[From my column OBVIOUSLY OPAQUE in the UTS Voice, May 1-15, 2012]
Poor Shakespeare! Good that he is long gone or he would have wanted to die again. He would had to, for that is what people with honour of his times were known to do after getting proven decisively wrong by someone. He would never have asked what's there in a name had he known that hatred would never be as strong and self-reinforcing if it came with any other name than Mamata Banerjee. So much for the name, literally meaning love, of the maternal kind on top of that, Mamta, when the woman behind the name is so royally, in a democratic sense, bereft of any feelings of compassion forget love.
Poor Shakespeare! If only he knew that a rose can still smell as sweet even if it came with any other name but absurdity can never be as absurd if it had an address other than that of the Writer’s Building to vouch for. Writer’s Building! Pronounce the name loudly, maybe for ten times and the irony lost in the name starts slowly revealing itself to the unsuspecting ears of the lesser mortals. She used nothing named less fancily than the Writers’ Building to issue her diktat banning certain newspapers and magazines from public libraries scattered throughout the state. Do I even need to add that the newspapers were all that were getting more and more critical of her wayward ways of behaving like a dictator, nay, a hooligan while gracing the chair of the Chief Minister of the state? I certainly need to, however, mention the fact that these were the same newspapers that were so appreciative of her, and her wayward ways, till the other day.
Wayward, perhaps, need some explanation here. Waywardness for Mamta might actually be some higher order of consciousness, some higher order of knowledge that we, the lesser mortals do not have access to. She has her own scheme of things. She might have her own, and grand, scheme of the universe as well. Waywardness of Mamta might only be our lack of understanding, or stupidity therefore. Is it really right of us to tear her manners apart instead of thanking for her graciousness in not calling us stupid while hinting at that we were, after all? She did tell us that much, didn’t she? Why else, she would take the decision in ‘public interest’ nothing less?
We should have thanked her for saving us from the ignominy of falling prey to the ‘rumours’ and ‘propaganda’ and the ‘canards’ that these newspapers were found to be spreading. (The charges remind me of similarly worded differently signed press releases of the Left-Front days, but then that is beside the point). We should have broken into an Orwellian chant, something like four-legs-good-two-legs-bad in the Animal Farm style for expressing our joys of finding the liberator, finally. And here we, the thankless people are.
I am sure Mamtadi would have been laughing at the stupidity of those asking about the past of the same newspapers when they supported her and played a crucial role in the fall of the final frontier. Did the Orwellian chant not change into two-legs-good-four-legs-bad when prompted, and of course, required by the need of reassessment of concrete situations. Ok, I concede that for Mamtadi’s lifelong opposition to the ‘Left’ I should had tried to scavenge an analogy from the stables of the Right-wingers. Had ‘intellectually stimulating’ not been used as a synonym for ‘does not exist’ I would have done that. So I did not even try, and I am not sorry for that. Period.
She had much more on her mind, all in order to enlighten us, the lesser mortals, and to deliver us all to a level of higher consciousness. Apparently, she has had enough of our small pleasures of laughing at the cartoons that come tucked at the bottom of the front page, sometime that of the edit or Op-Ed, of the newspapers. Even if not exactly blasphemous, does the act not indicate at our stupidity of deriving pleasure from such trivial things, she must have thought. Add all the loss of working hours these cartoons cause to the nation by making us, the lesser mortals, laugh and share these stupid jokes and only then would one understand the true logic, and vision, hidden in her crackdown on such cartoons.
After all, have not we seen the cartoons tell the same stories, if we could call them stories that is, years after years and decades after decades? What changes did R. K. Laxman’s common man witness while appearing into our lives day after day? Did his life get any better? It did not, so what is the point to invest so much of energy and time into making ones. Similar would be the experience of the cartoonists depicting the politicians and the statesmen though I wonder if there are any left of the latter variety.
What purpose does it solve, then, to draw a silent Manmohan Singh instead of a sleeping Deve Gowda, (what was his full name by the way?) or a Mamta from a Jayalalitha, she would have asked herself. This, for her, must be a criminal waste of time aka the bad old days of the Left Front regime when they engaged in good for nothing strikes. And then there are lesser mortals, like us, who link it all to that abstract concept of democracy and criticise her. This is all a conspiracy against her, she must have thought. Why else the same people who did not go beyond muttering under their breath when Manmohan Singh called all the talks of corruption as mere propaganda are after Mamta’s life now?
So she was absolutely in her right to get that fella, whatever was his name, arrested. One he wasted his time by drawing something he was not paid for, and was mandated to, and then wasted more by spreading that. Creepy creature must be on the CPI M’s payrolls. Ah, CPI M, or as the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is known in our country that is obsessed with the acronyms. CPI M leadership must be happy with that too, or they would have found it difficult to explain the meaning of the term Marxist that adorns their name. I, for one and also for the lesser mortal I am, could never understand if it should be seen as something similar to free in free beer or free as in free speech, but then that is, again, beside the point.
Going by the Mamta Banerjee’s statements, if you could actually call her rants that, CPI M must be terribly happy. If they really wield all that power the CM keeps accusing them of, they have never had it better than this. They are behind everything, from orchestrating gang rapes to malign CM’s image to making and distributing cartoons against her. They are the ones that have been successfully sabotaging her relations with the Indian National Congress and they are the ones who have convinced the media to portray Mamtadi as a buffoon, which, to the best of her knowledge and belief, she is not. Evidently, they have got that proverbial hand (see, that’s the evidence for covert conspiracies of the Congress in tandem with the commies) that is behind everything. They have got that proverbial hand), or is it hammer and sickle, that is bigger than the long hand of the law.
Long hand of the law! That reminds me of the miraculous, almost supernatural, powers of Mamtadi who could successfully make out a rape from an allegation. That too without even any preliminary investigation! She just sees the reality behind all that crops up in front of her eyes. The reality, in turn, is way too easy to make out. It is a rape if the accused belong to any of the shades of the Red that had dominated West Bengal for so long, and is merely an allegation that does not require even an inquiry if the accused have got anything to do with her stable. Simple logic, isn’t it? Just that it’s we, the lesser mortals, who do not have access to those higher level of consciousness that helps one see black from white.
We, by virtue of our ignorance, can actually ask questions like why the police officer in charge of the investigation then refuted the truth revealed by the Chief Minister as against the baseless allegations levelled by the victim. The answer is even simpler. The lady officer has been duly shunted out of her office, of course after telling the media that Mamtadi did not try to influence the investigation.
Perhaps this is the time for us, the lesser mortals, to repent for the sins of launching tirades against such well-meaning person. We can begin with demanding a law that makes scoffing at Mamtadi, including by making a cartoon, a criminal offence. Scrapping the provincial police and bestowing the powers of investigations and prosecution unto her (not in the post for those following her can be fallible) infallible persona. Amen.