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How the people lost in West Bengal

india Updated: Sep 25, 2008 22:06 IST
Sayandeb Chowdhury
Sayandeb Chowdhury
Hindustan Times
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The Nano has made a joke out of West Bengal. The entire world and its drivers were waiting to see if the Rs 1 lakh car comes out of the greenfield venture in Singur or not. And now we pretty much know that it won’t. That is, come out of Singur, a spot that found its proverbial 15 minutes of fame (infamy?) because of the Tata Motors project.

Where the Nano’s new home will be is secondary. But one thing’s for sure: as the factory moves out in small parcels from Singur, it takes away with it that four-lettered thing called hope. French dramatist Jean Anouilh had a nice description for it: “That foul, deceitful thing.” Hope for a better, more industrial and urbane way of life was what the people of Bengal wanted. And it has indeed turned out to be as foul, as deceitful as it has always been.

Bengal is doomed. Bengal was always doomed.

We know Mamata Banerjee is indulging in mindless political roguery. We also know how she has imported her own anti-bhadrolok, sordid kind of language into her politics. But what was relatively unknown is the kind of blood she has injected into her politicking. And much of this has to do with the CPI(M), which after Nandigram is a bit scared to react along its old ways.

Mamata is having fun. But as always, she does not know that she has become a caricature of her own self. And her self-deification is, in the process, destroying a generation’s aspirations.

But beyond Mamata and Singur lies a deeper question. The Nano project had unprecedented support in Bengal, not only from industry, the government, the media and the middle-class, but also from the man on the street and even the man off it in rural Bengal. They all wanted Singur to take shape — everyone, except Mamata and Co. The fact that Mamata has triumphed shows how little the will of the people matters to our political class. And how foolish we all are to think otherwise.