People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 49

December 09, 2007

Bengal Governor Welcomes The

Return Of Normalcy To Nandigram


When Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi took off for Nandigram with a trailing column of cars, jeeps, and SUVs in tow, sirens a-whine, at six in the cool of the morning of December 2, he was perhaps looking forward to a ‘fact-finding’ tour of the ‘recent developments’ about which so much interest has suddenly been generated in circles that are frank in their opposition to the arrival of the homecoming of refugees and perhaps, by extension of the same logic, to the return of normalcy there.


We have absolutely no idea as to what Governor Gandhi sought out.  What he found -- duly, perhaps reluctantly, flashed across the TV channels of the corporate houses – was an easy good-humoured friendliness amongst the mass of the kisans and denizens of the townships that make up Nandigram recovering fast from days and nights of dark deeds and darker visages.


Governor Gandhi saw the Sunday morning relax of the people who had woken up late and were moving around the market places, lighted bidis hanging precariously from the corners of their lips, slightly bleary-eyed from a night of easy slumber, and suddenly, sharply awake as the convoy blared in, trailing a billowing cloud of dust. 


Did we note, albeit for a brief moment, a wrinkle of fear cross the weather-beaten faces of the men?  Did some of the women choose to hang back into the shadows offered by the deep foliage of the evergreens?  Did they recall to hushed memory the convoys that had earlier roared in and out, leaving behind the strong, harsh, achingly painful smell of fear, of terror? 


We would not know - but the friendliness and bonhomie that the villagers exuded for the visiting governor sahib and his uniformed entourage as the men and women milled around the group, was simple, spontaneous, and not split into political affiliations --  and it must have touched the governor.


Governor Gandhi perchance also noticed the people visibly shivering in the early morning chill and having only a thin cotton chador and a short, knee-length dhoti, or a thin wraparound sari to stave off the bite of winter, and for whom Sundays offered no respite from the backbreaking grind called livelihood - the khet mazdoors, the mason’s assistants or jogaandars, the head-load carriers or mutia mazdoors, the cycle-van peddlers, and the cycle-rickshaw wallahs, men and women, young boys and girls, deeply engaged in the struggle that is life.  This is normalcy for these sons and daughters of Nandigram, and they revel in it.


For the record, the Bengal governor welcomed the return of normalcy to Nandigram, and he called for harmony, and stressed the need for the acceleration of the course of development already in place.  He expressed his satisfaction at the way peace-and-amity amongst the people was settling down at Nandigram but noted that it was not an easy process. 




Governor Gandhi, who welcomed the peace initiative set in place firmly here, visited also Sonachura, Bhangaberia, Tekhali, and the ‘relief camp’ at the Brajamohan Tiwari School under the management the Trinamul Congress.  Asked later to comment on the pressure tactics of the CRPF, he said that he preferred to avoid any response that might ‘create trouble.’ Governor Gandhi also noted in passing, that the Bengal government was responsible enough to implement the High Court orders about Nandigram. 


What else did Governor Gandhi find and do at Nandigram? He encountered the boisterous bustle of the marketplaces. He looked enjoyingly at the wave of the green paddy in the freshening breeze across the meadows.  He smiled benignly at the noisy gully cricket matches in full swing. He was even tempted to bat briefly in one of the matches, and he promptly proved that batting on the grassy wicket of Nandigram was not his forté yet. He missed all six deliveries from teen age boys.