People's Democracy

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


No. 18

May 01, 2011



My Diary of another Day in Falsehood


G Mamatha


TODAY, I am here in this state that is so famous for its sons and daughters who stood and continue to stand for their progressive thoughts. Well, I am here to honour my commitment given to those party-persons who asked me to come for campaigning in the elections. How could I, who is regarded as an 'efficient, intelligent, industrious and suave person', refuse? And how could I, when I was called to carry out one of my favourite jobs – bashing the Left, that too, in its own bastion!


My day started with a press conference. I was told beforehand that the media here is quite friendly to us and they ask no embarrassing questions. I was also told that they would lap up what all I say, add their ingenuity and spice up the story. True friends indeed! I used the press conference to warn the Left, through the media. I roared, 'If the CPI(M) thinks that we don't record what is happening in West Bengal, it is wrong. We know what has happened and what has been happening in the last 34 years in the state'. That was enough to make the banners or headlines. Thundering, I also added, 'I have been carefully watching the situation in West Bengal. For two and a half years, I have been keeping record of law and order in the state'. Thank god, experience has taught me that having good language skills and a stern, intellectual look are more than enough to carry the message through. What would I have done if somebody asked me about the 'records' maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)?


I know, that if somebody quoted from the NCRB report 2010, I would have been in a soup. Because according to it, on many counts West Bengal stands last. Andhra Pradesh tops in murder and its attempt, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, kidnapping and abduction, hurt and causing death by negligence. Even in other crimes, like dowry, molestation, sexual harassment, Andhra Pradesh is at the top. And Bengal is at the bottom. In the incidence and rate of crimes committed against Scheduled Castes during 2009, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, stood first second and third respectively. West Bengal once again is at the bottom at 25th position. Isn't standing last, wrong? Weren't we told to be first on all counts and were you not scolded for not being first. That is what I too had done. There is a political secret (Andhra Pradesh is a state ruled by our party and even in Rajasthan and Maharashtra it is our party that is in power. How can I betray our party?) Moreover, did I tell clearly what I was 'watching' and what were the records I am maintaining?


Thankfully, nobody asked me. As I said, the media is very friendly and can silence one or two question-popping journalists, who try to embarrass with facts. Then, I went to some public meeting. Any way, I do not expect big crowds for my meetings (Remember, even Madam and Sir too did not draw huge crowds). Public meetings of our party are nice. We 'bring' people, using the same tactics, either in Tamilnadu or here, but the best part is, you can speak whatever you want and rush away in a hurry. People will not question you – because they are kept far away and also we 'rush away', giving an impression that we are busy in our campaign.


In one such meeting, I said, 'For too long you had a government that neglected governance. West Bengal is the worst-governed state in the country...I am constrained to say that sub-standard administration exists in West Bengal whose financial health is precarious...In this part of West Bengal, there is no road, no electricity, no primary health centre, schools, no infrastructure for development. There has been no development after Independence'. Of course, without expecting an answer, I questioned in my usual inimitable style, 'Who is responsible for these ills?'


I know that critics will come out with many facts countering my allegations, but who cares, didn't I have my moment of glory? Yes, they quote from authentic Central organisation's figures, to show: West Bengal’s agricultural growth remains higher than national average (The growth rate of agriculture from 2006-07 to 2009-10 was 2.18 per cent in India, while it was 3.19 per cent in West Bengal); in physical infrastructure, the road length per 100 sq km area in Bengal in 2008 was 238.61, while in India, it was 96.57; the non-electrified villages in Bengal were 407, while in India they were 28,824 (March 2011); the proportion of households having access to improved source of drinking water in West Bengal, as percentage is 94, while for India it is 88 (2005-06).


