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Battleground Bengal: It’s Indian democracy at stake!

Certain media outfits are calling the Bengal polls ‘historic’. Particularly, the contest in Nandigram.  

Amit Sengupta 04 Apr 2021

BengalImage: Amit Sengupta / SabrangIndia
 

Is it, truly so? How come?

So why was a sitting chief minister, elected for two-terms earlier, camping outside a polling booth in Nandigram in this suffocating heat, on a wheel chair, her one foot in plaster? What was the point in this public spectacle?

Some journalists and self-styled prophet psephologists using academic jargons (identity politics etc) seem to have they gauged the public mood with such meticulous and scientific precision that they are out to create a wave for the BJP in the media! How logical and rational is that, even while journalists on the ground are trying hard to objectively report trends and the pulse, not jumping to conclusions, even while most voters are too intelligent and measured, while they choose to be tight-lipped or go round and round in circles before opening their hearts out? 

How come some of these experts and journos only see Bengal through the prism of identity and religion? Or, suddenly become shrill in terms of the anti-TMC vote, even while seemingly going soft and mushy on the BJP and CPM?

Historic, is it? Unprecedented, in the history of Indian elections ever since Independence?

Yes, perhaps, it is, considering protocol and convention has been basically dumped in contemporary India, and so has decency and dignity, more so in the dominant discourse and narrative. Something unprecedented and historic seems to be happening each day, and it is out there as a vicious, existential, public spectacle, as negative as it can be, and much of it is in bad taste and bad faith.

Consider for instance the misogynist, xenophobic and communally polarizing speeches by the BJP candidate in Nandigram, targeting the chief minister, and how his party has allowed it, and so has apparently the Election Commission (EC)! Why?

The rise of one-dimensional Hindutva machine unilaterally backed by certain corporates, with all its money and muscle power, and a formidable State machinery at its disposal – this is historic and unprecedented in Bengal. Especially so, in what is essentially a secular, pluralist, syncretic social space, besides the great, progressive, revolutionary, intellectual, aesthetic and cultural inheritance of Bengal.

However, what could be actually historic is that whatever be the outcome of the elections, Indian democracy will be fully tested on the soil of Bengal, though there are important polls in four other states, including Pondicherry. Barring Pondicherry, in all the other three states of Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP is on a sticky wicket.  That is why in Assam, predictably, its back to hate politics and the communal card. The first, last and only trump card they have, when everything else fails.

However, the BJP-RSS seem to want only Bengal, and only Bengal, at any cost! This is a longing they have unleashed as melodrama, a public spectacle, which they just don’t want to lose.

Hence, it’s a test for Indian democracy.

The difficult and depressing questions rocking an anxious Bengal, especially among its secular citizens, are inevitable and uncanny: Will these be fair and free elections? Will the EVMs be fudged? Will victory be changed into defeat and vice-versa – as it happened in the final phase in Bihar – which is a widespread belief not only in Bihar but all over the country! Are the EVM machines fool-proof? Can they be manipulated? Is the Election Commission and the Election Commissioner specially, truly neutral and impartial, or is it what it appears to be in the eyes of the opposition, especially Trinamool leaders?  Is the EC controlled by Amit Shah, as Mamata Banerjee has alleged repeatedly? 

Historic, yes, if the sanctity of the election process and the results are not only protected, but also seen to be protected! In a context that Indian democracy, constitutional structures and inherited institutions seem to be in fragile state in contemporary India, and where dissent and dissenters are branded as anti-national by the dominant discourse, hounded, profiled and packed off to jail, or condemned as Khalistanis, etc, as it happened with thousands of peaceful farmers still camping in Delhi’s borders, these polls are truly historic.

It will finally prove that even Bengal will have to answer the call of secular democracy and its pluralist intellectual and political inheritance. More than that, it will prove, if India is truly a democracy, or, is it, as two international think-tanks recently declared, a ‘partially free democracy’, and an ‘elected autocracy’.

The American non-profit outfit, Freedom House, whose annual reports are an important index, downgraded India into a “partially free democracy” from – a free democracy. The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, based in Sweden, said categorically: “The world’s largest democracy has turned into an electoral autocracy.”

Besides, whatever happened to that mysterious car belonging to a BJP candidate in Assam with EVM machines? How come only some poll officials are suspended – what about the candidate himself? So, if there is one car belonging to a BJP candidate loaded with EVM machines, how can it be denied that there won’t be many more similar cars? It reminds of similar allegations of disappearing EVMS in 2019, widely shared on social media.

Why has this fear entrenched itself inside the hearts of Indian citizens that their votes can be manipulated in favour of one particular party? Will it lead to mass resentment and anger, or will elections itself turn out to be meaningless, a farce enacted for the gallery, its results predestined? So, then, will India slowly become like Russia and China, with an eternal head of state, ruling forever, immortal and infinite?

