Letters to Editor 26-06-2007
- Published 26.06.07
Sir — The editorial, “Thirty year rule” (June 21), correctly argues that enough academic research has not been undertaken to study the remarkable achievement of thirty years in power by a single (leftist) coalition in a multi-party democratic set up. But the editorial itself falls victim to this lack. It argues that Bengalis are essentially risk-averse, which is why they vote for a stable government. The question is, why? Is it a genetic characteristic of Bengalis, or is there something in the weather that conditions them thus? To attribute the Left Front’s winning streak to the Bengalis’ dislike of risk is somewhat naïve and amateurish. The success of the Left rule in West Bengal is because of the support of the toiling masses. There is no aversion to risk behind this, only the fact that the Left Front has managed to provide a minimum amount of relief to the people, through land reforms, panchayati raj, and emphasis on democracy and communal harmony. It does not need the brains of a rocket-scientist to figure this out.
Finally, a word on Gujarat. According to the editorial, Gujarat is committed to “growth and development” and therefore, a degree of dynamism is associated with the political process in the state. I wonder what a Muslim, whose family has been wiped out in the pogrom of 2002, will think of the growth and development and the associated dynamism in the state. If the BJP has given a stable government in Gujarat, it has done so over the dead bodies of thousands of Muslims. Gujarat can never be a role model for Bengal, or any other state of India. Let us not forget that Qutubuddin Ansari, the face of the 2002 carnage, sought refuge in Calcutta, because the city assured him communal harmony. It is because of the Left Front that Bengal can provide this assurance.
Sir — For a regular reader of The Telegraph, Ashok Mitra’s article, “A tribute and a critique” (June 22), was a rather uncomfortable read. The newspaper must have become the biggest political mouthpiece of the Left. Or why did it provide so much space to an unceremoniously exiled leftist to unabashedly express his loyalty to a former chief minister who forced an entire generation to fall victim to his inexplicable political whims? After 30 years, West Bengal still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The state is ruled by corruption raj, and aggressive trade unionism has robbed the state of the last vestiges of work-culture. Not surprisingly, these facts elude Mitra, whose only claim to fame as the finance minister was the busting of a chit fund, rather than any economic policy. His article is more of a tribute to the Left patriarch than a critique.
Sir — Ashok Mitra, while eulogizing his erstwhile boss, Jyoti Basu, has conveniently glossed over the latter’s significant contribution to the destruction of every single institution that was once the pride of West Bengal. The maximum damage has been wrought on two areas — namely, law and order, and education. Calcutta’s police force, considered one of Asia’s finest in its prime, is but a shadow of its former self, primarily owing to its brazen unionization. A policeman’s performance is judged today not by his professional merit but by his “contribution” to the party. The worst hit have been the students of the state — a whole generation of them have had bright career prospects ruined by the politicization of the education system.
Apart from these, industry, work-culture, and the basic discipline expected from a civilized polity have disappeared from Bengal for good, thanks to Mitra’s ex-boss. Basu did not even have the good grace of vacating the chief minister’s official residence on demitting office. Had this man become our prime minister — as he desperately wanted to — India would have hit an all-time low. God must be thanked for small mercies.
Sir — Ashok Mitra rejoices like a child at the “record without parallel in the annals of multi-party democratic system, particularly for a political formation adhering to a leftist ideology”. Since when is there a world championship for the longest-term government? A government is known by its delivery, not endurance. Even then, it may be pointed out that the Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled Mexico for 71 years from 1929 to 2000. Sadly, no one thinks it was a paragon of excellence. To win an election is an art as well as a crafty manoeuvre. And the best-run governments of the world fall after one or two elections. That is natural.When a party wins election after election, then there must be “something rotten in the state of Denmark”.
Mitra attributes the improvement in power supply in Bengal to the “recent rush of tycoons to invest in West Bengal”. He is perhaps unaware that in 2006, West Bengal could attract a meagre Rs 3,000 crore, only a fraction of what Gujarat collected. Then there are the findings of Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari from 2005. According to them, West Bengal ranks 8th in agriculture (the Left’s pride), 12th in lowest poverty, 10th in per capita income and so on. As an investment destination, it ranks 17th. And how can Mitra ignore unemployment and the deaths in Amlasole and the tea gardens of North Bengal?
Asoke C. Banerjee,