I am aware that they also can prove: improvement of infant and maternal mortality rate in West Bengal between 1997 and 2009 was the second fastest in the country; literacy rate in Bengal is 77.1 per cent, while it is 74 per cent for the country; female literacy is 71.2 per cent compared to 65.4 per cent for India; the sex ratio is 947 for Bengal and for the country it is 940; the child sex ratio is 950 for Bengal and for India, it is 914. In healthcare, West Bengal ranks first in the country in the number of government allopathic doctors; the average population served per government doctor in West Bengal is 9953, while it is 13,119 in India; the average population served per government hospital bed in West Bengal is 1604, while it is 2105 for India; 73 per cent of all patients in West Bengal undergo treatment from the public health system, which is much above the national average of 40 per cent.


Because of my earlier experiences, I know some truths about the state of finances of many states too. Yes, it is true that West Bengal’s debt-GSDP ratio is steadily improving. It is also true that Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have higher debt/GSDP ratios than Bengal and that West Bengal’s total outstanding liabilities of Rs 198195 crore are much lower than that of Uttar Pradesh (Rs 234581 crore) and Maharashtra (Rs 236526 crore). I know that even the central government’s total outstanding liabilities in 2010-11 are Rs 3568709 crore. But, who cares for these figures. Don't you remember, statistics are always boring and by the time somebody from the Left start reeling these statistics and figures of truth, I am sure people would fall asleep. I myself who dwelt with so many numbers for so many years am yawning while writing all these. Even Mark Twain had said, “Figures often beguile me”. So, I am sure my criticism, wrong it might be, will stay in the minds of people and win us some votes.


Taking a more aggressive posture in another meeting, I squarely blamed the CPI(M) and its cadres for 'procuring arms and spreading violence and turning the state into a killing field'. I know that there were no arms recovered in many searches conducted by the central forces in the Lalgarh area from the CPI(M) offices. But I should not state those facts here, as it might anger my colleague who is known for mercurial temperament (to put it conservatively). Moreover, I should also please my hosts who have called me exclusively for this purpose. I can say with confidence, that I fulfilled my role with aplomb.


I remember, once in a meeting with police officials in Ranchi, I blamed the state police officers for misrepresenting the facts about the number of police personnel killed in the state due to Left-wing extremism (a nice term, I like it very much). I told them that they should get their facts right, more so when it involves the numbers of those who have lost their lives. But these strictures are for them and not for me. CPI (M) has submitted many a memoranda to me, with detailed lists stating that more than 380 of their cadre were killed by the Maoists and the opposition forces since the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009. Of course, I know that these are genuine lists. But should I acknowledge this fact during my election campaigning? No way. Instead, I cleverly said that opposition parties lost more lives in this period. By the time a rejoinder is issued, I will be far from this state, finishing my job.


Continuing my tirade, I said, 'had it been any other state, the chief minister would have resigned at the failure of the administration to control violence'. I know Buddhadeb is very sensitive. Look at the way he is going around accepting the mistakes. So I wanted to rub it further in. Alas, don't I know my own colleagues involved in more serious offences? Or for that matter, did I resign after what I had done with Andhra Pradesh (ah, that famous December fiasco).


These are elections and I know my duty is to criticise. One of my leaders put it very crudely (of course, my refined senses do not permit me to use the same words but for want of a better alternative I quote them), “It is our duty to spit and his to clean, do not bother about correct and wrong here”. This I did a lot during my short-stay in the state. Do I repent doing it? No. Why should I? Did I repent on the way I had won my election? Did I repent when I was accused of being partisan? No. I am not a communist, to accept my mistakes publicly. My boss does not accept his mistakes. The most beautiful, powerful and idealistic US does not. So why should I? With friendly media, I can escape. Let me retire now, listening to Elvis Presley:


You look like an angel

Walk like an angel

Talk like an angel

You're the devil in disguise

Oh yes you are

The devil in disguise


PS: This is written before the expose on Purulia arms drop. If this expose had come a little earlier, would I have been in a spot of bother? I frankly think, no. With my political experience and legal acumen, I can defend anything. People might not believe it, but who cares!