Intellectuals in Kolkata have been upset and alarmed over the way the Left Front has behaved over the Nandigram and Taslima issues. “I am upset and alarmed,” confirmed a pretty young co-ed marching in solidarity with something or the other. The city’s intelligentsia have been stunned by revelations that Stalin had exiled whole nationalities to Siberia, that Pol Pot had wiped out a sixth of his countrymen and that Mao’s regime had killed millions. “We had no idea that Communists had been doing these things,” said a revolutionary artist, adding that nobody had told him anything. “I’m feeling so much angst, I just have to rush home and write a deeply sensitive poem right away,” said a dreamy poet on being asked how he had managed to avoid noticing the cadre-raj of the last 30 years. On the Left Front’s pandering to communal vote banks, a fiery dramatist pleaded, “I was under the impression that my maid, my dhobi, my cook and the other Bangladeshis the West Bengal government was encouraging to come here were tourists.” CPI(M) sources, however, say that these people are pseudo-intellectuals and that Taslima is a pseudo-writer.
Other marchers have been less angst-ridden. “It’s always good to march in support of a cause,” panted a portly editor. “Besides, it helps one stay fit,” he added, breaking into a trot. A young poet wanted to know what would be the best way of getting deported. “If I called Buddhababu names will I be deported to Goa?” he inquired wistfully. “Or do you think London would be a better idea, à la MF Husain?” he asked. But he brushed aside rumours that his colleagues were buying fatwas against themselves in a desperate attempt to get political asylum in Europe.
It’s not only intellectuals who are drawing lessons from the Taslima episode. Now that the CPI(M) has kept its vote bank intact by deporting the Bangladeshi author, other parties have been very impressed. “It’s a master-stroke,” said a political worker in Himachal Pradesh. “We too have to think about deporting somebody before the elections.” Similar strategies are being drawn up by other states. However, people familiar with the matter denied reports that both the Karnataka Congress and the BJP had petitioned the state governor to deport Deve Gowda, although everybody agrees that he is a pseudo-Gowda.
In this connection, adopting a cunning political strategy, the Bihar government is reportedly scouring the country for promising writers who can be prevailed upon to settle in Patna and write verses insulting the Yadav community. “We will then raise a hue and cry about the insults and deport the writer forthwith, ensuring us a large chunk of Yadav votes,” smirked a senior party flunkey from Patna smugly.
Meanwhile, with the elections in Gujarat fast approaching, political parties have stepped up campaigning. Informed sources say that Narendra Modi has thanked Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi for presenting him with the Ram Sethu issue. The grapevine says that Modi will be paying Karunanidhi back at the time of the next Tamil Nadu elections, probably by calling Jayalalitha a pseudo-Dravidian.
On the other hand, the Congress has changed its strategy in Gujarat after the Tehelka sting operation made Modi even more popular. They are now going all out to portray Modi as a gentle, peace-loving person and a special video shows him going around Ahmedabad followed by a lamb, while somebody recites “Modi had a little lamb” in the background. A more sinister video shows him patting children belonging to a minority community on the head. At the same time, the Congress is trying to get Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to campaign for them with the slogan, “What Modi can do, we can do better”. Buddhababu’s refusal to comply has led to his being labelled a pseudo-Marxist.
Also, unconfirmed reports say that the Congress is so put off by Prakash Karat’s refusal to support the nuclear deal that they have floated a rumour that he will soon be leaving the country for a job in the Gulf. CPI(M) sources, however, have vehemently denied this, earning Karat the label of pseudo-Malayali.
(Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint)