It has been a week since I have been roaming the streets of Kolkata speaking to people from different walks of life, living in this beautiful and culturally attuned city.
This is my first visit to Kolkata after 13-years. My last visit was as a reporter, reporting on a business conference for the tourism and hospitality industry. I remember not liking the city one bit, then.
This time however, I was very impressed with the rapid infrastructure growth around the city, that I witnessed driving around the city. I felt a very positive vibe everywhere I roamed.
Bengal was the pride of India and I believe it can continue to be the pride of India, if it can have a systemic course correction, starting with its governance.
While walking around the city, I walked through a gated community where most of the villa houses were owned by professionals like doctors and advocates. In this little gated community, the most unique property was the creation of a public library that housed many books on different topics. It clearly showed that the people of Bengal continue to value knowledge, wisdom and artistic prowess when compared to other cities that I have visited in India.
This is Bengal – a land of wisdom and knowledge. A once industrialized and forward thinking state completely degraded because of communism and it is further slowly losing its iconic sheen to a character that is unbecoming of the genes of this blessed and spiritual land. Bengal was a land where a person was thought to fish and not fed a fish.
Poor governance and political appeasement has made the once hardworking people of Bengal, now, a bunch of people, content with being submissive to political dictates and political leaders’ shenanigans, even though they continue to hold on strongly to their cultural and Vedic roots.
Think about what I am saying. I am sure that many Bengalis would be very upset with me, because of my direct approach in sharing my views on Bengal; but I have too, because I cannot come to terms with the fact that impotent men reportedly from TMC attacked an 85-year old woman and beat her brutally. This attack would have been unheard of in Bengal before, because the state and its people, have immense devotion to a Mother, who is respected for being a Goddess.
The thugs of TMC displayed their deformed manliness with this inhumane act only because this old woman was a mother of a BJP worker. They hit her on her head, neck and punched her in the face. They even threatened her with dire consequence if she told anyone about the attack.
A mother is mother. You have no right to attack a feeble old woman to spread fear and blatantly exhibits one’s false sense of pride and power.
In my visit to Kolkata, I realized a startling and shocking truth. Bengal is slowly losing its tag as a land of wisdom, knowledge and cultural appreciation. It is now surprisingly, controlled by hooligans and extortionists. These are not people who value intellect. They spit on it and will crush it with disdain. They have been conditioned to believe that they can act in this violent manner because they are protected by their political parties and I dare to say the government. They also believe that people who have an infinity for knowledge and culture do not revolt or fight back, that they accept their fate. The silence of the people gives them the strength to continue with their reign of terror.
For the last ten years, TMC that came as a savior to the people of Bengal under the inspiring leadership of Mamata Banerjee has trampled upon the dreams of most of the people of Bengal because with her came the new era of goondaism in the state after the violent communists. Her men carried on the practice of punishing innocent citizens with extortion and sometimes death – look at the number of killings in Bengal in the last 24-months alone.
There is no law and order in Bengal. Law and Order is only meant for the people of Bengal, it does not apply to TMC thugs. They have been given a free rein to extort, threaten and kill in some reported cases. This is fascism.
I went around asking people around Kolkata whom would they vote for and they were so afraid to even open their mouth to reveal their choice of vote; all they stated was both TMC and BJP are trying their best and that they cannot decide on their vote or they would criticize all political parties. But not one gave me a clear answer, unless they were politically aligned. Even some media professionals I spoke to did not deem it necessary to answer a simple question – Whom would you vote for?
This kind of fear is akin to stories I read about in fascist regimes or more recently the new reportage in Maharashtra, where the main thug is the government itself.
Mamata Banerjee is a smart women and has tremendous inspirational hold on the people of Bengal but in reality she is a dictator and under her regime, corruption and extortion has only grown rampantly. Her own close family and political associates are all involved in corruption and even crimes.
The young talented people in Bengal are leaving the state and preferring to go other cities in India because they feel that there are not enough employment opportunities but more so there is a lack of a vibrant vision of growth for the economy. This feeling of despondency is because they do not see a future in Bengal. Ask someone who has initiated a small business and let them explain their encounters with the TMC extortionists.
Most Bengalis love their state and want to contribute to its growth but they are frustrated especially the ones with a spirit of entrepreneurship.
Mamata Banerjee is your classic villain of the Bollywood movies in the 1980s such as Elan-E-Jung and Hukumat. She reminds me of the villainous characters immortalized by the brilliant actor Sadashiv Amrapurkar, whose henchmen terrorized the poor and frightened people in the state under their reign.
There is wave of change blowing in Bengal. People are silent, eerily silent and this can mean only two things either they will continue to accept their fate and vote for TMC; or they will vote BJP into power with a majority, hoping their future will get secured and turn for the better. That is the chance the people of Bengal took with Mamata Banerjee when she came to power with a thumping majority in the past. Now, they could give BJP a chance, if they find hope and no fear in them.
Mamata Banerjee is more focused on Prime Minister Modi, Amit Shah and BJP rather than focusing on the people of Bengal. She has turned this election into a complete ego fight. She is walking a path of self-destruction, a path most fascist leaders take on their road to defeat.
I personally hope that Bengal defeats politicians like Mamata Banerjee because she has and had the ability to do so much for the people of Bengal but she chose to remain a silent spectator, when corruption and crime escalated around and near her. Most importantly, in her arrogance, she fails to see her mistakes. She appears to have lost the hope the people of Bengal had in her, if she wins at all and that is doubt I have, it will only be because of the fear that the people of Bengal have of her.
I believe Bengal could defeat Mamata Banerjee.