The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dr Karat prescribes dose for Didi
- Brinda wants to give Nandigram rivals taste of Dum Dum Dawai

Calcutta, Nov. 4: What Mr Karat can do, Mrs Karat can do better.

Just when Prakash Karat has taken time off tormenting Manmohan Singh, wife Brinda has picked on another M — Mamata Banerjee — to spoon-feed some strong medicine.

Brinda today prescribed Dum Dum Dawai — a slogan of the sixties advocating public thrashing for the corrupt — for Opposition politicians she blamed for the continuing trouble in Nandigram.

A card-carrying member of the politically correct club, Brinda — a non-resident Bengali — did not name Mamata but left little doubt on the identity of the subject of her diagnosis, pronounced in what the audience certified as “all-right” Bengali. “Even after the chief minister has declared that no land would be acquired for the chemical hub in Nandigram, a grand alliance of Opposition forces who lost in the polls has hatched a conspiracy to continue violence in their political interest.

Dum Dum Dawai should be administered to those opportunist politicians who change allies off and on or those who practise the politics of the gun or those who sometimes leave their brother’s hand and hold their sister’s,” Brinda told a meeting of the CPM’s women wing today.

It was not clear whether Brinda meant Mamata’s biological brother or political sibling. But the reference has a striking real-life parallel: Mamata had walked out of her home recently following differences with two of her brothers.

Brinda’s outburst came on a day the SFI — the student wing of her party — suffered a debacle in Jawaharlal Nehru University, the cradle of socialism and the alma mater of her husband Prakash. Another coincidence: the rout is being blamed on Nandigram. ( )

The meeting’s location — Dum Dum — might have reminded Brinda of the bitter medicine but the line reflects the stiffening stand within the CPM. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was on the dais when Brinda spoke.

Bhattacharjee would have recalled that Dum Dum Dawai is a throwback to the “gana dholai” (public beating) of corrupt shopkeepers, ration-dealers, blackmarketeers of essential items as well as their alleged protectors in the then ruling Congress. Dum Dum Dawai was coined during the Left-led food movement of 1965-66.

Later, the connotation extended to lynching of criminals, both real and perceived. Over the years, it has become a euphemism for violent public fury and direct mob action. It is still being used -- in the ration riots in Bengal. But some veterans said the Dawai had more to do with civil disobedience than just mob violence.

Mamata reacted with derision to Brinda’s sound bite. “Who is Brinda' Ask Kakali (Ghosh Dastidar, the leader of the Trinamul Congress’s women wing) if she wants to react,” Mamata said later.

But Brinda was in her elements today. The CPM leader, sometimes a bit touchy at suggestions that her Bengali is not as easy-flowing as that of other politicians from the state, asked the crowd: “Amaar Bangla ki jhamela hochchhe' (Is there anything wrong with my Bangla)'”

“Theek achhe, theek achhe (it’s all right),” the audience responded.

Brinda’s political language was in keeping with the voices rising from the CPM of late. Last week, state secretary Biman Bose asked whether CPM cadres should throw rosogollas when opponents in Nandigram hurl bombs – all pointing to belligerence and more violence in the run-up to the deployment of central forces.

Brinda criticised Union minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi for asking the home ministry not to send the CRPF.

She added that the Supreme Court and Calcutta High Court were not using the same yardstick while dealing with Bengal and other states. “The Supreme Court called for the dismissal of the Tamil Nadu government for a bandh there. But it takes leave when a grand alliance imposes a bandh in Bengal,” Brinda said, referring to last week’s shutdown by Trinamul.

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