Point, counterpoint | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Point, counterpoint

Judgment day: Some of the bright minds on the campus think Mamata Banerjee is the right person to govern the state and take it forward. Some still vouch for the Left Front. The jury, so to speak, at the law university is still out. Nandini Guha and Swati Tewari write.

kolkata Updated: Apr 06, 2011 18:31 IST

Sreeprupa Chowdhury: I like her work. She has provided job opportunities. She did the Metro extension, and that was much required. She is dedicated.

Jay Sayta: Mamata is whimsical and obnoxious. We need to learn from Bihar.

The campus is sprawling and the lawns are a beautiful light and shade. On a breezy February afternoon, we meet a bunch of bright lawyers to be at the National University of Juridical Sciences — in the hope of witnessing some biases, some straight-talking and some great verbal duels. The young minds want to vote for change but it is not a straight choice between the CPI(M) and the Trinamool. Neither Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee nor Mamata Banerjee emerge clear winners in this campus rumpus, where the issues range from dearth of jobs to flight of capital to poor work culture.

The pro-CPI(M) guys take charge. The student in question is armed with a laptop, a manifesto, some CDs and appears to be well prepared for the ensuing debate. Sabyasachi Chaterjee is indeed hopeful about a reformed CPI(M)-led government being voted back to power. “I am looking forward to the polls. I think the economy is on the right track. We need the participation of the common people to bring out better administrative changes,” said Chaterjee, to be countered immediately by Shourya Sengupta, who disagreed, saying there had actually been degradation in the system.

Cut to Shameek Sen, teacher and research scholar, who said that he is looking forward to an environment where people can work towards building a better Bengal. “I want spontaneous change,” he says. When students pointed out that there had been an excessive rise in violence all across the state, Chatterjee countered by saying that there are political clashes happening in the state that disturb law and order. While Sen said the only way to change the scene was to let Banerjee come to power, he clarified that he would vote for Banerjee for want of any other option.

Agnidipto Tarafdar wants the Left to continue. He says the Left has been ruling for more than three decades and the problems at Lalgarh, Singur, Nandigram started only about three years ago. He feels Lalgarh was a creation of the media and it is not the first time in the state or in the country that people have been killed. Co-student Shourya Sengupta insists that maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the state. And they have failed to do so numerous times. “People cannot keep suffering for the failure on the government’s part. It’s time for some change now,” he said.

The batch has only a few women. Sreeprupa Chowdhury is of the opinion that the only party capable of bringing about the much-required change is the Trinamool Congress. Asked what changes she is looking forward to, she says there should be an overall change in the system. That includes safety, law and order, discipline and many other social and economic changes. If these changes do not take place, then Banerjee’s coming to power will not be justified, she said.

The discussion was hotting up now. Tarafdar brought up the point that land reforms was the major change that the state government brought about. Chowdhury was the first one to voice protest. “Any kind of land reform is of no use if we cannot even afford to give out a small chunk of land for a Nano. All we could offer for industrialisation was a piece of land where farming is done, and if we actually look at that plot, 4 or 5 crops grow there,” she said.

Arun Mal wanted to balance out both arguments. “Why are we only talking about failures? The Left has made some positive strides after all,” said Mal.

Jay Sayta feels politicians have failed miserably. As far as Trinamool was concerned it too did not look free from flaws. “We must take inspiration from Bihar,” he said, much to the angst of his fellow students. “The BJP is an extinct species in Bengal,” said Anirban Chakrabarti.

Mayank Mikhail Mukherjee seems to be confused about whom he should vote for. He feels none of the two parties are free from flaws. His greatest concern is about getting a job. “Today, the job market looks so grim in the state that almost 90% youngsters do not wish to get stuck in Kolkata”, he says. When people move to Delhi, he is sure of the fact that they will be able make a better name for themselves and will earn lot more than what they earn in Kolkata, echoed a few students.

Most students appear to be cynical about both parties and none of the two leaders appear to be the unequivocal choice. As for the ruling party here, they have been following principles as promoted by books in China and Russia. “On one hand we have a party going through ideological changes while on the other hand we have a party that doesn’t have any ideology or any leader at all. What will I do with so many trains? What I need is a job of my choice, and my big question is that whoever comes in power, will he or she guarantee me that?” queried Shourya Sengupta.

On the issue of party leadership, some students felt that the Trinamool suffered from dictatorship by Banerjee. “No one has the right to even voice their own opinion in the Trinamool,” rued Agnidipto Tarafdar.

Sreeprupa Chowdhury picks up the cudgels for Mamata by saying many take Mamata lightly as she talks loudly and can’t speak proper English. “But she has done her job well wherever required. She has created jobs,” she said. Tarafdar, who by now has emerged as a true CPI(M) fan, insists that there has been development and people have got jobs in the city. So, the jury’s still out...

The HT team that visited NUJS also comprised Mou Chakraborty and Subhendu Ghosh