Friday, November 26, 2010

Just lies and audiotapes...damn!

This post is in the fond hope that it will add a miniscule fizz to what hopefully the newspapers will call a "social networking tsunami" to protest possible journalistic wrongdoings. The jury is out on Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi (et tu?), but here's some more discussion on the issue from the Open Magazine.

Rude food might not taste the same again, Vir. Barkha, you've done well for yourself. Can you turn the table and expose this expose now?

What next? The Hindu is owned by Rupert Murdoch, Narendra Modi is a Maoist, and Mamata Banerjee lied about Rajarhaat's 25k acres? Oh wait, is one of them true already?

London Dreams

I heard that the next time I go to Calcutta, our plane will land at Heathrow instead of Netaji Subhash Airport. Calcutta, after all, is about to metamorphose into London. Or, so Trinamool said. Mamata Banerjee said "LawnDon".

Noble intentions! So, do I see the Trinamool Mayor working on any plan of making good of the promises? Like making the strand anything like what we have with Thames? Or, perhaps, formalizing a plan of restricting cars in the central business districts? Or, using some innovative tax schemes to raise more money? Or, anything?

Of course, I don't know the answer. But will he? Is there any honest intention to make the election promise worthwhile? Doesn't seem so, especially when the great and busy Mayor doesn't have time to attent honest initiatives for the city's development. Perhaps, he is waiting for Mamata to be the CM. After that, the British suggestions and sponsorships will suddenly start making sense.

I believe Trinamool when they say they are anti-Left. Sadly, they do not invoke a shadow of a speck of a drop of a pinch of an iota of trust when they spell out their development plans. Sorry sister, I can't call you a liar, 'cause that would be unparliamentary. However, you and your party make absurd electoral promises that remain untrue till date, unless you get a special freight corridor to transplant Whitehall and the entire Piccadily to Kalighat next week. I am bheri shawry to say that you need to peddle stronger dopes to sustain the London dreams (hallucinations) you sold.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

So Long Sachar Sahab!

"The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded immediate arrest of Trinamool Congress MP Haji Nurul Islam for his alleged role in inciting a mob into communal frenzy at Debganga in North 24 Parganas district. Nurul Islam's name figures in the FIR lodged by local people."

BJP demands arrest of Haji Nurul from The Pioneer
Trinamool will continue harbouring such elements if it doesn't give up politics of expediency, which makes really really strange bedfellows.

Trinamool's Policy on Land Acquisition

While Trinamool endorses state-centered development models (or does it? nobody knows when the policy gets changed by the whims of one person!), it is resolutely market-oriented when it comes to land acquisition. Why?

The stated reason is to remove irregularities that come from government intervention in the land acquisition process. So what about the irregularities that come from direct market intervention? The Trinamool economist, Abhirup Sarkar from ISI, said on a TV show yesterday that both are comparable. Pity how a whiff of power corrupts basic economic logic!

I do not need to have a doctorate degree to understand the simple fact that the government, no matter how tyrrannical it might be, will be held accountable and it cannot, one fine morning, "go out of business". Trinamool's big promise of remedying the Left's ills rests on the fact that Left might go but the government of West Bengal stays and will be held accountable by people, courts, and the next incumbent. Can we say the same about private realtors and agents? If a strongman employed by a business house gets land deeds transferred to a party who sells it to somebody who resells it (all can be done in a matter of months), will the current owner be accountable for the irregularities? The key culprit, the strongman, would be untraceable and people will be left with nobody to fight with.

Think about how RBI is monitoring the flow of money in the speculative bond and equity markets. The government reserves its rights to intervene if there are anomalies or signs of overheating in the market. Going by Trinamool's logic, government will have to stand mute even if land sharks push up the land price by speculative trading.

Market definitely has a role, a rather prominent role. But government cannot be out of the loop completely. Let's not take extremist positions and deny either's role. Let government and market work together (the much vaunted yet unrealized PPP model of the Rail Minister) to ensure efficiency and sustainability in land acquisition.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vacillating Beauty

Ever wonder how Trinamool and its chief try to forge consensus by ostensibly putting together all parties? Krishi and Shilpo (agriculture and industry), Maoists and common people, Suvaprasanno and Kabir Suman? Initially it appeared to be an honest approach to embrace the real dialectic in the polity. As time goes by, we begin to see the other side.

Let me start by saying that theTrinamool chief has changed her strategy post 2007. Earlier whatever she did, she did with a single-minded zeal. Now, her single mindedness has shrunk to dislodging the Left, and given the manner her party is gnawing at the party machinery of another anti-Left force, Congress, it seems that staying at the Writer's for at least 10 years is the only thing that she looks at. In short, she has narrowed her goal and taken any position on other issues to achieve the goal.

