An Open Letter to Mamata Di

Contributed By: BongoRongo

Dear Didi,

I am very sure that this letter will also go into your book as ‘chokranto’ or a conspiracy hatched by your opposition, namely the CPIM. But you know, I am not from the CPIM, I never was and perhaps will never be for I could rarely align my beliefs with leftist ideologies.  Even when I was a starry eyed, school going kid with little or no knowledge of politics, I used to be your supporter. I have fought many of those mini wars in your support against my peers and even, teachers. And then, when I started to work, there was this wind of ‘poriborton’ or change in West Bengal. Slowly and steadily, the Left were backing up and finally in 2011, by virtue of a landslide victory, your party registered a mammoth win against the longest single party rule in any democratic structure. Unanimously, the people of Bengal denounced their erstwhile ruler, and choose you to give the much needed lifeline to the state and its critical yet dilapidated apparatus.


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Personally, I was undergoing turbulence during that time. My father underwent a massive cardiac arrest and was battling death. I could see the strongest man of my life become very weak and unsure in a matter of few days. All this while in my life, I used to look up to him for any kind of security net and then suddenly I realized  in a matter of one fortnight, that the equation has just been reversed.  That transformation from being a subject to keeper was overwhelming for me. Since I had to spend most of time in the hospital, I couldn’t even vote for you that year. But as I silently prayed to the almighty for my father’s recovery, I also remember mentioning a line or two for you. Such was the belief, such was the hope, and such was the expectation from you, Didi. Nonetheless, my father recovered well and we all returned as a happy, cholesterol-cautioned family. Interestingly though, you also had a similar evolution. From being a strong opposition, you are now the statesman, the leader of this state. Much like my family now, who were considering me for every decision making, the entire state were also looking up to you for guidance and governance.

What I could remember is that it actually started well. During that time, the state was subjected to divisive political games in Darjeeling and a massive unrest was brewing in various Maoist penetrated districts of West Bengal. BJP had successfully sold the dream of a separate state to people of Darjeeling and the fears of balkanization were rife. Unlike your predecessor, who had rarely visited and has always overlooked the hills, which could be easily gauged from the lack of development in all their social spheres, you went for an official visit there as soon as you took charge. You attempted to resolve their issues while fighting to retain Darjeeling as an integral part of Bengal. Your ingenious method of using welfare mechanisms as a weapon to combat Maoist influence was a step in the right direction. You started to lead with an iron fist and had made a brave beginning in solving the two most difficult puzzles of our state. We were on the right course, thought many like me. Strangely enough, personally I went through a similar experience. I started taking up all those activities which were once my father’s dominion and started supporting my family in whatever means I could. I was finally becoming their responsible son, something they had hoped during all those years of my upbringing.

Little did we know, that our times would be over soon, so soon. Suddenly to my utter amazement, you started doing and telling things, which as an ardent supporter of yours, I was terribly ashamed of. I was disappointed when a JU professor had to witness the tyranny of the state controlled police, for drawing a satirical cartoon portraying the then political scenario. You could have just debated that whether the cartoon was made in the best taste or best case just ignore the same. But what you did was appalling and inexcusable. You used power of the state to harass the man, only to find out later to your embarrassment that the judiciary pronounced their verdict against you and your coercive methods. You had started to behave like the shoddily caricatured version of those portaryed and this episode bore striking resemblance to the Charlie Hebdo incident. A similar event unfolded later, where a poor farmer questioned you about the rising price of fertilizers. You again took unnecessary offence and charged a deprived and reduced man of being a dreaded Maoist and a pseudo-seditionist. Instead of answering him with facts and figures, you resorted to the easier rebuttal mechanism, shutting him up! He probably would have no clue about why he had to undergo such torture and humiliation for just asking his ‘Didi’ an innocent question, which involved feeding his underprivileged family. Off late, you started raising questions about the state of tolerance in our country. May I ask you, where was your tolerance when you decided to put these men behind bars, one for a drawing a cartoon and the other for asking a relevant question? Or, do I have to believe that just like the lesser mortals, you also lose prudence and lack judgment when the attack is personal?

But then I am a believer, I greedily lapped up the dream of socially stronger and financially healthier Bengal and was no way ready to part with my reverie. But what followed in the subsequent years, was nowhere close to the dream you had showed us; truth be spoken, your regime turned out to be worst nightmare for many like me. Members of your party were embroiled in one controversy after another and were convicted in multiple financial scams starting from installation of trident tight towers across the city, to the mother of all, the Sarada scam. Your transport minister (who is retained and is also fighting this election from jail) was put behind the bars on charges of financial improprieties and aiding the scam stars who defrauded millions of already financially distressed people. These were the very same people who voted you to power. You created a high level committee for eye washing and instituted a government fund to reimburse all of them. But we both know, most of them haven’t got what they lost. Instead of using the might of the state to get to the core of the issue and pin down all who were guilty, you chose to trivialize the issue. You consciously started shielding all those from your party who might have had a role to play in this man-made-disaster. What was surprisingly tragic was that you of all people did that, someone whom I thought could never be questioned on integrity. Occasional mis-spoken words/statements: YES, spells of insanity: YES, doubt over honesty: Never. But then you have started to prove me wrong and my Utopian world has started to crumble like a sand castle.

