Buddha Bar

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As expected, the Communist Party of India Marxist is slated to win again the state elections in Bengal—increasing its hold upto a possible 3/4 majority. When you consider that this is the same party which has held sway for 30 odd years now, that is some feat in a democratic society.

Many readers of RTDM, on different occasions, have expressed their amazement as to why and how the CPM has remained in power for so many years without opposition of any sort, impervious to anti-incumbency, sympathy waves and other political opinion sweepers that have remoulded the landscape everywhere else.

Now may be a good time to look at that.

One group of people would say that the CPM has tentacled itself into the system in such a way that it is almost impossible to remove them. They point out the education system where from VCs to school-teachers, you get ‘in’ only if the party approves of you. The CPM, according to them, thrives on the migration of industry from the state that their militant trade unionism brings about. This is because the consequent loss of jobs and unrest it creates allows the CPM to tap into a steady flow of dissatisfied men and women who can be “caderized” with the least amount of effort.

The secret of the CPM’s success, they opine, stems from its realization that people hate corruption as long as they are not a part of it. Which is why the CPM has democratized corruption by letting a large section of people benefit from it. Each section of the party down to the lowest foot-soldier is given some privilege in proportion to his/her influence unlike in other parties where the leaders eat up everything leaving only the empty plate for their underlings. Similarly, under the guise of land reforms, the CPM government took land from one and distributed it to hundreds of party men (basically illegal encroachers) thus creating vote banks in all perpetuity.

And to make things doubly sure, they point out that the CPM has, over the years, engaged in massive rigging which unlike the Bihar/UP version frequently does not entail actually capturing booths but instead consists of voter intimidation and fudging electoral rolls. “Scientific rigging” it is called and the way it operates is that in the “posh areas” of the city, CPM workers jam lines with bogus voters thus irritating the “bhodrolok” (gentle folk) who consequently leave the line after standing for hours—and then their “false vote” is cast. In many places, the line is intentionally kept in the hot sun so that people will just go home. In the inner city, bike gangs of CPM musclemen keep watch so that people do not go out to vote.

The clincher: CPM has been in power for so many years simply because they have never allowed the development of any credible alternative. Opposition leaders were allowed to have their own “spheres of influence” i.e. fiefdoms where they are the only “big bosses” (with its concomitant benefits). In return, they are asked to merely make the right noises but otherwise do nothing—an arrangement that suits them fine since they also get to have their snout in the trough. As a result, they too become part of the “system”.

If you ask another group of people, they will point to CPM’s glowing achievements in rural land reforms that have been lauded by independent evaluators. They will also mention the undeniable fact that corruption in the CPM is on a much lower intensity than in political parties all over India. Jyoti Basu is never weighed in gold, no one rolls at the foot of Buddha, the weddings of the daughters of the top brass do not bring the city to a halt. Party functionaries are by and large literate, most ministers have college degrees, some have PhDs ( unlike Mamata who has a fake one ) and no one rules from inside a jail. And their record in maintaining communal harmony in a state that witnessed the worst pre-Independence violence is worth applauding.

In short, the reason that the CPM is in power for almost thirty years is because they are the best choice in Bengal—a reasonably clean, truly secular party that towers over the alternative: a bunch of in-fighting local musclemen who have no policy other than to do away with the Left (and that too for appearance’s sake only).

So given these two opposite viewpoints, which one is the truth? All of the above. And that includes the contradictions.

Growing up in Calcutta in the late 80s and early/mid 90s it was difficult to have any love for the CPM. Frequent load shedding (power cuts), abysmal condition of roads, industries fleeing from the state one by one. Of course, some may point out that the power situation became much better in the mid 90s but that was perhaps because there were no industries left for which there was always an excess supply.

If one wishes to understand the state of Calcutta in those days, one needs to see the movie “Atanka” (Terror) in which a schoolmaster is intimidated by local roughs after he witnesses a murder where one of the murderers used to be his star pupil. “Atanka” depicts a Calcutta where local toughs backed by politicians are the law. They exercise total control over the community and spend their time extorting money under the guise of “Puja” and locality events and engaging in political violence.

When a person in the movie tries to protest, they make his maidservant falsely accuse him of inappropriate advances, extort money from the poor man to pay off the “abused” maidservant and then publicly humiliate him. When another (the schoolmaster) tries to rise against the gang headed by his former student, he is beaten up, his son has his ribs broken and his daughter has acid thrown in her face.

This was Calcutta’s reality in those days — a city shrouded by fear. And  worst of all, there was no dissenting voice. No opposition to speak of. They were either afraid, had sold out or were dead.

And then Mamata Banerjee arrived on the scene. Honest, brave and never backing away from a fight, she presented a stark contrast to Jyoti Basu’s arrogant “I don’t care for anyone I will win elections anyways” attitude. Matters came to a head when in full daylight, a CPM goon crunched open her skull when she was walking down a busy thoroughfare. I remember my mother coming to pick me up when I was in Class IX ,doing a BASIC course in a computer institute because violence had broken out in the streets. On the way back, I was treated to a snapshot of CPM Rajya I will never forget: gangs of men descending from different corners of Gariahat (a busy intersection) with hockey sticks and acid bulbs. And this was supposed to be one of the “gentler” areas of the city.

This was the time around which, the CPM , despite its seemingly impregnable hold of the State, started losing votes in Calcutta. In parliamentary elections, only one CPM candidate won from Calcutta. The Calcutta municipal corporation was lost by the CPM. This was unthinkable.

And then something very significant happened. Jyoti Basu, under whom the law and order machinery had gone south “stepped down” and Buddhadeb came to power. Buddhadeb was always a bit of a maverick—he had quit the CPM a few years ago in protest against the widespread influence of land developers in party politics.

Buddhadeb, a young (by Indian standards) and corruption-free man, brought about a sea-change in the way Bengal was being run. He consciously started working on curbing trade-unionism and promoting IT (something the CPM always frowned upon as an imperialist conspiracy that takes away jobs). Indeed when I went to Calcutta after some time last year, I was bowled over by the change the man has brought to Calcutta. He had accomplished within 3 years (roads and infrastructure) what I had not seen in my 24 years in the city. Captains of industry were singing paeans of praise for him. And most importantly, he had rolled back the principle of “Keep the people dissatisfied and angry”. Calcuttans had jobs, the city seemed more upbeat, areas that had once been hotbeds of violence and murder had been transformed into capitalist centers of affluence.

Suffice to say, I was very very impressed.

Has Buddha managed to reform the CPM? Perhaps not and that is because he still has a constituency to cater to and compromises to make. What he has done so far, though significant, is still merely a drop in the ocean because decades of bad decisions need to be reversed. It is something Buddha accepts: unlike many Indian politicians he is not averse to accepting that his party has made mistakes. For example, he is keen to roll back the misguided populist measure of the CPM by which English was being taught only from Class 6 in government schools which greatly handicapped Bengal students who had to appear in competitive all-India exams administered in English. Whether he will be able to do all that he promises is a totally different matter but at least the right noises are being made.

Politics in India has always been personality-based and Buddha’s pro-market, forward-looking approach that seeks to distance itself from the CPM’s traditional ideology-driven baggage has given CPM a new relevance in today’s global economy. In a way, CPM is Communist in name only as far as Bengal is concerned. And thank heavens for that.

The message of CPM’s well-deserved resurgence has gone across. And that is why in centrally administered polls which have universally been acknowledged to have been fair, 70% of the electorate have voted and it seems that the CPM will strengthen its gains.

Yes it is also true that there is no alternative to Buddha. None.

Because Mamata Banerjee has shown herself to be moody, irrational and divisive. She also has been unable to offer anything in terms of a positive policy. Her misuse of bandhs (originally a CPM weapon) on every little occasion has contributed in no small way to the general disillusionment with her.

Summing up, Buddha has many challenges to face: not the least from people who want the old system to continue. But he has shown, by his actions, that he indeed is ready to do whatever it takes to attain his goals— even if that means going against the trade union dadas who have historically had a stranglehold on CPM policy. He has ideas for agriculture and for industry and during the election has aggressively highlighted the fact that he has a positive agenda for the state’s progress and not the standard (Down with the Congress, down with the Trinamool) drivel we are so used to.

Of course Bengal is not just Calcutta and his job has just begun.

Here is wishing him the best.

God damn. Growing up in Calcutta in the 80s and 90s, I never thought I would be ever saying this about a CPM chief-minister.

But it is true. Buddha is the best we got. By a long long shot.

And the CPM has won this time mainly because it deserved to.

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184 thoughts on “Buddha Bar

  1. Uh -oh ! Methinks you are stepping into another landmine by ‘supporting’ a commie 🙂
    (no matter how much subtle reasoning you have shown, that’s how some people are going to read into it eventually!)

    Anyway, good analysis. In the 80s Congress was never a viable alternative in WB – remember the ‘tarmooj’ (watermelon) reference – green on outside and red inside. I remember many people in those days used to vote for CPM at state level and Congress at center. There was a brief flirtation with the Trinamool/BJP – but as you mentioned, with Buddhadeb making the right noises about job/industry/infrastructure – status quo is back!

    I have heard good thing about Buddhadeb from other people too – some who were virulently anti-CPM – so he must be on the right track. We can only hope.

  2. Pulling in Buddha was a masterstroke. Just when dissatisfaction with Basu had reached its peak, they removed him. Not only did this kill alot of the opposition’s campaign, which was targetted at Basu, it also completely negated the anti-incumbency effect, because the incumbent was no longer in charge.

    There’s a little story about Buddha Babu that I like to narrate. I was in college around the same time as the daughters of three CPI(M) bigwigs – Anil Biswas’ daughter Ajanta was a batch junior to me, Buddhadeb’s daughter Suchetana was two batches down, and Asim Dasgupta’s daughter Ujani was three batches down.

    The year after I graduated, Ajanta and Suchetana appeared for their Part II and Part I exams respectively. Ajanta got a first class first in History, even though everyone knew perfectly well that she didn’t deserve it. In fact, the college professors all made it a point to congratulate the boy who stood second. Suchetana did not even get a first class. A few days later, she was standing in line like any other student with a request for a re-evaluation. Ultimately after re-evaluation, she managed to just get a first class, but was nowhere near first.

    The fact that Buddhadeb, in a state where his party is above the law and minor officials are not averse to misusing the state machinery for their benefit, chose to not bend the rules for his daughter is a remarkable testimonial to the man’s honesty. Especially when you compare him to his predecessor who allowed his son to reach into the state till whenever he felt like.

  3. Addendum: I have been violently anti-communist most of my life, and was a vociferous supporter of Mamata Banerjee on the sole grounds that she had a realistic chance of ousting the commies. This time, I voted CPI(M), even though the Trinamool candidate had worked for the constituency. I considered it a vote for the Chief Minister.

  4. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: I don’t believe in any ism be it capitalism, socialism, communism – as long as the govt does what it is meant to do. There are two main reasons behind the Left front’s victory in WB (although it will take another day for the results to be out – it is a foregone conclusion).There are two pockets – rural and urban. Over the last few years, the left front has made sure about their hold in villages, towns by as you rightly said spreading the benefit butter evenly from top to the bottom rung. So they are sure of their vote bank and thus have taken care of the rural pockets. What they were not sure was about the city named Calcutta – that is the urban pocket. The stepping down of Jyoti Babu was the turning point in CPM’s history as far as the urban pocket is concerned. Jyoti babu is considered to be the most arrogant, devoid of reality and rigid personality by the urban folks. Although it is CPM where everybody is supposed to be equal, everybody treated Jyoti babu as GOD – no going against him. Then comes Buddha who is open minded, has the guts to admit his fault, listens to people – at least he gives the impression of approachability. Of course he is pragmatic and realizes the need for industries, infrastructures, power etc etc. And he is shrewd enough to deliver some of his ideas to the urban folks way before the elections just to prove that he means business and wow by that he has won their hearts and votes. Besides there are no alternative parties worth the salt in WB – instead of fighting the left front they keep on fighting amoung themselves!!!
    In any case the new avatar of CPM is just a shadow of communists that they once were. From the angle of policy and its implementations, CPM has become capitalist with a big C – the only difference is that they are red outside – not out of anger but out of sheer satisfaction – they are flushed red with joy.

  5. Reading your post made me very sad.

    A dog is starved and kicked and whipped with a studded belt by its owner. One day the owner gives it to his son who tortures it a bit less; he feeds it now and then and only kicks it in its stomach. The dog is so happy it refuses to go with another stranger who tries to rescue it.

    Some would call it a stockholmish syndrome whereby the dog starts liking its torturer. Some would say the dog had no other choice.
    Yet others would say that the dog had no self-respect; whimpering pathetically at the kicks and yelping happily at whatever morsels he throws at it now and then.

    I would just say it is sad.

    What perverse mindset leads people to support the CPIM in Bengal; Mugabe in Zimbabwe? To improve the political situation in India and other such places, one must first study this disease.

  6. A very nice and timely post Arnabda (though I was half expecting something on some of your childhood memories of Rabindra Jayanti :)). Staying busy in my work here in Hyderabad, I’ve been out of touch with the Bengal elections a bit… but I can very well follow the reasons that you have put forward. I thought I’d share a couple of experiences/ memories though not directly related to the current elections.
    Although I did not grow up in Calcutta during that period (late 80s and early 90s), I used to visit during my school holidays, and I remember those load-shedding filled days very well. Oddly, I too have a faint memory of the day when Mamata Banerjee’s skull was split open, although I was much younger than you at the time. I had gone somewhere (I don’t exactly remember where, but probably Thanthania Kalibari) with my ma and mama and my sister early that morning. While returning to Salt Lake by bus, we got stuck in a terrible traffic jam somewhere, and then heard the floating news that Mamata Banerjee had been beaten up. We were a bit scared, but reached home safely after a lot of delay.
    I went back to Kolkata in 2001 to study in IIIT Calcutta, which was supposed to be “Buddhadeb’s dream institute, a centre of excellence”. We had to go through a lot of ups and downs, and the college did not fare as well as it could have done (a lot of credit for this goes to one Mr. Murali Manohar Joshi), but we IIIT-ians came to know two things very clearly: the kind of vision Buddhadeb had, and at the same time, the kind of opposition he had to face from within his party. I remember those days, when the Chief Minister would assure something for our college (Yes, he was personally involved in it), and then his party members would try to deny that. Although the end result was not as good as expected, I was pretty impressed by the way Buddhadeb handled the situation and delivered on his promise to a large extent.
    And I have seen Kolkata emerge as an IT hub in the last four years. There has been dramatic change, in infrastructure, in industry, but most importantly, in attitude. Almost the whole of Salt Lake Electronic Complex and Rajarhat New Town grew in front of my eyes. I would never have believed that work could progress that fast in West Bengal (I would rather not compare it with Hyderabad though) had I not seen it. By the way, I heard that they are renovating beautiful but dilapidated British-made buildings in the city to make Kolkata “The City of Palaces” once more.
    The last municipality elections were unusually clean, and somebody told me a little while ago that these state assembly elections were so too. If that is the case, then the CPI(M) must be winning surely because it is the party most deserving to win. If I had been voting there, I have no doubt as to who I’d be voting for.

  7. greatBong,
    your analysis about the political situation in Kolkata is just right & to the point.I am in my early 20s and was not a “Commie” supporter, but after watching Buddha and his work for the last five years, I voted for them this year.I don’t care wheather they are leftists or not as long as they do the right thing.
    About Mamata banerjee,I think she is turning leftist in true sense of the term( agitating against indonasean businessman Salim’s arrival to kolkata …etc).What a quandry!

    If Buddha can continue like this for the next 5 years and maintain the momentum,I guess Kolkata will Rock again.

  8. Don’t quite agree with this one. Buddhababu’s personal honesty and good intentions may be beyond doubt, but a one man army is really not a reliable option. In spite of the man at the helm, CPM is full of scum- it may be only a matter of time and leadership change before it returns to it’s good ol’ ways.
    Being mostly IT / Electronic Industry professionals or grad students, we will interpret the flux of software giants and other MNCs in the city as a meter of its wellbeing. While that is an important thing, does it really require a whole lot of Government effort for a software firm to start an office in Kolkata, specially in these times ?
    Consider the situation: Kolkata produces smart students in tons each year. Naturally the biggies will lick their chops in anticipation, and the only thing you need to promise is no interference.
    Were you around when the last municipality elections were being held ? I hope you remember the widespread sentiments around. The TMC- Congress board had done good work- every single person said so. The lower middle class of Kolkata were having a much better life. The sanitation, water supply and cleanliness had significantly improved, and most importantly, deaths due to malaria had dropped to zero for the first time in several years. Unimportant as that sounds to us- living in the relatively “posh” areas like Salt Lake or Golf Green (no dig intended- living without shit all over me is my basic right and I am not ashamed to have it.)- it is a big deal to have achieved that in a city with such a huge population. Even the relatively “polished” CPM top brass did not deny it. (Before it got too close to the election days, that is.) So with all it’s lack of organisation, and may I add- corruption (not every opposition leader is Mamata Bannerji.), has the opposition fared any worse where it matters, in the little chance that it has had ?

    Let me clarify that I don’t think that a TMC-BJP-Cong. combo would be drastically better with an immediate effect. At the same time, politicians need to be kept on tenterhooks. It is a golden truth that smart southies have realised, and the CPM has forgotten. Its high time somebody reminds them that.

    Buddha’s high point is honesty and fairness of intentions. If that is the consideration, why not Mamata ?

  9. Nice analysis GB, and who better than you to do such an analysis, as you have been there and seen that. CPM used to win elections just like Bush won the last election, by sweeping the heartland and villages while the city always traditionally opposed them. The scenario was different this year.

    Sometimes, even when you are steadfastly excoriate communism , it is worthwhile weighing the conditions of the place of reference. Hence your lines that there was ‘ no other viable alternative’ hit the nail on the head. However the moves by Buddha, were an act of evolution too. With more access to information and more scrutiny by the media, the CPM realised that they could no more bluff the people with ganja. They had to do something constructive . It is here that Buddha’s proactiveness helped. Remember, he acted against severe constraints with people in his party who are chronically anti-change. Also Mamata was more like a local ruffian. He words, her stance, her policies; everything lacked vision and shes not fit to be a national level politician or a chief minister of a state. But even if Jyoti Basu , the ex CM is skinned and butchered along with his family and served to the jackals in Central Park who used to disturb his sleep; it wont be enough retribution for the atrocities he commited…i mean every party does their bit for staying in power…but at least does something for development..that guy did nothing.

    So Im happy that industry perception of bengal is changing, Im glad that there are 20000 seats in engineering in the state now, Im glad that boys from Bengal dont have to go to go South and make their educational institutes rich and Im glad that people from Bengal are finding jobs in Bengal.

    The importance of those 50 seats…just ask coalition governments. If I was present in bengal now,I would have abstained from voting keeping in mind that my party BJP is nonexistent. And to be honest, your article has induced such a ‘feel good’ factor in me that Im really feeling nostaligic and wanna go home; and Id look forward to ‘bharer cha’, ‘mishti’ ,Nandan ,roll and Wills cigarettes and a test match at Eden than Barista or Inox…have had a surfeit of them here.

  10. Arnab ,

    2 words > Stockholm Syndrome. That is why CPM is going to win again.

    True – Kolkata may have developed tremendously over the last few years. But what about the rest of WB ? My friends who hail from WB tell me about a world of mass poverty , destitution and depravation – as bad as in Bihar or some of the worst parts of MP/UP. Add to this – the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh , which brings along with it Islamic fundamentalism and separatism. Massive demographic changes have already happened and the situation will only get worse. And whats worse – these budding Osamas are welcomed and felicitated by the presiding government. I hear stories of how muslim and commie gangs wreck havoc all over Bengal , molesting married hindu women in front of their husbands and children , looting shops, grabbing public aid money , claiming ‘protection money’ from whatever remains of the industry….

    If people of Bengal still want these people , what can I say – even God cannot save those who are hell bent on destroying themselves. Its like a child that gets molested by a father figure and instead of fighting or rebelling , keeps going back , believes its okay to be treated so…

    The only thing that can save Bengal IMHO is for BJP to come to power at the center , dismissing the state government there , putting all trade union/leftist leaders in jail and putting the state under military control.

  11. I agree with 7×6’s analogy. Point taken, Buddha has done great things for Calcutta, and hence Calcutta voted for him. But even for his pro reform image, how do you explain the rural lot voting for him? Such policies, it has been seen just tend to alienate the rural voters , as seen in Karnataka and Andhra. How does WB everytime buck the trend? There is virtually zero growth and Bangladeshi infiltration in so many rural areas in WB, and yet voters come out and vote for CPM?

    The only reason why CPM is winning is because it has ensured that the opposition stays in a complete disarray, by blackmailing Congress into not forging an alliance with Mamata Banarjee. This divided vote has allowed the CPM to get away in another election.

  12. Please refer to the link below – “The Tale of Two States”

    http://www.econ.ucla.edu/people/papers/Lahiri/Lahiri319.pdf

    This is a story onto itself.

    I have come to believe that West Bengal or for that matter most of the country is like in a Catch-22 situation. As long as poverty remains, Left will be voted back, and as long as Left will be voted back, poverty will remain.

    This is more or less true for the Congress party as well which gets most of it’s votes from so called “aam aadmin”.

    Also i think, even if BB is the best bet for West Bengal right now, in a way he has successfully manipulated his way in the media editorials. The positive spin applied all the time is his true and only success.

    Much is made of Kolkatta having changed in last few years. But which city hasn’t? If you go to the smaller cities like Lucknow,Nagpur,Coimbator etc, the people there will say the same thing. The issue with West Bengal is that for so long has it been bereft of any development , even the smallest change is magnified in people’s minds.

    I had been to Kolkatta in early nineties and found out that Communism is not merely associated with a political party there. It’s a habit. It’s a way of life.

    How do you explain the fact that most of the people during Durga Pooja festival who collect “chanda” are communists? Aren’t communists supposed to be aethists or non-religious people?

    West Bengal according to me is the greatest man made tragedy in India. A very very great people was betrayed by a bunch of hooligans who manufactured poverty and multiplied the production of poverty for more than three decades, ensuring on the way that the reins of power remain with them perpetually.

    I watched NDTV’s Prannoy Roy asking almost hopelessly to the studio panel the other day – “Will there ever be an alternative to CPM in West Bengal?”.

  13. There is no doubt that Buddha has caught the imaginations of the educated youth, who have begun to see the CPM in a new light. A recent poll in a national news mag revealed that Buddha is a more respected person and a more popular CM than Jyoti basu throughout West Bengal. And he has ensured that the current CPM has very little similarity with the CPM we grew up with. This ability to reinvent itself in time will pay the party huge dividends.

    Buddha actually dared to ban bandhs and spoke out publicly against recalcitrant trade unions! Unbelievable. But this proved to the people that he walks the talk and is serious about the development of the state. Now the Tatas and other major business houses all are making a beeline to Kolkata to invest. That is the surest sign of a region’s resurgence.

    So the reason is probably more the Stockmarket Syndrome than the Stockholm Syndrome.

  14. Arnab, this is my first comment on your blog, agree largely to your observations and analysis. Having grown up in Cal in the 90s i was a die-hard commie-hater but buddha has changed that: i didn’t vote this yr but probably would have voted for cpim if i did, simply as an endorsement to buddha and his team.

    Its interesting that most ppl who have radical anti-left comments are those who have never stayed in calcutta: the outsiders who perceive the Left in a certain light, largely owing to the media probably. My personal feeling is that culturally the Left is much closer to the Bengali ethos than a BJP can ever hope to be. It stands for everything a Bong identifies with: idealist and intellectual, anti-establishment, chilled out and unhurried (an occasional bandh is to be savoured by playing gully cricket/para football), secular and fair.
    Its good to see that Buddha has now woken up to the necessity of making the state more mkt savvy and investor friendly…something jyoti basu tried unsuccessfully in the last few yrs of his reign.
    I really hope, however,we get a credible opposition very soon – v necessary to keep Buddha and Co on their toes and keep them under pressure to deliver. The ‘urban revival’ dream is still infant and rural reforms have been a mixed success at best. The State’s development indices & per capita income figs hover around country avg or even below. The next 5 yrs will show if Buddha is really upto it. And no thanks, i don’t think we need a BJP to show us the way.

  15. YOURFAN writes:
    @ Kaunteya: The link that you provided did not open even after several tries. So I really don’t know what the story is about. But before I make a few points, I agree with your opinion that any development has been perceived by people as great change because of no worth mentioning development for so long. But something is better than nothing – right?

    1.You wrote: “most of the people during Durga Pooja festival who collect “chanda” are communists?” That is not true. I live in Cal so I know what I am talking about. Everybody (red, green, leaf etc etc) associated with any puja collects “chanda”. Besides a person who supports CPM is not necessarily a communist –he is just a supporter of the party. And a supporter of CPM may very well have a personal belief which does not necessarily tally with that of the communists(non religious)

    2.I am not a CPM supporter but I differ from your simplistic analysis “A very very great people was betrayed by a bunch of hooligans who manufactured poverty and multiplied the production of poverty for more than three decades, ensuring on the way that the reins of power remain with them perpetually”. I also object to your observation of “West Bengal according to me is the greatest man made tragedy in India.” According to me this remark is an insult to the people of WB – intellectuals and illiterates alike. All of us wouldn’t allow ourselves to be participants in the so called “man made tragedy”.

    Finally, I like so many people don’t care about the color of the party flag of the ruling party as long as our lot is improving. We the general public are mature enough to know that whichever party is in power will have some good, some bad and some ugly people. If the ugly and bad components override the good components – we oust them. We don’t look for “alternative”(Prannoy Ray’s query) just for change’s sake. It is the development and the improvement that we are bothered about. By the way, I have already stated that I am neither a “communist” nor a CPM supporter – yet this is my view which is shared by people like me in this part of the world.

    @All: In the last post of GB there have been a lot of personal attacks, name calling, insinuations etc just because some readers could not agree with GB’s or other readers’ views. Can’t we all agree to disagree in a civilized manner?

  16. “The only reason why CPM is winning is because it has ensured that the opposition stays in a complete disarray, by blackmailing Congress into not forging an alliance with Mamata Banarjee. This divided vote has allowed the CPM to get away in another election.”

    Almost agree, but not quite. Congress does not need to blackmailed to not forge an alliance with TMC. It does not have the strength to make a difference on its own, and fighting CPM is… well, kinda hard.

    “Opposition leaders were allowed to have their own “spheres of influence” i.e. fiefdoms where they are the only “big bosses” (with its concomitant benefits). In return, they are asked to merely make the right noises but otherwise do nothing—an arrangement that suits them fine since they also get to have their snout in the trough. As a result, they too become part of the “system”.”

    It’s a true statement. Now zoom out a bit, you’ll see roles reversed. Ever since its popularity started dwindling on a national level, the Congress has mastered the art of symbiotic existence with scum. Give them Bengal, keep Delhi. Mamata seems to be a loony to anybody now, and she probably is- it’s impossible to keep composure dealing with such kabaddi day in and day out.

  17. “My personal feeling is that culturally the Left is much closer to the Bengali ethos than a BJP can ever hope to be. It stands for everything a Bong identifies with: idealist and intellectual, anti-establishment, chilled out and unhurried (an occasional bandh is to be savoured by playing gully cricket/para football), secular and fair.”

    I think it is very self-serving and self-congratulatory to call yourselves ‘intellectual’ or ‘idealist’ or whatever.This is present in all Indians in various shades , but more so in the Bengali people. Thats all great. But in the real world , performance it the only criteria that matters.

    Consider my home state Gujarat , completely under the control of BJP and the hated Narendra Modi. We have no more than 3% of India’s population, but account for 20% of the country’s exports. Our growth rate is a China like 12-13% p.a. Our infrastructure is the best in the country. Poverty in our state is minimal, literacy high. We easily outperform states like West Bengal on every socio-economic parameter . Our state is the hub of economic activity , full of bright young people aspiring to build the next Reliance rather than sit in a government office , reading a newspaper , sipping chai and discussing the local muncipalty election and international politics.

    And yes – we love BJP – which you consider alien to your ethoes.

