Bengal parties on foundation stone-laying, inauguration spree

Kolkata, Feb 27 (IANS) With dates for elections to the West Bengal assembly likely to be announced next week, political parties are on a spree of stone-laying ceremonies and inaugurations across the state.

The opposition Trinamool Congress is well ahead of the ruling Left Front in terms of number of programmes.

While party chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee busy in Delhi for parliament’s budget session, Trinamool MPs and state leaders were busy inaugurating various projects and the laying the foundation stones of various projects.

A renovated and air-conditioned indoor stadium of Eastern Railways was inaugurated by Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee and opposition leader Partha Chatterjee in Kolkata’s Behala area, while the foundation stone of Hooghly river beautification project was laid by Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy.

Trinmool MP Sudip Bandopadhyay laid the foundation stone of Kamardanga Halt station, while Minister of State for Rural Development Sisir Adhikari inaugurated the new computerised rail reservation centre at Egra area in East Medinipur district.

All these programmes had advertisements in various dailies across the state which screamed ‘with the initiative of Mamata Banerjee’.

Meanwhile, a new office of Housing Development Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) was inaugurated by Tripura Chief Minister and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Manik Sarkar in Jyoti Basu Nagar area of North 24 Parganas district. The program was also attended by state Housing Minister Gautam Deb.

Source: Sify News

Divisive politics of West Bengal

Shikha Mukerjee: The Pioneer

Regime change in West Bengal is turning out to be a bitter political battle in which the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress are evenly matched. In the process, the State is rapidly descending into a spiral of violence.

Clean and effective Government seems to be what voters want. Voter satisfaction, it would appear, can be gained by providing the minimum that citizenship entitles the citizen to, if not uniformly and of a very high order, but nevertheless tangible and sustained, if the Pundits have correctly read the verdict in Bihar.

The attributes of clean and effective are difficult to identify, because expectations in India about what constitutes clean are probably based on a totally distorted idea of the requirements for probity in public life. The same is true of what constitutes effectiveness. One feature of what constitutes effectiveness, extrapolating from the Bihar verdict, appears to be basic law and order measured in terms of greater mobility of women and school going girls on bicycles.

Therefore, clean and effective boils down to a serious scaling down of the routines of bribery and corruption that public officials have engaged in historically in order to live beyond their official means and a stable law and order regime that allows people to feel reasonably secure, though not entirely risk free. In other words, some semblance of the rule of law has been re-established in the badlands of Bihar.

In contrast, the frequency of violent episodes and the spiralling death count in West Bengal indicates that the effectiveness of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front Government to deliver minimum law and order to its citizens has been seriously impaired. The death count provided by the CPI(M) of its own members and supporters in the Maoist infested areas of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia is over 280. Not a week goes by without a minimum of one more dead in either Binpur or Shalboni or Jhargram and now again Khejuri made famous during the confrontations over identifying Nandigram as a possible location for establishing a Special Economic Zone. Not a week goes by without some attack, even burning down of a political party’s office somewhere in the State. This is lawlessness.

The deliberate disruption of the normal is appalling. It is a shame that politics has grown so undemocratic in West Bengal, so violent and vicious that refugees of political violence returning home to Kamardah village in Khejuri block of West Midnapore district after months of a precarious existence in camps were attacked once again. The fate of the returning residents of Kamardah is to be forever victims of a political rivalry that is ugly and inhuman. Trapped between the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress, the villagers are pawns to be moved around to serve the political purpose of ‘recapture’ or ‘sanitisation;’ if the CPI(M) stands accused of ‘recapture’ then the Trinamool Congress stands accused of ‘sanitising’ Kamardah and Khejuri of supporters of the CPI(M).

If the CPI(M) is accused of using armed cadres to cover the return of the political refugees, then so should the Trinamool Congress be accused of mobilising overwhelming counter force to prevent the return of the refugees. When political conflict between parliamentary parties reaches a point where force and counter force are the norm rather than the exception, then the one value that becomes debased is the minimum tolerance required in a democratic polity, When law and order is not delivered to the citizen as the minimum condition then no political party ought to be allowed to escape from the responsibility of vitiating the normal to the point that the abnormal becomes routine.

The clash of politics in West Bengal in the last 10 years has resulted in hundreds of deaths. It is incidental that the CPI(M) counts the number of its dead since May 2008 and estimates that about 280 have been victims of Maoist violence. Before 2008 there were political clashes. Ordinary people died. Of that 14 died in the police action in Nandigram. The remaining dead were victims of political clashes. In Nanoor in Birbhum 11 landless peasants died in 2000. In July 2010, Ananda Das, an ex-legislator died. In May Sanjay Ghosh and Al Amin Sheikh were killed.

The clash of politics in West Bengal in the last 10 years has resulted in hundreds of dwellings, be they so humble as mud huts, being burnt and trashed. The escalating numbers in the past five years of destruction and damage of private property reveals the deterioration of law and order. No political party can avoid being blamed for what has happened, because people whose homes were destroyed or damaged were supporters of different political parties. As the dominant political force in West Bengal, the CPI(M)’s share of the blame is greater. But the Opposition is not blameless.

The violence and destruction as a resultant of political conflict has meant a loss of the sense of security that is the fundamental right of every citizen in West Bengal. With fear as a factor, the quality of political life in the State has declined. The decline is not limited to the areas where the Maoists are active in spreading their particularly potent brew of barbarous beheadings, kangaroo courts, night raids and day-time cordons around villages and fields. The decline includes places where political intolerance is rampant, with territories being marked off as belonging to one party or the other.

However divisive the politics in West Bengal is, that does not constitute a reason for the absence of law and order and the fundamental right to a secure life for every citizen. Regime change in West Bengal is turning out to be a war, in which the Government side and the Opposition are evenly matched. History may compare the period after 2006 to West Bengal’s worst period of political turmoil, the period after 1968, when terror stalked the streets of Kolkata and nothing and nobody was safe.

West Bengal signals death of communism

By Mahendra Ved

THE road to the dictatorship of the proletariat, Vladimir Lenin once said, lay from Moscow to Beijing to Calcutta.

In 1890, Swami Vivekananda wrote in Adwaita Ashram Journal about the “beginning of a new era either in Russia or China”. He made no reference to India. India’s communists claim that Vivekananda’s views are similar to those of Karl Marx.

While Moscow demolished Lenin’s statues after seven decades of experiment, Beijing, though formally communist, has turned pragmatic, even capitalist, courting multinational corporations.

Indians are not given to breaking statues. Lenin’s statue, which adorns the main square of Calcutta, now Kolkata, may remain untouched. But the city from where the British once ruled large parts of Asia has just witnessed a political shocker that is a red signal for the Reds.

This month’s civic elections show that the communists, ruling West Bengal for a record 34 years, are in trouble. A series of setbacks for the comrades — from the village panchayat polls in 2008 through last year’s parliamentary elections — underscore the deep popular disenchantment with them.

Come the state assembly polls a year away, there is every chance that the Left Front might be defeated.

Squabbling communists also rule in Kerala. Going by the trend of power being won and lost every five years, it is their turn to lose.

 

Durga Puja this year with happy ending

Four days of revelry and merriment came to an end Sunday as idols of goddess Durga and her four children were immersed by teary-eyed devotees in ponds, lakes and rivers across West Bengal on Bijoya Dashami.

The banks of the Ganga and other rivers wore a festive look, as puja organisers came in colourful processions to the accompaniment of drums to immerse idols of the goddess and her four children — Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik.

Hundreds of devotees, including the young, joined hands to gently lower the idols into the river. An element of emptiness at the end of the biggest celebration in this part of the country overcame all and sundry, but they consoled themselves shouting “Asche bochor abar hobe” (See you next year).

Central Kolkata’s Babughat, a popular stretch on the Ganga, was the centre of attraction as it drew a large number of people, even from abroad, who soaked in the festive spirit.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s truly beautiful and splendid. When I go home and show these photos to my folks they will envy me so much,” said a William Browne, busy capturing every moment of the immersion ceremonies on his sophisticated single-lens reflex (SLR) camera.

The immersion ceremony symbolises the end of the goddess’ annual sojourn to her paternal home and she returns to her husband Lord Shiva at their heavenly abode in Mount Kailash.

Tight security arrangements were made at the river banks and launches were kept ready to rescue people in case of emergencies, the police said.

“No untoward incidents have been reported. There is adequate police deployment in the seven ghats on the banks of the Ganga. Things are going on smoothly,” said an officer manning the city police control room.

CCTV cameras have been installed at the immersion sites, while the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has deployed 300 personnel on the seven ghats to ensure that the river is not polluted by dropping pith and flowers.

“We have earmarked spots at the river bank where these substances have to be thrown,” said a KMC mayor-in-council member (Parks and Squares) Debasish Kumar.

In the morning, married women smeared the goddess and her children with red vermilion and offered sweets and prayed for the well-being of their families and long lives of their husbands.

School students visited the marquees and kept their books and pens before the goddess seeking her blessings for a good academic record. As evening descended, large parts of the city got clogged as idols of big ticket community pujas were taken for immersion in big and colourful processions accompanied by a large number of devotees. Late in the afternoon, however, most of the idols in residential apartments or houses of one-time zamindars (big landowners) were immersed after being carried on hand as per tradition.

Members of some of these families also carried a symbolic clay of Neel Kontho Pakhi – a bird with a blue neck – with them. It is the carryover of a practice in the times of the zamindars who used to set free these birds before immersion.

There were long queues before sweet shops as people started visiting relatives and friends to hug and wish each other “Shubho Bijoya” – Happy bijoya Dashami.

Idols immersed on Dashami as Durga Puja ends

Kolkata, Oct 17 (IANS) Ending four days of revelry and celebration, idols of goddess Durga and her children were immersed by teary-eyed devotees in ponds, lakes and rivers across West Bengal on Vijaya Dashami Sunday.

Banks of the Ganga and other rivers wore a festive look, as puja organisers came in colourful processions to the accompaniment of drums to immerse idols of the goddess and her four children — Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartik.

