I am not quite sure how to frame this post. Let’s just say, this is an account of why a left leaning individual turned into a skeptical, yet right leaning one.
One’s political orientation often starts at home. Although I had a CPI (M)-admiring (but not quite politically aware) Mother, my Father had strongly anti-left ideologies. He is of the opinion that Communists (terms like ‘left liberals’ weren’t fashionable back then) are a bunch of hypocrites who do/did more harm than good. One argument he always made – to which I did not quite have a counter – was the then WB Government’s policy to not teach English in schools at the primary level in public (and perhaps even Government aided) schools.
I have come in contact with brilliant students, whose confidence wavers simply because they are not well-conversant in English. Therefore, with this one point my Father always gained an upper hand in our political discussions. However, on a holistic basis, I couldn’t quite shake off the leftist and/or socialist ideology that boasts of uplifting the downtrodden and marginalized.
Then came a series of events that led to demise of the Left in the state (only to be replaced by a greater problem).
One of the most talked about incidents – that exposed the Left’s hypocrisy – was that of a well- known minister by the name of (Late) Subhash Chakrabarty putting a garland around the main idol at Kalighat. Practising Leftists – and the CPI (M) claimed to be the same – are atheists. They don’t believe in any God, Religion, Creed, or Cast. After many such seemingly ‘innocuous’ faux pas and complacency, came the final blow: Singur. Ironically, the Left went down by being villainized by the poor and marginalized. The very people they stood for.
I am not going to go into the veracity of this theory the Opposition and the ‘intelligentsia’ doggedly built up. However, we all know what happened with Gujarat, once the Tatas shifted their project from Singur to Sanand. The half-constructed factory at Singur is a cruel reminder of a State which was slowly coming out of its self-imposed stupor but was halted in its track rudely.
And thus came to power a Government whose brand of ‘socialism’ is pushing the state into a further state of decay and despair. However, the poor and marginalized – especially a particular religious sect – seem to revere the leader. During my last visit to the hometown, I also couldn’t help noticing the number of people who stand out amidst the average Kolkatans. Loose Pajamas that fall several inches short of the ankle, netted skull caps, and a strange Bengali dialect. Clearly, not native populace. The only logical conclusion I could draw was ‘illegal immigrants’.
Now what is the purpose of this backstory?
A slow but steady aversion towards the leftist ‘ideology’. It’s basic machination is to stall development, criticize strong measures that might cause problems initially but eventually pay off, engage in lip service to the cause of the ‘poor’ and do nothing substantial to tackle poverty on a socio-economic level, rebel and act like revolutionaries with or without reason. Likewise, the armchair philosophers, activists, and proponents of socialism/communism – broadly left liberals – continue their self-styled shallow activism against the Right and it’s action-oriented policies and measures.
In fact, this post is a by-product of an ugly exchange with one of this breed. The person in question puts up inflammatory posts against anything remotely ‘Rightist’ regularly. Many a times, I have thought of expressing my opinion against such overtly bias and superfluous attacks and opinions but I refrained. I know from personal experience and observation that it is next to impossible to have a civilized and mature discussion with specimens like these, irrespective of their education and background. On this occasion, I somehow could not quite ignore.
The issue in question was the ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes to combat Black Money. Not surprisingly, the post had nothing to do with the efficacy of the measure but how it is inconveniencing the general people, particularly the ‘marginalized’. Not for a moment, am I claiming that people have been inconvenienced. But the general mood is upbeat. It is the kind of measure that needs to be taken. But I digress from the point here.
What started out as a casual conversation, turned into personal attacks and jibes, the moment hard truths were stated. Another of one her dim-witted cohorts joined in, to stress on the plight of the poor with a specific personal encounter: a rickshaw puller who has amassed 25 K in cash but can’t get it exchanged because he doesn’t have an account and holds the Government responsible for this ‘sudden step’. When I asked this chap if he bothered to ask the rickshaw puller why did he not have an account when the Jan Dhan Yojna was implemented specially for the likes of them, he avoided the question, as expected. And went on to engage in an especially vitriolic personal tirade (although he doesn’t know me in person). The problem with these pretentious oafs is that they think conversing with the poor, perhaps getting involved with them sporadically, and showing them sympathy somehow makes them better qualified to understand what is good for them. They never attempt to educate these people about the social schemes and the benefits they can draw out of them. So you see the irony: we’ll keep the cause alive so we can crib and criticise but won’t do anything substantial to alleviate the problem.
Forget imparting education to the underprivileged. If he were so concerned about this particular man’s plight, couldn’t he possibly gather a few friends and get the poor man’s 25 grand exchanged with legal notes. Surely, that wouldn’t be a problem considering our generation hardly uses or stocks lump sum cash on his/her person.
One good deed goes a long way. The moment the news broke, my first thought went to our maid who I had paid with 1,000 rupee notes. Two days after the ban was implemented, she returned them to me and I was only too glad to help her out. What good does raving and ranting on social fora do?
Coming back to my own state, the CM is keeping the marginalised happy by giving them subsidized grains, cycles, and what not. But is that a long-term solution? Instead, wouldn’t it have been of more help if small farmers (with hardly any income) got steady jobs at a factory that certainly would have employed thousands, if not lakhs. An industrial area automatically becomes a commercial hub. That would have ensured further job generation, albeit in the unorganized sector. How about planning schemes that makes education more feasible and achievable instead of creating insecurity and hatred with vote-bank politics which is creating a palpable religious rift, in a relatively safe haven.
I am not an economist, political theorist, or a financial wizkid. However, as a common and fairly conscientious individual, I do understand simple cause and effect analysis. To that end, my logical self concludes that it’s better to have a strong and able man/woman – with an authoritarian bent and rigid notions – who puts the State above everything else and takes tough decision instead of a sorry bunch of ‘ideologues’ who fail to deliver results and take refuge in shallow, baseless rhetorics, destructive criticism, and vote-bank politics.
I am liberal by my actions and thoughts when it comes to other people cutting across age, class, creed, religion, and gender and not because of my political ideology. I vote to bring to power a regime I deem fit on a holistic level and not because ideologically I differ on certain issues which more often than not does not affect overall development, progress, and well-being of my (or for that matter any) country.