  18. Here’s a Bengali- and I second you Mehtaji.

    “My personal feeling is that culturally the Left is much closer to the Bengali ethos than a BJP can ever hope to be. It stands for everything a Bong identifies with: idealist and intellectual, anti-establishment, chilled out and unhurried (an occasional bandh is to be savoured by playing gully cricket/para football), secular and fair.”

    Move over, “intellectual” Bengali, the nap has been way too long.

    “Baan esheche mora gange, khulte hobe nao……”

  19. A very balanced post about a tricky topic. Most of my non-Bengali friends just cannot construe CPMs success record in Bengal. Some opine the whole of Bengal is crazy about red and terrorized to compliance. But your post lucidly explains the dilemmas and dichotomy faced in the state. A very interesting thing as you pointed out, the pre-independence communal riots, would have made everyone think at that time that bengal was bound to be a communal hotbed. As it turns out the issues that manifested were quite different. I know so many people in Kolkata who would never have dreamt of voting for CPM earlier. And its really encouraging for the educated milieu who had to leave Bengal for greener pastures and I hope the progress continues and Kolkata becomes a haven for investors and industrial pursuits. But one problem that may arise is if the CPM tries to cater too much to urban aspirations , then disconsolate elements in the rural areas (encouraged by misguided politicians and goons) who earlier used to be the undisputed rulers of their small fiefdoms may make CPM retract back on its promises. I hope the CM and his saner comrades also mould their grass-root workers and inform them of the benefits all will accrue from the new policies.

  20. GB,

    Here is my theory,
    CPM has stranglehold over WB.Any opposition that exists is purely nominal and therefore for practical purposes do not poses a threat.

    On the other hand due to policies followed by, CPM WB which at one time was Industrial powerhorse of India today lags in Industrial development.

    This clearly makes a hell lot of people very angry, now since CPM can not divert this anger (No Landlords, no Industrialists) it has to do something positive for a change.

    Which is what BB is doing. However this change is for sake of expediency and is not backed up by ideological conviction of a major section of CPM. And as soon as a credible opposition emerges it will lapse back to its original polemics.

    This will explain why CPM supports globalization in WB and opposes it in New Delhi.

    In way it reminds one of Animal Farm.

    Regards,

  21. Folks , dont get me wrong , I got nothing against the people of West Bengal , as much as I detest the political forces they keep voting back to power. It just makes me sad to see the smug self-satisfied behaviour exhibited by some of the posters here from WB, which I take to be a representative to their state in large. This is nothing new or even limited to Bengal. This pattern was particularly visible among Indians of the socialist era in the 70s and 80s. Disregarding the poverty and filth surrounding them , considering themselves to be ‘superior’ – both morally and culturally , ‘intellecual’ and ‘idealistic’ , feeling good and great about themselves , showing disdain for the vulgar and obscenely materialistic West , supremely satisfied with the ‘hindu rate of growth’ of 3% , the “we are like this only” attitude , and at the national level , most hilariously “we are the proud and undisputed leaders of the third world so get lost bloody imperialists and capitalists”………………Its not even funny , its sad.

    India has moved on since then. But folks in WB continue to remain in a time warp.

  22. @BongoPondit, if you live in Calcutta, you can’t disagree with what he’s saying, though.

    I moved here just before Buddhadeb took over, and I saw the city before and after. I’ll stand by what he says.

    But just on principle, I don’t vote CPM. There are always enough people to do that.. I usually vote Independent just to encourage whoever to keep trying.

    Whoops… Did I just give away the secret nature of my ballot??

  23. Commies called for a nation wide strike , closing shops and banks to support air traffic controller staff. Pray tell me , why force a strike on everybody. How does closing banks help the cause of air traffic controllers. If you want to support air traffic controller’s cause, why drag others too. Let the strike be limited to air traffic controllers. Why stop traffic on the roads ?? Yeah, all rich people who own vehicles (be it an autorickshaw or M-80) use the roads. Rich people are bad, so stop them from moving on the roads.

    Buddhadeb was fully in support of the strike, but when his daughter and wife were caught in a crowd, he scolded the protestors. Typically leftist (I am at loss of adjectives to describe their ilk, everything fades in front of them. I suppose commie is one of the worst insults)

  24. @GreatBong,

    >> In a way, CPM is Communist in name only as far as Bengal is concerned. And thank heavens for that.

    You are right.

    But at all India level, it is still a compulsive protester on any issue(good or bad) and a trouble-monger, at worst. The same goon mentality defines them at all India level.

  25. Ooops, I forgot to add this one thing.

    Isnt CPM supposed to be the greatest infiltrator of Bangladeshis into India. Apart from Bengal, it s**ewed up Assam and the northeastern states with its “appease Bangladeshi” policy. Of course, they are their votebank. When will Budda correct this mistake of CPM, or will he do this at all.

    No wonder Northeast is pissed off with rest of India, what with Bangladeshis having a free run. I squarely blame CPM for this.

  26. Atlast noises over ur last post have died down,but please dont start all over again abt which folks r how!generalisations personal attacks r demoralising
    i always wondered wat u say in ur second para [and also abt laloo]yrs back had a IFS friend Mr Bandyopadhyaya who at election times say ..oh i’ll just put CPM back in power and return.sounded as if elections were just a formality.
    sounds like Chandrababu Naidu here who changed the face of Hyderabad neglecting the rest of AP and soon enough he was voted out.
    Bengal doesnt seem to have that option ,but good if the present opion is good enough.

  27. Stockholm Syndrome or not – Buddhadeb babu has even made postive influences on a born anti-CPM like me. It would be interesting to see what kind of people he brings in his new ministry – as he alone can not make all the changes Bengal needs.

  28. Good one 🙂 – though I hardly consider myself an expert in paaalitics, nonetheless, I dont have a problem with politicians minting money if they are doing something good as well for society. If Buddhasaheb is one of ’em great!

    I get a lot of flak myself for being a staunch modi supporter – but then what do ppl living outside Gujarath know how good he is?

    Suyog

  29. @Kaunteya
    Kolkata spells as K-O-L-K-A-T-A precisely, and without an extra T.

    @Modi fans
    Are you people boasting about the person who’s still supporting religious violence in the state.

  30. @ Arnab :
    Being too tied up with several things I couldn’t visit you blog in the last few days . Although I didn’t miss a single post of yours, I just didn’t have the time to post comments. About this post, ‘Buddha Bar’, it’s great. A very sensible, balanced and realistic way of portraying the transition WB (esp Kolkata)has gone through in the post-‘Jyoti Babu’ era. Buddha is the best CM in India. No doubt about that. Even the central government acknowledges this.

    @ Suyog :
    Even Osama has fans. So had Hitler. So, being a fan of Modi is no unpardonable offence. The choice is entirely yours. I only wish you spelt the name of your ‘home-state’ ‘Gujarat’ right. “Gujarath” sounds very much south Indian.

  31. Here is the Extract of the PDF File: A Tale of Two States: Maharashtra and West Bengal1 Amartya Lahiri and Kei-Mu Yi October 2004 This Version: May 2005 1Preliminary and incomplete. We would like to thank Satyajit Chatterjee, Hal Cole, Narayana Kocherlakota, as well as participants at the 2004 Iowa Development conference, Iowa State University, and Indian Statistical Institute Delhi for detailed comments and discussions. Thanks also to Edith Ostapik, Matthew Kondratowicz and Katya Vasilaky for excellent research assistance. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia or the Federal Reserve System. Lahiri: International Research, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty St., New York, NY 10045; amartya.lahiri@ny.frb.org. Yi: Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, 10 Independence Mall, Philadelphia, PA 19106; kei-mu.yi@phil.frb.org. Abstract In this paper we study the economic evolution between 1960 and 1995 of two states in India — Maharashtra and West Bengal. During this period West Bengal, which was one of the two richest states in India in 1960, has gone from a relative per capita income of about 105 percent of Maharashtra to a relative income of around 69 percent. Our diagnostic analysis reveals that a large part of the blame for West Bengal’s development woes can be attributed to: (a) low aggregate productivity (b) poorly functioning labor markets and sectoral misallocations. We find that sectoral productivity and labor market allocation wedges were strongly correlated with political developments in West Bengal, namely the increasing vote share of the leftist parties. Keywords: Indian states, development JEL Classification: O11, O14 1 Introduction In 1960, two of the three richest states in India were Maharashtra and West Bengal. Maharashtra, home state of Mumbai (Bombay), was a center of commerce, industry, finance and arts. West Bengal, home state of Kolkata (Calcutta), was a center of manufacturing, and it had the social and physical infrastructure that came with Calcutta’s past as the longstanding capital of the British empire. Over the next three decades, however, the two states’ economies diverged as West Bengal under-performed relative to Maharashtra. Both states experienced growth, but West Bengal grew more slowly. Drawing on data from multiple sources, we are able to quantify the extent of West Bengal’s decline. According to our calculations, by 1993, its per capita output had fallen almost 35 percent relative to Maharashtra’s. For a pair of regions at the top of the heap to diverge at a rate exceeding 1 percent a year for almost 35 years is remarkable in and of itself. What makes the experience of West Bengal and Maharahstra even more remarkable is that these two regions are located within the same country, and, as such, are subject to the same national policies. The purpose of this paper is to better understand the relative decline of West Bengal and to shed light on the broad output and factor markets that may be the key sources of the decline. We believe this examination is a necessary first step to the ultimate goal of ascertaining the state-specific policies, institutions, and/or degree of implementation of national policies that may be the root causes of West Bengal’s under-performance. Our data analysis is mainly conducted from the prism of neoclassical growth theory. We first document the decline in West Bengal’s per capita GDP relative to Maharashtra. We also find that the manufacturing sector share of West Bengal’s output dropped sharply 1 during this period from 22 percent to 15 percent, while Maharashtra’s manufacturing share increased. The flip side of this differential performance in manufacturing was agriculture. While both countries’ agricultural sector share of total GDP declined, West Bengal’s fell far less than Maharashtra’s.1 We then turn to aggregate growth and (relative) levels accounting. Using data assembled from numerous sources, we find that West Bengal’s under-performance can be attributed primarily to differences in TFP growth. These differences accounted for about 60 percent of the differential performance of West Bengal’s per worker GDP relative to Maharashtra’s per worker GDP between 1961 and 1991. Human and physical capital account for the remainder, with human capital playing a slightly larger role. To pursue the sources of the decline further, we conduct a model-based diagnostic exercise that identifies the margins that may have been responsible for the performance disparity. Specifically, we employ a methodology recently developed by Cole and Ohanian, Chari, Kehoe, and McGrattan, and Mulligan. This methodology involves creating the empirical counterparts to the firm and household first order conditions from a neoclassical growth model. If efficiency or optimality holds, then the ratio of the left-hand side to the right-hand side of a first order condition should be one. To the extent this ratio does not equal one, a “wedge” exists, possibly caused by policy distortions. A key feature of our diagnostic framework is that it has three sectors, agriculture, manufacturing, and services. This allows us to account for the differential sectoral performance of the two states that we documented. For the manufacturing and services sectors, we find that about 30 percent of the differential output performance is due to labor market inefficiencies or wedges. The labor market 1The share of total GDP of the other key sector, services, increased in both states. Agriculture, manufacturing and services comprise about 90 percent of output of these two states during this period. 2 wedges indicate that the marginal product of labor in West Bengal’s manufacturing sector was too low relative to labor’s marginal product in the services sector. The remaining 70 percent difference is attributed to differences in sectoral productivity. Interestingly, we find that agricultural productivity in West Bengal relative to Maharashtra remained unchanged between 1960 and 1995. However, there was an increase in the relative agricultural share of the labor force in West Bengal during this period. This positive agricultural employment effect was the primary reason for the relatively muted decline in agricultural’s share of output in West Bengal. Guided by the diagnostic results, we investigate one proximate explanation for the difference in the relative performance of West Bengal. We find that our measured wedges are strongly correlated with political developments in West Bengal, namely the increasing vote share of the leftist parties over the last 35 years. The vote share of the leftist parties, in turn, is positively correlated with the incidence of industrial action, strikes, lockouts etc.. The incidence of industrial action in West Bengal (measured by the ratios of days lost to days worked) increased sharply in the mid-1960s and thereafter has remained at about three times the level in Maharashtra. This suggests to us that an increase in the bargaining power of labor inWest Bengal may have been a significant ingredient in the relative decline of West Bengal. We find the results interesting on two counts. First, as alluded to above, we are unable to find a similar example of two regions within the same country, who were jointly at the top of the income distribution at some point in time, exhibiting such a marked difference in economic performance over a 35 year period. Indeed, even looking at the cross-country income data it is hard to find similar cases. As pointed out by Kehoe and Ruhl (2003), there are a couple of cases like New Zealand and Switzerland which showed 40 percent declines 3 in per capita incomes relative to the USA between 1960 and 2000. However, New Zealand (4 million people in 2000) and Switzerland (7 million) are tiny when compared with West Bengal (80 million) and Maharashtra (97 million). Second, the correlation of the measured wedges in sectoral labor allocation conditions and sectoral productivity with the vote share of the leftist parties point to promising avenues for quantifying the effects of aggressive pro-labor industrial work rules as well as state sanctioned industrial action. Our paper is related to Besley and Burgess (2004) [3]. [3] use similar data to study the evolution of the manufacturing sector across Indian states. Based on a detailed study of amendments to labor regulations in different states, [3] construct an index which classifies each state as being either pro-labor, neutral or pro-employer. They find that pro-worker legislation reduced growth of manufacturing output, investment and employment. Moreover, pro-labor regulation also slowed down the rate of poverty reduction. While our results are consistent with the findings of [3], we should note that their index classifies bothWest Bengal and Maharashtra as being pro-labor. Hence, their index is not directly informative about the different development patterns of these two states.2 In the next section we describe the data and document some of the broad stylized facts between the two states. We then employ a growth and levels accounting framework to calculate the broad sources of growth in each state, as well as the sources of differences in per capita income. In section 4, we use a standard neoclassical growth model to conduct some diagnostic tests on the data. Section 5 evaluates some potential explanations for the diagnostic results, and section 6 concludes. 2As further support for our diagnosis of the labor market being the problem in West Bengal, [3] report that “West Bengal was also a state which had the greatest body of pro-labor regulation passed in state legislature.” 4 2 KeyStylizedFacts In this section we present a few key stylized facts. Our goal is to illustrate the magnitude of the decline in West Bengal’s per capita net state domestic product (NDP) relative to that of Maharashtra. We also examine the role of different sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, and services, in the decline. Our data draws from several sources. Our primary source on state domestic product data is the detailed India data set put together by the Economic and Political Weekly Research Foundation (EPW). This data covers state-level sectoral and aggregate data. In addition, we employ price data from the World Bank data set on India assembled by Ozler, Datt, and Ravallion (1996). We draw our population numbers from the India Census. Lastly, we employ the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), as well as some of the data from Besley and Burgess (2004), to obtain manufacturing sector numbers. The Appendix provides details on how we construct our variables, but the most salient issues are discussed here. In order to compare per capita incomes across states, we splice several constant-price net state domestic product (NDP) series covering 1960 through 1993. The series are normalized to 1993 prices. That is, in 1993, real NDP in each state equals nominal NDP. The resulting series are still not comparable across states, because aggregate prices may differ across states. To make state-level comparisons possible, we employ two consumer price indices from the World Bank data set, one for industrial workers and one for agricultural laborers, which are adjusted for inter-state price differences, i.e., they are all expressed relative to an all-India price index. For each state, we take an average of these two indices in 1993 and then divide this average by Maharashtra’s average. We multiply this ratio by the constant-price NDP series. Lastly, we divide by population for each year, where population in years between 5 Figure 1: Real per capita income relative to Maharashtra; Major Indian states, 1960 and 1993 Per capita Real* State Domestic Product Relative to Maharastra 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1960-61 1993-94 Punjab West Bengal Bihar Gujarat Uttar Pradesh Tamil Nadu * adjusted fo inter-state price differentials Census years (1961, 1971, 1981, and 1991) are interpolated. Figure 1 shows the state-level distribution of per capita NDP in 1960 and 1993, expressed relative to Maharashtra. Maharashtra was the third richest state in 1960, while West Bengal was the richest state in India with a per capita income that was about 5 percent higher than Maharashtra’s. However, by 1993, West Bengal’s per capita income had fallen to just 69 percent of Maharashtra’s. Meanwhile Maharashtra became the second richest state. In addition, the fall in West Bengal’s relative income was the largest drop in percentage point terms across all the states. In Figure 2 we plot the time series evolution of the per capita state domestic product (SDP) of Maharashtra, West Bengal, and the rest of India. The figure suggests that the 6 Figure 2: Per capita NDP: Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rest of India, 1993-94 prices 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 14000 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 Maharashtra Rest of India West Bengal decline in the relative per capita income of West Bengal has been going on for decades, and that even as West Bengal is losing ground to Maharashtra, the rest of India is catching up to West Bengal.3 A fall in income of this magnitude in such a short period of time by a leading economy is rare. To put this in perspective, consider the OECD countries’ performance relative to the United States between 1960 and 2000. Kehoe and Ruhl (2002) use the Penn World Tables data to show that the two countries that suffered sharp drops in their per capita income 3 It is worth pointing out that population in West Bengal and Maharashtra have followed very similar paths. West Bengal’s population has been between 86 and 88 percent of Maharashtra’s between 1961 and 1993. So differences in per capita NDP performance cannot be attributed to unusual population dynamics. 7 relative to that of the United States were New Zealand and Switzerland. Both declined by about 40 percent relative to the United States. However, the population of New Zealand and Switzerland in 2000 are 3.9 million and 7.2 million, respectively. By contrast, the population of West Bengal in 1991 (2001) was 68 million (80 million). The relative decline of a region that is 20 times as populous as New Zealand and 10 times as populous as Switzerland, and, moreover, is within the national boundaries as the faster growing regions, is what makes this case study so compelling. We next turn to the sectoral performance of the two states. In particular, we are interested in determining whether the poor performance of West Bengal can be accounted for primarily by poor performance in a particular sector or by poor performance in all sectors. Accordingly, in figure 3 we present the agriculture, manufacturing, and services share of (current price) NDP for the two states in 1960 through 1995. The figure reveals that agriculture’s share of output declined in both states, but the decline was much more pronounced in Maharashtra. A second major difference is in the evolution of the manufacturing sector. In Maharashtra manufacturing increased its share of output between 1960 and 1995, while in West Bengal the manufacturing share of output decline from 20 percent to 15 percent in that period. Manufacturing in West Bengal experienced a de-industrialization. The share of services in output increased similarly in both states. The striking difference in manufacturing performance leads us to do undertake a further analysis of the sector in the two states. We do this by analyzing survey data on the registered manufacturing sector drawn from the ASI. The advantage of the survey data on registered manufacturing is that it contains detailed data on capital and employment. We should note that registered manufacturing comprises, on average, 80 percent of the manufacturing sectors in West Bengal and Maharashtra. 8 Figure 3: Sectoral share of output .16 .20 .24 .28 .32 .36 .40 .44 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 W est Bengal Maharashtra Agricu ltural share of SDP .12 .16 .20 .24 .28 .32 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 Maharashtra W est Bengal Man u facturin g share of SDP .30 .35 .40 .45 .50 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 Maharashtra W est Bengal Services share of SDP 9 Figure 4: Relative registered manufacturing output 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 Relative manufacturing output Relative manufacturing output per unit labor Figures 4-6 show the evolution of manufacturing output as well as manufacturing output per unit labor, capital, and employment in West Bengal relative to Maharashtra over the period 1960-95. The message of these figures is that starting from an initial position of roughly equal size in manufacturing withMaharashtra, there was a secular decline in output, labor productivity, and inputs inWest Bengal during the next 35 years. For capital (as well as investment), West Bengal was ahead of Maharashtra in 1960, but subsequently declined to about 40 percent of Maharashtra by 1995. To summarize, in this section we document that West Bengal’s per capita income fell by about 35 percent relative to Maharashtra’s (or put differently, Maharashtra gained about 10 Figure 5: Relative manufacturing capital 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 Relative capital 50 percent relative to West Bengal). We also show, that a key sector accounting for this decline was manufacturing, which experienced a secular decline in both productivity and inputs relative to Maharashtra during this period.4 3 Growth and Levels Accounting In this section, we perform growth accounting in order to establish the relative importance of three broad sources of per worker growth, total factor productivity, physical capital, and human capital in each state. We also perform relative levels accounting – we examine the sources of differences between West Bengal’s per worker output and Maharashtra’s per 4We examined the sectoral composition of manufacturing, comparing 1979 to 1995. In West Bengal the composition remained relatively unchanged, suggesting that a large shock to one particular manufacturing sector did not drive the overall manufacturing performance. 11 Figure 6: Relative manufacturing employment 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.2 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 Relative Manufacturing Employment worker output – relative to their differences in 1961. Our approach follows that of Hall and Jones (1999). This approach begins with the usual human capital augmented form of the production function: Yi = Kα i (HiAi)1−α (1) where Y is output, K is capital, A is total factor productivity (TFP), and H is human capital. Hall and Jones (HJ) employ H = eφ(E)L, where L is labor. According to Hall and Jones, φ(E) “reflects the efficiency of a unit of labor with E years of schooling relative to one with no schooling” (p. 87). φ0(E) is the Mincerian return to schooling. The production function can be rewritten in per worker terms as follows: yi = µKi Yi ¶ α 1−α hiAi (2) where lower case letters denote the variable expressed in per worker form. Compared to 12 the usual per worker production function, this representation attributes changes in capital that are endogenous responses to changes in total factor productivity (TFP) Ai, to TFP. We use the above for our levels accounting. For our growth accounting, we take logarithmic derivatives of ??: by = α 1 − α d µK Y ¶ bh bA We employ data on net state domestic product, physical capital, schooling, and workers to construct our variables and perform our calculations. The labor and schooling data come primarily from the Census of India; consequently, we focus on the four census years 1961, 1971, 1981, and 1991. The net domestic product and physical capital data come from the EPWRF. Details on the data sources and how the variables are constructed are provided in the Appendix. Below we highlight the most pertinent features of the data. There is no physical capital stock data available at the state level.5 We impute these data from current price sector-level NDP data and from the all-India constant-price sector-level capital stock data. For each sector, we calculate each state’s share of all-India NDP, and we then multiply that by the all-India sectoral capital stock. We then add across all sectors. This imputation assumes that production technologies have the same functional form across states and that prices of capital are equalized across states. We used the spliced constant price NDP data discussed in the previous section. However, we do not employ the price adjustment that facilitates comparability at a point in time, because our interest in this section is on growth and relative levels accounting. The Census schooling data is disaggregated into categories such as “literate without any 5The ASI contains physical capital stock data at the state level for the manufacturing sector. But, there is no analogous data for other sectors. 13 formal schooling / below primary”, “primary”, “middle”, etc. We convert these to years of schooling equivalents, which are listed in the appendix.6 During the period we study, there were two major conceptual and definitional changes on the measurement of workers, one at the 1971 Census and one at the 1981 census. In the 1971 Census, the underlying concept that differentiated a worker from a non-worker was changed from “labour time disposition” to “gainful occupation”. In particular, the reference period for agricultural work was changed from the “greater part of the working season” to the entire year. This led to a decline in the all-India reported number of workers between 1961 and 1971 by almost 5 percent, a period in which India’s population aged 15 and over increased by 23 percent! This decline was more than accounted for by a reported decline in female rural workers, which fell by 50 percent. The second major conceptual changed occurred in 1981, in which workers were now categorized as main and marginal according to whether they worked for the major part of the year or not. The idea behind this was to come up with a concept similar to the 1971 Census but also to provide comparability with earlier Censuses. Thus the main workers concept in 1981 is comparable to the workers concept in 1971, and main plus marginal workers in 1981 is broadly comparable to workers in 1961. There remains the issue of comparing 1961 and 1971. We adopt three approaches. The first is to simply ignore 1971, and to focus on comparing 1961 and 1991. The second is to employ official adjustments made in 1971 to the 1971 Census and the 1961 Census to make them more compatible. In particular, a new sample was conducted late in 1971 in 6Our calculations yield an average years of schooling for West Bengal and for Maharashtra in 1981 (1991) that are about a half-year below (a half year above) the India years of schooling number, based on 1985, from the Barro-Lee data set. 14 which particpants were asked the questions from the 1961 census. The resulting outcome led to an adjusted 1971 census. In addition, the change in participation rates between 1961 and adjusted 1971 is used to created an adjusted 1961 set of numbers which are the values that ensure that the change in participation between adjusted 1961 and 1971 is the same as between 1961 and adjusted 1971. These adjustments provide two alternatives, then. One that uses the original 1961 numbers, the adjusted 1971 numbers, and the appropriate categories for 1981 and 1991 (main plus marginal workers). The second uses the adjusted 1961 numbers, the original 1971 numbers, and the appropriate categories for 1981 and 1991 (main workers). The third approach is to employ adjustments along the lines of Abler, Tolley, and Kripalani (1994), who use data from the National Sample Survey (NSS) to impute a workforce for 1971. This adjustment essentially ties the number of workers more closely to the growth of the working age population. Given that our primary goal is to compare West Bengal to Maharashtra, if the changing Census definitions over time do not affect West Bengal and Maharashtra differently, then the relative comparisons are unaffected. However, female participation rates in Maharashtra historically have been much higher than in West Bengal (in 1961 it was 38 percent compared to 8 percent). Thus, the underreporting of women had a larger effect on Maharashtra than onWest Bengal. Consequently, for robustness, we employ all three adjustments listed above. The key parameters are the capital share of output and the exact functional form for φ(E). In both cases we follow HJ. Specifically, the capital share we employ is 1/3; this is close to the “naive” measure that Gollin (2002) calculates for India. HJ rely on Psacharopoulos (1994) who calculates the returns to schooling as a piecewise linear funtional form. The exact returns are presented in Appendix I. Figure 7 illustrates human capital for West Bengal, Maharashtra, and India. It shows that Maharashtra’s human capital surpassed 15 Figure 7: Human capital stocks Mincer human capital stocks 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1961 1971 1981 1991 H/L=e Φ(Ei) India Maharashtra West Bengal West Bengal’s during the 1970s. Table 1 lists values for per worker output, capital/output ratio (raised to the 1/2 power), human capital, and TFP for each state for each of the four census years. We first focus on the sources of growth between 1961 and 1991. Per worker output in Maharashtra grew 125 percent between 1961 and 1991 almost three times as much as West Bengal’s growth. In Maharasthra, (log) growth in total factor productivity (TFP) accounts for almost half of Maharashtra’s per worker output growth. Human capital and physical capital growth account for 32 and 21 percent of Maharashtra’s growth, respectively. In the absence of TFP growth, per worker output would have grown by only 54 percent. In the absence of human and physical capital accumulation, per worker output would have grown by just 46 percent. In West Bengal, by contrast, (log) growth in TFP accounts for only 30 percent of West Bengal’s per worker output growth, with human capital and physical capital accounting for 16 44 and 26 percent of West Bengal’s growth, respecitvely. In the absence of TFP growth, West Bengal’s per worker output would have grown by 28 percent, while, in the absence of human and physical capital accumulation West Bengal’s per worker output would have grown by only 12 percent. Because human capital is not measured with reference to a price level we can engage in an absolute comparison. Table 1 shows that in 1961, human capital in West Bengal was 8 percent higher than inMaharashtra, but by 1991, it was 3 percent lower than inMaharashtra. Table 2 now examines the sources of differences between West Bengal to Maharahstra. Mindful that the per worker output numbers are not directly comparable, we normalize the West Bengal to Maharashtra ratio to be 1 in 1961. The table shows that, consistent with our earlier evidence, per worker output in West Bengal relative to Maharashtra in 1991 was only 63.7 percent of its value in 1961. The table shows that West Bengal’s relative (to Maharashtra) physical capital, human capital, and TFP were all lower in 1991 than in 1961. The gap in TFP is the largest, and accounts for 60 percent of the overall gap. In other words, even if human and physical capital in 1991 was at the same relative level as in 1961, West Bengal’s relative per worker output would still only be 76.4 percent of its 1961 level. On the other hand, if West Bengal’s relative TFP was at its 1961 level, then, West Bengal’s relative per worker output would be 83.3 percent of its 1961 level. Thus, TFP was the primary force, but differences in human and physical capital were significant, as well. We engage in several robustness exercises, involving a different φ(E) function that draws from estimates on India data, as well as the three different adjustments to labor discussed above.7 In all these exercises, the overall pattern remains the same: Differences in TFP 7Our alternative set of returns for φ(E) come from Duraisamy (2002), who estimates them on Indian data from 1983-94. 17 growth account for the majority of the difference in per worker output growth rates. 4 Model-based Diagnostics The previous sections showed that the manufacturing sector and TFP have played major roles in the relative decline in West Bengal. We now turn to a model-based diagnostic exercise to learnmore about the forces that contributed significantly toWest Bengal’s decline. Our framework draws from the methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (2002, 2004), Chari, Kehoe and McGrattan (2004), and Mulligan (2002).8 The methodology begins with an economic model, typically the neoclassical growth model. The main diagnostic device consists of computing the “wedges” in the first order conditions of the model and determining the conditions that deviate the most from optimality. The deviations provide guidance on which sectors or features of the economy deserve special attention by model-builders. We modify the metholodgy by employing a multi-sector version of the neoclassical model. This reflects the fact that our review of the key stylized facts suggests that differences in sectoral performance over time may be crucial in understanding the overall performance differential between West Bengal and Maharashtra. Consider an economy (country) composed of a number of constituent states. Each state has four sectors of production — a final good sector, and three intermediate goods sectors: agriculture, manufacturing and services. Each state is assumed to be small and takes as exogenous the prices of goods that are tradable across states within the country. The manufacturing and agricultural goods are assumed to be freely tradeable while the services and final goods are non-tradable. The agriculture, manufacturing and services goods are inputs into a production technology which produces a non-traded final good that can be 8This methodology is related to work by Ingram, Kocherlakota, and Savin (199?) and by others. 18 consumed or invested. The representative household in each state maximizes the present discounted value of lifetime utility with instantaneous utility being given by u(c, l) = logc ψ log(¯l − l) where c is consumption per person, l is labor supply (hours worked), and ¯l is the total endowment of labor hours available to the agent. The optimization is done subject to the budget constraint: ct kt 1 = watlat wmtlmt wstlst (rt 1 − δ)kt Πt Πat Πmt Πst Tt where k is the capital stock per person, δ is the depreciation rate while wi is the wage rate in sector i (i = a, m, s). r is the interest rate while Π, Πa, Πm,and Πs are dividends from final goods, agriculture, manufacturing, and service sector firms. T = paTa pmTm denotes unilateral transfers of the tradable agricultural and manufacturing goods from the rest of the world. Note that we are using the final good as the numeraire good so that all prices are expressed in units of the final good. In addition to the budget constraint, households also face the time endowment constraint: lm la la = l. The representative household’s problem leads to two first-order conditions: χ ct ¯l − lt =wt (3) 1 ct =β ∙rt 1 1 − δ ct 1 ¸ (4) wat =wmt = wst = wt (5) These are standard optimality conditions with equation (3) determining the optimal consumptionleisure choice while (4) is the intertemporal Euler equation determining savings. Equation 19 (5) shows that wages must be equalized across sectors since labor reallocation across sectors is costless. We assume that the production technologies in the four sectors of the economy are given by ym =kα(xmlm)1−α ya =(xala)µ ys =(xsls)σ y= ˆyθ s ˆyγm ˆy1−γ−θ a where yj is total output of good j = a, m, s while y is the output of the final good. ˆyj denotes the use of good j = a, m, s in producing the final good. Note that usage of goods a and m in any state need not equal output of the goods in a state, because these intermediates can be traded. xj (j = a, m, s) is the level of the labor augmenting technology factor. We are assuming here that the agriculture and service sectors are Ricardian in that they only use labor to produce, while the manufacturing sector uses both labor and capital. This modelling assumption reflects a major data limitations in that we do not have capital use data for any sector aside from manufacturing. Perfectly competitive firms in each sector maximize profits which are given by: Πt =yt − pmtˆymt − patˆyat − pstˆyst Πmt =pmtymt − wmtlmt − rtkt Πat =patyat − watlat Πst =pstyst − wstlst Final goods firms choose ˆymt, ˆyat and ˆyst to maximize Π subject to the production technology 20 for producing y. The first order conditions for optimal ˆyst, ˆymt and ˆyat are, respectively, θyt ˆyst =pst (6) γyt ˆymt =pmt (7) (1 − γ − θ)yt ˆyat =pat (8) Firms in the manufacturing sector choose k and lm to maximize profits subject to the production technology. Their first order conditions are αpmt ymt kt =rt (9) (1 − α)pmt ymt lmt =wt (10) The first equation above is the optimal capital-use condition while the second condition determines optimal labor use. Lastly, agriculture and service sector firms choose labor to maximize profits. Their optimality conditions are µpat yat lat =wt (11) σpst yst lst =wt (12) 4.1 Equilibrium conditions Noting that the final good and the services good are non-traded, the market clearing conditions for these goods dictates that their domestic consumption must equal their domestic production. Hence, we must have ct kt 1 =yt (1 − δ)kt ˆyst =yst 21 We also have a balanced trade condition that follows from the budget constraints and market clearing conditions. For each state we must have pat(yat Tat − ˆyat) = pmt(ˆymt − ymt − Tmt) Hence, net exports of agricultural goods, inclusive of transfers, must equal net imports of manufactured goods, also inclusive of transfers. In other words, exports must equal imports period-by-period. Substituting in the market clearing condition for services into equation (6), one can solve for the state-specific price of services, ps. In turn, one can use ps along with the zero profit condition for the final goods sector (and the normalization that the final good is the numeraire) to solve for pm. Thus, we have pst = θyt yst (13) pmt =”Γµpat pmt¶θ γ−1 p−θ st #1/1−θ , Γ ≡ θθγγ(1 − γ)1−γ (14) In the light of the above, we can use the first order conditions (3)-(5), and (9)-(12) to derive the following set of equilibrium relationships: pat pst =µσ µ¶yst/lst yat/lat (15) pst pmt =µ1 − α σ ¶ymt/lmt yst/lst (16) χct ¯l − lt =(1 − α)pmt ymt lmt (17) ct 1 ct =β µαpmt 1 ymt 1 kt 1 1 − δ¶ (18) 22 Lastly, we can compute the sectoral productivity levels (in labor augmenting form) as Xat ≡ xµ at = yat lµ at (19) Xmt ≡ x1−α mt = ymt kα t l1−α mt (20) Xst ≡ xσ st = yst lσ st (21) Equations (13)-(21) hold for each state under study at each date. Moreover, given our data, we can measure all the variables in each of these nine equations for each state and date. As a reminder, several of our modelling assumptions are driven by the lack of data. In particular, we do not have non-labor input use by any sector other than manufacturing. This forced us to model the production technology of agriculture and services as using only labor. Also, we do not have state level time series data on savings or investment. Our investment data is only for the manufacturing sector. Lastly, while we have do have data on the relative price of agriculture to manufacturing (pa/pm) at the aggregate India level, we do not have corresponding data on the price of services. This forced us to impute the price data from the available quantity data. Unfortunately, for each state we only have production data by sector; we do not have consumption data by sector. Moreover, even though there is obviously trade across states in a number of commodities, we do not have cross-state trade data. This necessitated the modelling of the services and final goods as non-traded goods. Given data on final output and services output, we can use equations (13) and (14) to impute the equilibrium prices ps and pm. The four key first-order-conditions of the model (for which we do have the appropriate quantity data) are given by equations (15)-(18).9 Following Cole and Ohanian (2004) we can divide the left hand side of each first order 9We should note that there are two additional first order conditions given by equations (8) and (7). Given the relative price pa/pm we can use these two conditions to solve for ˆya ˆym . Giveny and ys, one can then use the production function for final goods to solve for ˆya and ˆym individually. Substituting these into the 23 condition by the corresponding right hand side to get a measure of the deviation of that condition from the optimum. Thus, for each margin we get one wedge for each state for every date. In particular, we have θl,as,i t = pat pst µyat/lat σyst/lst θl,sm,i t = pst pmt σyst/lsat (1 − α) ymt/lmt θl,i t = χct ¯l −lt (1 − α)pmt ymt lmt θI,i t = ci t 1 ci tβ ” 1 αpmt 1 ymt 1 kt 1 1 − δ# where i = West Bengal, Maharashtra. θl,as,i is the wedge in the optimality condition for labor allocation between agriculture and services while θl,sm,i is the corresponding wedge in the labor allocation between service and manufacturing sectors. A number less than one for the latter wedge, for example, would indicate that the marginal product of labor in manufacturing is too high. Note that the wedge in the optimal labor allocation condition between agriculture and manufacturing is given by the ratio θl,as,i t θl,sm,i t . θl,i is the wedge in the optimal labor-leisure condition with numbers less than one indicating that the marginal product of labor is higher than the marginal disutility from labor.10 Lastly, θI,i is the wedge in the intertemporal Euler equation with a number below one indicating that savings are sub-optimally low. Note that since we do not have state-specific interest rate data, we have balanced trade condition one can deduce the implicit values of transfers T = paTa pmTm that would make the national income accounting hold exactly. 10Note that the measurement of the wedge in the optimal labor-leisure condition, θl,i, is itself sensitive to the wedges in the inter-sectoral labor allocation conditions. Thus, if θl,sm,i is systematically different from unity then the measured θl,i would depend on whether we use the value marginal product of labor in agriculture, manufacturing or services in the denominator of the expression for θl,i. 24 chosen to substitute the marginal product of capital into the Euler equation (4). Hence, assessing whether or not the Euler equation holds is actually a joint assessment of the Euler equation and the firm’s optimal capital conditions holding simultaneously. At this point it is worth noting that our framework implies that the difference in per capita output across states is attributable to either wedges in the first order conditions or productivity (TFP) differences between the states. If all the wedges were one and there were no productivity differences, then, by construction, per capita output would be identical across the states. Alternatively, if there were no wedges in the first order conditions, then the entire difference in per capita output between West Bengal and Maharashtra would be attributed to productivity differences. In this event, steady state levels of labor supply and capital per efficiency unit of labor, k, would be the same across the two states. The only difference would be in the levels of the per capita variables and wages. On the other hand, if there are wedges in one or more of the first order conditions then the steady state allocations of the stationary variables would be different across the states. We compute the wedges by using the follow standard values for the key parameters of the model: 25 Parameter Value α 0.3 µ 0.45 σ 0.7 θ 0.4 γ 0.2 β 0.96 ¯l 5000 hours ψ 2.24 δ 0.04 Some of the our parameter values need elaboration. The parameter values for β and δ are standard. ψ and ¯l are taken from Chari, Kehoe and McGrattan (2004). We picked θ and γ, the shares of services and manufacturing in total output based on the average shares of these sectors in total output in these two states during the period 1960-95. The parameters α, µ and σ are more problematic, because we do not have estimates of these parameters. We set α = 0.3 and σ = 0.3 based on Abler, Tolley, and Kripalani (1994) who estimated the capital share of the non-agricultural sector to be 0.3. Abler, Tolley, and Kripalani also estimated the labor share in Indian agriculture to be 0.45 which is the number we chose for µ. Figures 8-10 show the evolution of the two sectoral labor allocation wedges and the Euler equation wedge respectively from 1960 to 1995. In all three pictures we measure the statespecific wedges on the left axis and the relative wedge (measured as the ratio of the West Bengal wedge to the Maharashtra wedge) on the right axis. There are three key messages 26 that emerge from these figures. First, the wedge in the optimal labor allocation condition between agriculture and sevices (Figure 8) behaved very similarly in the two states during this period. This is clear from the fact that the relative wedge in 1995 was almost identical to its value in 1960. Thus, labor misallocation between agriculture and services is not a factor in understanding the differential performance of the two states during this period.11 Second, the wedge depicted in Figure 9 shows that the marginal product of labor in manufacturing was too low relative to the services sector in both states. However, in Maharashtra by the end of the period the wedge was approaching unity, i.e., the optimal point. In West Bengal, the wedge rose initially, and then fell. By 1995, it was only slightly lower than its value in 1960. Hence, manufacturing labor productivity remained too low. As a result, the West Bengal wedge relative to the Maharashtra wedge rose from about one in 1960 to almost two by 1995. Thus, low labor productivity in manufacturing (relative to services) appears to have been an important part of the differential evolution of the states.12 Third, Figure 10 shows that the Euler equation held fairly well over this period, because the investment wedge was reasonably close to one for most of the time for both states. Note that in the light of footnote 10 above and the fact that the observed wedges in inter-sectoral labor allocations are systematically different from one, we ignore the measured labor wedge θl. We next turn to the evolution of the sectoral productivity factors in the two states. 11The fact that the wedge for each state is significantly lower than unity reflects a well known characteristic of developing countries: the excess concentration of the workforce in agriculture. The key point here is that this margin did not worsen during the period, nor did it differ across the two states. 12Note that since the wedge in labor allocation between agriculture and services remained relatively stable in both states while the wedge between services and manufacturing increased, it follows that the wedge between agriculture and manufacturing must also have increased during the period 1960-95 (because it is a ratio of the first two wedges). 27 Figure 8: Labor allocation wedge between agriculture and services .02 .04 .06 .08 .10 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 2.2 2.4 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra WB Maharashtra Figure 9: Labor allocation wedge between services and manufacturing 0 1 2 3 4 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra WB Maharashtra 28 Figure 10: Intertemporal savings wedge 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.2 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra WB Maharashtra Figures 11-13 show the evolution of productivity measured in labor augmenting form in agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors. As before we measure the state-specific productivities on the left axis and the relative sectoral productivity of West Bengal on the right axis. Agricultural productivity behaved very similarly in the two states. Agriculture in both West Bengal and Maharashtra became more productive; hence, the relative position changed little during this period. The picture is quite different in the manufacturing and services sectors. In manufacturing, West Bengal’s productivity declined from 85 percent of Maharashtra in 1960 to about 45 percent by 1995. The figure shows that West Bengal’s manufacturing productivity was essentially stagnant during this period. Similarly in the services sector, West Bengal’s productivity declined from about 90 percent of Maharashtra’s productivity in 1960 to about 60 percent in 1995. Unlike in manufacturing, West Bengal’s 29 Figure 11: Agricultural productivity 2000000 4000000 6000000 8000000 10000000 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra WB Maharashtra productivity in services did grow; Maharashtra’s productivity just grew faster, especially from the late 1980s onward.. As mentioned above, West Bengal’s manufacturing productivity relative to Maharastra’s manufacturing productivity fell by 47 percent. From the stylized facts section, we know that West Bengal’s manufacturing output relative to Maharashtra’s manufacturing output fell by 65 percent. Consequently, differences in manufacturing productivity account for 47/65 or 72 percent of the decline in West Bengal’s relative manufacturing output. Our diagnostic exercises above suggest that the remaining 28 percent decline in relative manufacturing output is attributable to labor market problems, possibly distortions. Similarly, in the services sector, West Bengal’s productivity (relative to Mahrashtra) declined by about 35 percent. We calculate that relative services output in West Bengal fell about 45 percent 30 Figure 12: Manufacturing productivity 4000 8000 12000 16000 20000 24000 .4 .5 .6 .7 .8 .9 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra WB Maharashtra Figure 13: Services producivity 100000 200000 300000 400000 500000 600000 700000 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra WB Maharashtra 31 between 1960 and 1995. Thus, differences in services productivity account for 78 percent of the relative decline in service output in West Bengal during this period with factor market distortions accounting for the remainder.13 The agricultural sector reveals a picture very different from the other two sectors. While relative agricultural productivity in West Bengal stayed relatively unchanged between 1960 and 1995, relative agricultural output actually increased about 18 percent during the period. A 30 percent increase in West Bengal’s relative agricultural employment was a key driver of this output increase. This would be consistent with pro-agricultural labor force factors occurring during this period. 5 Proximate Explanation Having described the economic dynamics in the two states, we now turn to studying one potential explanation for the observed disparity between the West Bengal and Maharashtra. In this we will be guided by the diagnostic exercises carried out above. Of particular interest to us is to identify factors specific to West Bengal that could have simultaneously depressed total factor productivity in manufacturing and services, reduced the marginal product of labor in manufacturing, and increased incentives for labor employed in agricultural in the state. The usual practise in exercises like these is to look for specific policies that could have caused these outcomes. The complicating factor here is the compulsion of electoral politics in India. The strong socialistic bent of the country since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 has caused political parties across most of the ideological spectrum to converge on a similar set of stated economic policy goals. These stated goals typically include being pro- 13Note that in the multi-sector model, human capital differences would show up as produtivity differences. This is the reason we do not use “TFP” in this section. 32 labor, pro-rural, pro-agriculture, pro-small scale industries, etc. Hence, examining stated policies across states in India often doesn’t reveal the true picture. Thus, even though Besley and Burgess (2003) found that West Bengal was the state with the highest number of pro-labor changes in labor regulations, they ended up classifying both West Bengal and Maharashtra as being pro-labor. Rather, in our opinion, the key difference across states is the implementation record: which policies are implemented and how rigorously are they implemented. But this is precisely what makes the mapping between policies and outcomes hard. In order to make some progress on understanding the different outcomes between West Bengal and Maharashtra, we start by describing the political history of these two states. With the exception of some brief interludes, between 1960 and 1995 Maharashtra was governed almost throughout by the Congress party.14 The Congress party was also the ruling party at the federal level during most of this period. The prevailing ideology of the Congress party was socialism with a strong belief in the paternalistic role of the state, self-reliance, infant industry protection etc.. Until 1977, West Bengal’s political history reads very much like Maharashtra’s with the state being ruled almost throught by the Congress party (except for a short two year interlude between 1969 and 1971 when a leftist coalition called the United Front ruled the state government). However, since 1977 West Bengal has been governed uninterrupted by a leftist coalition called the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) making it the longest running government in the country. It is 14Thus, for two years between 1978 and 1980, Maharashtra had a government led by the Janata party which was itself a coalition of smaller parties with similar political ideologies to the Congress. In fact, a number of the leading politicians associated with the Janata party were themselves ex-Congress party members. 33 instructive to note that the leftist vote share in West Bengal grew rapidly from 18 percent in 1951 to 32 percent in 1962 to 46 percent in 1971 to 49 percent in 1995. Since the Leftist political parties are the biggest supporters of labor and the rural poor, one candidate explanation for the differential performance between the two states is that the politics of West Bengal caused it. It is important to reiterate that despite the similarity between the stated political and economic objectives of both the leftist parties as well as the socialism oriented Congress party, there may well be a difference in policy implementation between a government run by a party that courts labor votes and a government that is run by labor interests itself. We assess the potential of this margin by examining the interaction of the political power of the left with the wedges that we identified above. In Figures 14 and 15 we plot the vote share of the Leftist parties in West Bengal along with the two labor allocation wedges involving the manufacturing sector: agriculture to manufacturing, and services to manufacturing. The correlation of the vote share with the two wedges is 0.34 and 0.51 respectively.15 We do not plot the vote share with the agriculture/services labor allocation wedge and with the savings (Euler equation) wedge, because we have already seen that these two wedges did not show much movement during the period under study. In Figures 16 and 17 we plot the Leftist vote share against the productivity wedges in the 15The leftist vote share is defined as the combined vote share in local Assembly elections of the following parties: Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Forward Block, Forward Block (Socialist), Farward Block, Forward Block (MG), Forward Block (RG), Forward Block (Marxist), Revolutionary Socialist Party. We have data for the Assembly elections in 1951, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1991, 1996, and 2001. We generated an annual series for the vote share by filling in for the years between elections using the average annual growth rate of the share between successive elections. 34 Figure 14: Leftist vote share and Agriculture/manufacturing wedge .25 .30 .35 .40 .45 .50 .55 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra: MPL wedge between Agri and Mfg (right axis) WB: Leftist vote share (left axis) 35 Figure 15: Leftist vote share and Service/manufacturing wedge .25 .30 .35 .40 .45 .50 .55 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra: Services to Mfg MPL wedge (right axis) WB: Leftist vote share (left axis) 36 Figure 16: Leftist vote share and relative manufacturing productivity in West Bengal .25 .30 .35 .40 .45 .50 .55 .4 .5 .6 .7 .8 .9 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra: Manufacturing TFP (right axis) WB: Leftist vote share (left axis) manufacturing and services sectors in West Bengal (relative to Maharashtra). The figures show a strong negative relationship between the vote share and the wedges with correlations of -0.49 and -0.55, respectively. Cearly, leftist votes didn’t translates into productivity gains in general. Given the pattern of comovement between the leftist vote share and the different wedges in West Bengal, the obvious next step is to determine what exactly happened in response to the growing political strength of the left. The first suspect is that an increasing leftist vote 37 Figure 17: Leftist vote share and relative services productivity in West Bengal .25 .30 .35 .40 .45 .50 .55 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB/Maharashtra: Services TFP (right axis) WB: Leftist vote share (left axis) 38 share may have been accompanied by rising bargaining power of the trade unions. This may have induced more aggressive trade union demands for higher wages, more labor-friendly work rules etc.. To examine this possibility, in Figure 18 we look at the ratio of mandays lost to mandays worked in West Bengal and Maharashtra between 1960 and 1995. The figure is revealing. The level of industrial action in the two states was almost identical till 1966. Starting in 1967 there was a sharp spike in industrial action in West Bengal. Thereafter the mandays lost ratio in West Bengal was always higher than in Maharashtra (with the exception of one year, 1982, which saw a brutal strike in Maharashtra). During the period the mean for the mandays lost ratio in West Bengal was almost three times that in Maharashtra.16 The fact that days lost due to industrial action in West Bengal started rising in the late 1960s is interesting as that was precisely the time that the leftist coalition first came to power in the state, albeit for a short perod of time. In 19 we plot the leftist vote share against the ratio of mandays lost to mandays worked in West Bengal. As is obvious, the more powerful the left became the greater was the incidence of labor action, strikes etc. — the correlation between the leftist vote share and mandays lost ratio is 0.59. Another sign of increasing labor power in West Bengal during this period was rapid expansion in the number of registered trade unions in West Bengal from 2057 in 1957 to 4808 in 1970, i.e., a 2.5 fold rise. During the same period the number of registered trade unions in Maharashtra only increased from 1586 to 2560.17 16To put these numbers in perspective, it is worth noting that Maharashtra was not exactly a state with a particularly docile labor force. The level of trade union power in the textile industry in Maharashtra was extremely high with some of the state trade union leaders like Mr. Datta Samant having a national profile. 17Unfortunately, our data on trade unions in West Bengal does not extend beyond 1970. 39 Figure 18: Mandays lost due to industrial action .00 .02 .04 .06 .08 .10 .12 .14 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB Maharashtra 40 Figure 19: Leftist vote share and industrial action in West Bengal .25 .30 .35 .40 .45 .50 .55 .00 .02 .04 .06 .08 .10 .12 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 WB: Leftist vote share (left axis) WB: Days lost/days worked (right axis) 6 Conclusions In this paper, we have contrasted the development paths of two Indian states, West Bengal andMaharashtra, between 1960 and the mid-1990s. Starting from an initial position of about 5 percent greater per capita output than Maharashtra, West Bengal’s per capita output had dropped to about 69 percent ofMaharashtra by 1993. Manufacturing, in particular, appeared to lose ground in West Bengal. Our relative levels accounting suggests that differences in TFP account for about 60 percent of the gap betweenWest Bengal and Maharashtra, relative to their positions in 1961. Human capital accounts for a little more than 20 percent of the gap and physical capital accounts for the remainder. We then turn to model-based diagnostic tests, building on the work of Cole and Ohanian; Chari, Kehoe, and McGrattan; and Mulligan. Our tests suggest that productivity differences – attributable to both TFP and human capital – account for about 3/4 of the gap between the 41 states. The remainder is likely to be due to problems in the labor market inWest Bengal. In particular, there appear to have been some factor(s) that raised wages in West Bengal above the levels dictated by the neoclassical growth model’s first order conditions. The strong correlations of our estimated labor market and productivity wedges with the vote share of the Leftist parties in West Bengal suggest that increasing labor power during this period in West Bengal may have been the proximate cause of the diverging economic performance of the two states. While the diagnostic exercises in the paper suggest that the problems are likely to be in the labor market, in order to assess the quantitative importance of this margin one needs to formalize and quantify a political-economy model in which declining investment and output can coexist with rising labor power for relatively sustained periods of time in a voting environment. This is the subject of our future work in this area. A Appendix Our data come from numerous sources. The primary sources are the Census of India for 1961, 1971, 1981, and 1991, and the Economic and Political Weekly Research Foundation (EPWRF) database. The former provides data on labor force and workers, while the latter has data on nominal and real (gross and net) state domestic product, state domestic product disaggregated by sector, and all-India capital stocks. We also use the World Bank dataset created by Ozler, Datt, and Ravallion (1996), primarily for measures of price indices that control for inter-state price differentials. We now proceed section-by-section to describe the sources and construction of each variable: 42 A.0.1 Section 2 43 References [1] Banerjee, Abhijit, Pranab Bardhan, Kaushik Basu, Mrinal Datta Chaudhuri, Maitreesh Ghatak, Ashok Sanjay Guha, Mukul Majumdar, Dilip Mookherjee, and Debraj Ray, 2002, “Strategy for Economic Reform in West Bengal,” Economic and Political Weekly Special Issue, October 12. [2] Abler, George Tolley, and Kripalani, 1994, [3] Besley, Timothy, and Robin Burgess, 2003, “Can Labor Regulations Hinder Economic Performance? Evidence from India,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 19 (1), pp. 91-134. [4] Chari, V. V., Patrick J. Kehoe, and Ellen McGrattan, 2004, “Business Cycle Accounting,” NBER Working Paper 10351. [5] Cole, Harold L., and Lee Ohanian, 2002, “The U.S. and U.K. Great Depressions through the Lens of Neoclassical Growth Theory,” American Economic Review 92 (2), pp. 28-32. [6] Cole, Harold L., and Lee Ohanian, 2004, “New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis,” Journal of Political Economy 112 (4), pp. 779-816. [7] Duraismay, P., 2002, [8] Gollin, Douglas, 2002, [9] Hall, Robert, and Charles Jones, 1999, “Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 83-116. [10] Ingram, Beth, Narayana Kocherlakota, and Eugene Savin, 199? [11] Kehoe, Timothy, and Kim Ruhl, 2003, “Recent Great Depressions: Aggregate Growth in New Zealand and Switzerland”, manuscript, University of Minnesota and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. 44 [12] Klenow, Peter, and Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 1997, “The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has it Gone Too Far?”, in Ben Bernanke and Julio Rotember, eds., NBER Macro Annual 1997 (Cambridge, MA: MIT press). [13] Mulligan, Casey, 2002, [14] Ozler, B., Gaurav Datt and Martin Ravallion, 1996, [15] 45 Table 1: Output per Worker and Decomposition Maharashtra Y/L (K/Y)^0.5 H/L A 1961 11453 1.44 1.27 6278 1971 15731 1.68 1.38 6777 1981 18305 1.86 1.50 6587 1991 25759 1.71 1.64 9157 0.81 0.17 0.26 0.38 West Bengal Y/L (K/Y)^0.5 H/L A 1961.00 13783 1.53 1.36 6625 1971.00 16021 1.74 1.41 6527 1981.00 17481 1.91 1.48 6154 1991.00 19743 1.67 1.60 7385 0.36 0.09 0.16 0.11 Note: Y/L is expressed in rupees/worker in 1993-94 prices Table 2: Sources of Differences in Growth Between West Bengal and Maharashtra West Bengal relative to Maharasthra (normalized so 1961 = 1) Y/L (K/Y)^0.5 H/L A 1961 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1971 0.846 0.976 0.950 0.913 1981 0.794 0.973 0.921 0.885 1991 0.637 0.922 0.903 0.764
  32. I couldn’t agree more with your analysis. Being from a family of ardent “CPM Haters”, its really difficult to sit at home and say “Buddha is the best we have”.
    However, I guess Bengal needed the IT boost more than anything else, with near zero industrial development except for one Haldia petrochemicals. Having seen companies like Dunlop and Indian Oxygen close down right in front of my eyes, its a welcome change. Also, the law and order problem never raised its head too prominently, being from Asansol, the town closest to the Jharkhand border, I can vouch for that ( touchwood :P)
    Seriously, Buddha is the best we have. I think its time we removed Mamata Banerjee from the frame since she’s proved herself to be too fickle minded to lead a state. Its time she retired to painting and playing her beloved synthesizer.

  33. @Bongpondit: Of course. The Congress leaders had always been “bought out”—a fact painfully obvious to anyone with half a brain.

    @Gamesmaster G9: The pulling in of Buddha was inevitable—the way Jyoti Babu was going with his 2 hours at Writer’s and his frequent trips to Europe and US (to get investments) the party very well knew that their Calcutta base was in serious danger of being totally eroded.

    @Yourfan: You hit the nail on the head. I also dont care who rules and what’s his favorite color as long as he does something constructive. At the least, nothing destructive.

    @Seven_Times_Six: It speaks volumes for your knowledge of Bengal politics sir if you compare Mugabe to Buddha. Sad very sad.

    @Joy Forever: Its good to see that a lot of people like you are sharing my perception…just to see I am not the only dog afflicted with Stockholm syndrome here.

    @Rahul: True. Mamata has adopted the tactics the Leftists adopted in the 60s. Only thing is this is not the 60s.

    @Anon: Yes I agree that politicians should be kept on tenterhooks and in an ideal world, that would be the case in Bengal. But things being as they are, what is happening now is the best that can be. The big difference between Mamata and Buddha is that, despite both being personally honest, one has a brain and the ability to think while the other is borderline hysteric. I agree that the basic nature of CPM may not change but as I said before, in India politics is all about personality and less about party ideology. And Buddha as a personality is just about as good as it gets, given our options.

    @yourfan2: The Left front has flogged the issue of freight equalization to death as a reason for Bengal’s industrial decline. There was more than a grain of truth in that but it was never the “sole” cause for the sorry state of Bengal’s jute and iron mills. Buddha has realized that. Yes it is a lovely time now to go back to Calcutta. It really is.

    @Raj: What your friend tells you is wrong. The condition of villages in Bengal is far better than in other parts of India (hint: no farmer suicides). CPM’s achievements in the rural sector have never been in doubt, irrespective of what your friend says. It is in the urban and industrial sphere that their failure has been earth-shattering. As to illegal Bangladeshis coming in, big problem. And the CPM has not done anything about this. But guess who was the first person to make a noise about it? Who was the first person to say that madrasas need to be brought under control? Buddha-Babu. And this despite Jyoti Basu publicly expressing his disapproval at Buddha raising these issues.

    @Mayank: Very simplistic. Again the condition of Bengal’s rural regions is much better than what you would think.

    @Kaunteya: 1) The Communist in CPM is only in name. Its members do believe in God and do Puja. But at least most of them don’t go with swords puncturing the stomachs of pregnant women—- right?

    2) Noone says that Bengal is better than Maharashtra economically in any way. So why compare?

    3) It is true that some of Calcutta’s prosperity is because of the country’s overall positive growth. But do take a look at the number of companies expanding or coming into Bengal every year in comparison to the other cities you mentioned.

    @Shan: That’s the thing. Buddha has gone against CPM’s long standing guiding principle of “Keep the state poor.”

    @Deep:

    Its interesting that most ppl who have radical anti-left comments are those who have never stayed in calcutta: the outsiders who perceive the Left in a certain light, largely owing to the media probably.

    Totally agree.

    @Anon: Mamata’s looniness for the want of a better word is tragic. If she could only have used her brain (or got good advisors) to draft up an alternative positive roadmap for Bengal instead of calling Bandhs and engineering resignation dramas it would have been better for everyone.

    @Raj: Gujratis are supermen. Can we now move forward? Its funny how you in your first paragraph called Deep “self-congratulatory” and then wrote the 3rd para which is ahem….

    There is another thing in which Gujrat leads Bengal. And that’s in communal riots.

    Seriously I admire the achievements of Gujratis and how prosperous they have become all over the world. But that does not mean that we should paper over the big blot of 2002.

    @Anon: I agree with you. I am the last person who will glorify the Bengali habit of harking back to their glorious past, and of sitting and sipping tea. I admire the industrious nature of the Gujratis and Marwaris. However Deep was not making any point about characteristics of communal character: he merely said that the CPM’s culture closely aligns itself with some of the negative common traits found in many Bengalis.

    @Cipher: I hope so too.

    @Gaurav: There is a big distinction between the left at the Center and the left at the State. Central policies of CPM is controlled by intractible, hypocrites like Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury. Buddha has more than once had run-ins with these people inside the party because it is patently obvious that Buddha himself does not believe in what these diabolic duo does.

    @Sue: I am afraid you did. Voting independent is almost always a waste of a vote IMHO.

    @Satish: I agree. But this is a decision taken by the CPM politburo which has almost nothing to do with Buddha-babu at the State.

    @Varsha: I dont think that the CPM needed to rig elections in the countryside—but it still did just to be sure.

    @Ritwik Patra: Seems a recurrent theme—to see staunch anti-CPMs becoming Buddha buffs.

    @An Ideal Boy: 🙂

    @Suyog: I have no doubt that Modi is a very efficient CM. Manmohan Singh himself was effusive in praise for Modi’s knowledge and savvy during the CM meeting (Buddha came next in his praise list). However there is this small matter of engineering riots that he has on his hands—for which he can never be called anything better than a murderer who walks free because of the system.

    @deBoLiN: Thank you

    @Prasanth: Please. Dont paste entire research papers in the comments section. Just summarize what it says if you want to…noone is going to wade through it (even more so when the symbols dont come up).

    @Saikat: Mamata plays the synthesizer? My factoid of the day.

  34. >>> Even Osama has fans. So had Hitler. So, being a fan of Modi is no unpardonable offence.

    @Debolin

    Come on now, dont bring in Godwins laws here, the discussion has just started 🙂 . Pray tell me, how does Modi compare with Hitler or Osama.

    And though I am not a Gujarati, I spent quite a few years there.(Come on guys please, dont make it a Gujju vs Bong vs Punju vs anything battle here). Modi is comparable to BB you can say. He has focus on industrialization and development. The roads are much better than in many parts of the country. The electricity situation is pretty good. On the whole, law and order is better than many other states. It leads the country in investments. I have faced much more racism in other states than in Gujarat (I ve never been to Bengal tho). Lets be real. The provocation was grave enough for the people to react. Did anyone of you see the pictures of burnt Godhra victims near the train. I thought I would puke. Modis fault – he did not take strict action.

    What about this – Buddhadeb encourages(or turns a blind eye to) Bangladeshi illegal migrants for votebanks, and in the process, northeast is also messed up.

    My personal opinion, the grievances of northeast are far more real than kashmir’s, who just keep whining inspite of innumerable concessions and a separate constitution!!

  35. @Satish: Not quite sure how I see the connection between Buddha and North East. The arms for NE insurgents come through mainly Burma. And as to infiltration it takes place through Tripura. As to the “provocation” thing, this is not the place to argue it: suffice to say that raping and butchering pregnant women cannot be any kind of “reaction”—remember that these people were Gujratis. There people were innocent. The only problem was they were Muslim. Pardon me but there can be no excuse for what Modi did. And when you compare that to turning a blind eye to infiltration, I do not really know what to say.

  36. Budhababu is a perfect Bhadralok trying to do things differently.But as far CPM is concerned there is no change in its ideology or any shift in the policies.So the question is : Will the dog wag the tail or the tail wag the dog ?

    From politicalization of administration to extreme terror tactics,intellectual appeal of Marxism to distributing the loots of corruption amongst its cadre — CPI(M) has all the correct flavours in their menu for their one and and only one agena : Stay In Power As Long as You Can.

    I doubt how much of success Buddhadev will taste in his CM-ship with the same CPI(M) politbureau.But what he’ll always be remembered as THE MAN who brought back the confidence that Kolkata lost during Jyoti Basu’s 20 years of CM-ship.And who knows this confidence may someday give birth to another leader who might do the mission impossible of up-rooting the CPI(M) from Bengal.Or better still may that leader turn the polit-bureau inside out and make it the real people’s party,caring for the real people issue.

    I hope that happens in my life time.

  37. Hey GB….

    well i have couple of thoughts… firstly the recent surge in job market, life style and over all progress cannot be contributed to Buddha only… I would say he is a lucky guy and CPM party was smart enough to understand the change in socio-political scenario of our country which required a milder bhodrolok with a touch of intellectual and artistic charisma like Buddha. They couldnt carry on with a strong dont care revolutionary personality like Jyoti Basu… in current set up I dont think even Marx or Lenin would have been a crowd puller. The current success story of Buddha is majorly due to the fact that in the last 5/10 years Indian economy overall is riding a magical growth curve. Well Victor Hugo sayed “No one can stop an idea whose time has come” (quoted by singh in his budget91 opening speech). our Marxist friends realized that and I am happy enough that they did.

    To answer the question how can they rule for 30 yrs with such a shabby record. Look back the time and the circumstances under which they came to power. It was the abosulte chaos, insecurity, and tyranny under SSR. Although my parents are not quite a fan of the leftists (and quite frequently this was an issue of debate between my dad and me) … but they also agreed that in CPM ‘raj’ the common people had the security and stability which was severly lacking in the later days of congress. We couldnt have come to power if it was still the BCR.

    Whatever was our success/failure as a state, as a society, as a country, I am proud for one thing that our society understood and revere the value of education. The indian middleclass parents would skip a meal to send their kids to the best schools . This quest for knowledge for over 3000 yrs… this is an advantage… Its debatable that whether we can overtake china or catch other asian tigers, whether we can be a world power or not…. but for the moment the confidence of my country is in upswing… no matter which party comes commies/congrss/BJP we all are destined to shine. So lets sit back, relax and live in this era of enthusiasm and hope !!!

    thanks for your platform of discussion….

    cheers

    sounak

  38. Most analysis is completely wrong at worst and moderately accurate at the best of times. Greatbong’s analysis is as sharp and lucid as usual, and some parts about it is undoubtedly true. However, and being a great admirer of yours it feels sad to see that you seem to have embraced the ideology of the majority of the capitalist Indian press, which robbed of usual excuses of mass violence and rigging and having finally admitting that there is not even a ghost of a chance that Mamta Banerjee and her jingoistic, idealless followers will even manage to form a sizeable opposition, has seized upon Buddhadev’s turnover of the party’s (and consequently Kolkata’s) face as the sole reason for the CPIM’s inevitable victory in the State Elections….

    Arnab has completely overlooked (indeed makes no mention of) the traditional reasons why the left wins (and believe me, these reasons are as relevant today as they have always been):-

    (i) reasonable poor orineted economic success (particularly land reforms) inspite of a severe funds shortage and lack of central support orchestrated by one unfriendly government after another;

    (ii) memories of the quite tyrannic violence unleashed by Siddharth Shankar Ray and his murderous minions in the seventies…. sorry Arnob, your Bullygungue Goondas would have been no match for the Congress and police backed militia that killed so many in those days. Our memories are short and we (the lucky) have never experienced those days, and hence cannot even begin to fathom the pathological fear that the middle aged still feel for the Congress;

    (iii) A superb organisation that keeps the party visible throughout the year, particulalrly in rural Bengal and so much in contrast with the Trinamul leader who appears three months before the elections;

    (iv) The fact that no one ever wishes to acknowledge, that intellectually most of Bengal is, and shall remain,left.

    Now for the accuracies in the analysis. It is indeed true that Buddhadev has ushered in a sea change in the image of the party and has given a facelift to kolkata which few would have thought possible. However, and this part is missing from your analysis, the changes have come not at the cost or jobs, or resulted in the complete deprivation of the poorer masses, for along with everything else, welfare structures have been strengthened, Kolkata still remains one of the cheapest Indian cities, its public transport is still the most efficient and inexpensive, its land reform and cooperative farming practices still the best in India. In several sectors, notably power and health, the CPIM has managed to the best of its ability to keep rampant capitalism away, therefore we do not have the farmer suicides which is a common theme in most Indian states. These are achievements made possible that above eveything else, Buddhadev is a consummate party-man, the same party-man who even when he quit Jyoti Basu’s ministry, did not, in the great traditions of Communist discipline, never opened his mouth in public.

    And finally, for all the paeans of glory that the industry barons may sing for Buddhadev’s capital embracing policies, it will be the rural masses,the overwhelming majority of Bengal’s electorate who will usher in the CPIM with a two thirds majority, and this time no excuses of rigging and violence will save the opposition from the humiliation that they will face tomorrow….

    [Did not want to waste my time with some of the others who have posted before me, following the old adage that its never a good idea to get into arguments with fools, as they bring you down to their level and beat you with experience, but some of the comments are worth just looking over]

    @ Raj Mehta – people of Bengal are caught in a time wrap, and India has moved on- truly and surely it has, from the BJP getting 2 seats in a general elections in the 80s we actually ushered them into power, we have an entire state that votes for a fascist animal like Modi, we have a state burning once a film star dies… yes India has moved on….but not in a way I would like my state to go forward….as far as the great state of Gujarat is concerned I do not have anything to say, excapt that they have an international criminal for a Chief Minister, so Mr Mehta Sir, keep your 20% of your exports and keep your infrastructure (by the way did everyone miss the growth comparison to Communist China and not the capitalist west)… and keep your gawdamned affluence, I want to sleep easy, content that tomorrow my house will not be burnt down or my children slaugtered because of the religion they were born…. vote for that monster Sir, till the next communal riot, till the next time Vadodara or Ahmedabad burns, till the next state sponsored genocide happens… you stay in your world, and I will stay in my lazy backward state, where we have removed the evil of the communal warmongers, and which we intend to keep that way….

    I was actually reading Mr Mehta’s comments bottom up, so did not come accross this gem till now…..”The only thing that can save Bengal IMHO is for BJP to come to power at the center , dismissing the state government there , putting all trade union/leftist leaders in jail and putting the state under military control….” Holly Molly, is this guy for real? What next Mr Mehta, a few concentration camps perhaps, a secret police called the SS, a few world domination plans, holocaust, earlier answering to you a sort of intellectual challenge, although I pitied your stupidity, but this is, in one word , DISGUSTING…. and a final thought, maybe Hitler sprayed a few spermatozoa of which we are unaware…Ladies and Gentlemen, heres proof….

    @Satish ‘Apart from Bengal, it s**ewed up Assam and the northeastern states with its “appease Bangladeshi” policy. Of course, they are their votebank’- plus some gibberish about the North East being pissed with India and it being the CPIM’s fault.

    Reminds me of an Ajith Pandey song “Ginni bolen… jekhane joto ache anishti… sob i mule ache communisti….” (My wife says that whereever there is any harm, its all the fault of the communists….)….Bangladeshi votebank of the CPIM in Assam, am i missing something here, or is it routine that people from Assam come and vote for the CPIMin Bengal, or is it that the beauty of Satish’s logic too difficult for me to apprehend…. and this is the crispest explanation of North Eastern dissent I have heard… blame the commies, and of course they mistook the Biharis as Bangladeshis the last time there was violence in Assam…

    @ All – Its a well written post, and some of the things said are indeed insighful, and it might be that its not inaccurate at least in certain aspects, but neither is it completely accurate, and its sad that the entire credit for the CPIM’s victory would go to Buddhadev’s ability to appease the urban upper class (I am not denying that its an important and incredible achievement, its just not the only reason). Forgive the personal attacks (if any…i would still say that I have insulted no ‘person’), but certain things do make it impossible not to lose one temper…

    And ultmately, thanks Arnab, for having the courage to write this and therefore allowing this debate to take place…..

  39. @Bishu: Totally agree. I hope it does happen in our lifetime.

    @Sounak: I accept, as I did in a previous comment, that the county-wide prosperity is responsible for what we see in Kolkata. However the thing is that if Jyoti Basu was in power with all the old CPM warhorses in full control, even this would have passed us by. If the entire country is benefitting from the upsurge, why do some governments still get voted out while the others stay in power? You gotta give credit where it is due.

    @Dealer:

    1) I did mention CPM’s land reforms as one of the primary determinants in its hold over rural Bengal. (Kindly go over the post once more). However it is also true that much of its land reform beneficiaries were party goons who simply planted red flags on land they did not own.

    2)Those memories cannot be said to affect people like me born in the mid 70s. And as my uncle once said: all SSR’s goondas went and joined the CPM. The same people.

    3)The superb organization is kept in place by allowing corruption at all levels (a point I mentioned)—no one works for “principles” sir…an organization is maintained only if the people in it see tangible benefits for themselves.

    4)Intellectually left. Perhaps so. But CPM’s weakest area has always been Calcutta—the center of Bengali intellectualism.

    Incidentally Ajit Pandey is my maternal uncle (meshomashay).

  40. Dealer babu,

    all I will say to you , I admire you for your conviction and faith in the wonderful concept of secularism , particularly the sort that is practised and preached by the commies of India. Keep it up. For , if you live in holy West Bengal, it is only a matter of time before the Islamic presence and influence will be so high in your wonderful Bengal , that Bangladeshi migrant muslim gangs will rape your womenfolk in front of you as you watch helplessly. And nobody will come to your aid. The government / police /bureacruacy – all will be already are) in the control of the Islamic – Commie alliance.

    (Here in fascist Gujarat run by that monster Modi , we have no such worries. Because the katuas know that even if they glance at our sisters , their eyes will ge gauged out and their hands hacked. We like it that way.)

    Soon Bangladeshi flags are raised all over West Bengal and you will be singing the Bangladeshi national anthem – written by the great Rabindranath babu , as you well know……but dont worry , by that time , not that long , just 3-4 years , BJP will be in power at the center , our man Narendra Modi will be the the Prime Minister and we will have the commie government of WB dismissed and send the Indian Army to control your state and kill or maim all B-deshis there , along with the cadre of communist party of India (Marxist)..

    (message for Arnab – in the interest of fairness , please do not moderate this post. You have used extremely provocative language , calling the democratically elected and hugely popular leader of our state of Gujarat names , and referring to incidents ( the one about pregant woman being hacked in the belly) , that are completely untrue and a figment of anti-India leftists media’s fertile imagination. By the way as per the nationwide opinion polls conducted by India Today , both in the year 2004 and 2005, our ‘fascist’ boy Modi was choosen as the best chief minister in the country. Remember it was a nationwide opinion poll , not just limited to Gujarat.

    And yes , I apologise for mistaking you to be a BJP supporter. I should have looked more closely. Sorry. Now I know you are just a freakin commie. Nothing personal. Its just that in Gujarat we dont appreciate Modi haters.)

  41. So Greatbong here has taken a typical ‘Anandabazar’-ish stance on CPM – one that caters and feels good to the upper middle class Calcuttan. Ones that have just enough money (greater than on equal) to send their children the private school-College-IIT-States route aided by as-when-is-needed private tutoring/professional coaching, to make trips to Apollo/Vellore/AIIMS in case of serious ailments and avail non-government medical practitioners’ help for more mundane stuff, and who are becoming increasingly happy and pleased with the CPM for making quick provisions for their son or daughter to acquire a sector V high-paying job, satisfying the proverbial amar sontan jeno thake dudhe bhate sentiment (saving their children the misfortune of surviving a sambar-rasam diet – the epitome of disgust).

    Industries have come because they had to come anyway, with the decline of Bangalore. To save its face and to avoid as if a 180 degree turn, the CPM (most fore-sighted party in the world) played the well-timed masterstroke of replacing Basu by a Buddha-Nirupam team to magically shift their viewpoint – now to curb the trade-union frankenstein created by themselves – to make easy way for those who wanted to come in. And software industries, let me remind you, alone are not the measuring yardstick of development.

    Good that we are easily attracted by shine – the CPM strategy seems to work. Here is a white-haired, white punjabi clad honest CM who doesn’t even break the rules to earn his daughter a first class and stays in a 2 bedroom flat though under security threats. Wow! What a deal we got! It’s a different matter that comrade Biswas’s daughter still gets a first-class-first, a sweeping percentage of teachers in Universities and Colleges are loyal to the CPM (yes, they religiously donate to the party funds regularly in one way or the other – this has developed and continues to be the “mainstream” cult), time and again new appointments are made in five-starred universities where party supporters head the panels and party members get the jobs that would last them a lifetime.

    Yes we forget about Amlashol. Why shouldn’t we? How does it affect us – the urban middle class – anyway?

    How many of us here have ever gone to get medically treated in a govt. hospital. If the state of hospitals in Calcutta are so gross, one can very well guess what goes on elsewhere. Though I refuse to treat Jyoti era and Buddha era separately in a way that allows the latter to get benefit of doubt and extra time for starting afreash (it is CPM’s own policy that that theirs is a party-driven politics where individuals only obey what the party decides – so I am convinced that whatever game they are playing now has got little to do with Buddha alone who is nothing but a puppet), but even in the Buddha regime we have had more than our fair share of mistreatments, deaths, strikes and degrading working condition in hospitals and a most callous health minister making thoughtless, provocative arrogant statements so much so that the CM has to come forward to shadow and shut him up (by the way the HM is a doctor himself – another epitome of “well educated” CPM men).

    The coordination committee rules unabated in the clerical world – and little has changed in the work-culture in govt. offices (WTF do the slogans matter!). The same saga of sacrificing the halfsole of one’s chappal continues to extract a transcript, a national scholarship, or a pension, as the case applies.

    So the CPM now has the urban middle class on its side too! Awesome job, dudes!

  42. Thank you Raj. Nothing personal. But people like you who call Muslims katuas I want nothing to do with. I am honored to be called a freaking commie by someone like you.

  43. I have never actually been to WB – but I saw some footage of that state on tv and in some sad movies – recently on a reality show called ‘The Amazing Race’ . The poverty there is striking and capable of making anybody cry.To be honest , I think Bengal is one of the worst parts of India , highly unproductive and a drain on the national economy.

    And as for those claing there are no starvation deaths in Bengal – thats crap. Only last year we had reports of mass starvation deaths in some WB district called Murshirabad, if I am correct. To be honest , poverty is identified with Bengal/Kolkata – your state is nothing but bad publicity for to India. A disgrace really. And you keep voting for leftists.

    Seriusly India should consider donating West Bengal to Bangladesh. Then we can even give up the pretence of borders – which seemingly do not exist anyway. You folks have alot in common with them. A nice little commie-mozie alliance you got. Be happy.

  44. katuon ko aur kya kahte hain , seriously ? Thats a euphemism actually. One of the mildest terms used for that wonderful race.

  45. “Thank you Raj. Nothing personal. But people like you who call Muslims katuas I want nothing to do with. I am honored to be called a freaking commie by someone like you.”

    *CLAPPING* And I am honored to be finally agreeing with and supporting GB against racists like Raj Mehta. Woo-hoo, go GB!

  46. Haha….Akash Sen Babu , thats okay. I dont take internet message boards seriously. Personal attacks targetted at me mean nothing to me. But strangely enough , its only when anybody attacks India / hindus or as in here , BJP or our bro Modi , that is when I get upset. You know – its all about family honor and stuff like that. You , Shan and Basantiji are welcome to continue your tango Arnab and his fans , leave me out of it.

  47. @Akash, Since you have of late started exhibiting troll-like behavior, you are no longer allowed to post here. Of course this is simply because I am afraid of you, your popularity and how you have found out, without any proof of course, how every commenter here who supports me (yourfan, Joy forever) is actually me. Since you have also said you do not appreciate my editing a comment when your girlfriend/wife was being refered to, I hope you wont be bedwetting/otherwise emitting any bodily fluids as your posting privileges are henceforth withdrawn over here.

  48. Raj bhai, you gujjus are better known as cockroaches throughout the world. One comes and ten follow. Here in the U.S. every single Indian community has made a name for itself in higher education and diaspora culture except the goddam NJ Gujjus. The same gas station hotel Patel chains with the same “Thank you come again” and “Don’t talk in front of my back” jokers.

    Bhai, you go live in your dirty Gujrat with your criminal CM. We don’t want to have anything to do with you communal RSS types. We may have many problems but at least in Bengal we’re asking the right questions. We’re not taking the debate to religion, which basically sets a country back by a hundred years.

    If you don’t like Bengal, get the fuck out of a discussion about Bengali politics on a blog written by a bengali. Go find a Gujrati blog if you can- although I highly doubt if anyone from your state can read or write at all or even cares to. We don’t need your batelabaji gujjuroachbhai.

  49. @PIS: Kindly refrain from anti-any state comments here. Just because we have a few jokers here doesnt mean we should all start adding to the number. Raj does not represent Gujrat just like the other blogospheric oaf, Parimal does not represent Maharashtra.

  50. Haha. Proud Indian Seducer babu …… yaar have some respect for the motel business. The net worth of all the Patel Motels in the US is around $75 billion. Which is greater than the aggregate market cap of all of India’s top-10 IT companies , and probably 20 times as much as the GDP of your wonderful West Bengal.

    Our Dhirubhai was a freaking petrol pump handler – and he built an enterprise which is now worth $40 billion last I checked. Which is more than 10 times the aggregate market cap of all surviving industry in West Bengal.

    As I probably said before , it doesn’t matter what you or anybody else thinks or doesn’t think. For us gujjus , performance is the only criteria. I am happy for you if you think you bengalis are super geniuses and hyper intellectuals and we gujjus are dumbos or whatever. But then , thats only your opinion.

  51. @Raj “I have never actually been to WB” Yes, I think that explains your comment about “Bangladeshi migrant muslim gangs will rape your womenfolk in front of you as you watch helplessly.” Maybe a short visit to Kolkata will show you that its significantly different from Kandahar.

    @PIS Every Indian should be proud of the Gujrati business community in the U.S. Through a lot of hard (and sometimes dangerous ) work they have built a motel empire that contributes Billions to the economies of both the U.S and India (through reinvestment). The Indian ‘image’ of being a successfull business-owner is one that most other ethnic groups can only envy.

  52. 1) GB, is it true that CPM has used vicious and ruthless violence against their political opponents (say, like Midnapore) ? If so, then isnt it the CPM which is to blame for the lack of a viable democratic process with political opposition ?

    2) Budhhadeb may be personally honest, but I have heard (I have never been to Bengal except as a young kid) that the CPM dominates all government beaurocracies to such an extent that you need to be a party member to survive, get promoted, get benefits for your hard work. If you are not a party member and belong to a govt office, you will be harrassed and in extreme cases killed. Is this correct ?

    – As an aside, (and strictly as an aside, this is not the substance of what I am trying to say) Somehow modi has crept into this discussion and you say you dislike him because he engineered riots to kill people he didnt agree with. In light of what I have heard (CPM dominates social/political life in Bengal to such an extent that you cant dare disagree with them) whats the difference between what you say modi is, and what many say CPM does ?

    3) Has Budhhadeb done anything to reduce the party hegemony in the social life of Bengal ? If I am an RSS worker, can I get a govt job ? can I get justice and be free to hold my beliefs if I am working as a govt servant ? Can I get justice if I am a citizen member of RSS and a crime is committed against me by CPM members ? How frequent are crimes against other citizens by CPM members ?

    4) IT/Shity is good for the urban middle class and one must give credit where its due, Budhhadeb is succeeded in bringing a new generation of investments to Bengal, but has the behaviour of CPM under budhhadeb changed for the better in the rural areas ?

    I think these are the questions that need to be answered before one arrives at a conclusion that the present CM of Bengal is the light at the end of the tunnel, or whether CPM, its past sins forgiven, has finally become the right choice. Perhaps a chink in the armour has opened, but is that a feint to mollify the restive urban populace or is it the harbinger of a wider change in the political process in Bengal, is something that remains to be seen. IMO, any government that doesnt brook dissent, that forces people to agree with them, is a dictatorship. The dictators at the head of that system may occasionally bring forth some development (e.g. Ayub Khan in Pakistan) but the system remains corrupt and the only redeeming step that the head of such a system can take is to dismantle the system itself. Is Buddhadeb that man ? Lets see.

  53. First of all – I think I have spent far too much time on this blog today. Imagine that – for a whole year I just lurked for a few minutes now and then and moved on , never said a word , and today I cant stop commenting.

    Anyway – I think Proud Indian Bengali Babu must not be discouraged from making such brilliant observations such as “you gujjus are better known as cockroaches throughout the world.”. Okay genius .

    Just goes to show how some Bengalis have an exaggerated view of their capabilities and are seemingly blind to their obvious deficiencies or seek to hide it by mocking other ethnicities like the Gujaratis.

