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Letters to Editor

Dismal times

Sir — West Bengal has lately turned into a haven of untrammelled fury and violence (“Bonfire of the big bluff”, Jan 9). The situation was brought into sharp focus when the governor, M.K. Narayanan, flatly and lucidly condemned the “goondaism” running amok in the state. Conforming to the aesthetics expected from his high office, Narayanan did not accuse any particular political group of the violence.

A number of people like me, who hail from West Bengal and currently reside elsewhere, are intimated of the chaos in the state nearly every morning through news headlines. Many of us were born and brought up in Bengal, but moved out of the state because of professional commitments. Many of us still plan to return to our home state because we have faith in its rich and vivid culture.

However, such news as that pertaining to the violence in Bhangar has been affecting us negatively, and might just prompt us to give up the idea and choose order over love for our home state.

Yours faithfully,
Bonochhaya Sen Banerjee, Bhilai, Chhattisgarh

Sir — The editorial, “Regime of disorder” (Jan 12), efficiently summed up the deteriorating law and order situation in West Bengal in the wake of the unrest at Bhangar and the unsavoury episode involving one of the most experienced ministers in the state government, Subrata Mukherjee, whose negative comments against the governor, M.K. Narayanan, raised a storm.

After the governor condemned the strife at Bhangar, Mukherjee reportedly said that Narayanan has been shown the “yellow card”, and that he may be shown the “red card” in the future. He added that a “sharp watch” is being kept on the governor. It is strange that a senior minister could make such irreverent statements about the governor, who has been known to be an upright administrator, with years of experience in handling the country’s security.

Mukherjee was initiated into politics as a student activist, and was a part of Chhatra Parishad, the students’ wing of the Congress. It is another matter that in his fairly chequered political career he has changed sides, moving from one party to another to suit his own ends. But there have been few occasions when he has made such unwarranted, dangerous comments. His response to the governor’s remarks was unnerving because, in spite of his extensive experience in politics, he used unparliamentary language against the constitutional head of the state.

The nature of the remarks made by Mukherjee against the governor is not unique. Quite a few politicians have resorted to such comments voluntarily, or have been prompted to do so by their superiors. Nor is such deplorable political hooliganism — such as the one the state has witnessed in Bhangar — unprecedented.

The dignified stand taken by Narayanan is also not unique. Even the erudite scholar and erstwhile governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, had taken a similar stand about chaos and disorder in the state.

In the wake of clashes and riots, controversies generated by comments from leaders complicate the situation further. One hopes that the storm blows over and peace prevails.

Yours faithfully,
Dipak Banerjee, Calcutta

Sir — The editorial, “Regime of disorder”, rightly pointed out that the governor’s comments about “goondaism” were the “first official recognition” of the “deteriorating” law and order situation in West Bengal. The governor is the constitutional head of the state. It is his foremost duty to look after the safety of the people in the state. His concern need not be viewed from a political perspective.

The clashes in Bhangar have proved clearly that the law and order situation in the state is unstable. The police failed to control the situation. Furthermore, the political culture of Bengal does not permit any outfit to assume responsibility for slips on the part of the government. The incident in Bhangar flouted democratic ethics. One cannot expect Narayanan to ignore the situation and not warn the government about the prevailing “goondaism”. Instead of responding unconstitutionally, the ruling party should focus on improving the law and order situation in the state. After all, the people voted it to power in the hope of peace and tranquillity.

Yours faithfully,
Mihir Kanungo, Calcutta

Sir — The ruling party should realize that the common people want peace and order in the state. No state can be run with violence and muscle power. One expects the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, to be proactive in curbing the escalating violence in the state in order to reach possible solutions. She needs to discuss the situation with leaders of her party who must be receptive to the needs of the people of the state. The previous dispensation had lacked this compassion during the later years. Banerjee and her party should not repeat the same mistake.

Yours faithfully,
Sabari Chatterjee, Calcutta


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