the <i>Poriborton</i> in West Bengal is a witness to a semi-dictatorial act from the Chief Minister of the State. People have been robbed of their right to address the ‘right’ in West Bengal, leave aside the Left. The state which once boasted of the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, the state which has been a rich ferment of thought and action, is now on the threshold of muffled voices. From one iron fist to another, is West Bengal gradually trotting towards a silent, numb future?

First Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 17:51

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