    In the back of their mind they are very sensitive about Bengal , about themselves and about how they are perceived by the world at large. Truth is not very well. Most people in India and particularly in the West identify Kolkata with poverty. Black hole of Calcutta. Its bad publicity for India.

  54. @BangoNari:

    Is the “Bango” part because of any connection with Bangalore? Or is it because of “Byango” –sarcasm? Point 1. Anandabajaar is traditionally an anti-CPM newspaper –and in a post that you find CPM-affirming I am surprised you compared me with them. And of course I talk like ABP—-they covered me in Satuday’s edition.

    In response to your comment, which would not be out-of-place in a Trinamool rally with Mamata standing behind you sounding the death knell (literally) of the CPM (the lady thinks that by ringing a bell she can dislodge the CPM), I have to say: I never said the CPM is faultless. I have seen government hospitals under Basu and the fact that Buddha removed the present HM shows that he understands the problem. Again WB has been misruled for many years, the CPM is responsible for it—-however if anyone can come close to fixing it it is Buddha.

    @Sudeep:

    1) Yes of course it does. And has. I am sure they still do. This post does not rationalize the CPM’s methods of staying in power—if you read the post carefully you will see that I have mentioned these points.

    2)You wont be killed. But yes I mentioned it before—a party affiliation is essential to get “in” to the system. Let me repeat it again, this post does not seek to absolve the CPM for any of their sins. All it says that it still remains the only alternative and that too a much better one than before.

    Now with respect to Modi and CPM. CPM has never organized mass butchery of innocent people. True there have been incidents of retaliatory violence but not on the scale of the Gujrat riots. However I have made the point before (much to the anger of many “liberal” readers) that most of the press and liberals stay silent when the CPM cuts off the hands of a rural voter who voted Congress but attack Modi. The point here is that what CPM does should not be met with silence (which is what many people do) but it is in no ways, purely because of the scale, not comparable to Gujrat 2002.

    3) Yes you can get a govt job. Noone will beat you up. Student unions in colleges in Calcutta are by and large anti-CPM and all of them go onto get jobs, stay alive and flourish.

    4)Buddha has started initiatives in agro-business and food processing. Thats not IT is it?

    Finally Buddha is no Ayub Khan. Come on. This time elections were as fair as they could be. And yet they have won everywhere: rural and urban. All of it is not fear or booth-jamming. When people got angry at the CPM in late 90s—-none of CPMs vaunted tactics could prevent them from losing Calcutta.

  55. GB: your comments have been really illuminating towards, what appears to an objective outsider as, pathological behavior on part of an entire state. To be fair, to a large extent, most parts of India exhibit such pathological behavior.

    This is why I brought up Mugabe in my prev. comment: apparently in spite of his starving and terrorizing the entire populace, people still support him. They give flimsy reasons, like the ones you give in your post and which can be demolished with a modicum of thought-clarity; but the simple fact is that it is pathological behavior, plain and simple.

    A historical anecdote: In the medieval ages, when Kings were about to hand over the kingdoms to their sons; they used to start off on a tyranny binge. Then when the son becomes the king, he loosens the grips a little bit, and is hailed as a great king, as a savior and suchlike.

    One cannot put down the behavior to mere gullibility, refusal to see the big picture, lack of self-respect or suchlike.

    One has to first accept that the behavior is pathological and that it has stronger roots.

    Foremost reason is a congenital brainwashing. It is next to impossible to hate on something which suffuses the entire societal structure. It, to a large extent, defines you, it defines that which is dear to you. This is the reason why even most highly educated thinkers tend to be theists.

    The second reason is more subtle and follows from the first: Since the societal structure; in this case CPIM led socialism; is seen as as a part of you, any change led from outside is seen as something which is antithetical to you (ref: comments above about how CPIM “suited” the intellectual behavior of Bengalis and BJP etc was “different” from what they were)
    This pushes intelligent people like yourself who’d otherwise be able to climb the tree back into the swampy ground.

    A good theory should enable one to draw conclusions and suggest solutions, and indeed here it is:

    Any change in the communism infested Bengali landscape has to thus start off with a neo-socialistic ideology and has to be led by a Bengali.
    This, to a large extent, is a solution I’d suggest for throughout India.

    Can this change be led by a CPIM member himself?
    This again is a very tricky question, and I must confess that at first sight, the answer does seem to be an clear yes.

    But on further thought the answer comes to be a clear no.
    This is something that would take me many words to elaborate and I should probably take it up on my blog.

  56. I used to wonder why Tamil Nadu had only two options– the lady in the cloak or the man in dark glasses. And then I realised that in WB we had none.

    Like Saddam, the reds– by hook, crook or plain luck– had eliminated all opposition.

    The luck factor comes in when Mamata proved herself to be just too hysterical with no organisational skills whatsoever.

    So, like the Chinese, we just want a cat that can catch mice.

    In Gujarat, the cat is saffron; in WB –it is red.

    If Raj thinks that the riots are no issue, most of us in WB think that to be intimidated by the local CPM boss, neta, goon is also of little note

    Right now, the ABP is making a frontpage story of a family in Dumdum that is being threatened and beaten up by the local CPM councillor ‘cos they refused ‘voluntarily’ give up their land so that the hoodlums could construct a club.

    The CPM topbrass IS making the right kind of noises but arre unable to rein in their own thugs.

    So, inspite of our beloved Buddha, all this does not auger well for my state.

  57. @Seven Times Six: Mugabe essentially, again I dont claim to be an expert, terrorizes the White settlers and their associates and hands over their riches to the native Africans. Paradoxically he is supported in this effort by whites who bankroll him because he brings them benefits.

    Black people who benefit from this support him because they see it as payback for white colonialism. And whites, the ones on the ground and who are having their land taken away, (a land they once incidentally took away from these black people) dont. (no Stockholm syndrome there from the whites let me add) There are also problems of education. Now if you say that Bengal is as uneducated and backward as Zimbabwe, that’s fine. I kind of expect that from self-proclaimed “thought-clarity” possessing people like yourselves.

    And yes I think you should take your views to your blog simply because people like me, who do not possess thought-clarity find it extremely difficult to understand your pedantry as expressed in this comment of yours. Now if you will kindly excuse me sir.

    @Swati: At least you recognized the political leaning of ABP unlike someone else here. I have no doubt that CPM’s excesses will go on. However since the world is not ideal and since Mamata cannot do anything except shout, we have nothing to do except wait for Buddha to clean up the mess as best as he can.

  58. I think party policy means very little in India. Yes its ultimately personality based politics. Best of luck to Buddha and to Bengal. Maybe there’s brighter future in store afterall.

  59. @Debolin: ‘home-state’ ‘Gujarat’ right. “Gujarath” sounds very much south Indian.. What do you know :)? I am from Bangalore actually. Perhaps next time, dont jump to conclusions about ppl’s states just by the way they spell their native state. Oops, did I say Gujarath is my native state? I did :).

    In any case, coming to your quite luxurious comparisons b/w Modi and Hitler and Osama – all I can say is – Keep Grinning :).

    Cheers.

    Suyog

    PS: And please, if you have more comments for me regarding Modi v/s Hitler/Osama, Gujjuland vs Bongoland vagera vagera vagera, you can mail me, and refrain from using GB’s space :).

  60. Greatbong, the Bango part is from Bengal itself – Ingo-Bango-Kalingo of the yesteryear. I compared your stance to that of ABP’s because I am convinced that ABP is not an anti-CPM newspaper (unlike Bartoman). I find it’s stance to be everchanging (like the proverbial watermelon, depending on which layer you’re in) and the best way to describe the stance is urban middle class jokhon jeta khay : so I said “one that caters and feels good to the upper middle class Calcuttan”. They were very pro-Mamata around the time when Trinamool was really looking strong, and after all that fiasco at the center and after whatever little there was to TMC just fell apart, ABP slowly but surely changed it’s stance. They are very pro-Buddha these days, the occasional anti-CPM editorials are tinged with a light-hearted rebuke (like an otherwise doting mom would occasionally scold her kid for being in the playground after dark) and often end with a light-at-the-end-of-a-long-tunnel note. Of course, this is my personal opinion.

    Look, all I am saying is that it is too early and somewhat unsubstantiated to spread a feeling that we are very soon to be salvaged by Buddha. Nothing much to that end has happened yet. The most painful part to me as a Bengali is no matter what direction the CPM takes, we are nowhere even near to have found an able opposition to the CPM. (Hope you’ll deduce my faith in Ms. Banerjee led trinamool from that statement). In my view, this is the most absolute requirement for the prosperity of WB in the long run, as is for any democratic state.

    CPM has also not changed in it’s handling of education and health sectors over the last five years or so when the new leaders have been around. By dismissing the HM and all the Education Ministers the current Govt. has acknowledged wrongs, but unless I see any positive change in their handling of these two areas, I cannot, in good conscience, go around spreading words of hope. Till now, I would say it’s a je timire chilam sei timirei achhi situation. Painful, but true.

  61. GreatBong: that pedantry wasn’t for you, or others in a similarly brainwashed situation; arguing with a branwashee about his brainwashing is pointless.
    It was for others who’d be tempted to see stupidity, lack of self-respect, gullibility, a ill-conceived sense of superiority and worse, in something which is not exactly due to any of those factors. (ref. comments above: you could dismiss them off as kooky, but sadly they are indeed representative of what “others” think)

    Also; I did not say WB = Zimbabwe; I merely said both are examples of polities exhibiting pathological behavior wrt sanctioning their political representatives.
    I also gave the example of a medieval kingdom. Are you next going to assert that WB is not a medieval kingdom? To be on the safe side, I’d better assert right away that I’m not saying it is.

  62. @seven_times_six: If that was not meant for me then take your assault elsewhere, namely your own blog. This is the weirdest comment yet: I am commenting here but not for the writer of the blog. If thats the case, then the only logical conclusion is you are commenting for readers—i.e. grandstanding at a place where you are sure to be heard by more than at your own blog.

    And YES you did say WB=Zimbabwe with respect to the current situation of supposed pathological behavior (Note italics). Zimbabwe is NOT exhibiting any pathological behavior: blacks support Mugabe because he makes them rich, whites dont because he grabs land from them. And the reason many right-thinking black Africans dont throw out Mugabe is because they are uneducated and barely able to eat. (again a situation not present in Bengal). I dont see how clearer this can be.

    In conclusion, at least we “wash our brains” (since we have to use them and so they need to be “cleaned”)—which also means they dont stink.

    I am sure an unmuddled philosopher like you can guess what is left unsaid here.

    [And oh just in case you dont get sarcasm I know what brainwashing means.]

    @ALL: And for people who think that this blog is “unfriendly” to criticism (despite open, unmoderated comments and replies to everyone) note I am using this language only for people like 42 here since he has also used some choice adjectives for me. I am not the kind of person who tolerates attacks ( as distinct from criticism and counter points: example Sudeep and Dealer’s comments) just because the attacker happens to be a reader and I am expected to be a gracious, nice host.

    There are many here who have not agreed with me and I am fine with that. But ad hominem attacks like from Mr 42 shall be replied to as ungently as possible.

    You get as good as you give.

    @Bangonari: Well I guess we have to agree to disagree about ABP. Let me give you an example of what Jyoti Basu once said:” I dont understand why you guys (the Press) are so pissed off at land allotments in Salt Lake. I havent only given it to my friends. Even staff at ABP got land.” Of course the notion that since he is not (officially) the emperor of the land, he does not have the right to hand out plots was lost on him. This was when Mamata was yet to be a force and AB Ghani Khan and Soumen Mitra were the two towers.

    I agree with everything else you say. However if we dont even recognize thin rays of hope, we risk becoming cynics. Which despite what many others say, I am not. I hope you will agree that things are better now than they were during Jyoti Babu’s reign and things are showing an upward trend of improvement. And that Mamata will do worse.

  63. Good post GreatB!!

    I for one do not like CPM and other left parties for the very reasons you mentioned.
    I for one believe its high time that both Bengal and Kerala had regional parties who would work for the betterment of those states. The Congress and Communists have only spoilt these states and have they always have a larger interest and are least bothered about the state’s people. Only a true regional party can help achieve some development.

    Like my mallu friend once said, that in his hometown they were more concerned about what US had to say about Fidel Castro than employment.

  64. GreatBong:

    1. I’m not attacking you or “assaulting” you.

    2. Reg. my pedantic comment: Yes it was directed more at your readers, but I made it here solely because it was a response to your post and to comments by other posters. I do not mean this as an assault but as a frank statement: if I’d wanted more interested readers to read what I’d said, I’d have indeed posted it on my own blog.

    3. Reg. Zimbabwe, I obviously do not refer to the (extremely few) blacks who were made rich by Mugabe.
    You agree that the poor blacks (who are in majority) support Mugabe inspite of his starving them. You say this is because of “a lack of education” and not because of pathological behavior. I’m saying their supporting him IS pathological behavior. I’m saying education has nothing to do with this; in case you’d read my pedantic comment.

    I’m sorry you took all this in a bad vein.

  65. Gr8T BongDA,
    today am writing this at 6 in the morning , 11th of MAy, the day when the reults of the Bengal Polls will be out.Early Morning prediction>>LEFT will Win again and more than200 seats & that will b RIGHT for the LEFT and RIGHT for all BongoBashis & MAMATA will loose all her KHAMATA.Am I happy or what!!!

  66. GB,

    >> This time elections were as fair as they could be. And yet they have won everywhere: rural and urban. All of it is not fear or booth-jamming. When people got angry at the CPM in late 90s—-none of CPMs vaunted tactics could prevent them from losing Calcutta.

    How can they have been fair when no political opposition was allowed to flourish in the first place ? How will the opposition flourish when all of the govt. machinary is actually a member of the CPM ?

    May be its a matter of seeing the glass half full/empty.

  67. @Raj mehta- You taking a too simplistic view of Bengal. TV cameras will always show what they want to show- if NDTV shows a girl begging in Bengal- people will come to think that all Bengalis are beggars. I am not refusing your assertion that Gurjrat is a much more prosperous state than Bengal is- after all it had not been set back by 20 years by a tyrant like J Basu.

    When you say that the image that you have of Bengal is of govt offices babus sipping tea, Id return your accusation to you- you are in a time warp. See, psychology of people of different states are very different. If you find alien the concept of a Bengali or anyone else making certification of deposits and not buying shares when theres blood on the streets and make a killing on the stock market ..or start a new business; the other party may say that he may find it obnoxious of a person who has to get a certain return on his investment each month to get some respect and esteem in his own family and community. Life to him , the other party may say is a perpetual rat race with other rats. Indeed if you continue harping on the money factor, you are going down the PIP way in the last post. And I sincerely hope that you dont do so as I like reading your comments a lot (dont stoop down to regional level mud-slinging and we are superior thing. You can do much better than that.)

    By the way, I am a great fan of Narendra Modi (and a great fan of Bal thackarey too). That man has been unfairly been charged with so many false accusations. And yes , Bangladeshi immigrants are a problem. Now as much as it is accused to be an outcome of design, its natural too. The greatest capitalist country in the world, US has not been able to tackle this case of illegal immigrants. If there is one thing that I detest most about commies , its their oiling of the muslims. But thats not because they identify themselves with the Bangladeshi muslims as you say, but because they see the illegal voters as mere instruments. So the situation that you envisage , of the minority eating the majority will actually never happen. This may appear to be a condundrum to you , but suffice it to say that your views are too bird-eyed for you to understand. The bird bullets will remain bird bullets…they will never be cannon fodders.(I hope you are getting my point)

    As an intelligent Gujju, you sure understand the virtues of diversification and being flexible. So heres a question for you as a fellow BJP man- how do you think that the BJP can project itself as a different party and slowly win the electorate in Bengal. What can it do to remove the CPM? Is it possible? Its the prerogative of the party to sell itself, not the people to radically change their mindsets. Dont tell Modi will put WB under military rule and such bullshit. That will never happen. Offer me some cogent views on this.

  68. @GB- Hah. Zimbabwe= Bengal. Actually you say that you dont know much about the Zim issue…you know what, its all relative …just like the truth. For the blacks, its payback time. True. But what you dont realise is that faux-philosophers like Mr 42( I think his name is P. Vijayakar)is always dismayed at why idea of his idea of prosperity (sipping a throat cutting rs 100 cappuccino at Coffee Day in an oh so mythical free market) doesnt match that of the black farmers.

    Not that i dont want free markets, but these guys like 42 worship it so much that a rational observer can see that they are slowly entering the realm of utopia. By the I have followed 42’s comments elsewhere an let me tell you that hes brainwashed too- by the character of John Galt . Maybe he visualizes himself standing at the Wankhade stadium and giving a speech like that. The problem with these kind of people is that they love to argue in the abstrct and throw arcane logic in a effort to stump you. Its probably a wise option to sidestep such comments with monotonous regularity.

    I also like your response to BN. “However if we dont even recognize thin rays of hope, we risk becoming cynics. Which despite what many others say, I am not. I hope you will agree that things are better now than they were during Jyoti Babu’s reign and things are showing an upward trend of improvement. And that Mamata will do worse. ”

    Superb. Now the problem is that some people like the colors black and white so much that even if you wear a pink shirt, they see it as black/ white depending on their lenses. Same here. Just see the iterative cycle of people branding you- BJP commie congress and so on.

  69. @greatbong : i did not mean to compare maharashtra and bengal. I just forwarded a paper that i had link of. it could have been any other state.
    and to be frank maharashtra has it’s own share of problems like farmers suicide etc which is not in bengal.

    also i do not have the actual statewise data of FDI or other investments , but i thought TN,Gujarat and Mah were leading in these , when i last read.
    also Kolkata should be compared with Delhi/Chennai/Banglore or cities in that range. Obviously there’s more work to be done.

    if you are refering to gujarat when you talk of people puncturing pregnant women, let’s just say, that’s not the norm. infact gujarat is much safer state than you would think. unless you want to look it through NDTVs or Teesta Setalvad’s prism.

    whatever happened in gujarat in 2002 should be looked in context of 57 people being roasted alive. and yes not by accident as mr. banerjee would like us to believe.

    modi or no modi, the results would have been same…

    coming back to bengal, i also believe that CPM must have done some real good work in early days and the then Congress government must have been really really bad for people in bengal to keep voting Communists again and again..

    i would rather prefer a political party that carries the right mix of ideas. health care,education and social reforms of CPM and pro-economic-reforms, cultural nationalism, anti-terrorism, anti-minority-appeasement ideas of BJP.

  70. Yeah – Kaunteya , thanks for reminding me of Justice Banerjee. Just realised that he is a Bengali. Cool. So the coach accidently caught fire and the muslim mob outside only wanted help.

    Yourfan – the whole concept of ‘money’ which you find insulting , is most important because it is an index of achievement and directly linked to productivity. Capital is gained by hardwork , by determination and by being smart .

    One of the many Bengalis here said it was okay to have left because they reflect the bengali ethos – ‘intellectual and ‘idealistic’. What a bunch of crap !! You are the most unproductive state in the country , a drain on the national economy , keep voting for rascals who unfortunately have a big influence over national polity because of the large chunk of seats they get in Bengal and so are successfully able to hold back economic reforms and national progress – and you call yourself ‘intellectual’ and ‘idealistic’. You folks need a reality check. I hate to generalise , but truth is you bengalis are seen as inefficient , lazy , mediocre , bitchy , procrastinating , bumbling idiots who talk too much and think too much about themsleves.

    I appreciate that you are a BJP supporter. But I see no hope for BJP in Bengal. Only way out is for BJP to come to power at the center and impose President’s rule there. Also – I dont really care what some of the other posters here said or didn’t say , I will say what I like , and what I feel , whether the folks here like it or not. I am not here to win a popularity contest. Infact the only reason I keep commenting is because of the antagonism , visceral hatred spewed at me , the party I support , my ethnicity , my state and at our boy Modi. I always liked cyber fight. Great timepass.

  71. “Infact the only reason I keep commenting is because of the antagonism , visceral hatred spewed at me , the party I support , my ethnicity , my state and at our boy Modi. I always liked cyber fight. Great timepass.” LOL . This is so funny. In short you build straw men and by pummeling them get rid of your daily frustrations. I wont respond to your generalisations of Bengalis….not that i could not have …could have done than 10 times better than you….but if you go to the FAQ section of this blog…it strictly forbids regional name- calling. You can always voice your opinions or support for a particular person, but attacks against any person or community wont be tolerated as long as its not recationary.

    BTW if capital is everything in life, I really dont see why you wanna gouge the eyes of muslims when they stare at your mom or sisters. What if they pay you well to screw them?

    @GB- If this smartass contines to use language like that against Bengalis or any other community, ruthlessly delete his comment. If not for anything, hes deviating from the topic and using the comments section to air his personal prejudices.

  72. Raj i do not concur with your views on Bengalis. For that matter i do not think that you can generalise any community in the world. I am sure not all gujaratis are hard working and productive however hard you wish it was true. The contribution of Bengal has been immense in national development in various ways.

    The point really is not bengali or marathi or tamil or gujarati.

    There’s a growing trend nowadays of “we” vs “them”… all over. In US it is either liberal or conservative. I cannot hate Bush yet be conservative. That’s the problem.
    In India your are either secular or a muslim hating communal person.
    Why?
    Why can i not have very good muslim friends, yet object on muslim appeasement.
    If i vote for BJP i am communal. If i vote for Congress i am secular; doesn’t matter if the same party presided over the worst riots in Indian history, where kids of sardarjis were burnt alive with MRF tyres around their tender bodies, because apparently “when a big tree falls the earth trembles”

    The same virus has caught on the media as well. Either you are with us or against us. The entire Gujarat has been painted in one broad brush by the media. That’s very very sad for a community that contributes so much to the Indian economy.

    Modi has been singled out , while there has never been even a passing reference to the Gandhis when right under their sharp and shapely noses , Delhi and Bhagalpur happened. Yes not many know that Mr Rajiv Gandhi and Madam “secular” Soniaji were having a nice vacation in Bihar when eyes of more than 1100 muslims in Bhagalpur were being plucked out.

    We need to gaurd ourselves against generalization and imported perception. The media has and will always present a sorry picture of Gujarat. If the same media were to concentrate on Maharashtra for instance, they would have realised that there have been more suicide deaths in Maharashtra than the number of person killed in Baroda.

    greatbong has a very good blog. That is why people like you and me come here in a way to salute his talent. We can disagree with him or others on the blog but let us not fall in trap of name calling and taking cheap shots. And certainly not to paint everyone in one broad brush. That’s media’s job.

  73. Arnab, most of the colleges in Bengal are still run by the SFI. As far as I know only two of the major colleges, Scottish and North City have non-SFI student unions in power.

    And yes, the CPM cadres are still lumpen goondas who occupy others’ land just because they can. I should know because my father’s hard earned money (his only savings) went into buying a piece of land in Kolkata, but we will never get that in our lifetimes because that has been “taken over” by others with the help of the CPM goondas. Now my parents are living in Pune in a 400 sq. ft. 1 bedroom flat because they have no savings and have to depend on my meagre resources.

    Besides, we have gone through extreme hard times because the factory my father worked in was locked out indefinitely by the CPM trade unions and he was without any income for 2-3 years. How we survided I still can’t fathom (thanks to the innocence of young age).

    So I have every reason to detest the CPM, as you will agree.

    But I still feel that Buddha is on the right track and has flagged off the first signs of change in the state. It is not enough, it is not comprehensive, but it is a new start. It is a dim light (maybe just a candle light) at the end of a very long dark tunnel – the darkness created and perpetuated by that Scotch-drinking hypocritical communist – Jyoti Basu. Buddha has acknowledged mistakes – a first for a CPM politician – and taken steps in the right direction. We need to support him and we need to be optimistic.

    As for Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, it is a historical fact that many totalitarian, race-based regimes have high economic growth. Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, and more recently China are examples of this. But if the destroyal of human rights and purging of communities (Jews, Russians, Tibetians) is the price we have to pay, then I don’t want progress and economic prosperity at that cost. Simple.

  74. Greatbong,

    “I hope you will agree that things are better now than they were during Jyoti Babu’s reign and things are showing an upward trend of improvement.”

    Nope! I don’t subscribe to this view. I will if and only if I see palpable change. As of now, Buddha era has been no different than Jyoti era.

    Anyway, I think we will also have to agree to disagree on setting high hopes on Buddha at this moment. Ashole ekta boyesh er por keu i nijer abosthan theke shorena, tai torko kora jay, kintu converge kora khub shakto, pray ashombhob.

  75. I agree wholeheartedly with you Raj Mehta. Though many people here would like to believe there are no divisions in the world, there is no “us v/s them”, the reality is there are always going to be divisions. We Hindus have got to look out for ourselves, because no one else will. The rest of secular talk is all rhetoric and a lot of wind. The only truth that remains is that we have to look out for ourselves. So vote Narendra Modi for PM.

  76. Yourfan : “BTW if capital is everything in life, I really dont see why you wanna gouge the eyes of muslims when they stare at your mom or sisters. What if they pay you well to screw them?”

    Actually it is people without much ‘capital’ that turn towards prostitution or pimping their women. I have heard that Kolkata is the global center of prostitution. Isn’t that true ? Lot of Bengali women involved in that business.

    In Gujarat , we prefer to make out money by getting an education and making use of it, working hard , being smart , seizing an opportunity and being innovative. Work is worship for us , and the rewards are immense.

  77. Oh voting independent doesn’t elect a leader. But since I usually don’t know any of the candidates, and I know who will be elected anyway, it seems a shame to let somebody else fill in my vote for me, which I figure would be done. They’re going to win anyway, so my vote might as well go cheer somebody up elsewhere who will certainly lose.

    Once though, I actually knew a candidate and certainly voted for her. And I do not mean Mamata 🙂

  78. @GreatBong

    >> Not quite sure how I see the connection between Buddha and North East. The arms for NE insurgents come through mainly Burma. And as to infiltration it takes place through Tripura. As to the “provocation” thing, this is not the place to argue it: suffice to say that raping and butchering pregnant women cannot be any kind of “reaction”—remember that these people were Gujratis. There people were innocent. The only problem was they were Muslim. Pardon me but there can be no excuse for what Modi did. And when you compare that to turning a blind eye to infiltration, I do not really know what to say. [unquote]

    What I meant is this – if you dont control illegal migrants, they will be emboldened enough to run all over the place. CPM entertained them, and so later, they started entering Now that Buddha is CM, he raised the issue of illegal migrants. Note that the BJP had raised this issue much earlier, Buddha wasnt the first one. I am not anti-Buddhadeb now, he might be clean. But I am not a fan of his party, they are the worst lot of India.

    Well, reading your responses, I agree with many points I did not . I came to know lot of things I did not know. But, I still think there is mild Stockholm Syndrome at work here.

    — suffice to say that raping and butchering pregnant women cannot be any kind of “reaction”

    Well, like you told me lot of things which I did not know (eg. BB is at loggerheads with many in his party), I will tell you that we suffered the same earlier. Not that I really like this tit-for-tat game, but nobody made a noise about pregnant Hindu women being raped and butchered in many other riots that took place in Gujarat. It feels like my life has no value.

    >>Seriously I admire the achievements of Gujratis and how prosperous they have become all over the world. But that does not mean that we should paper over the big blot of 2002.

    And though I am not a Gujarati, please dont paint all Gujaratis with a single brush. Not everyone in Gujarat likes Modi 🙂 You seem to imply that every Gujarati was involved in 2002. Dont get into that guju vs bongo trap. Not you, sir.

    Oh , and did I tell you that in Vadodara recently, more temples were demolished than mosques by the municipal authorities. Should there be riots now ?? Whats illegal is illegal, no community should be above the law.

    And I just read the later comments..
    @Raj, @yourfan,
    stop this bengal vs gujarat crap please. you very well know who gains from all this.

  79. @Dealer or Leader,
    >> blame the commies, and of course they mistook the Biharis as Bangladeshis the last time there was violence in Assam…

    Bottomline –
    Bangladeshi infiltration is a reality.. and Commies are responsible for it. Whine away please. And in Assam too. 🙂

    There are Bangladeshis from Bengal to Nagaland, get your facts right please. The demographic profile of Nagaland has changed quite a lot. No wonder they are pissed off. (I aint a northeasterner either, just in case).

