An Open Letter to the Chief minister of West Bengal

By Ruchir Joshi:
Extract: ...Madam, perhaps it might be time for you to resign and go.

Had someone in your administration, whoever was in charge of fire safety, taken responsibility and resigned after the AMRI fire, it may not have come to this. Had you fought your own rising paranoia and kept from commenting after the Park Street rape, it may not have come to this. Had you realized that you had not only offended the modesty of a rape victim but the collective conscience of Bengal and unreservedly apologized to the woman, it may not have come to this. Had you not transferred the police officer who proved that rape, you could have perhaps escaped this situation. Had you kept from compounding your mistake by similar irresponsible and callous comments about other assaults on women, or on the murders in Burdwan, it may have been different now. Had you not treated every bit of tragic news as only a lens through which to gaze lovingly and protectively at yourself, you may still have kept some credibility. Had you avoided attacking newspapers and TV channels that were critical of you, you would have been left with some democratic honour. Had you not pushed out your own minister from the door of the runaway train of your rule, there would have been no mild photo-cartoon sent to 25 of the 90 million people you rule and no criminal over-reaction from your party goondas and your paaltu police. As it is, you now oblige us to remember that adage about history repeating itself, first as tragedy and then as a farce: if the Left Front was the tragedy, you — and since there is no one but you in your Trinamul, you, solely — are the macabre farce.

Madam, one of the most bizarrely funny things you’ve kept repeating during your election campaign and afterwards is how you want to turn Calcutta into London. Well, perhaps it’s high time we imported some aspects of London culture. For instance, let me tell you how the last four British prime ministers have been portrayed in cartoons in London newspapers: John Major, always wearing his underpants outside his trousers; Tony Blair, as a one-eyed monster, sometimes as a one-eyed poodle trotting after George W. Bush; Gordon Brown, as a square, financial thug and bouncer; David Cameron, repeatedly, as an empty, blown-up condom. Along with these, they have also repeatedly had George Bush as a rampant, psychopathic chimpanzee, (once actually wiping his bottom with the UN logo), they’ve had Nicolas Sarkozy as all sorts of ferret-like animals, Berlusconi as a lecherous octopus and, recently, Angela Merkel as a dominatrix in skimpy black leather costume and fishnet stockings, wielding a financial whip over the exposed backsides of other European leaders. Besides this, one of the most widely read British satirical magazines, Private Eye, almost always has actual photographs of leaders and royalty with fictional speech bubbles coming out of their mouths, saying the most outrageous things. Let me tell you, no one has ever sued about these portrayals, no one is beaten up, no one is arrested, no one even lodges a written protest.

Madam, as one who had set such high hopes in you, I might be speaking for millions like myself: you need to resign and go, leaving us at the beginning of this Bangla new year to recover the best we can. May I suggest that after you resign, you plan a short or long visit to London? You will find they actually do dynamic new things to the city, like the huge Crossrail construction that’s now in progress, but that no one, neither premier nor mayor, can unilaterally decide to paint the city a bilious blue. You will also find they take rape and assault very seriously over there, and cartoons very lightly indeed. As you take in the reality of this culture and the courage of this freedom of speech, may I hope that you will begin to realize why you never deserved - forget being a world or national leader  -but why you never actually deserved to be in charge of a state such as Bengal for even thirty-four days? Full text:

Also see: The golden banana by Indrajit Hazra: ..the news from the village of Kolkata about a professor and his neighbour having to spend a night in jail for forwarding an email containing a photo-cartoon criticising Mamata Banerjee and her flunkey Mukul Roy is noteworthy, as it finally confirms two things: one, that 34 years of Left Front-rule in Paschim Bonkers has left the new chief minister damaged; and two, in the Bananarjee Republic, you better stick to jokes the CM can giggle to. The photo-cartoon sent by Jadavpur University prof Ambikesh Mahapatra in the presence of Subrata Sengupta is difficult to explain to a non-Bengali  unfamiliar with the Satyajit Ray film, Shonar Kella (The Golden Fortress). For starters, one non-Bengali friend asked me why Ray had made a film about a golden banana in the first place, hinting that the obvious lewdness the lampoon must contain has, in turn, led to Mahapatra being booked under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code ("word, gesture or act insulting the modesty of a woman").

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