Hundreds of devotees, including the young, joined hands to gently lower the idols into the river. An element of emptiness at the end of the biggest celebration in this part of the country overcame all and sundry, but they consoled themselves shouting “Asche bochor abar hobe” (See you next year).

The immersion ceremony symbolises the end of the goddess’ annual sojourn to her paternal home and she returns to her husband Lord Shiva at their heavenly abode in Mount Kailash.

Tight security arrangements were made at the river banks and launches were kept ready to rescue people in case of emergencies, the police said.

In the morning, married women smeared the goddess and her children with red vermilion and offered sweets and prayed for the well-being of their families and long lives of their husbands.

There were long queues before sweet shops as people started visiting relatives and friends to hug and wish each other “Shubho Bijoya” – Happy Bijoya Dashami. (IANS)

Job Charnock not Kolkata founder: Saborna Parivar

The Saborna Choudhury Parivar Parishad claimed in 2000 in the High Court that Kolkata was neither found by Job Charnock nor is its birthday on August 24.

Parivar secretary Gora Roy Choudhury said the state government has intentionally tried to change facts recorded in history.

The Parivar says Charnock died in 1692 and the sale deed was signed on November 10, 1698, by his son-in-law Charles Eyre. Even that deed was illegal as two minor sons of the Parivar – Mahadev and Rambhadra – signed the deed along with Ramchandra and Pran. This deed was written in the Persian language and a copy of it is preserved in Victoria Memorial, but without an English translation. Finally, the British Library sent a copy of the deed to the family, reportedly at the intervention of the then Prime Minister John Major.

The Parivar says no individual can be the founder of a city; an individual can only modernise one.

According to history, Adisura, a relative of the King of Kanauj, was sent to Bengal as its ruler in the ninth century. As there was no Vedic system prevalent in Bengal at the time, Adisura brought five Brahmins from Kanauj – Sriharsa, Vattanarayan, Daksha, Chandra and Vedgarva. The Vedgarva family finally settled in Gangaram, a villege on the bank of river Ajay. They came to be recognized as the Gangopadhyayas.

The Parivar says the 13th descendant of Vedagarva Lakshmikanta modernized the city. He was born in 1570. His mother Padmavati died within three days of his birth and his father Zia renounced the world and came to be known as Kamdev Brahmachari. After completing his education, Lakshmikanta joined as an officer of the revenue department in the court of Bikramaditya.

After the death of the king, he was replaced by his son Pratapaditya. Pratapaditya was defeated by the general of Akbar Man Singh. Legend has it that Lakshmikanta’s father Kamdev Brahmachari gave valuable advice to Man Singh about the weather and other details. He also provided Man Singh’s army advice on how to avoid malaria and jungle fever in the Sunderbans.

Man Singh easily defeated Pratapaditya. In gratitude, Man Singh gave zamindari of eight villages, including Kolkata, to the Brahmachari’s son Lakshmikanta and conferred on him the title of Majumdar. He was the person who developed the village of Kolkata and according to the Parivar should be regarded as the real founder of the city. Lakshmikanta adopted the title of Roy Choudhury and his zamindari flourished so much that it is said he earned as much as Rs 12 lakhs from his properties in Kolkata.

Source: The Asian Age, 23 August 2000

বানারহাট জঙ্গলে ট্রেনএ কাটা পড়ে আবারও ৭টি হাতির মৃত্যু

উত্তরবঙ্গঃ আবারও ৭টা হাতি ট্রেনে কাটা পড়ল বানারহাট এর ঘন জংগলে। গতকাল মাঝ্ রাতে একটি হাতির দল যখন রেল লাইন পার হছিল তখন মালবাহী ট্রেনটি দ্রুতগতিতে এসে হাতির দলটিকে চাপা দেয়।

পরিবেশবাদীরা অনেকবার রেল কত্রিপক্ষকে অভিযোগ করেছিলেন যে ট্রেন লাইন জঙ্গলের মধ্যে দিয়ে না চালাতে, কিন্তূ কোনো লাভ হয়নি। এমনকি পরিবেশবাদীরা রেল কত্রিপক্ষকে অনুরোধ করেছিল যাতে ড্রাইভাররা জঙ্গলে ট্রেন ধীরে চালান। কিন্তূ তাদের কোনো হেলদোল নেই।

গত কয়েক বছরে বেশ কিছু হাতি ট্রেনএ কাটা পড়েছে। বর্তমানে প্রায় ২৬০০০ বন্য হাতি জীবিত আছে। তাই এদের বাঁচানো দরকার।

Kolkata will enjoy lead-free Durga puja this year

Kolkata and some other places of West Bengal will enjoy lead-free Durga Puja in 2010 as the Puja committee representatives promised that they will use lead-free paints and other eco-friendly material for Durga Puja. On 14th August 2010, the Durga Puja committee representatives of Kolkata and surrounding areas had a meeting and decided to use the above said material to protect the environment from puja-mark pollution.

The Puja committee representatives will also meet municipality chair persons of South Bengal on August 26th to discuss the issue further. In 2010, the number of Durga idols will increase substantially and all of them may lead-free and eco-friendly. It is to note that Durga Puja 2010 in Bengal starts on 13th October and ends on 17th October 2010.