    @ all, … Ranting….
    I read an interesting news item today in the papers. A Bangladeshi infitrattor in Pune, who entered via Bengal, gave birth to a puppy , ooops , child in a govt hospital. (Our own people dont have enough hospitals) And since the kid is born in India, he/she will become a citizen..

    Ohh wow.. great. Here I was asked to pay to register my name in the voters list, so I didnt. (I wasnt keen on paying to vote for one amongst a bunch of fools). Here, I had to run around for a month and pay quite a sum of money to get a booklet that officially proclaims that I am a citizen of India. If I go to Gujarat, I am an outsider. If I go to Maharashtra, I am an outsider, and if I go to Chennai, I am an outsider.

    And here bangladeshis become Indian citizens, kill Hindus (mumbai riots), get medical facilities over our own people and vote for our buffoons in the parliament.

    Sometimes , I wonder if this country is really mine.

    And I really dont believe in this Bengal vs others crap that very often comes up here. Stop it guys, it doesnt make any sense. I know, you can make fun/speak ill about every community in India, be it gujju or tamil or punjabi or bengali or anydamnthing.

    And yeah, I am a right winger (but do not vote, so dont flame me on this) because I find it more reasonable and logical.

  80. Satish – I didn’t start it.Read the progression of the comments from the start if you want to. You know – we gujjus are very sensitive about our Modi bhai. When these people started abusing Modi and even calling gujjus names , I couldn’t hold back.

  81. @Raj Mehta – What you are doing is painting a bad picture of your own Gujarati community by mindlessly abusing Bengalis and anything remotely connected to Bengal. You obviously have no idea what you are saying, absolutely cannot think with an open mind and you are always hellbent on spreading hatred towards another community by spreading your own narrow, divisive, one sided way of thinking. I am glad that there are very few like you in the Gujarati community.

    @GB – I think at one point you have to think of censorship of comments from some mindless people like Raj Mehta. He has crossed the line. He is turining this blog into a riot and we do not want want it to be like that. We were having a healthy debate, with strikingly different opinions, until this person started posting his total ignorant views on sensitive issues. Seriously, it makes my blood boil when someone abuses some community with the kind of language he has used, be it Bengali or any other connunity. I request, at least for maintaining the sanity and reason that this blog is here, edit this person.
    Censorship at some point becomes necessary.

  82. >> For , if you live in holy West Bengal, it is only a matter of time before the Islamic presence and influence will be so high in your wonderful Bengal

    Unfortunately, this might turn out to be true. I read about an incident in a rediff article. During partition, a group of Hindu migrants entered Bengal and there were no women among them. They had encountered a Muslim gang on their way to Bengal who told them “if you leave your women here, you can go”. And they did.

    I am not against individual Muslims as such, but in a collective gang, they will not hesitate to kill you, even if you are their best friend. Ok, ok, all Muslims arent bad, I know that, and I have seen that. But many are. how will you judge. How can you be sure that you will not be stabbed. And why does this logic not apply to Gujaratis (or any Hindus) – “All xyz are not bad”.

    >>modi or no modi, the results would have been same…

    @kaunteya – you are bang on target. GreatBong, are you reading this.

    regarding modi. remember he was unfairly blamed for ishrat jahan case. the gal was a terrorist, but commies and weepy singh went to her home and paid her mother cash… aarrrghhhhh. These jerks honour terrorists families.. Well, like i said earlier, I dont even think this is my country. It belongs to bengalis and gujjus,, and of course, Bangladeshis and muslims.
    another one is the vadodara riots recently. .. hey , the man allowed temples to be demolished too. What do you do if you plant a masjid bang in the middle of a busy road.
    come what may, accuse Modi. Like you said, Greatbong, accuse communists for every wrong.

    @Yourfan:
    >>Yourfan : “What if they pay you well to screw them?”
    Dont know actually, depends on person to person.

    @ GreatBong,
    Hi again, have you noticed that kerala and bengal are the states where maximum people go out of state to earn. Commies have killed off the industries. I think industries will be in Bengal as long as BB entertains them. The day he goes, and yechuri comes in, it might be crashhhhh!!

    Regarding your repeated statements about butchery in Gujarat, it takes place in Bengal too, and in fact in many parts of India. And why do you blame Gujaratis for a handful of people who rioted. I am blaming commies for Bangladeshi infiltration, not whole of Bengal.

  83. > Like you said, Greatbong, accuse communists for every wrong.

    Ahh sorry. Someone else said that, not GreatBong. I guess it was that wannabe-GandhiNehru Dealer or Leader.

  84. @Raj,

    forget it. Dont bother about those jerks, and dont be so sensitive about Modi 🙂 . Dont you know we are going nowhere with “us vs them” arguments.

    @Yourfan, and other Bengal-chauvinists,
    Nobody is perfect. Would you please get out of that superiority complex. Bubbles and egos – the larger they are, the easier they burst. (Sidhuism – i made that up. Hey GB, can you write on sidhuisms sometimes. 🙂 Or nobody can match him 😀 )
    ——-

    I have a Bengali friend during my engg in my hostel, who wore the commie tag proudly. His grandfathers were some top comrades in the communist party in Bengal. He is an intelligent guy, and we still keep in touch sometimes.

    But he had this strange habit of opposing any point of view, whether right or wrong. And you can see these traits in CPM. LIberalization of economy – oppose it. Privatization – oppose it. Price hikes – oppose it. He even contradicted himself many a times.
    And he was blindly secular-liberal, to the point of supporting killing of Hindus in Kashmir, and he found Muslim/Naxal violence to be OK. Hindus talking about their rights was a strict no-no.

    Anyway, he worked for IOCL for some time (thanks to his dad who was in IOCL, we non-commies would never make it) and later joined IIM. Irony indeed. I guess he did not realize that IIM teaches you to run businesses, not shut them down.

    Anyway, we still are friends, tho I am not a commie or a Bengali 🙂

    Did anyone once watch a show on Star Plus. It had Virji (or Hirji, whats that actors name, that guy with hrithik in KNPH) as a commie. And irfan hussein (of hutch ads) as a commie liberal filmmaker, who was actually enjoying marlboro and scotch most of the times with commie politicians. virji was a fan of irfan hussein. Later he realizes the hypocrisy inherent in communism and gives it up. The funniest part was one where virji had posters of mao, lenin, stalin and other terrorists on his bedroom and he spoke slogans alone in his room.
    That show pretty much summed up the mentality of commies. unashamed hypocrites.
    And to give credit, the director of that show was a Bengali. Probably, he doesnt live in Bengal, or he would have been dead by now.

  85. @Satish – Bengalis might at most be expected to try and kill you for opposing Sourav Ganguly, :)but they will not do so for just opposing Commmunism, simply because the habit/culture if intellectual debate is too prevalant there. They do not have fun, even among themelves, till they can debate opposing arguments. And anti-communism is a common theme among many Bengali discussions nowadays. So rest assured.

    At the risk of starting another flame war, I posit that this is the major difference between Bengal and Gujarat or even Maharashtra. Even holy cows in Bengal are up for discussion and debate. No one will at least react violently even if you oppose (as long as it is rational, ideological, and polite) even people like Tagore and SC Bose. But try saying anything against Modi in Gujarat or against, say Ambedkar in public in Maharashtra, and you will probably get a first hand view of what a public lynching means, with you centerstage.

    Now some of you like Raj or Satish might construe this lack of aggression as pusillanimity, but Bengalis consider it culture. Whether that is true or not can be up for discussion, though…

  86. Arnab, preety much on track. It would be a chore to wade through the comments up here; I am not from Calcutta and deeply Anti Communist.

    At the end of the day, it is the party that delivers the goods that matters. Fiscal discipline, economy on rails, jobs (not the IT variety- they remain glorified data entry operators), security to the citizen et al.

    However, there is much more than this. It’s the kind of populace that’s putting up with the commies and the way these commies serve to brainwash. It isnt the violence (in form of Naxalites) that is dangerous. It is the propagation of ideas that is going to doom this nation.

    Left, by it’s very DNA owes it allegiance to China/ Russia (their fatherland). The state sponsored terror in form of “land reforms” has brewed enough trouble for them- the growing income disparities are a proof enough of that. I’d agree about the glitzy malls dotting the landscape; they have been built on forcibly taken agricultural land. In a repeat of whats happening in China, there is a massive influx of rural populace in the cities.

    I wonder whether anyone has raised the issue of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, the rampaging missionaries and exploding Muslim population that’s changing the demographic profile in the eastern part of India.

    It is for this reason that CPI(M) in any of it’s forms should leave. Further, they are hell bent on supporting the Salim Group of Indonesia- no prizes for guessing as to who nets the money in their pockets. By all accounts, it is a shadowy organisation.

    There is of course, no alternative to the CPI (M) precisely for the reason that you mentioned in your post. No further discussion.

    Hence, it all boils down to delivering in NATIONAL interest and not propped up lobbies to serve the people. The entrenched Left would fight to the finish, of course.

    This only makes the things difficult for Congress and BJP to spread their cadres; they are untested forces; established industries/ trade unions (which are the backbone for any political party) are non existent.

    The only way out in my opinion, is to spread the role of nationalistic media and remove the professional heart bleeders and Leftist empthasising media out of the way. It would definitely be an uphill task, but one way out of the impasse.

  87. GreatBong,

    Great flame war going on. I lurk around here everyday. But I felt like commenting today…lot of half truths going around here. Just 2 points.

    1. Bangladeshi Infiltration : Reality -> CPM alone is to responsible. CPM does not rule Assam. CPM ruled WB police does not patrol the border BSF does.

    On the other hand infiltration is actively encouraged by the local population. Reason is till mid 80s, early 90s infiltrators were Hindus. Muslim infiltration is a post 90s phenomenon (there are independent researches available one each by a ex-BSF DG and a Army’s Eastern Command GOC). Also, note high percentage of Hindus among illegal immigrants is the reason for lukewarm response from locals on the issue. This is why Mamata Banerjee’s noise does not cut ice.

    Impotant: For outsider, BJP voters etc. Read the RSS policy documents, they’ve clearly advocated exchange Hindu-Muslim population between India/BD. Infiltration by itself is not the problem. It is the pattern that needs to be monitored.

    2. Bengali intellectuals and commie/left leaning : Reality -> A left leaning fan following of GB might paint such a picture, but nots the complete thing. As I can see most posters here are from Kolkata. Its the measure of their arrogance that they try to speak on behalf of all Bengalis (outside Kolkata and outside WB).

    I do not have any quarrel with a bunch of Kolkatans worshipping Marx and Mao, but kindly leave it upto your average “non-intellectual” Bengalis to adore Aurobindo, Vivekananda, Bipin Pal and SP Mukherjee.

  88. @shan,

    Dont drag my name into it. throwing flamebait, eh.

    And yeah, modi in gujarat. Nobody will kill you, but they sure will get worked up, like you guys do for Saurav.(IMHO, Saurav should be in the 15 for 2007 World cup)
    Like you can oppose Tagore or SC Bose in Bengal, you can oppose Gandhi in Gujarat, nobody will kill you. And surely, nobody will kill you if you oppose Ganguly in Gujarat…

    So, conclusion is –
    Gujarat – get worked up for Modi , not for Ganguly
    Bengal – get worked up for Ganguly, not for Modi.
    Am wondering if it makes any of the two groups better than the other.

    Its not about culture that you keep harping on. Nobody is holier than thou here.
    Neither would I say that Gujarat is cultured. It isnt, but not to the extent shown by media and parrotted by you. Yeah, there are some uncouth Gujjus who use their cellphones in theaters and speak loudly. But the picture built by media, of gujjus as a community being uncultured and violent is totally wrong. Whatever happened in 2002, happened for a reason. Gujarat wasnt fighting for the love of fighting, it was defending itself.

    For those who dont know, in Ahmedabad, muslims attacked the Hindus first, after godhra train burning. It was a preplanned terrorist attack. Hard to believe !!! Ohh come on now, get that extremist secular facade off your face. muslims killed Hindu shopkeepers and vegetable vendors in UP and Hyderabad because….. (Drumroll) some cartoonist in *Denmark* made cartoons of Mohammed.

  89. Arnab,
    “God damn. Growing up in Calcutta in the 80s and 90s, I never thought I would be ever saying this about a CPM chief-minister.”
    You just made the point. Like Gamemaster growing up I was also an anti-Communist, but it has been some time that I have started distingusihing between Communism (or at least the ideas) and CPI(M)-ism. I think the only adjective that fit that old salt lake residing crook is “lompot”. All he has done for the state is promoting rude behaviour and organised hooliganism.

  90. Good analysis, Greatbong.

    Another interesting analysis here : //in.rediff.com/election/2006/may/11sumit.htm

  91. For all commie fans –

    From one report:
    China heads global executions league

    China executed more people last year than all other countries combined, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
    So, this is where you end up when you follow commie thinking.

    Also:
    From rediff analysis-
    One pointer to that lies in the margins. Transport and Sports Minister Subhas Chakraborty, one of the CPI-M’s electoral heavyweights, won his Belgachia East seat by only 1,744 votes. Of course there were exceptions like Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who won by 58,000 votes from his Jadavpur constituency, but overall the margins are thin.

    So had the opposition not been disunited, we would have seen a hung parliament in Bengal.

  92. @Sanjay: CPM is a regional party as far as WB is concerned.

    @Rahul: I would have been more happy if Mamata had been able to come forward as an able opposition to Buddha. Her descent into madness, though not entirely unexpected, is what saddens a once Mamata supporter like me.

    @Sudeep: The fact that there is no opposition isnt the CPM’s fault. If they bribe the opposition and the opposition takes it then its the opposition that is at fault. No matter how much CPM tentacles itself into the “system”, the CPM has suffered reverses when its excesses became mm excessive. Its just the opposition’s fault that they fought among themselves when the door was ajar.

    @yourfan2: Firstly let me disagree with you here.(a sign of advanced schizophrenia since you and I, as Akash Sen and Basanti the wise say, are one and the same) I am not a BJP man and I cannot call myself a fan of Modi. Or Thackeray. And I am sure you saw how your appeal to the better senses of Raj Mehta was answered by him calling Bengali women prostitutes. Classic BJP-ism perhaps.
    What kind of BJP-ism does Raj Mehta stand for? It is not Hindusim he stands for (because Bengalis are Hindus too and he calls us prostitutes and what not)—he stands for Gujaratism minus Gujarati Muslims (who are katuas according to him). Similarly another oaf, Parimal Sondawala of Save Maharashtra stands for Marathi Hindus and he repeats exactly what Raj Mehta says except that he replaces Bengalis with Tamils, Kannadigas and anyone who is not Marathi.
    This brings us to the fundamental question: intolerance. People who are intolerant towards minorities (in this case Muslims) are also intolerant to any group that does not speak their language. Because the target is immaterial—they are simply intolerant.
    Now as to Mr Modi. Efficiency cannot wash away his blood stained hands. Let me make clear that I have had issues with liberals who call Gujarat 2002 a genocide. Which it is not and the reason they call it genocide is simply it helps them to make money in the West by selling the issue. Simple. I also have issues over people who call Godhra an accident or a Hindu right-wing conspiracy (ala Reichstag fire). Because it is simply not true—it was Muslims miscreants who perpetrated Godhra. And not “suspected” Muslim miscreants which seems to be a staple adjective used in the foreign press when Muslim terrorism is being talked about and absent in all other cases.

    However Godhra can in no way justify (as “anger”) the way innocent Gujarati Muslim people were raped and murdered. And Modi who stood silent while this went on is culpable. His efficiency in other matters can never erase this fact.

    @Kaunteya: Kindly do not try to justify what happened in Gujarat 2002. Because civilized people cannot make the connection between Hindus being burned in a train and a 12 year old girl being raped in front of her family. Please. And noone has said that this is the “nature” of Gujaratis. I leave Raj Mehta to make such assessments about other people. Incidentally since you reminded the legendary Raj Mehta of Justice Banerjee, a Bengali kindly remind him also of someone called Shyamaprasad Mookerjee, another Bengali. Maybe that may tone down his anti-Bengal rhetoric.

    I appreciate your attempt not to get regional. And I am the last person to call the Congress “secular” and the BJP “communal”. In India, it is the personality that matters and not the party. Bhagat of the Congress personally went about Delhi, 1984 exhorting Congress activists to set alight Sikhs. He remained a member of the party till he died. Huh.

    There is a good reason I am politically neutral.

    @AwayFromHome: Keeping his comments in a way exposes the true nature of people like him. And what they stand for.

    @Shan: JU(my alma mater) has always had non-SFI unions in power. So did Presi during my time. We also had a plot of land taken over by CPM goons for the construction of a “park” where local boys can play. And even then, just like you, I share the optimism that Buddha can do better.

    @Bangonari: True. But is it a good thing—the intransigence you mention?

    @DeepThirdMan: You mean Gujrati Hindus? Or Marathi Hindus? Do Bengali prostitutes qualify for Hindusim under Modi?

    @Sue: Cheer up someone? My my…

    @Satish: Which riots were those? And how can I paint all Gujratis with a single brush? Remember the people who were killed and raped were ALSO Gujaratis. And Bangladeshi Muslims were behind the Mumbai riots…this is the first time I heard that. If it may please you to know, the so-called Bangladeshi illegals who the Shiv Sena went after were mostly Hindus who were from West Bengal. In other words, the Shiv Sena’s “Maharashtra is for Marathis” principle was disguised as a “illegal immingrant” cleansing movement.

    Muslims in a gang are likely to kill you—-should I even bother to attempt to contradict this?

    I am the first person to speak up against Hindu bias in media reporting. I have asked for horrible diabolic punishments to be imposed on Islamic terrorists (and Hindu terrorists too)—-which have led some asses to defecate on my comments section calling me a BJP. I also feel that mosques and temples alike need to be removed if need be.

    However this kind of generalizations about anyone is just mind boggling.

    And other “Bengal-chauvinists” ? Ho ho ho. And “well done Raj” . Indeed. Here you are calling Bengalis prostitutes and yourfan2 becomes the chauvinist?

    @Abhishek: It is “fashionable” to be self-flagellating. Which is why people like Arundhuti Roy exist.

    @Daeboo: Lets not even talk about that man.

    @Ranjeet: Dont agree with that article.

    @Right: Maybe you dont know. Subhash Chakraborty is one of Buddha’s biggest enemies and Buddha has been trying to sideline him for long. Subhash Chakraborty represents all that is bad with the CPM. The reduced margin for him is something that Buddha will be smiling about and I wont be surprised if some “sabotaging” has not taken place . “Overall the margins are thin” is just a blanket statement to cover up lazy journalism.

  93. >> And Bangladeshi Muslims were behind the Mumbai riots…this is the first time I heard that.

    Pheewww.. maybe they were not “behind” the mumbai riots. But they did participate in the killings. Well, I read it in the papers. Dont know if that is false.

    And even I am tired of bongo vs gujju thing going on here. But hey, I am neither so why am I bothered. Ok, its just sad to see both parties abusing each other in such language, spreading disinformation about each other, when both of the parties are Indians.

    GreatBong, I agree. Modi is guilty of inaction. Again, I think Kaunteya is right. The provocation was really grave enough. And the rape you keep mentioning… well, Hindus in Gujarat have suffered the same, as well as Hindus in Bengal(thanks to commies pseudo-secular policies in good part (hence my anti-CPM)). Just that the media does not think it is important enough to be reported.

    And ok, let me elaborate. Most of the infiltration of Bangladeshis is through Bengal. If they try to stop them in Assam, its easy for them to enter via Bengal and move elsewhere. Read an article by Ramananda Sengupta on rediff. Did you mention Tripura. I suppose Tripura too is a commie ruled state.

    If Hitler and modi were involved in state sponsored terrorism, Communist parties support Naxal/Maoist violence in Nepal and India. More people have died of Naxal violence than modis violence.

    I think Buddhadeb should take serious action against Bangladeshi infiltration. It affects the rest of the country, apart from affecting Bengal the most.

  94. Arrey Arnab Babu – Raj Mehta only reacts. It was only after Yourfan made an obscene commented intended to insult Gujaratis that I said what I said. It was also only after another bengali called dealer insulted Gujaratis and abused Modi , that I reacted. Its silly of you to pigeon hole me. If one goes through the comments I have made , staring from the beginning on this thread , you will see , I was very polite at first. Never made any attacks on anybody. But it was only after your ardent fans began abusing me , my people and my party that I reacted.

  95. Also – I am basically anti-commies and anti-katuas. Why ? Because these forces are holdong India back. If Gujaratis suddenly voted for CPM I would be the first person to abuse Gujjus. I am basically an Indian who wants India to be a superpower. Nothing to do with Gujju / Bengali or whatever. Gujaratis I admire because they have shown the way for India to follow – rapid economic growth , great infrastructure, strong presence of hindu culture and a great stress on private enterprise.

  96. @satish
    “Communist parties support Naxal/Maoist violence in Nepal and India.”
    I don’t know where did you get this fairy tale from. Maoists declare themselves as extreme communists, which they aren’t, because communism doesn’t support violence and killing innocent people. And for your information Maoists were completely banned by the communist government in West Bengal long ago. Some CPM party workers are still being killed brutally on Maoist infected areas.

    @Raj Mehta
    “If one goes through the comments I have made , staring from the beginning on this thread, you will see, I was very polite at first.”

    Well your very first comment shows how half-headed you are, like BJP dismissing the state government and imposing military rule and all that day dreams. And you think this is a sensible statement for a democratically elected government. You also think that you aren’t making fun of the fundamental ability of the Bengal voters to choose a right government. How about I making a statement on imposing a military rule when Gujarat was burning.

  97. YOURFAn writes:
    @GB: I think you took the right decision to block Akash Sen’s comment because he is now using filthy language. Instead of replying to Raj who made some extremely unpleasant racist comments and unsubstantiated comments, Akash now for no apparent reason(except personal dislike) has started attacking you and people who support your view in this post as if you and your supporters are supporting Raj’s view. He did not put forward any view of his (for or against this post). One thing you would have done is to put up the comment regarding his family that was edited by you – just to show that you gave too much respect even to a person who does not think for a second to use abusing and filthy language. The only thing is that now he will be posting under a different name – of course that will show up from the IP address.

    @Raj, Your racist comments and unsubstantiated remarks are not worth any body’s time or energy. I am just sending this line lest you think I agree with you. I like to ignore it all together.

    @Proud Indian Seducer: You are free to express your opinion. But please refrain from name calling a whole section of people. We don’t throw away a whole basket of apples just because there are a few rotten apples there – we just throw away the rotten ones.

  98. I have been reading the comments which very unfortunately have turned into a Gujju Vs. Bong fight. I don’t want to contribut to that.
    Only a small point to Abhishek: All IT professionals are not glorified data entry operators. I, as an IT professional, object to this generalisation.
    I hope this comment will not start an IT Vs. Non-IT flame war. 🙂

  99. i have worked in many villages in west bengal and they are not much better than what i saw in UP. empowerment of the poor is just a marxist day dream. it is just like the secualr bogery, you keep repeating it for long and people start to believe you.

    it is also interesting to see the bengali “intellectuals” trying to rationalize popular win of the marxists. if you do not have an option, why not create a halo around what you have got? good for you.

  100. YOURFAN writes:
    @Raj: Please read before you comment. You wanted to reply to Yourfan2 not to Yourfan that is me because I did not reply to you at all. Instead I only wrote to you: “Your racist comments and unsubstantiated remarks are not worth any body’s time or energy. I am just sending this line lest you think I agree with you. I like to ignore it all together.”

    @Yourfan2: I would have appreciated if you took a second to correct people that it is not ME who has made the comments that YOU actually sent. So many of the readers thus ascribing those comments to me. I never use those objectionable words and I also differ from your political views.

  101. “You also think that you aren’t making fun of the fundamental ability of the Bengal voters to choose a right government.”

    Absolutely. And I think its more sad than funny. I think anybody voting for commies is a loser and frankly anti-India. Because left is basically an anti-India force. If they are limited to Bengal and WB self-destructs , it would have been okay by me. But problem is the 40-50 seats they regularly get there gives them an influence at the center which is far beyond their actual presence in the country. So they are successful at blocking or slowing down economic liberalisation , globalisation , labor reforms etc.

    Left is an out and out enemy of India – wanting to keep India backward , to destroy private enterprise and keep Indians in a state of perpetual poverty , besides being vehemently anti-hindu and sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalism. And you Bengalis (and Keralites) keep voting for them.

    For those of you calling me racist whatever – I am just a patriotic Indian who wants the best for India. I want India to be like US. To get there , India’s economy must grow at 12% p.a. This is possible if we let the markets rule in India , get the government out of business , privatise the loss making PSUs , free the financial sector, adopt flexible labor laws, accept free trade and capitalism in their totality , rather than half-heartedly , integrate with the global economy.

    Simple stuff. Just a matter of policy change here and there , and before you know it , below poverty line population will decrease by 1-2% each year , corruption will vanish or atleast diminish , capital will be freed to be used for primary education , public health and so on.

    But this is not being allowed because of the commie/socialist hierarchy that rules India.

  102. >> @Sudeep: The fact that there is no opposition isnt the CPM’s fault. If they bribe the opposition and the opposition takes it then its the opposition that is at fault. No matter how much CPM tentacles itself into the “system”, the CPM has suffered reverses when its excesses became mm excessive. Its just the opposition’s fault that they fought among themselves when the door was ajar.

    Isnt the bribe giver at fault as well ? Besides, I thought we agreed that its more than just bribes, its vicious violence on many occasions e.g. Mamta bannerjees skull being scrunched open.

    Anyhow, if this post is about how budhha is a better CPM CM of Bengal than Basu, I will agree. If its about how Budhhadeb is the best candidate for Bengal in the short term, I will find myself in agreement. In the longer term, nothing will beat the rise of a viable opposition to CPM for the collective upliftment of Bengal in particular and the nation in general.

    I just dont see how Budhha is different from Basu in this regard. CPM thugs will still be around as they were in Basus term. He will not do anything to stop the thuggish violence and intimidation that CPM uses as a part and parcel of state level politics in Bengal. If there is any real challenge to CPM power (as there was in Midnapore) he will not hesitate in unleashing his war dogs. He will maintain minimum credible law and order to bring in crony capitalists and thereby more wealth to the party coffers, beyond that – you can forget about other aspects of a completely free society.

    All I am willing to concede is that this will allow the middle classes a little bit more breathing room to engage in lakshmi poojan, and perhaps that will finally deliver Bengal from CPM.

  103. When you have the right to choose but not too many right choices, the results very often indicate that the dominant choice is a compromise. I am largely apolitical. However, I love Bengal and therefore wish that some work gets done. The good thing is that for the first time we are seeing some tangible results.

  104. Hi Raj

    I understand your patriotic feelings. But still I would say, buddy, slow down. No bengali on this blog is voting for commies, so why waste all your fire here on this blog? Educating Indian voters to make better choices is what is needed. So, no use of generalising and blasting all bengalis here. Putting comments on a blog wouldn’t help ousting commies from power in bengal.
    Also, while defending Narendra Modi, please use facts instead of emotion. Facts and figures would be sympathetically listened than just vehemently arguing.
    We all share your dream of India climbing up the economic ladder and become a developed nation.

  105. YOURFAN writes:
    @ALL: Please note that YOURFAN2’s comments/views are WRONGLY thought of to be YOURFAN’s (that is me). Thus many readers have wrongly replied to Yourfan (me). I never use those objectionable words and I also differ from Yourfan2’s political views expressed in this post.

  106. @greatbong: no one can justify violence. so i won’t even try. i just mentioned that modi or no modi the reaction would have been same. essentially because indians react emotionally , and not only in gujarat but every where.
    assume that 57 women and children from communist party were burnt alive by a mob in Kolkata. do you think the CPM cadres would hold peace march and light candles of peace? i am sure not. some may say the devastation would be of greater proportion if not equal to gujarat.
    my only problem is modi being singled out all the time by the “intellectual, liberal” types. even if you go by stats, gujarat was no where near delhi or bhagalpur or even bhiwandi for that matter.
    and talking of justification what was “if big tree falls earth trembles” statement of rajiv gandhi, if not justification.
    rajiv gandhi should have hanged his head in shame, instead he chose to brazen away the cirme.