After 34 years of Left rule, nothing much was left in our state, barring very few enterprises and a poor state of health and education. The Left Front govt.  had done substantially well to evade progress by banning English language and computers in formative years of our childhood. What was expected out of you was to usher in a wave of reforms and developments in all the concerned areas by tackling the problem fundamentally. Instead you took the populist approach, by opening low-cost medicine stores and free medical services in Government hospitals. What you comfortably overlooked and forgot, is the existing structure and state of our state health department. They were reeling from years of mismanagement, lack of proper medical infrastructure, corrupt doctors evolving from the private healthcare practices. You did absolutely nothing to address them at the grass root level, just made them low priced or free. The result was inevitable, further maladministration and denial of services to the needy. Furthermore, you choose a certain minister for the health department, whose commitment towards his own pet was found to be more than dying patients awaiting medical assistance. You didn’t say a word or move a muscle. I was ashamed, again.

You kept beautifying the city with white-blue colors, well I am not denigrating it, but in doing so, you showed scant regard for the sorry state of Bengal’s finances, to the debt amounts to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees that Bengal had to repay. However, when questioned on the state’s progress, you masqueraded those deficit numbers as a deterrent to financial stability and autonomy of the state. However all through your tenure as the state supremo, you became Santa Claus and kept on gifting large sums of money regularly to the local clubs of the state, hosted multitude of state fairs burning a hole in state’s purse, started felicitating and awarding large sums of money to distinguished Illuminati of Bengal. Again Didi, there is nothing wrong in gifting cash to clubs, but do you have a mechanism in place to check whether they are being spent in the intended manner and have you ever questioned what level of community welfare comes from installing cable television in local club to watch movies and sports? Also, felicitating achievers from various walks of life is not a problem, but if most of those land up being a member of your party, then uncomfortable questions do arise. And also, the money which goes in arranging such events comes from the not-so-strong exchequer. There were areas in administration that needed your immediate attention and you, instead of being frugal, came across as throwing money at anything and everything.

For the last five years, there were so many incidents where you made me feel terribly sorry that I once supported you. When the state is lacking positive growth, how can you deny Infosys to set up their office? Do you even know the growth of towns like Mysore, Bhubaneswar post the Infosys era? I am sure you do, but it’s just that you didn’t care. You didn’t care for millions of youth like me who are now far away from the state in search of a lucrative career. You kept on passing the buck while another generation migrated out of your state looking for greener pastures. How could you trivialize a heinous incident of gang rape in Park Street? For heaven’s sake, weren’t we talking about violating a women’s dignity here. Instead of making irresponsible, callous statements and instructing the police forces to come down heavily on the convicts, you belittled the incident and transferred the senior police officer in question to a vanilla posting. You know, my first memory of you is that of a brave woman who could look into the eyes of the establishment without fear and fight for justice, who could be severely beaten but never broken, someone who could change the course of this state. You kept organizing this opulent ‘Bengal Leads’ program, but who are we fooling here? We both know that Bengal is not leading in anything. On the contrary, we are going back at the speed of knots, as we speak. But you know Didi, I am also a lesser mortal like you. In the last couple of years, I also left Kolkata, disappointed my parents and family.  I went for that shining future leaving my parents behind. I failed them, just because I wanted a better life for myself, just like you failed your bigger family, the Bengal we dreamt of. And now with the state in total disarray, I am not sure whether I will ever come back to Kolkata, my city of dreams, my city of joy. You have made things very difficult for many like me, who would prefer to come back to Kolkata, but cannot. You just made all of us look selfish and self-centered in front of our parents and family.

Last week, the Posta Flyover came crashing down due to its structural instability. You know, it wasn’t just that. No, it wasn’t the flyover which came down, there was more to it. It was just a metaphor. What really happened was severe crushing of the hopes, dreams, aspirations of millions of people who voted for you, people like me who supported you no matter what. You have failed me and millions like me, you have failed Bengal. You single handedly have shattered our dreams.

The death count is not 25, Didi, it’s in millions, death of many dreams!!! But do you care? Do you really care?


Someone in utter despair

The blog was originally published here.


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