Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scowling Buddha

(Published In The Bengal Post, 28th February 2011)

Do you really believe that Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will emerge as the Laughing Buddha and that Mamata Banerjee’s high decibel banshee-like wails will be reduced to a piteous whimper after the results of West Bengal's assembly elections are declared? Do you also believe that little green men from Mars will take over Planet Earth?

Despite the fact that I’m not exactly crazy about Mamata Banerjee, I’m putting all the money in my piggy-bank on the Trinamool Party. I’m trying very hard to forget that once upon a time she did a stint in the communal BJP – hey, we all make terribly embarrassing mistakes. I’m also consoling myself with the fact that I thoroughly enjoy her wacko conspiracy theories, and I’m hoping that her team is relatively less cynical than members of the ruling Left and pretty much raring to go. Finally, in keeping with the spirit that’s sweeping across the Middle East and parts of Africa, leaders who do not deliver much apart from misery deserve to get lost.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if life really will be very different in West Bengal if Mamata’s Trinamool party wins? Consider the recent happenings in Barasat. I’ve been clucking so much since then, I sound like a hysterical hen. It began with the attempted molestation of poor Rinku Das and the murder of her brother Rajib. The apathetic cops and security guards she sobbingly appealed to in the vicinity could have saved him but hell, why bother? Come on, everyone knows that they’re not paid to work!

Typically the next day, members of practically every single political party rushed to the grieving family and offered condolences, money, jobs, flowers, cigars, a life time supply of cornflakes, whatever. The resourceful Trinamool party even offered a hearse and sweetly decorated Rajib’s stretcher with their colourful party flags. Good heavens - what a macabre way to get God’s blessings for the elections! A family friend, horrified at this crass display of political opportunism, tried to remove the flags on the stretcher. Upon which, a Trinamool party member (who is evidently an ardent fan of the Tom & Jerry School of Slapstick Violence) hit him repeatedly with a flagstick. Such a delightful playful chap, isn’t he? Oooh, I’m quite looking forward to the Trinamool ruling West Bengal – my nephews and nieces will love watching their hilarious antics on TV!

What I found most endearing though, was what local Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar earnestly told Rinku as she tenderly patted her hand: “Why didn't you call me that night? Everyone has my number.” I silently wiped away a tear from my eye when I read that. What an absolutely wonderful, generous spirited woman, giving out her phone number to all the people in her constituency, is what I thought. Even my friendly neighbourhood doctor whom I’ve known since I was this high isn’t as forthcoming with his cell-phone number.

I was truly inspired to write a long flowing poem dedicated to Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar – a worthy successor to West Bengal’s warm-hearted Mother Teresa. It’s just as well that I never got around to it because a few days later, I did my alarmed hen imitation again when I read that a female constable was threatened, verbally abused and almost molested in Barasat about a kilometre away from the spot where Rinku was attacked. It was her fault entirely. The foolish woman had dared to stop Mamata Banerjee’s supporters (on their way to a big fat huge Trinamool rally) to make way for an ambulance. Imagine, she tried to save a life while Mamata was drumming up support – how naive.

What really upset me though was the shattering realisation that this cop was yet another person in Barasat who didn’t have Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar’s phone number! I must warn her that the people she hired to hand out her phone number did not do the job! The poor thing will be terribly disappointed – I feel her pain. I tried to find it on google but oddly enough, all I came up with was a telefax number. Not very helpful in an emergency, is it? But I shall not give up my search.
So you see, even a hard-boiled cynic like me is pretty impressed with Mamata’s gang. Look at it this way, West Bengal is already in such a mess, nobody can possibly make it worse.

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