  107. “We all share your dream of India climbing up the economic ladder and become a developed nation.”

    As I said in my earlier post – its only a matter of a few policy changes and that dream can become a reality. But with the left virtually ruling the country , thats not gonna happen. It could have been India’s moment , but that moment has been lost seemingly forever.

    Seriously I dont give a f… about Bengal or even Gujarat – to me they are just parts of a machine. Its just some parts are doing superbly well and the other parts are inactive , bringing down the whole machinery.

  108. GB–Your post is a good insight into the Politics of Bengal, but your analysis, and your conclusion, sounds discouraging. Much as you would put your faith into Buddhadeb, as Anon put it, he is still one person. Question is not how honest he is, but how good a leader can he be. Does his party men fully support his actions, or does his responsibilities include changing the party ideology too? Furthermore, electing the same people for thirty years is not a lack of good alternatives, or good personalities as you would say — may be shock-therapy is what could have put the CPM back on track much sooner. Should we say that Mamta Banerjee was a victim more than someone who was given a fair ground to play? And can we assume that in Buddhadeb the people of West Bengal have found a lucky opportunity which may or may not continue forever?

    In the comments I was hoping to see some discussions on the merits and demerits of this regime, and how it extrapolates on our country as a whole; the Left, with its apparent reactionary attitude at the center isn’t all that favourite at a national level. Unfortunately, the digression(in the comments) that followed was way too far…. !!

  109. Well said Kaunteya. Your comments are always well put and supported by facts. You can sure make a good blogger.
    Modi would have been awarded with Bharatratna if Hindus were killed due to his inaction.
    What a double standard!

  110. Arnab Said :- “What kind of BJP-ism does Raj Mehta stand for? It is not Hindusim he stands for (because Bengalis are Hindus too and he calls us prostitutes and what not)—he stands for Gujaratism minus Gujarati Muslims (who are katuas according to him). Similarly another oaf, Parimal Sondawala of Save Maharashtra stands for Marathi Hindus and he repeats exactly what Raj Mehta says except that he replaces Bengalis with Tamils, Kannadigas and anyone who is not Marathi.”

    Arnab, Sorry, I disagree with you on this. People like Raj Mehta and Parimal stand for nothing but their individual pathetic self. They dont represent Gujju or Marathi Hindu.

    Agree with everything you said in Buddha Bar, Very nicely put.

  111. Re: intransigence – ’twas just an observation – the usual case unless there are compelling reasons 🙂

  112. A very balanced thoughtful representation of the Kolkata bhadralok’s take on the whole affair, and the best thing I like about this post is that it does not pretend to be anything bigger. It’s impossible for someone who’s not professionally into politics or civil administration to offer a more holistic treatment. I must congratulate you for your objectivity and avoidance of any ideological mishmash, and at the same time am bemused to see how in consequence you have attracted the ire of political extremists of both camps here. Part of being Bengali is of course learning to take flak and accepting abuse from one’s honorable “more” Indian fellow-countrymen, but still this quasi-fascist chauvinist Raj Mehta has succeeded in fraying quite a few of my nerves.

  113. Raj-chalu-bhai, tu yaar brilliant Gujju hain- you have solved all of India’s problems within two sentences. We’ll make you finance minister and put Bengal under your control. Bangladesh ka katua bhi hain, tu mastise rape karega. Khush? Chal dhande pe ja aur India ko US bana de. Good luck. Thank you come again!

    @rest- got nothing against any community- just can’t keep acerbity attacks in check.

  114. The left has just won an unprecedented victory, hopefully the powers that be will interpret this to be a vote for Buddha’s liberal policies.

    @Raj, just a reminder, India is in a position to grow economically because of the socialist initiatives previously undertaken (although economic liberalisation should have come before 1991) The so called Asian Tigers (Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.) were hot in the not too distant past, because of the unbridled capitalism that was allowed. These countries have already suffering from recession. And while I respect your preference for Mr. Modi, I certainly don’t share your enthusiasm for him. Maybe for the very same reason that you don’t share most of the Bengalis’ enthusiasm for the so called “Brand Buddha”. And your justification for attacking Bengalis is a falsehood. You started it all by claiming Bengalis can’t think and can’t vote wisely. That allegation could be levelled at you too, depending which side you are on.

    While I agree that there has been far too much appeasement of Muslims, I certainly don’t believe in correcting the “wrongs” against the Hindus by massacring the Muslims. In fact I think massacring the Muslims will only serve to bring them into the focus of the pseudo-secularists, and result in even more appeasement. The best way to put down someone is to ignore him/her, deny the existence of that person in your grand scheme of things.

    All political parties in India follow some captive votebank and work to appease that votebank. Whether it be the Muslims, the Christians (think Orissa), the SC-ST-OBCs, or the conservative Hindus. No point in condemning any party for following it. If you can, change the political system.

    @Kaunteya, most of the Bangladeshi immigrants are Hindus fleeing Islamic repression in Bangladesh 🙂 And while the immigrants are supported by the CPM (think captive votebank) Buddha has been the first one to raise the issue in the mainstream politics.

  115. “It’s impossible for someone who’s not professionally into politics or civil administration to offer a more holistic treatment.”

    I would like to qualify that with “someone not taking a technical interest in politics” because on some more subsequent consideration, I felt that this wasn’t really a very political or analytical article, ’twas more like a citizen’s freestyle anecdotal narration of his views on some facets of local politics.(Not that there is anything wrong with it….this also has its own importance in helping shape public opinion.) What all these self-styled political experts, who repeatedly chastise Bengalis for infallibly voting the Left back to power,however probably need is a more technical informative account of the state’s political history, the turbulent 70s when the Congress for obvious reasons fell out of favor, and the Left implemented important land reforms and social movements. That the Left continued to reap benefits of that early promise in spite of subsequent 20 yrs. of Jyoti Basu is probably because they are the only Indian political party to have shown even that wee bit promise for the rural poor. And I fully concur with whoever mentioned the “incompatibility of the BJP with collective Bengali psyche” funda : ever wondered why the BJP and bovinity are usually held in high esteem in co-inciding regions? 🙂 All said and done, I dream of the day when Bengal will have its own capitalistic party and in the best traditions of freedom of thought and intellectual argument that we bhadralok have endeavoured to espouse since the days of Ram Mohun, vie with a constructive Left in giving us a stronger state. A second Renaissance anyone? Any sensitive non-Bengali reader would appreciate that being proud of your ethnicity and home-state is not quite at conflict with your patriotism.

  116. Very balanced and pragmatic post, Arnab.

    232 seats in an election widely acknowledged to be a fair one should be the final blow to the scientific rigging theory. The opposition has been using rigging as a convenient excuse to explain CPI-M’s victory for as long as I have been arguing that it is a non-issue. If this result forces them to get out of the denial mode and take a hard look at themselves, that will be the most positive outcome of this election.

    CPI-M has mastered the science of creating a decentralized system of entrenched stakeholders who perpetually strengthen the system and ensure electoral victories.

    It started with land reforms: confiscating surplus land, recording of sharecroppers (operation barga), granting sharecroppers inheritable rights and a higher share of the crops. Successful land reform was enabled by the introduction of grass-roots governance (panchayet raj). The success – increased yield and a rapid reduction of rural poverty between 1980s and 2000 – is documented. I was brought up in villages and suburbs of West Bengal in 80s and have first-hand experience of how lives of at least some peasants rapidly improved.

    It’s arguable how much of the improvement was a direct result of CPI-M’s reforms and how much of it was market-driven and natural progress – better irrigation, seeds etc.. Weak judicial system and the power enjoyed by party loyalists implied unfair distribution and corruption, but overall the perception was CPI-M cared for peasants and made a difference thereby guaranteeing their lifelong electoral support.

    Unfortunately they tried a similar mechanism in academia and industry with disastrous results. Students graduate and move out of institutions, but employees and teachers, particularly the average and mediocre ones, stay there, hold stakes and vote. CPI-M’s modus operandi – distribute stakes, entrench stakeholders and give them absolute power and lifelong (sometimes inheritable) jobs as long as they are commited to the party – ensured that they worked in the interest of employees and outdated ideological goals, not academic excellence which should be the only raison d’etre of an academic institution. Similarly, capital is as mobile as students and it does not vote in state elections, hence all the anti-capital and pro-entrenched-labor rhetoric and suicidal policies.

    Unlike empowered peasants, however, these employees do not produce enough for an institution or a business to stay competitive. A total destruction of profitable and competitive educational and industrial infrastructure over a long period of time ensured that there were not enough stakes (goodies) left in the state exchequer to keep the cadres happy and to create new stakeholders.

    That realization, along with opportunities created by liberalization at the center, forced CPI-M to change. I do not think the change was primarily driven by a fear of losing urban votes; the image makeover was driven by economics. Ironically if they can sustain this change – the budget surplus aided by VAT is definitely a positive sign – that success will either force them to change even more or will overthrow them. A Bengali having a stake at Sensex and India’s GDP and per-capita income growth will not tolerate CPI-M’s anti-growth rhetoric at the center. Currently they are getting away with it because unfortunately most Bengalis, like most Indians, have not much at stake. That is changing. Also the stronghold of the ideological and cultural software running on CPI-M processor – protest songs, street theater, bandhs, rhetorics about discredited economic and political models, group-thinking – are weakening.

    CPI-M needs to show results consistently and I think Buddhadeb and a few others honestly realize that. Their challenge is to convince the rest of the stakeholders. But the opposition has a lot more to do. They, and anyone else who cares about both economic growth and distribution, can learn a thing or two from the efficient structure CPI-M has set up. If they can figure out how to use such a structure to achieve a lot more than what CPI-M did in villages and leave academic institutions and businesses mostly alone, I will vote for them regardless of what their party is named.

  117. @Joy Forever: The remark about IT professionals was indeed generalised, but then I reflected what the media knows about it. ANY data entry operator is an IT professional; to that extent, I stand corrected. I meant no offence whatsoever.

    Burying the hatchet, I’d agree with another facet provided by Dipanjan. Though overall, in my opinion, it would not be prudent or rational to leave out the real dangers of having Left of any hue here in this nation. It isn’t that I am opposed to any alternative opinion on the national building; the votes just strengthen the dominant stream of thought.

    Which is more dangerous? An armed Naxal? Or the ideas they propagate to kids? Does a true dyed in wool communist has his national interest at stake for that matter? Weren’t they the ones to support China when Chinese invaded India?

    It would be hard to ignore the realities; albeit it is a historical fact but gives much indication about their mindset that things won’t change.

    Id finally agree about the Economics playing it’s role. However, the lop sided Economics too has it’s pit falls. With uneven growth patterns, this is bound to create unrest. A Bengali having a stake in the stock markets while a bigger number dying across the state out of malnutrition. The same aspect applies to perhaps any other state in India.

  118. @GB-

    This comment is in response to your comment- “Firstly let me disagree with you here.(a sign of advanced schizophrenia since you and I, as Akash Sen and Basanti the wise say, are one and the same) I am not a BJP man and I cannot call myself a fan of Modi. Or Thackeray. And I am sure you saw how your appeal to the better senses of Raj Mehta was answered by him calling Bengali women prostitutes. Classic BJP-ism perhaps.
    What kind of BJP-ism does Raj Mehta stand for? It is not Hindusim he stands for (because Bengalis are Hindus too and he calls us prostitutes and what not)—he stands for Gujaratism minus Gujarati Muslims (who are katuas according to him). Similarly another oaf, Parimal Sondawala of Save Maharashtra stands for Marathi Hindus and he repeats exactly what Raj Mehta says except that he replaces Bengalis with Tamils, Kannadigas and anyone who is not Marathi.
    This brings us to the fundamental question: intolerance. People who are intolerant towards minorities (in this case Muslims) are also intolerant to any group that does not speak their language. Because the target is immaterial—they are simply intolerant.”

    I completely agree with you. But initially i didnt think that that sonofabitch Raj mehta had such bigotried views about other communities. I just saw the comments section and i thought ” What the hell” ….why is this mf telling such things about Bengalis? And he was saying as if I didnt have any urge to earn money or whatever. The fact is that all Bengalis are not Tagore; neither are all Gujjus Ambanis. (Note: I have never used any slader against the Gujju community. I have several Gujju friends). That guy may well be a frustrated sob who failed in 3 businesses and sucks his dick at daytime dreaming to be the next Ambani. Well good luck to him. And I could have responded using the choiciest expletives to shut up that dog-but i chose not to …beacuse this is a great blog…and we are mere fans…you are the person who writes…we respect and admire you…and i dont have any right to settle scores with some low standard cunt here. i dont want to give your blog a bad name. But in hindsight i should have well avoided getting into an argument with that sob…I played for the flipper…it turned out to be a googly. The thing with people like Raj mehta is that they conveniently suit the ideology of a party to their own bigotry. I am a BJP supporter but i dont support the views of that bigotried mc. And you literally took my words outta my mouth when you mentioned SP Mukherjee the founder of RSS, a name upon hearing which Modi will open his chaddi and prostate in veneration. I thank you for supporting me when that satish accused me as a parochial bong- please understand that my comment was a reaction and not an effort to start a a war with a ‘gand mein dum nahin hum kisi se kam nahin’ gujju. But indeed i look down lowly upon myself for defiling my hands with such a dirty cunt like RM. That low standard cunt was not even worth spitting on or extinguishing a cigarette , let alone engage in a conversation with.

    Finally about your schizophrenic thing, if as people claim you and me are the same, then I have nothing to say. 🙂 You cannot write as well as you and you cant write as badly as me. Resonable people will understand. I am just a fan. For the last 2 posts, you have been flamed too often for everybody’s liking. But I have a feeling that now that now that you have started a policy of selective response to comments and banning trolls, that bile will be stymied. Indeed we should all take that lesson from you and stay away from provocation which leads to stuff that doesnt augur well with thise great blog.

    @Yourfan- i am sorry….but is it my fault if that uncouth bastard refers to you as me? I was away from this blog for the whole day today…but ok….i put my hand up and say that all the remarks meant for me and not for you.

  119. I have read this blog for some time and have enjoyed the writing of Great Bong. You are a real talent! I have enjoyed your “Mithunisms”, farewell to Desi Baba, and a host of other classics.

    I felt that the analysis done by Great Bong is quite good. However, all I can say is that my disappointment with the West Bengal polity and what this means for the nation as a whole has made me depressed. The left is now going to make the life of the pro-reform guys in the center miserable. Congress will now have to constantly look over the shoulder for even small policy changes. Two states will hold the growth of the entire Indian economy hostage for another few years.

    Being a Bengali who has stayed in Calcutta as well as Gujarat for quite some time, I completely agree with some of the comments of Raj Mehta. Although I do not like Mr. Narendra Modi for his actions related to maintaining communal harmony between the Hindus and the Muslims, yet I must say that he has provided tremendous impetus to the growth of Gujarat. As a rhetorical question, I must ask whether Mr. Jyoti Basu, the man who propagated a culture of “goondaism” and overall stagnation during his reign in West Bengal, less criminal than Narendra Modi? The infrastructure of the state of Gujarat is second to none in India. You all have to stay in progressive states like Gujarat and Maharashtra to see how West Bengal has fallen behind.

    For too long Bengalis have tried to cover up their deficiencies and plain apathy towards a productive work culture with some form of mystical intellectual pretensions. Enough of art, poetry, prose and rich culture! For a change, let us earn some money on our own with entrepreneurship, hard work, and innovation rather than waiting for “the party” to deliver the good to us on a platter. It is time we get up and start pulling our weight in the economy of India rather than perpetually demanding like parasites.

    As pointed out by many posters here that, hopefully, Budhdhadev will change some aspects of the philosophy of the party and lead Bengal into a confident future. I will keep my fingers crossed, hope for the best, and wait for the results. If he fails, Bengalis will have only themselves to blame. Not everything that is lacking in West Bengal is the fault of the federal government. West Bengal, with its comparative advantages in human resources, has been nothing but a disappointment to India during the current phase of the economy. Post-liberalization, West Bengal has played catch up with the other states of India, repeatedly missing the bus, and realizing the mistakes later on. No amount of singing of Kobiguru Robi Thakur’s songs can hide this bitter truth.

    Abhishek: “A Bengali having a stake in the stock markets while a bigger number dying across the state out of malnutrition. The same aspect applies to perhaps any other state in India.”

    A Bengali having a stake in the stock markets while the rest of the state being relatively prosperous need not be two exclusive phenomena. Real pro-poor policies need not be anti-rich. But this notion is completely alien to so-called Bengali intellectuals.

    Regards,

  120. >>> because communism doesn’t support violence and killing innocent people.

    @Anirban,
    LOL.. ROFL.. you made my day boss. hahaha.. whom are you kidding..

    Dear friend, it sure does. Mao was a commie and so was Stalin. And so is prachanda of nepal with whom commie parties of India have strong links. Hey, did you know Prakash karat and prachanda are buddies.

    [still chuckling]

  121. @Arnab: I think it’s high time you block out the idiots who do not have the strength to hold out a discussion/debate, instead throwing abuses to individuals and communities.

  122. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: I whole heartedly agree with Daeboo who writes: “I think it’s high time you block out the idiots who do not have the strength to hold out a discussion/debate, instead throwing abuses to individuals and communities”. I won’t resort to any name calling because that will give some satisfactions to those perverts (that is why they are called perverts). I have said it a million times; I will say it again that usage of abusive filthy languages is a person specific trait not a community or religion specific trait. I have nothing against Gujratis or any communities or any opinion which is different from mine but as far as I am concerned entities in your comments section by the names of Raj Mehta, PIP, Akash do not exist at all in this world.

  123. >> most of the Bangladeshi immigrants are Hindus fleeing Islamic repression in Bangladesh

    @soumyadip,

    No, buddy. Its muslims that are infiltrating. Follow the news in the papers. I read a horrifying article in Express about how Bangladeshi infiltrators are entering the northeast, and altering the demographic profile. The statistics about Nagaland are too gross.

    @raj mehta,
    stop that nonsense.

    @yourfan 1 or 2 ,
    why did you have to make a comment like “will you allow someone to screw your women if they pay you well”. You provoke someone to make such remarks like raj made (and GreatBong did not notice that, come on GB, be fair), then you proceed to vilify him for reacting.

    As for Bengal, I have respect for that land, and its people. That was the place where social reforms started (wrt RR Roy, I Vidyasagar and others). The birth of Hindu revivalism was in Bengal. It does hurt to see Bengal becoming pseudo-secular commie dominated land, when at one time, it had the maximum number of industries in India, and it was leading the country in production. Who is to blame, obviously commies (ok , no more “blame commies for everything” comments here, everyone knows this is the truth). There are districts in Bengal, the whole of which have turned Hindu minority. Mini – bangladeshes to be precise. And CPM is squarely to blame. I dont think commies are any holier than Modi. Atleast that guy Modi is in favour of our people, the commies are against us.

    Remember how commies protested our nuclear tests citing that gandhi and nehru ideals, while supporting China and Iran’s nuclear programme. WTH !!

  124. @Dipanjan : that was the kind of technical analysis I was hoping for. Pretty cool! I hope Arnab da highlights it in some way so that people can see some real stuff among all this trash going on here.

  125. >>> I don’t know where did you get this fairy tale from. Maoists declare themselves as extreme communists, which they aren’t, because communism doesn’t support violence and killing innocent people.

    @Anirban,
    LOL.. ROFL.. you made my day boss. hahaha.. whom are you kidding..

    Dear friend, it sure does. Mao was a commie and so was Stalin. And so is prachanda of nepal with whom commie parties of India have strong links. Hey, did you know Prakash karat and prachanda are buddies.

    [still chuckling]
    [UNQUOTE]

    Hahaha,, I came back to read the comments.. amazing stuff really. Fairy tale.. LMAO.. 😀

    Now, one can make statements like “Islam is a religion of peace, it does not support killing of innocents” while at the same time, force Hindus to convert or behead them. Marry four Hindus and convert them to Islam. Or infiltrate into India, produce some piglets.. oops.. children and change demographies.

    Now, to be serious, the same logic applies to jehadis. Islam does not support violence and killing innocents, so jehadis are not muslim. But the truth is that they are. During kargil war, muslims in ahmedabad organized a protest against India. And carried nawaz sharif posters. Does anyone know that. Of course, our secular media does not tell you that.

    Why does this logic not apply to us – “all Hindus are not fundamentalists”, when you have higher probabilities of finding a fundamentalist or jehadi among muslims rather than a fundamentalist among Hindus. Rather, we find our secular media filled with statements like “supposed islamic terrorists” and “freedom fighters” by teesta setalvad and her ilk, while at the same time, a small bunch of rioters in Gujarat are termed as “Hindu terrorists” repeatedly. Ohh come on, when did defending yourself become terrorism. There are too many veiled references to imply “all Gujaratis are terrorists” or “communal gujarat demolishes mosques” or “communal gujarat kills innocent college girl”.

    Now why I am defending Gujaratis (but not Modi) is that I have lived in Gujarat for some years, and they are really good folks. They wont sneer at you if you talk in Hindi (atleast I didnt face it).

    Another thought. Muslims attack Hindus (people or religion) again and again. Faced with jehadi and fundamentalism from Muslims, Hindus keep turning more and more fundamentalist, and more numbers of Hindus become fundamentalist, and defend themselves. Then we will be attacked saying “Hey Hindus, you too are fundamentalist. Remember Godhra, etc etc”. The same thing was done to Jewish in Israel. I suppose the Jewish are quite fundamentalist after all that jehadi terrorism. Thats the effect of muslims who come in contact with any society. The day isnt far off when we will be accused of being Hindu equivalents of jehadis. Hell, we have nowhere to go.

  126. @satish
    I think you need enough time to read a line or two about communism (remember I’m not a communist). the theory has nothing to do with violence. just because some people claim themselves as communists and shoot innocent people doesn’t make communism bad.
    in a similar way, just because of some dull-headed persons hijacked a plane and crashed through twin towers doesn’t make the entire religion or community bad.
    finally, just because some stupid racist raj mehta abuses muslims and bengalis doesn’t make the entire gujarati community insensible (I personally have quite nice intellectual gujju friends). it’s only the stray behavior of the person concerned.

  127. Anirban , communism is not all that bad. Pol Pot was good. Mao was great. Stalin a hero……etc. Please continue. Some idiots here may even believe you.

    Perhaps the need of the hour is to have a communist government in India. I know they rule from the outside anyway , but thats not enough. Communists should have 100% control of India. Prakash Karat for prime minister.

    To address the inequities of income , all industries, services and banks will be nationalised. Foreign investors will be chased away and MNC products banned. Exams will be abolished. Everybody gets a BE/MBBS/MD degree for a payment of 500 rupees to the CPM treasury..On getting the degree , each candidate will be given clerical position in the central government with a further payment of 700 Rs..

    Ugly capitalists will be put behind bars. The management of Infosys, Wipro,TCS will be taken up by a committee of able trade union leaders hailing from CPM , CPI and Forward Block. All bank accounts over Rs. 1 lakh will be frozen and taken over by the state. All private properties including houses worth over 10 lakhs will be handed over to the communist party member for safekeeping. Punitive tax will be imposed on hindu temples to finance minority insitutions in the interest of secularism. Taxation will be increased to 95% of an individual’s annual income.

    Maintaining friendly relations with neighbors will be given top priority. Kashmir will be given to Pakistan and North-East will be equally divided between China and Bangladesh.. The army will be disbanded , and missiles and other weapons distributed freely to brave and courageous organisations fighting the ugly imperialists like America and Zionist Evil like Israel like Hamas, Iran , Iraqi freedom fighters, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria etc.

    Since communism is violently opposed to the concept of India having nuclear weapons and yet offers strong support to countries like Iran and Pakistan possessing them , the ownership of the Indian nukes will be transferred to Tehran and Islamabad.

    The structure at India Gate will be replaced by a statue of our Chairman , Chairman Mao.

  128. Satish :

    yourfan 1 or 2
    why did you have to make a comment like “will you allow someone to screw your women if they pay you well”. You provoke someone to make such remarks like raj made (and GreatBong did not notice that, come on GB, be fair), then you proceed to vilify him for reacting.

    That has been the pattern seen so far. Next step is to get my IP address blocked.

  129. Arnab, I agree with just about everything in this post. I differ in my opinion of M Banerjee. No major financial corruption, but … More on mail, or when we meet. You will appreciate why I don’t want to voice an opinion on a political issue in a public forum.

    Dipanjan came up with some good additional points. The lack of an effective oppostion is not healthy at all.

    One point that bears repetition – the Bangali outside Bengal is usually the most virulent critic of this state. Could it be that they need to convince themselves they’re better off outside? I know this sounds very parochial. Apologies, but this is my experience with Bangalis not just in India but in other countries as well.

    Do you think you could take out a patent on Raj Mehta? Or get custody of him for a few weeks? He’s priceless. Think of all the amusement you’d get for some minor investment in tick powder and bananas.

    J.A.P.

  130. >> I think you need enough time to read a line or two about communism (remember I’m not a communist). the theory has nothing to do with violence. just because some people claim themselves as communists and shoot innocent people doesn’t make communism bad.
    in a similar way, just because of some dull-headed persons hijacked a plane and crashed through twin towers doesn’t make the entire religion or community bad.
    finally, just because some stupid racist raj mehta abuses muslims and bengalis doesn’t make the entire gujarati community insensible (I personally have quite nice intellectual gujju friends). it’s only the stray behavior of the person concerned.

    @ Anirban,

    Accepted. You are actually right. In an equal world, this should be the case, which I readily accept.

    But then , nobody sees us in the same light while expecting us to do so for them. So much that minorityism is taken as a fundamental right, not as a social improvement/equality step which it initially was.

    And as I said earlier, its about probabilities. The probability that a muslim is a terrorist is higher than the probability that a hindu/christian/buddhist is a terrorist. BTW, the probability of the sun rising in the east is not 1. It might be 0.99999999.. but not one. Of course, there are terrorists among others too, but the difference in probabilities is far too much higher in muslims. Now, of course, logically, not all muslims are bad. (analogy – Prob not equals 1) I have a few good muslim friends, but I have seen many talk fundamentalism and abuse Hinduism, and always crying for more concessions at the cost of Hindus (and other minorities too).

    So my point. just because a few commies shoot innocent people, it does not mean communism is bad. so there were a few bad commies like lenin, stalin, khrushchev, mao, deng xiaoping, prachanda, etc. But why were so many commies bad, as compared to other ideologies. Granted there were tyrants amongst democracies too, but the ratio is far too much higher amongst commies (and maybe monarchies).

    Now you might say, dictators were also tyrants. Right. But then dictators are not hypocrites like commies. They do not claim to stand for social equality and do otherwise, like commies.

    Think about this. Commies survive / thrive on poverty and inequality. The day we have equality, commies have no reason to exist. Do you think they will allow that. 🙂 So they indirectly promote the very reasons that benefit them. That is poverty , underdevelopment, inequality.

    theory of communism as per marx no longer exists. No, not even in India.

    @ raj,
    this is how debates in blogosphere work. instead of replying to the question, you should argued about asking such a stupid question. you should not have replied crap/nonsense with greater crap/nonsense.

  131. @JAP,
    For the sake of this post only, I’ve just named myself in your honour. I am struck by your spot- on observation regarding Bengalis outside Bengal. Says so much, doesn’t it? A comment that makes me truly think. A post on this, Arnab, someday, please.
    @Arnab, Your observations regarding Buddha Babu are of course the accurate articulation of a lot of people’s thoughts. Super post. But we await the yet to come Ganguly post with bated breath. The Bengali nation lies etherised on a table, awaiting your final diagnosis on the event of the millennium. (Sorry, JAP has impressed me too much with his comment, I couldn’t resist the poetry).
    @Yourfan: Brilliant. Your quote of Deng Xiao Ping is just fabulously accurate. Buddha is that cat, it appears.
    Cheers, Ranjan Chakravarty

  132. Wow! And I thought the RDB comments section was ‘colourful’!!! I may have been outspoken, but at least I did not stoop to the nadir that the Great Gujju seems to have descended.

  133. “YOURFAN writes: @ALL: Please note that YOURFAN2’s comments/views are WRONGLY thought of to be YOURFAN’s (that is me). Thus many readers have wrongly replied to Yourfan (me). I never use those objectionable words and I also differ from Yourfan2’s political views expressed in this post.”

