People's Democracy

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


No. 49

December 09, 2007



Trinamul Chieftain Breathes Fire-And-Brimstone

B Prasant


The TV channels had their OB vans at the ready.  Some of them were quite determined to telecast ‘live’ the ‘massive draw’ the Trinamul Congress rally at Singur would succeed in making.  Cell phones buzzed across the distance between Singur and Kalighat - has didi started yet?  More pertinent was the follow up question from the media stalwarts who have been seeking to blackguard every act of the CPI(M) and of the Bengal Left Front government for the past year now, with a ferocity that people outside of the state would find hard to believe: why are there 50-odd people milling around the venue when it is already an hour past the scheduled time of commencement?



Cell phone were abuzz again, and after a full hour, one saw a small convoy of SUVs motoring in, carrying the kind of desperadoes who have had their fling at one point of time at Singur, and later at Nandigram.  Asked politely as to which part of Hooghly they had descended form, the hefty swaggerers, men and boys, and not all of them having the advantage of sobriety, said: ‘What Singur?’  We have come from Howrah, north and south 24 Parganas, and from Kolkata,’ and to this gem of a revelation they added in a mood of bragging that inebriation brings easily in ‘old man, do you take us to be village rustics?’ 


The minutes ticked by. There was no sign of the supreme leader, and no prospect of the crowd swelling above 400-odd either and that too by a very liberal estimate.




When the policepersons posted for the rally had started to yawn prodigiously, Mamata Banerjee finally made an appearance, coterie in tow.  She immediately on arrival turned crimson (duly recorded by the loyal TV crew who have by now given up the idea of a ‘live’ coverage) with anger, frustration, and perhaps a gnawing fear, at the embarrassing smallness of the gathering of the faithful (and otherwise).


Fear gives birth to vicious desperation in certain kinds of persons, Mamata Banerjee’s kind of persons, to be precise. The words and phrases she spluttered over the air waves surpassed albeit narrowly her earlier tantramous speeches here -- and elsewhere.  A few snippets on record would prove useful representations of the kind of nervousness bordering on incoherence but replete with a terrible menace that has overtaken her of late.


‘It will take me but a second or two to destroy the Tata Centre in Kolkata.’  ‘I shall soon order my boys to blow up the perimeter fence around the Tata factory at Singur.’  ‘I have now realised that the time for non-violent movement has ended: it will be violence all the way from now on to uproot the CPM (sic!) government.’  ‘Did you note the terrible violence for two hours in Kolkata recently that woke the Bengal government to act quickly enough?  —that has shown me the way.’  ‘If the planetary and astrological predictions that I have come to know about of late, are true then the day is not far off when I shall snatch Singur away from the CPM (sic!).’ 


The silence that met both these pronouncements, and her subsequent anxious urging upon the rapidly dwindling rally to raise slogans about never ever surrendering before the LF government, left her fuming and furious, and she soon descended from the dais, sat sulking around in silence for quite some time, heavily sweating even in the late evening chill, and then silently, almost surreptitiously motored off to sulk some more perhaps at Kalighat. 


A slightly funny note garnished her otherwise grim haranguing towards its end.  When she shouted to the faithful whether they wanted their plots of land at Singur back, they were very embarrassed for they had come from outside of Singur and the prospect of recovering land, which they did not possess in the first place, added an awkwardly surreal ending to the chieftain’s speech. 


Mamata Banerjee was off to Nandigram the next day.  Charged up by the ‘consultations’ she had had with the US consul general in Kolkata of late, she was very enthusiastic as she chatted in her luxuriously appointed SUV with a select group of obsequious hangers-on and fawning reporters.




What she found at the Nandigram College grounds saw her lapse this time into a lengthy and deeply melancholy mood.  Less-than-a–thousand people had come to attend a rally that she had advertised as a gathering of ‘five lakhs of people.’  Outsiders predominated here, too.  She started in a very depressed mood and even said that perhaps violence was not paying the expected kind of dividends here. 


But being the sort of person she is, Mamata Banerjee soon warmed up, especially when she heard her chief sub-lieutenant at Nandigram, Subhendu Adhikari, the former ‘joint commander’ of the combined armed forc of her outfit and her Maoist controllers at Nandigram, say loudly that it was not right of the chief’s part not to egg on her supporters to burn the offices of the CPI(M) at Nandigram, several times over.




Now quite desperate at the way leadership was again slipping out her grips at Nandigram, this time at the behest of one of her very own flock, a fretful Mamata Banerjee hollered out that 600 of ‘her’ workers were yet missing at Nandigram (she later toned the number down randomly to 100), and warned the ‘CPM’ which, she shouted, had brought in lakhs upon lakhs of workers to ‘recapture Nandigram,’ that she was not the one to give up violence and that hereby a forewarning ‘has been served.’ 


No applause followed her fiery outburst, for the Nandigram villagers have had enough of her violent ways, and all they wanted determinedly from now on was to live in peace and amity.  The supremo left in a huff, swearing in a very filmic dialogue that ‘I shall be back.’  By then not even a dozen-odd people remained and they were mostly construction workers who had come to dismantle the dais and the podium.