Shit happens. While the nation (and that includes many of us who are appalled by the Amitabh-Aamir blog-fest against Shah Rukh) desperately wants to know how to put a stop to terrorist attacks like the serial blasts witnessed in Jaipur on Tuesday, another act of terror remains a local affair, a proverbial flash in the proverbial pan, outside the checklist of worries of a proverbial nation. It’s during these times that I think that maybe, just maybe, it would have been better if we were a smaller country, say, the size of Belgium or Japan. In that scale of things, the shit that happened last week during the panchayat elections in West Bengal would have probably got the notice of our proverbial national leaders (and readers). Heck, with a few candle-light vigils and protest marches, it would have been as big as the public protests against the Beijing Olympic Games.
Unlike in Jaipur — or, for that matter, in those many other terrorist attacks across the country before last week — what happened in Bengal was not the handiwork of shadowy enemies of the State. The murder of ten people — always a flimsy number to bring to people’s notice in this country even in these inflationary days — by rival political parties was not the work of any ‘foreign hand’. It was the result of straight and simple turf battles. In the latest incident that involved the burning to death of members of the family of RSP (Revolutionary Socialist Party) leader and West Bengal Irrigation Minister Subhas Naskar, it was a gangland fight between rival allies of the ruling Left Front government, the CPI(M) and the RSP. The violence was a ‘natural’ consequence of the two allies — but bitter rivals in the sub-district of Basanti in South 24 Parganas district — not fixing a comfortable seat-sharing formula before the polls. Arrests have been made, comments have been aired. But at the end of the day, as one senior CPI(M) minister stated, the “incident was unfortunate” but “such things happen”.
It is this aspect of the murders, an off-shoot of regular political activity in the bhadralok state so ‘much more civilised than Bihar or UP’, that makes everything astoundingly ‘normal’. While CPI(M) überlords in AKG Bhavan in Delhi defend the nation from nefarious deals with the hegemonic Americans, there’s not a peep out of their corrugated mouths when it comes to some of their lads literally burning down the house some 90 kms away from where Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee puts himself to sleep after reading his daily Mayakosvky.
We’re ready to growl when the New York Times or the London Times puts an item about a grand Indian tragedy in their inside pages, while two people and a cat stranded in a cyclone in Connecticut, or a murder of a dope-dealer in Greater Manchester, gets Page 1 play. But when such mainstream political violence claiming lives — and claiming them with impunity and with a CM saying that these are “stray incidents” — happen under our elbows (if not our noses), what is our reaction? a) This kind of unfortunate thing happens all the time. b) This is Real India. c) Dirty politics, sigh...
The funny thing about the latest round of violence between the RSP and the CPI(M) is that it’s seen as a domestic, internal matter that concerns no one except the Left Front family. When some hub-bub reaches the Centre, it is over the matter of CRPF forces, who have been overlooking the panchayat elections in Bengal, being accused by a CPI(M) MLA and the local police of having committed rape (and that they should get out of the area and let election-time ‘normal things’ proceed).
It’s rather apt that the day the Kolkata IPL team was mauled in the Eden Gardens, Gouri Nashkar, whose house was bombed and set ablaze on Thursday by CPI(M) goons, succumbed to burn injuries and died.
Shit happens. But only if it is known to happen (like, say, a 67 all out score card). And, of course, if, after such knowledge, the incident is recognised as being shit.