Now that a motley menagerie of politicians that includes the apparent "leader" Mamata Banerjee, shadowy Maoists, the thuggish cadres of the ruling party and an utterly incompetent yet hugely arrogant political leadership have managed to drive the little Nano out of Bengal ... it may be useful to think back on events that have happened in and around the dying city of Calcutta.
Folk wisdom says that it is the militant trade-unionism of the CPM that has led to the de-industrialisation of Bengal. Those of us who are old enough to remember the tumultous -- or anarchic -- 70s and 80s might remember slogans like "Tata Birla'r kalo haath, bhenge dao, gunriye dao" -- break and destroy the evil hand of the Tatas and the Birlas. And then there was the mindless opposition to computers : "Automation, rokto diye rukhtey hobey" -- Automation has to be stopped with bloodshed !
However, a close look at recent events would tell a different tale. Nirad Chaudhury had articulated this best in his Bengali book "Atmaghati Bangali" -- the Suicidal Bengali.
It does not need the CPM or any party to ruin the state. The Bengali is perfectly capable of doing so .. and if in the process someone else benefits that is even better. The CPM realised this early enough and have been enjoying the fruits that foresight for the past 30 years. Mamata Banerjee has learnt the same -- better late than never, and now she wants to ruin Bengal so that she can rule over the graveyard for the next 20 years. And then of course there is the CPM's trusted ally, the Forward Block, that is going all out to "block" the modernisation of the food business in Bengal.
Strangely enough if the BJP were to come to power here -- though that is unlikely given the number of illegal Muslim infiltrators from Bangladesh -- I am sure that even they will start singing an equally illogical tune. The BJP in Bengal will be different from the BJP in Delhi and certainly different from the BJP in Gujarat.
Which begs the question .. why are Bengali's like this ?
A simple answer is that the Bengali is ruled by his heart, not by his head !! Who ever wants to rule ( or 'loot') the state must act irrationally in order to get the votes -- and so the right, to do so. That is why we have lots of poets, artists, movie directors (rituPorno !!) and what not ... but no one who can take hard decisions and run the state.
We cannot really rule but we can sit at the court of the ruler and (m)utter verses ... somewhat like the great Kalidas at the court of Vikramaditya ... and then again like that famous person we can also cut the branch that we are sitting on.
So let us rejoice : Kalidas was a Bengali .. we should have another holiday in his honour -- only in Bengal.