Monday, Aug 08, 2022
Outlook.com
Calcutta Diary

Deng Puffs 555

Deng Puffs 555
Deng Puffs 555
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Kolkata and Calcutta—jealous mistress and dutiful wife; city of joy and megapolis of despair; arrogant about her intellectual prowess yet unsure of urban regeneration; glitzy malls and imperial colonnades cracking at the seams; brilliant beams of light in uneasy coexistence with quasars. Remember the infamous black hole? To use former West Bengal finance minister and author Ashok Mitra's memorable analogy: more poets per square km than even football fans. Rajiv Gandhi was wrong. The dying city got a new lease of life. On to Calcutta's new icon after Satyajit Ray, who has helped Buddhadeb Bhattacharya become what he is. Yes, Mamata Banerjee. Don't believe me? Look at the figures put out by the EC, the same statutory body that has injured 'Bengali pride' by conducting elections in the state over five days and made Left Front chairman Biman Bose fret and fume beyond his normal belligerence.

The jhola-carrying lady with her trademark rubber sandals failed to gauge the mood of the electorate. Though S.S. Ray, former West Bengal chief minister, former Punjab governor and former Indian ambassador to the US—or Manu da, as he is affectionately called—campaigned for her, she failed to consolidate the anti-Left vote. Now that she can no longer blame CPI(M) goons for scientifically rigging the polls, the question is whether '06 is the beginning of the end of the political road for her. MB and her one-woman show managed to come through relatively unscathed in Calcutta proper. The Left barely increased its vote share in the city from 42.3 per cent to 42.5 per cent and won nine instead of eight seats. So much for the media hype that the city's upper and middle classes had finally given up their pathological dislike for the reds and see in BB the ultimate 'new Left' leader, a Deng with a capitalist heart in a communist body.

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