Processions – whether of happiness or protest – come naturally to Kolkata. Be it as mundane an occasion as commemoration of a religious leader’s birth anniversary or as ‘serious’ one as the sin of India’s nuclear test, Kolkata is always game to forced stoppage of life on road to allow grand specter of people marching in unison.
Take this afternoon’s for example. A mammoth procession commenced from Park Circus Maidan, presumably to protest Saddam Hussein’s death sentence in distant Iraq. I say ‘presumably’ because a large section of people strongly feel that the protest is rather a show of strength by ruling party than meant to serve any meaningful purpose.
Strangely, the procession-attendees find it fashionable to express concern over a deposed leader’s trial at a distant land on which they’ve no control at the expense of inconveniencing hapless stranded commuters. The entire exercise is nothing but a big farce played out with great vigor at the cost of wasting innumerable man-hours.
Another protest – Kolkata’s pride
[Picture source, ©2006 Jorge Royan and World of Stock]
In their defense, the protesters argue that people already knew about the march, and so it cannot be said to be causing inconvenience. The point though is the march is not happening in a nondescript town of a few thousands, but in a city of millions, and therefore no matter how advanced it is informed, it is next to impossible to imagine that those who have work will restrain their movement in the affected areas at peak hours.
There is an interesting tale here. A widespread feeling holds that the recent defeat of Republicans in the elections to US Senate is indicative of American people’s protest over US’ Iraq policy. As if that justifies the march in Kolkata. Even if so, it’s a laughably peculiar way of showing solidarity where there is no real commonality of interest.
The moot point is the average American is not concerned about Saddam’s fate. As evidenced in exit polls (culled from a Nov 16 ABP report), a vast majority of 60% voters favoring change are angry at the ‘clumsy’ way the Republican government is handling the war in Iraq, which they feel has lowered America’s esteem in the eyes of the world.
They also feel US must withdraw its forces, and if that means there will be anarchy in Iraq, so be it. In other words, the respondents strongly feel that US must now cut its losses, and wash its hands off from Iraq.
So much for Americans’ concern for Iraq! And so much for Kolkata’s protesters’ feeling smug about sharing their ‘concern’ with the Americans!