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Didi-sco lights out

For the West Bengal chief minister, Kolkata can be either fun or safe. Sorry, it can’t be both.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2012 23:00 IST

One foolproof way of ensuring that you don’t have dandruff is to get your head chopped off. A bit drastic, yes. But no one can ever argue that you weren’t serious about getting rid of the menace. Mamata Banerjee, who’s atypically a fun chief minister, has decided to close down all bars and nightclubs in Kolkata by the stroke of midnight. This is in response to the recent case of the rape of a woman while she was returning from a downtown nightclub. The CM had gone on a foot-in-mouth spree in the aftermath of the heinous incident, first, pointing out that rape cases in West Bengal were “conspiracies” created by the Left Front opposition, and two, that Bengalis were “incapable” of committing such a crime. The backlash she faced made her come up with something totally outside of the box: shutting down nightspots at 12 pm. In a way, Kolkata just got Bangalored.

Instead of ensuring that amenities, including the presence of law enforcement at late hours, are geared to make the city safer at night, Ms Banerjee has taken a leaf out of the previous government’s knee-jerk to go for the softest target in the chain: ‘oposhonshkriti’ (decadent culture) represented in spots where alcohol is consumed by women in the presence of alcohol-consuming men.

Ms Banerjee hasn’t shirked from using incidents of ‘political’ rape that took place under the previous regime to attack the Left Front government. She was famously removed from outside the then chief minister Jyoti Basu’s office while agitating against a rape allegedly committed by CPI(M) goons. So her ‘solution’ to make Kolkata safe has been rather banal. Since keeping women of the state within the four walls of their homes isn’t an option, Ms Banerjee’s now sought the easy way out by truncating Kolkata’s legendary nightlife — it’s only antidote to the city’s equally legendary sedentary daylife.