That's why Trinamool has had so many disparate bedfellows, from extreme Left to the extreme Right. That's why her favorite Suvaprasanno's favorite line used to be, "Mamata shob miliye debey." (Mamata will make East and West meet. Sorry, that's a rather free translation.) While this shows tactical brilliance, such heterogenity in ideology does not speak well of the political vision of a party. Most enemies of Congress would agree that it retains its appeal because of its ability to address Indians at both ends of the prosperity spectrum (not 2G apparently). Vajpayee still remains BJP's most popular face because of his inclusiveness. And before Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's gaffe of "Ora and Amra" (Them and Us), Left used to be quite heterdox socially (barring the Capitalists of course). Left's lack of comfort with capital seemed to change with Bhattacharya, but, nowhere in all the three political parties did we have such huge contradictions plastered over with facile soundbites.

Ask the Trinamool chief if Maoists are a problem, and she'd start with a disclaimer that she doesn't know about Maoists. Quickly, next, she'd say that Marxists are Maoists and are responsible for the Gyaneshwari train wreck. However, she'd end by saying that Maoists are common people and she'd welcome if they gave up violence. What exactly is your point, dear?

I am not saying that Maoists should be killed OR welcomed into the Writer's, but, for sanity's sake, let's agree that they exist and that they do not always agree to the law of the land. We might show compassion, try to understand their motivation, and call for an armistice. But how on earth will one formulate any state policy if anybody doesn't know what they are and what they want. The Left have their policy with the Maoists and I'd have liked to see more scope of investment in infrastructure in that policy. Well, there is a scope for improvement. Congress has a broad consensus as well. How will Trinamool manage to engage with Maoists if they believe that the Left are the Maoists?

This absurdity of perception invades other policymaking as well. Mumbai aspires to be Shanghai, another Third World city that has acquired First World infrastructure and status. What does Mamata Banerjee's Calcutta aspire to be? London. Well yes, London, the capital of an erstwhile global empire. Do you here the L-word since Trinamool came in power? I guess we we all know the answer.

I do not doubt the capability of certain individuals in Trinamool, Subrata Mukherjee for instance. He managed the KMC pretty well during his term. But the policymaking body in Trinamool, which unfortunately is the body of an individual, is willfully opaque on key issues for an expedient alliance against the Left. Such opacity doesn't speak for governance or democratic responsibility. Congress, even at the cost of losing votes, sticks to stationing the joint forces in Maoist-dominated areas. Trinamool can learn something about democratic responsibility from them.

Trinamool succeeds because of anti-Left feelings among people. It doesn't have too many positive things about it, and not many reasons that it can defend itself with. That's why, when accused of anything, they would inevitably point fingers at Left and mention the 34-year-old rule. If a party has to point at another party's mistakes to justify its own programme, can you call it a party of governance? Or, would you call it a vacillating beauty balancing on pogo sticks in the fond hope that people would love its antics on stage and would cheer when it crashes into the dens of power?

Is Rajarhaat Another Singur?

I do not think Rajarhaat will be another Singur for Mamata. With Singur, the objective was really limited. And, no, it was not getting the land back for she knows full well how diffcult that can be. In Singur she wanted to make an impact, and so she did, by allowing her partymen to manhandle the Tata employees. It was about making one organization, the Tatas, uncomfortable.

In Rajarhaat she won't dare to launch anything big simply because more people are involved. If she manages to intimidate residents of one apartment complex, she'd plant cold fear in the hearts of lakhs of middle-class homeowners who have invested in Rajarhaat. Also, there is a big chance that Gautam Deb might call her bluff with his shrill and relentless communication campaign in various media. Trinamool shouldn't dare to go in there unless their chief is severely misguided.

What do you think about it?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why I Say No To Trinamool

Why do I need to bother if Trinamool comes to power? I used to think that what can be worse and all. It seems Trinamool will be worse.

  1. It is a thoroughly undemocratic party that runs on the whims and fancies of one person. Sonia Gandhi has to balance the regional Congress satrapies. Left has to balance the district lobbies. Mamata Banerjee doesn't have any such needs. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and it is already showing.
  2. Since nobody inside her party can criticize her, she has asked the Left to not ask questions for 10 years. Should the people of West Bengal be silent for 10 years as well? Pray, for what?
  3. Notice her deep-seated desire to be "seen" as an administrator, which is good if planned. But, she, in her eagerness, doesn't care for any principles of governance. She has been embarking on projects that'll "market" her well. Such superfluous preoccupations will continue even after her party comes to power.
  4. Notice on her ambiguity: in speech after speech, she would "hint" at Left sabotaging the railways. Nowhere she presents proof.
  5. How feasible is her assertion that government will not have any role to play in facilitating land acquisition? What would stop the Left to plant a mole in all all proposed acquisition areas and ask the person to keep refusing offers, almost exactly the same thing she has been doing?
I say no to Trinamool because it justifies all its policies by the recent electoral successes, a position that is primarily majoritorian and might lead to despotic tendencies once elected. I will continue saying no to trinamool till it brings inner-party democracy (not the facade of committes because the chief can't manage the bulk) and has anything other than anti-Leftism to offer.