To many people who have not resided in Bengal, the turning point for the left’s decline has been the incidents at Singur and Nandigram. They also give the example of the left’s withdrawing support to UPA-1 over the nuclear agreement with the US.
But they are wrong! They are wrong because though they hear bits and pieces of the left’s atrocities in Bengal, they have less idea about the extent of oppression of the human rights and values that the left had perpetrated for long in the state.
Chatterers and TV talk-show participants in some national channels often argued how the left could be in power for so long if it hadn’t done something good for the people! And at a different time, the same people would unabashedly pull out the stats of dismal performance of the state and express in open-mouthed wonder, how the left could be in power for such abysmal doings.
The dichotomy in their thoughts reveals that the truth for them is hard to find. But there was no illusion in the minds of the people of Bengal as to what ails them. And they know that a deep-rooted cause has always been the difference between being ‘left’ and not being ‘left’.
To put in a nutshell, the left’s has been a totalitarian regime that deeply polarized the people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ camps. They, in their quest to advance their own political interests, deliberately acted upon the ploy of dividing people between those who ‘belong’ to them and those who don’t.
The disparity between the haves and the have-nots grew to become so overwhelming that it became impossible to ignore the chasm. And the more the chasm became apparent, the more arrogant and outrageous the left became! The utterances of some of their leaders during the poll campaign prove that.
Good governance is not a difficult task but the left approached it in a wrong way. They thought they monopolized it and only they would decide who should be the likely beneficiaries of the fruits of governance.
But know what, keeping aside the political affiliations, what matters to the people at the grassroots is simply a life of good quality. The left failed to do this, no matter what they wanted us to believe.
And that started the rot.
Contrary to the common belief, the left’s decline started long back. For a long, long time the problem was that the opposition was bereft of a tall leader who could earn the trust of the masses and garner them to take on and defeat the left, which is said to have perhaps the most formidable electoral machinations in the country.
The ultimate decimation of the left yesterday was therefore a long time in the offing. Never think that the debacle was the result of a ‘few’ mistakes like Singur and Nandigram. The ‘mistakes’ accelerated the pace of the left’s demise, but not its cause.
From the viewpoint of a fellow Bengali, I more than welcome the change because no matter what the doomsayers believe, nothing could have been worse than what the left has turned Bengal into in the last more than 3 decades.
Let me give you an analogy. If my memory serves me right, in a BBC telecast of the uprising in Egypt a few months back, when a correspondent asked a demonstrator at the Tahrir Square about the global apprehension of what would happen if Mubarak was made to leave, the man’s reply was telling.
He said that the Egypt’s civilization was one of the oldest, and that it didn’t matter what the other countries felt about their protests. The only important thing was to oust the oppressive regime, and bring a new life in the lives of people in the country.
Today is the dawn in Bengal’s history. It’s not a new dawn since 34 years of misrule is too long a time in the people’s memory to think of a new dawn. Several generations have passed since and frankly, very few among today’s youth have the faintest idea of what it means to breathe the fresh air, and blossom into one’s full capability.
My heartfelt gratitude to Mamata Banerjee, and countless others who live and don’t live but worked with her, to make our dream come true!
Will she succeed? That is a question for tomorrow. For now, let’s enjoy the dawn of a new Bengal.