    –If you two got an identities of your own, i.e. seperate aliases, then there wouldn’t be so much confusion! Can’t blame ppl if they can’t remember which ‘fan’ one is which. Btw, one thing that mystifies me is why YOURFAN submits comments as “Anonymous” then writes YOURFAN at the top of each comment. Wouldn’t it be easier if you just wrote YOURFAN in the ‘NAME’ field? I don’t understand the (il)logic behind this.

  134. Sorry both yourfan and Swati are to be complimented for their notes, and Swati especially for the Deng quote. Am sorry if have attributed quotes wrongly. BTW, I read the Bengal-Maharashtra paper as well, and found the paper rather unimpressive. But still, interesting that UCLA could fund it.

  135. @satish
    Communism (or Marxism), according to Karl Marx, can be applied to an ideal society. And there exists nothing called ideal society. It’s not perfectly applicable to a real world as was admitted by Karl Marx himself. Quite analogous to Charles’ Law or Boyle’s Law which always have some discrepancies in the real systems.
    The ruling party of Bengal is communist by name. They’re not following communism (or Marxism) from the early 80’s. And that’s natural being a part of a democratic country. But as long as development of the state is concerned, I don’t care which theory they’re following. There goes the credit to Buddha babu. Whereas the opposition parties (read Mamata) are now following the extreme leftist ideologies (calling strikes etc).
    You might have followed that the seats of the ruling party have increased to a significant extent compared to 2001 elections. And the major opposition party got nearly whitewashed.

    @Raj Mehta
    Wonderful work of art. I didn’t think you could have such marvellous creativity. Why don’t you create your own blog and spare Arnab’s space.

  136. A small note: Raj Mehta’s comments have been removed. And Satish, what yourfan2 said does not justify Raj’s reactions—remember Raj had called Bengalis prostitutes before?

    And using his amazing powers of deduction and undoubted intelligence, after calling people all those things Raj has rightfully predicted that his IP will be blocked. Exactly—how perceptive of him. I also dont want him coming and posting a comment every few hours and instead beseech him to spend that time profitably planning the decimation of Muslims and Bengali Communists and prostitutes and overweight people so as to improve the condition of India. Only pity is I wont be alive to enjoy that.

    [Yourfan: Your and Bonatellis’ comments, because of blocking Raj Mehta’s IP may go into moderation. I will have to manually approve them. Sorry for the inconvenience]

  137. >> And Satish, what yourfan2 said does not justify Raj’s reactions—remember Raj had called Bengalis prostitutes before?

    @GB,
    before yourfans comments ?? or in some earlier post ? I did not see that. sorry about that.

    @Anirban,

    I agree, but Indian commies’ overall policies are quite leftist, if not overly marxist. They might be improving Bengal *at present* . See what they are doing at the central govt level. In Bengal, they bring in investment, but oppose it for the rest of the country. They still remain hypocrites.

    Their overall policies are still leftist and pseudo-secular. They still have their priorities wrong. Still believe in the license permit quota raj. Still oppose private industry. Still believe in PSUs. You can say they have moved from core marxism to what Congress was before 1990 (kinda leftist). Would anyone of you here like to go back to those depressing corrupt days of before 1990, when owning an Ambassador was considered to be a luxury and heavily taxed, and the budget listed out what would be costlier or cheaper. Things like tubelights, electric bulbs, fans, mopeds, scooters, refrigerators, umbrellas, soaps, detergents, noodles, chocolates, nylon shirts, cotton trousers, porcelain cups, plates, spoons, toothpastes, brushes, boot polish, etc were included in that list. 😀

    Marxism can succeed in an ideal world only. Right. Ideal only in case of absence greed would be more than enough. But that can never happen. 🙂

  138. >> >> >>
    To address the inequities of income , all industries, services and banks will be nationalised. Foreign investors will be chased away and MNC products banned. Exams will be abolished. Everybody gets a BE/MBBS/MD degree for a payment of 500 rupees to the CPM treasury..On getting the degree , each candidate will be given clerical position in the central government with a further payment of 700 Rs..

    Ugly capitalists will be put behind bars. The management of Infosys, Wipro,TCS will be taken up by a committee of able trade union leaders hailing from CPM , CPI and Forward Block. All bank accounts over Rs. 1 lakh will be frozen and taken over by the state. All private properties including houses worth over 10 lakhs will be handed over to the communist party member for safekeeping. Punitive tax will be imposed on hindu temples to finance minority insitutions in the interest of secularism. Taxation will be increased to 95% of an individual’s annual income.

    Maintaining friendly relations with neighbors will be given top priority. Kashmir will be given to Pakistan and North-East will be equally divided between China and Bangladesh.. The army will be disbanded , and missiles and other weapons distributed freely to brave and courageous organisations fighting the ugly imperialists like America and Zionist Evil like Israel like Hamas, Iran , Iraqi freedom fighters, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria etc.

    Since communism is violently opposed to the concept of India having nuclear weapons and yet offers strong support to countries like Iran and Pakistan possessing them , the ownership of the Indian nukes will be transferred to Tehran and Islamabad.

    The structure at India Gate will be replaced by a statue of our Chairman , Chairman Mao.
    [ UNQUOTE **** ]

    I just read this one.. LMAO.. 😀 Too good.
    Though its Raj saying this, so you many of you may not like it, This is pretty much what commies stand for.

    Why the hell are they bent on supporting Iran, while opposing our military strength. Are they really crazy. There is a limit to populism. They even beat Paswan who carried a osama lookalike to get muslim votes (and surprise.. succeeded to quite an extent).

  139. I am regular reader of this blog, but this is the first time I am commenting. I know it’s stupid to respond to Raj Mehta’s comments, but since he wants India to be like the US, does he think that the US would have allowed anything like the Gujarat riots to happen? No matter what the provocation?

  140. @kaushik
    In first place US wouldn’t have allowed this minority appeasement, double standard, Kashmir issue etc etc

  141. Arnab,

    Good post. I liked your objectivity and seeing of both sides. Yes, there is some progress and there are certainly areas that need great deal of development (education,health and Amlashol). Like you said, we can only function when we have hope of change otherwise we turn into a bunch of cynics and inadvertantly hinder progress.

    Congratulations on your cover by ABP. Good job!

    I was especilly impressed by your views on anti fundamentalism and muslims. We once had a hot debate on this blog about terrorism and muslim association. I am happy to see your display of tolerance in this post. It is much needed and much needed now.

    Once again, thanks for giving us a chance for healthy argumentation.

  142. @Satish: 🙂 yes dear you read the papers, but I live in Kolkata, and the housemaid employed in our family is a Bangladeshi Hindu 🙂 And she does talk of the problems recently being faced by them to get their relatives out of Bangladesh because the “Party Dadas” have been instructed by the “Oporwallahs” not to let in anymore Bangladeshi immigrants.

    Don’t go by newspaper reports. Most of it is sensationalist in nature. You know how all Gujarati Hindus were portrayed as mindless butchers during riots in Gujarat (sorry GreatBong, let’s not get carried away by trolls like Raj Mehta).

    Besides, if you were down here, in Kolkata, walking down the streets, talking to the people (mostly middle-class Bengalis), you’d feel the disillusionment with the opposition, and the breath of fresh air that Buddha has brought into politics. With the current state of the Opposition, even Jyoti Basu would win as the Left Front’s Chief Ministerial candidate, but people are excited with Buddhadev because so far he has shown himself to be a maverick with brains, unlike a certain Ms. Mamata Banerjee.

    Another thing, might offend you : The BJP is not a party on the upswing anywhere in India right now, and is irrelevant today in WB. Mamata didn’t have the pragmatism to link up with the Congress. Yes, it is true that even the Congress is responsible for scuttling the “Mahajot”, but that does not take any blame away from Mamata.

  143. @Mr. Satish: Hello. You said , presumably to me: “@yourfan 1 or 2 ,why did you have to make a comment like “will you allow someone to screw your women if they pay you well”. You provoke someone to make such remarks like raj made (and GreatBong did not notice that, come on GB, be fair), then you proceed to vilify him for reacting. ”

    Please take your self proclaimed moral guradianship elsewhere or read closely. That person was telling whatever he felt like about Bengalis before I came in. That guys strategy was to find a slight hint of retaliation which he then projected as Gujju bashing (which incidentally no one did) and then went on to air his prejudices. And when I asked him the question that you find sooo offensive, lemme tell you it was quite valid question. There is still no state calling here. The retaliation- prostitutes and further vilification of Bengalis. Hah. So Mr. Satish or whatever, I dunno how long youve been on this blog but I have been a commentator on this blog for a long time. So kindly keep your verdicts or school monitor like admonishings to yourself.

    I had no intention of drifting from the topic….i hate that …but that guy did precisely that…and yes just like him…I take it seriously when someone calls my community names..so I had to retaliate….and I can retaliate.

    I dont care of what you think of me or my character. If the community or the blogger of this blog is attacked in future , I will react similarly. If not its not my business to interfere or drift from the topic. The owner of this blog is intelligent enough ….and he will similarly delete my comment if I had started a fracas. Now chill.

  144. @Dipanjan- Lovely comment. A perfect complement to GB’s wonderful post. Both deserve to be published in the mainstream media.

    @JAP- “One point that bears repetition – the Bangali outside Bengal is usually the most virulent critic of this state. Could it be that they need to convince themselves they’re better off outside? I know this sounds very parochial. Apologies, but this is my experience with Bangalis not just in India but in other countries as well.”

    Excellent point sir. And definitely food for thought.

  145. 0. Nice to read, Arnab. Good job.

    1. It is true that no credible alternatives exist, and for a long time now. That’s real scary for a democracy; not necessarily for the sake of political opposition, but for the sake of minimum quality control in governance that may be supplied by competitiveness, dissent and diversity.

    (I wonder if Buddha could prove to be a true visionary by promoting certain amount of credible opposition himself; it can help him win liberalization debates within his own politburo; and, like the cleaner elections this time, lend his democractic leadership more credibity. After all, *the* Buddha was himself the heterodox par excellence.)

    3. Also, Buddha has a clean personal image. That’s slightly scary too. Personality cultism often clouds vision as it thickens.

    4. But most scary, I guess, is the ambiguity of the CPIM’s new capitalist/socialist policies; the resulting fuzziness makes it very difficult for anybody to demarcate CPIM’s “definition” and attack from *outside* it. If an attacker herself is never fully separated from this cleverly ambiguous definition, her attack is bound to lose sting.

    And that points further to my fear# 1 above.

    Indeed, the more I think, I find this trick increasingly wonderful and extremely difficult to beat, Arnab. If this continues, only self-destruction caused by subversion (e.g. scandals perpetrated by clever rivals) or a sharp law and order decline (e.g., a Maoist mayhem) or a grossly mis-handled mishap (e.g., a natural calamity) might be left as the only means of a breakthrough in future.

    Barring such non-democratic shocks, WB, with a redundant democratic system, is well and truly on its Red China way. Whether that converges with the pan-Indian (even pan-Indian CPIM) goals smoothly is the thing to see.

    So long.

  146. Satish

    Ooops, I forgot to add this one thing.

    Isnt CPM supposed to be the greatest infiltrator of Bangladeshis into India. Apart from Bengal, it s**ewed up Assam and the northeastern states with its “appease Bangladeshi” policy.

    CPM can not be held responsible for influx of Muslim refugees in Assam.Compared to Laloo amd Mulayam and Congress, CPM is far better in matter of Muslim appeasement.At least CPM has the sense to bring all Madrassa education within State control.No other State Govt. has been able to do this.All other As far as North eastern states are concerned THE IS NO INFILTRATION. They hate India anyway.

    Responsibilty to protect the borders and stop infiltrations lies with the Central Govt. Why has the Central Govt. been lax on this. It is only due to Budhha that infiltration is being checked.Otherwise the Central Govt. would be snoring as before.

  147. A fascinating string of responses to a great post, but the topic has got somewhat buried under the persiflage.
    Allow me to fly a couple of kites about what will happen next.
    Right now Buddha is all things to all voters, having gained the most in the mofussil towns and wannabe metros. His two main tasks, as Greatbong pointed out, are cleaning up Jyoti Babu’s mess and taking the state forward. Most of his opposers are JB’s bully boys like Subhas Chakraborty et al. BTW, it’s heartening that SC got such a low margin, but just imagine what a nightmare he would be if chucked out of the Assembly. BB would have no levers to rein him in.
    Possibilites ahead may be:
    1. The party splits, with the progressives sticking by Buddha and the old guard huddling together. Expect blood on the streets if that happens.
    2. Buddha manages to squash the old guard within the CPI(M). However, the central politburo meddles in Bengal’s affairs and forces him to cleave to the party line. The CPI(M)’s centre-state schizophrenia is well documented.
    3. Buddha loses his nerve and capitulates to the old guard, forgetting that this mandate he’s received is in favour of development over anything else. Bengal is back to square one.
    As you can see, none of them are wildly joy-inducing. I don’t think we will see great change anytime soon. Until the internal cleaning up is substantially complete there will be too many obstacles to development.
    Any thoughts?

  148. Can the number of comments be moderated as well? Ufff people are going berserk here. Amaar post’tao porish …wrote without reading yours, so any similarities or coincidences deeply regretted.:)

  149. the Bangali outside Bengal is usually the most virulent critic of this state. Could it be that they need to convince themselves they’re better off outside?

    Yes, definitely it’s a big part and often when they are convinced that they are much better off, they mistakenly compare their current life at wherever they are with the life they had in Bengal when they had left the state, completely ignoring the progress the state has made since then and the career growth that would naturally have happened if they had stayed on.

  150. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: It is annoying that my comments (along with some other’s) have gone on moderation not because I used any filthy language but somebody else did use filthy and extremely objectionable language. I guess that is due to the technology – got to accept it.

    Anyway, I have a question. Why did you mention Bonatellis name when yourfan2 commented? Is Bonatellis and yourfan2 the same person? Usually you don’t make mistakes with names – I sometimes wonder how you can manage to reply to soo many of the commenters without goofing up. I think yourfan2 had another name before he became yourfan2 (I forgot what it was).

  151. YOURFAN writes:
    @J.A.P.: You wrote: “the Bangali outside Bengal is usually the most virulent critic of this state. Could it be that they need to convince themselves they’re better off outside?” I agree with your analysis. Everybody has to make himself convinced with his own logic/reasons that he is better off in doing whatever he is doing or staying wherever he is staying otherwise he would be miserable all the time. And who wants to feel miserable all the time? Well, everybody – at least I feel miserable from time to time but definitely not all the time.

  152. hey arnab,
    nice post man. specially loved the way u described the transition from the era of Jyothi to Buddha!!!
    if i may suggest, please send this article as an Op-ed entry to all the leading Indian newspapers. will be a different kind of analysis as compared to the ‘reds are the best’ vs ‘reds are the worst’ debate thats going on now….

  153. Pingback: Life is a street car named Desire » A vote for Bengal but

  154. @yourfan: I wanted to say that yourfan (i.e you) and Bonatellis’s comments will go into moderation because if an IP address is a.b.c.d, you two share the a.b. part with that ahole. Since the c.d part varies (dynamic IPs) every time the great BJP man logs in I have to ban any address (i.e. comment passes into moderation) which has a.b. as a prefix.

    And where did I mention yourfan2 as Bonatellis—if I had my mistake.

    @All: Excellent comments here from Dipanjan, S.Pyne, Erthrocyte and others . Its good to see some real valid points being raised in a civil manner. Truly the value added from such thoughtful comments to a blog is immense.

  155. a fabulous depiction of facts. you’d recall Mamata decided to “get” her Ph.D when she contested the elections against “Dr” Malini Dasgupta, a prof of English at JU.

  156. Thanks for endorsing the value addition by audience comments to any discussion in public forum.

    Just the kind of thing that makes me all the more sensitive about the unseemly want of capable (persuasive and honest) opposition leaders in WB.

    Nothing can substitute the feeling of satisfaction that Buddha may feel by performing succesfully under pressure from competition and dissent of capable and creative critics.

    At present, the ruling front sometimes invites such criticism from private (professional) and academic assessments, but are under no *political* compulsion to act on these (or defend their inaction in a public forum; elections are redundant and come only once in 5 years).

    Would Buddha really want to promote/encourage the bolder dissenters (oh no, I don’t mean “balder” dissenter Subhash-da), if need be from his own Front/non-CPIM partners to raise critical voices, if the Opposition’s aren’t sound enough, in the public fora (including the internet as venue, and sensitive anti-Left concerns as issues, and students as voices)?

    I am sure Buddha is saner than his Lord Snooty predecessor and could opt for some stiffer critiques. This fresh-breeze counter-culture would not only rollback memories of the grim era of jyotibasuism, but would fan his democratic credentials with a unique advertisement.

    It can easily attract international press (even NYT covers Left victories now) with positive coverage and thus woo tech-savvy CEOs who Buddha would love to have over. Remember, a biz leader’s arrival (like Ratan Tata’s recent call) is an ad in itself.

    Actually, for all its utopian appearance (for a commie regime), given their professed interest for an image makeover, my proposal is not as radical as it seems for at least 2 reasons of recent coming.

    That is, I say this with some faith because Buddha has already said more “We made mistakes” than any other CM I know of (of course, his forerunners made sure there were enough to be sorry for). Although personally I always felt that he perhaps uses this as a clever pre-empting ploy to blunt critics, yet he evokes hope. Secondly, the front has, in this election, placed its trust with tickets to its younger rookies.

    Legend has it that before venturing out in his own ways, Gautama (yet-to-be) Buddha went on to engage in philosophical exchanges scores of proponents with diverse views. So why not the present (already) Buddha?

    Let the hetrodoxy of Buddhism shine forth. Let competition be.

  157. Arnabda, I am a non-bengali who was born and brought in Calcutta, and spent 23 years of his starting life in the city before moving out to Pune 2 years ago.

    While your comments and observations are spot on, there is one statistic that distresses me. You asserted that elections were free and fair this time. But why is it, that elections after elections, voter turn-out in WB exceeds 80%, while national average is below 60%? Am I imagining things or is there something fishy going on :)?

  158. I am still suspicious as to the election rigging issue. It is obviously dangerous to allow a single party to remain in power so long. Just hope people realize it soon!

  159. @ S Pyne: How nice it would have been had Subhash been defeated.

    @Shailendra and Kerala Guy: Unless we have proof positive, it is unfair to talk abour rigging (since all the evidence is to the contrary). It is perhaps a sign of the times that a high voter turnout ( a concomitant of a healthy democracy) is thus interpreted.

  160. >> Hah. So Mr. Satish or whatever, I dunno how long youve been on this blog but I have been a commentator on this blog for a long time. So kindly keep your verdicts or school monitor like admonishings to yourself.

    @yourfan 1 or 2 or anon yourfan,
    Hah.. LOL… so commenting here for a longer time means you are always right. Is it so ?? I thought I wont reply to your crap (you seem no different from Raj Mehta) but I found this one funny.. kiddish.. You need a school monitor, dont you.

    @Soumyadip,

    one bangladeshi hindu migrant amongst a hundred muslim migrants. .. why do we always have to bend over backwards and kick ourselves to prove ourself secular.

    What about news reports of bangladeshi muslims who on being arrested reveal that they entered via Bengal. What about bangladeshis giving birth to piglets in hospitals in Pune (when our own people dont get medical benefits). All right , all right, I believe in humanism, secularism, blah blah, but why not be humanistic to our own people first.

    What about reports on how hindu majority districts have become hindu minority districts in the span of less than a generation, due to large scale illegal infiltration. Come on, you are giving me one truth that does not prove another truth wrong.

    Infiltration is a truth and it cannot be denied.

  161. Just thought that I must share this with you.

    IT industry comes under Essential Services Act, as per Buddadeb, to prevent union labour problems .. !!!

    Click here

    Poor Tata!

  162. @Satish- and you need some discipline and domination.:) Anyways ..this is the last time Ill bother responding to a crackpot like you. I wouldnt have anyways if you didnt ask a question to you. Now continue harping on a fact that is well known (Infiltration is a truth and it cannot be denied) and continue talking crap and continue feeling important.

  163. Dear writer,
    Thanks for at least being positive on one note that is lauding the chief minister of a otherwise much despised party as inferred from your article.
    I cannot help not questioning your so called apathy about the party and if you please excuse my audacity, I am compelled to state that your knowledge is very confined and superficial. Probably this limitation arises from the media machineries of your growing up days(they still do)anything negative that happened in the 80’s or 90’s was CPM’s doing.
    I want to ask you my dear writer, when your mom came to pick you up, and you saw the goons charging the elite locales of Calcutta, were they sporting a bandana or sashes which had the red piece of cloth embossing the sickle hammer and the star?
    Ok even if they did……could it not have been a ploy of the opposition who tirelessly tries to tarnish this political institution that exists against all odds?
    If Jyoti Basu was so autocratic a leader……do you recall he had the chance of sitting at the Loksabha as the leader of the ruling party?My dear…..he could not take the seat as the polit bureau did not approve of the move.This is one party that is completely controlled by the think tanks which jointly decides.While I am a diehard fan of Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, but let me enlighten you that he was considered politically a child and it was Jyoti Basu who hand picked him and literally molded him as his successor.
    Without going for revoking your contradictions that some sour mouths always nags that its a foul game played by the CPM, wish you were present at the city when the Election Commissioner resorted to all possible ideas he could think of to curb any means by which CPM or the left front to be more precise,could highlight their campaigning.At times it was extremely juvenile and at times it was literraly a dictatorship of Mr Tandon which ofcourse the CPM took very positively in its stride.
    The whole victory is actually a combined effort by a very disciplined organization and as rightly mentioned by you that its a party with educated leaders who are truly secular in their thoughts and abosolutely honest in their actions!
    The late Anil Biswas could be attributed with the success of this victory and as you are aware that he was known as the Chanakya of the poilitics.
    I am surprised that you did not ponder for a few moments of thoughts before labeling Mr Jyoti Basu as a tyrant.
    Don’t you think that if he was so highhanded in his style of running a government, why did Center(the ruling party at the top)not usurp his power.I dont know if you are aware that the late Mrs Gandhi had once tried to shut down the ruling of the red flag, but eventually gave up for a second attempt and pointblankly declared that there were no leaders to take up the job of Jyoti Basu in any other party that existed in Bengal.
    Mamata Banerjee’s surgence as a so called opposition leader was completely media’s making and all those sobstory of broken skull was a gimic of her own creation. If the party was like any other political party of India, she would have been shot dead made into history.
    The CPM does not consider her any threat and hence do not bother much about her.
    This is a party that is highlighted with education and discipline.While other parties distribute the green notes and armoury, this party distributes ammunition of literatures which talks of world history of marxism and other socialist theories.The cadres have to attend classes of senior leaders who later handpick the best of the lot for future leadership.
    This is how they continue the tradition of King Arthur who said old order must change yielding place to the new.

  164. @Shoma Gupta: Har har har. Ammunition of literatures that talk of world history of marxism and other socialist theories—again har har har. Take your speech to Alimuddin Street dear lady. The late Anil Biswas and your never-late Jyoti Basu are two people who are responsible for the sorry state of Bengal—Jyoti basu’s never ending foreign trips and his peeves about the jackals disturbing sleep while CPM-union policemen raped women in lockups: these were not press fabrications. Take off your red blinkers…

    And the people who came running down with bombs and lathis werent Trinamool disguised as CPM —they were local CPM toughs known to everyone in the area. Of course the red CPM flags they carried all the year may have been fakes.

    @ALL: I have managed to get attacked by both the Left and the Right on this post. Always an affirmation that I am on the right track.

  165. Kerala guy said:

    “I am still suspicious as to the election rigging issue. ” Rigging ? Naah. You see, “baithke tankhwa lena” sounds a swell deal to anybody- that makes CPM a natural favourite.
    “Jonogon” wins hands down. Three sneers.

  166. @GreatBong

    Just a thought. Ok, I agree that Buddhadeb is a honest man, mr. clean, etc. And so Bengal votes for him. Agree fully with you here.

    But can you tell me why does it vote for commies in the general elections. State government and central government are two different things. Why does it vote for the likes of Karat and Yechuri. Honestly, if people of Bengal are for development , they should not be voting for such nutcases.

    Now the effects of voting for commies is clear. With a small bunch of MPs in the center, they hold the entire country to ransom. The development of the country comes to a crawl for these unruly bunch of commie thugs.

    Honestly, sir, why would the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu suffer for that. No, obviously they wont like that. Say tomorrow, what if people of Tamilnadu vote for ADMK en masse, returning 40 odd MPs (or same with Maharashtra and Shiv Sena) and they hold the country to ransom. Imagine if Shiv Sena gets a hold on the center. This is pretty much what is happening in Bengal. The commies are holding the rest of the country to ransom, in the name of mandate.

    The people of Bengal dont vote in the general elections as voting for the country. It seems like – it does not matter whats happening to the rest of the country.

    Disclaimer: I am not against any people/community of India.

  167. Greatbong

    Interesting post and comments section. I went to Calcutta recently after almost 4 years and was truly amazed by the development in the New Town area. Very clearly, Budhababu is doing a good job, certainly better than the prime joker Vilasrao Deshmukh in Bombay. But his effort is no doubt helped by a number of extraneous factors – to his credit, he has not screwed up the opportunity circumstances have given him.

    No one can deny that there is a fairly large Bengali Bhadralok population (people like you) that has benefited from English education for generations, is intelligent and reasonably hardworking. When I was in IIM Cal, I noticed the enormous affection most of my Bong batchmates had for Calcutta. And I have seen Bong friends from Bombay at different times decide to move back to Calcutta. (similar to the nostalgia some NRIs have for India, I guess) And given the still low cost of living there (no doubt a result of the CPM’s screwed up economic policies), wage costs in Calcutta are still about 15-20% lower than in Bangalore – with fewer firms around attrition is also lower. So Calcutta is an obvious destination for tech firms – the point to note is not that there is a tech boom in Calcutta today but it took so long for one to start there. To Buddha’s credit, he has allowed this boom rather than trying to nip it in the bud (a la some of his colleagues or idiots like Deve Gowda). Is that enough to vote Commie – if Mamta is the only choice, I say perhaps. But one must never forget that Communism is the most murderous force on earth, having killed 5x the number of people that fascism did – viz. Jyotida is far more dangerous than Modi going by the historical track record.

    Responses to some of the comments:

    On Gujarat vs. Bengal – Don’t think anyone can justify the Gujarat riots (I voted Congress thanks to them), but the fact is that all political parties in India have triggerred riots when it suited them – eg. Delhi, 1984. And the recent absence of riots in Bengal is probably more a function of the absence of political competition than any other factor.

    On Soumyadip, Shoma Gupta and others who sing paens to communism / socialism – I know lots of you (including the prime shit Yechury) love to talk of the problems faced by the East Asian tigers in the late 1990s. But the fact is that even at the worst point in the Asian crisis, no East Asian country was as badly off as Maoist China, Modern North Korea or even India. I have never heard of any Indians seeking to migrate to any commuist country – but they would happily flock to even relatively poor ad horrendously corrupt Indonesia

  168. Hi Arnab:
    I don’t have your email, so I’m sending you this message in the wrong area. Please check out ihateganguly.com today. An apology to Ganguly and his fans has been issued by the site. Appears on the main page just before redirection.
    Of course, await your latest on the issue…..
    Regards,
    Ranjan

  169. Yes Arnab …all our frustrations/anger/anguish over Kolkata, and Bengal in general, usual end in this ray of hope …”goto 22 bochor-er bhul to ar taratari thik hobe na, ei 5 bochor-e ja hoyeche – that is an Achievement”

    ~ Krishanu

  170. Pingback: A vote for Bengal but at Retributions

  171. I was searching for my name online, and got to your website. I scrolled down and noticed the great preview hack you have for your blog. I liked it a lot.

    Also I got curious about the bong part of your domain so went to the faq… hahaha thats great the things one can learn from a blog on the other corner of the world. I have just learn a completely new meaning for “ganja” from you.

    Ok mr teller of tall tales, keep with your embellished story’s.

    Ujani

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  173. Pingback: Retributions » An Examination of Bengal Politics-1

  174. Pingback: CPM Polit Bureau meets in Delhi; Buddha stays away « Asianetindia.com Blog

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