Mamata banerjee has quoted Newton’s Third Law of Motion to explain away her party’s unprecedented act of vandalism in the West Bengal assembly last week. According to Ms Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress’s trashing the assembly was an equal and opposite reaction to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s ‘unmitigated arrogance’ and the state government’s ‘excesses’. By that, of course, she means Mr Bhattacharjee’s decision to go ahead with the Tata Motors project at Singur, against which Ms Banerjee has been howling so much about. But it was the effects of the Second Law of Thermodynamics — a system moving towards disorder and emitting energy in the process — that the people of West Bengal witnessed when the Left Front government threw open the doors of the assembly to the public to showcase the Trinamool mayhem.
For those with traditional notions of Left and non-Left politics in this country, West Bengal can be very puzzling. It is the Left Front government that has earmarked agricultural land for the purpose of a private company setting up an automobile plant. Considering that this would mean more jobs, more industry — and, therefore, more proletarians — this makes practical as well as political sense. But many people, including the Delhi-based Left, are uncomfortable about unleashing a capitalist revolution. The flip side to Mr Bhattacharjee’s pragmatism is that someone else needs to fill the shoes of the ‘howling Jacobins’, the space occupied by the popular mob that was till the other day fuelled by the Old Left in West Bengal.
Going on a rampage in the assembly is an extension of the mayhem unleashed outside on the streets. This is something that Ms Banerjee, rudderless and flailing, has learnt to do well from the predecessors of the present West Bengal government. Unfortunately for her, the times and the mood of the people have changed.