Whodunnit in Sonar Bangla? Didi’s Victory has a Pattern of Basuism | Nirendra Dev

Nirendra Narayan Dev Editor's Note: Nirendra Narayan Dev (nirendev1 [at] gmail [dot] com), an acclaimed senior political journalist, is an Assistant Editor with newswire 'Indo-Asian News Service' (IANS). He has been a special correspondent of The Statesman, New Delhi and is the author of acclaimed books including Modi to Moditva, Ayodhya : Battle For Peace, The Talking Guns North East India and Godhra A Journey To Mayhem. Nirendra was born and brought up in India's northeast and his father served with paramilitary force Assam Rifles. His blog is at bestofindiarestofindia.blogspot.com.

We have previously had an opportunity of talking to the author and have posted the audio recording of the interview.

WBRi also has the pleasure of publishing a series of short stories by Nirendra. Search with keywords "Nirendra Dev" to read his prior stories and articles on Washington Bangla Radio.



The best part of West Bengal electoral battle of 2016 is the washout of the communists – a long deserving gift from the frustrated people. The worst part is perhaps the increased strength of mercurial Mamata Banerjee. One is saying so with utmost restraints and respect for people’s mandate.

Related: Narendra Modi's 'Somalia' remarks: Bongs and Malayalis - The bond is beyond Karl Marx ! - By Nirendra Dev

If people have decided to chose Mamata; none has the 'Kshamata (the power)' to deny that. But amid the big hype about Didi’s success – that she has got people’s mandate once again – one wonders how much difference it would make for the state in short run and the long run!

After all – every five years Jyoti Basu also managed such immense mandate – and he got it for three decades! He ensured decimation of Congress but in all that created a vacuum for creation of a leader called Mamata Banerjee.

Basu hardly encouraged discipline both among people and his cadres.

His cadres were always right for him as long as they brought electoral victory to the party. Is Mamata different?

The party work and electioneering became round the year affair in Bengal and there was unleashing of violence of all sorts. But the bloodshed never stained Basu's image. He remained the ultimate Bhadralok, like the Queen of Britain, who could never go wrong.

Today, Mamata can also do no wrong!

Basu's industrialist son Chandan kept on making news and unlike the case of Devilal-Chautala elsewhere - even that did not touch the Marxist veteran reputation.  He remained the ultimate 'Bhadrolok'.

Didi too has relatives, but she remains a hawai-chappal leader!

One only revisits a comment from a sitting Trinamool Congress member of parliament – “we will win, that’s our good luck. But that is also (Banglar – dur-bhagya) bad luck of West Bengal”.

So amid the hype about Mamata Banerjee’s return to power – we have a simple question that of course offers a complex answer: Will Bengal change?

Can Didi change? Will syndicate raj end?

Hero worship or slavish mentality could be the domain of Tamil Nadu politics and the prostration (साष्टांग प्रणाम) culture of AIADMK “men in white”.

But in West Bengal, Jyoti Basu too could do no wrong. Hence even episodes like murder of Anandamargis remained part of political legacy.

My worst fear is this mandate has brought Didi in that unique club.

And it happens just with one win! Luck na? For Narendra Modi - even three consecutive victories in state assembly polls and the 2014 Lok Sabha war have not made life easier for Modi - 2002 remains a stigma. But stigmas cannot touch few political cultures – Mamata Banerjee has actually mastered that legacy.

She is certainly on her road to the Red Fort in Delhi but no stigma!

How? Look at the manner a clearly-pro-Christian website glorifies Mamata’s cotton sari!

Sharada Ma is a thing of past, it looks like!!

“On the death of Missionaries of Charity’s Sr. Nimala Joshi Mamata spent nearly 3 hours in the funeral Eucharist at the Mother’s House with her cotton white saree with blue boarders like other Mother Teresa nuns in the crowd. I hear that she is keen to go to Vatican to witness the canonization of Mother Teresa of Kolkata on September 4.

Mamata is simple, honest with frugal lifestyle. But she is the conqueror of hearts of the million in the state,” says S J Jyothi in ‘MattersIndia’.

Where’s then the so called lawlessness in West Bengal? What was Election Commission of India so worried about? The winner takes it all. Is that taking on a platter is much easier if the politics is all about possible anti-Hindu and anti-Narendra Modi?

The Congress under Sidhartha Shankar Ray perhaps discovered the politics of violence in Bengal. Last five decades this has been the norm.

The Communist Party of India (Marxists) continued it with their Midas touch. And as the Didi dispensation only took it to a new height, look around who regrets “merciless killing” – the illustrious Sitaram Yechury!

As a Bengali by birth, one knows - Bengalis are also born moral teachers. Remember Somnath Chatterjee, who did not allow “state subject” Nadigram being discussed in Lok Sabha but when it came to his time to give up Speaker’s post – hardly 6 months before Lok Sabha polls – he turned towards Manmohan Singh and showed thumbs down to comrade Prakash Karat! But Nandigram and Singur and the subsequent mandate of 2009 Lok Sabha polls and 2011 historic assembly elections could not help Somnath da’s holier than thou politics.

The fall of Marxist rule in 2011 came in. “But the tragedy of Bengal is; all that happened in extra-ordinary swiftness. There was no change on ground – culturally and otherwise,”says an article in RSS-run The Organiser.

True, club-dadas simply changed colour! While the ‘Nandigram policy’of Buddhadev Bhattarcharya was discredited, the blind faith of colony goondas on the age-old belief that police and political masters have to be kept in good humor stayed on. Rest is history. People have again decided to continue with Mamata Banerjee. For essentially a non-resident Bengali, Jyoti Basu has been a cult figure for us in the north east during our formative days – where Bengalis more than once have been at the receiving end.

In 1977, when Basu first walked to Kolkata (then Calcutta’s) coveted corridors of power – the Writer’s Building – I hardly knew anything about politics, Marxism and governance. But Basu was an instant hero! - A sort of a Bengali hero in national political scene – to be even worshiped at times in the league Subhas Chandra Bose and Bidhan Roy.

Later period in my life – I realized the blunder of thinking that Jyoti Basu would have been India’s best prime minister! Mamata Banerjee is rushing in. I am happy – as a political journo – because she will give Nitish Kumar a run for his money – with support of fodder scam protagonist Lalu Prasad!

When ideologies and rules do not seem to work, well my sister, now a resident of Kolkata says wryly: they are all shackles. West Bengal remains in shackles!

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The success in recent elections especially in Assam would give BJP a renewed booster for the battle in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and Sarbanand Sonowal’s presence as a tribal chief minister would also mean possible conquest of Manipur. It can be a season of lotus blooming in early 2017. -- Election results in Assam and even in Kerala and West Bengal for Narendra Modi are crystal clear message on how elections should be fought. This victory signals many things, one of them is if handled well- BJP can win back Uttar Pradesh?