"Change" in Bengal

Posted: September 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

Recently, I was in my hometown – Kolkata, for a short 4 day trip. Like many of my friends, I had never been too much interested in the political scenario that exists in Bengal. The dominance of the Left front over the last few decades never impressed me at all, but neither did it create any heartburn – because it really never seemed to matter to me. However, a small incident during my visit to Kolkata last week left me thinking a bit… So let me share it here.

I was supposed to meet some of my friends at City Centre and I was standing near Bangur for a bus to Ultadanga. It was early evening and I had to keep waiting for a while since almost one-third private vehicles in Kolkata were off the road due to some Supreme Court ruling that was passed for banning old, polluting vehicles (And believe me, more than one-thirds of t

he entire vehicle strength in Kolkata fall into this category!)

I was waiting for my ‘DN 8’ bus when suddenly I sensed an old man standing beside me at the bus stop. He was a frail person and was standing there with effort using a stick – a typical picture of one of those many old gentlemen in Bengal who are left to fight out life themselves with their children having left them on growing up (He later told me he was 83). He requested me to tell him whenever a ‘223’ route  bus comes in as he had to go to Golpark. Since I still had enough time before my friends would turn up at City Centre, I decided to let go of one my ‘DN 8’ buses to help the person out.

We kept waiting for a while… but there was no ‘223’ in sight. Then the old gentleman started talking. It suddenly seemed to dawn on him that it was because of the Supreme Court ruling that the CPIM government was forced to take the buses off the road – something they would have never done otherwise keeping the huge vote-bank of the bus operators in mind. He smirked at the indifference shown by one of the CPIM bosses the other day when asked by reporters that so many buses off the road are creating lots of discomfort to the general Kolkata people who commuted using public transport. When confronted with such questions from reported, the minister had replied with a callous “Is that so?”… While going on with his reflections and perspectives of the political scenario in West Bengal, suddenly the old gentleman grabbed my hand and exclaimed: “Ebar ekta poriborton antei hobe” (“A change has to come now”)! He continued that we can always elect back the Marxists after 5 years if the other party failed to perform, but a change for once was definitely due.  At the end of our conversation (which was more of a monologue in which I chipped in occasionally with a nod of agreement or two), he lamented “Ami to ar beshi din thakbo na… Dekho jodi tomra ekbar ekta poriborton ante paro kina” (“I won’t live for too long… But see if you can someday bring some change or not”).

No ‘223’ route bus came in that evening thanks to the ban – and I helped the old gentleman into an alternate bus. Soon I reached City Centre and was engrossed in fun times with my friends… But the thoughts of the old gentleman came back to me again late that night. Somehow then innate passion in whatever he said was haunting me. I did not know how to bring about the change he was talking about, I did not know how to do justice to this frail old gentleman’s thoughts. So I decided to write this blog.

I don’t harbor either leftist or rightist views when it comes to politics… and don’t want to! But maybe a change is indeed due in Bengal. Whatever we have there right now is not democracy – Its something else!

Barrack Obama, in one of his pre-election campaign speeches delivered an awesome punch-line, which was something like this:

“History says that when the country is going down the drain, Change does come FROM Washington… Change comes TO Washington”
And going by the current situation and discontent among the people of Bengal, a similar line may be delivered by replacing Washington by Writers Building, Kolkata as well! 

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