Surely, it has taken a while for this uncanny feeling to become universal and widespread across the Indian landscape and in Bengal currently. Also,  the fear that even if MLAs are elected in the symbol of one party, they can be bought over by the richest party in India -- lock, stock and barrel, as in Goa, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, name it. Is it the new pre-poll and post-poll code in India – if you lose, cool, some MLAs can always be poached, isn’t it? That is, if you indeed manage to lose!

Hence, why is Mamata Banerjee saying this in a public rally at Dinhata, Coochbehar, North Bengal? “Do you know why I went to a booth in Nandigram yesterday and sat there? BJP’s goons, who had come from outside the state, had gathered there with guns. They were all speaking in some other language.”

She also said, “I am winning from Nandigram but this election is not about me. You have to assure that TMC should win more than 200 seats, otherwise BJP will use their money power to buy traitors.”

The West Bengal assembly has 294 seats. Earlier, in her last rally at Nandigram, she had accused her BJP opponent, without naming him, of being a gaddaar, vishwasghati and Mir Jaffer. She had alleged that his plan was to win on a Trinamool ticket and then hijack 40 MLAs to the BJP!

Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has tweeted, pointing to the incident in Assam: “Every time there is an election, videos of private vehicles caught transporting EVMs show up. Unsurprisingly, they have the following things in common: 1. The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates. 2. The videos are taken as one-off incidents and dismissed as aberrations. 3. The BJP uses its media machinery to accuse those who exposed the videos as sore losers.”  She has appealed to all parties to seriously reevaluate the functioning of the EVMs.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a press meet,  “The Election (EC) Commission’s car broke down and a BJP candidate Krishnendu Paul arrived with his car. The EC was transporting the EVMs in his car. In all of Assam, you (EC) only found the BJP candidate’s car?”

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, tweeted, “High time ECI (Extinct Credibility of India) should be disbanded & BJP should fully take over all its functioning, instead of running the show from behind. In Bihar elections, ECI itself rigged elections & results partnering with bureaucracy on behest of BJP & JDU. #EVMS.”

That is why what happened on polling day in Nandigram is truly unprecedented and historic. Never before it seems it has happened that a two-term chief minister of a state, and a feisty mass leader since decades who rode to power riding a mass movement and land struggle against a formidable CPM machinery, would visit a polling booth on polling day and stay put for two hours in this heat, sitting on a wheel chair, just to ensure that the booth is not captured by her opponents, that the EVMs are not manipulated, that people are allowed to vote without fear, and that there is free and fair elections.

This is precisely what happened on April I in Nandigram, and all signs on the ground indicate that her move was strategic and successful, and that her main opponent and his party got totally foxed. Whatever be the final outcome of the result – it raises too many questions.

Mamata Banerjee made her way to the Boyal polling booth number 7 in Nandigram block one after it was reported that the Trinamool booth agent was not allowed to enter the booth. Clearly, she took everyone by surprise, especially the BJP, and perhaps the officials of the Election Commission as well. Despite her meetings and rallies outside Nandigram, she has been camping here, clearly giving a signal that no hanky-panky will be allowed.  Did she succeed?

So, whatever happened in Boyal?

She camped there for two hours, the entire media collected outside, the police and administration were in full alert, EC officials especially, TMC women and men supporters clashed with BJP supporters, the entire area and nearby constituencies with huge minority population got galvanized, polling became intense, more women joined in the queue, she was given extra protection, and voting happened in full bloom. All is well that ends well.

Clearly, her main purpose was to ensure that no booth capturing will be allowed, that no bias if seen will be accepted, and that she is out there to ensure free and fair polls. Most importantly, it’s a message to the people of Bengal and India that if people, especially large sections of women, are voting for her party, those votes just can’t be hijacked anymore, at the booth, in the EVM machine, or, in the last instance, after polling. In other words, she is only sharing a deep-rooted, collective apprehension, that come what may, victory or defeat, the elections and the EVMs should not be fudged .

In any case she and her party leaders have been routinely accusing the EC of open bias and partisan behaviour, and the West Bengal chief minister has said that the EC works at the behest of Amit Shah who has been leading the battle for his party, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president JP Nadda, with repeated and hyped up visits, direct attacks against her, and much hyperbole about winning absolute majority. He claimed that the BJP will win 26 out of 30 seats in the first round.

In the last rally in a village in Nandigram block one, Mamata Banerjee took a dig at Amit Shah. “Why not 30 out of 30?” she asked sarcastically. “Did you capture the booth? Or did you yourself go and vote out there? Or have you installed BJP's lotus on the voting machine?"

She said that people will take all the trouble to come and vote for the Trinamool symbol of jora phool (two flowers) and that vote will be transferred into a lotus! That will just not be allowed.

She had then asked all the mothers and sisters in the rally dominated by the scheduled caste community and Muslims, especially women, who seem to be her ardent admirers and staunch supporters, that they should come out in the morning with their kitchen utensils (haata, khunti, belan) and stay till late night, till the boxes are sealed, to ensure free and fair elections, and to stop goons from capturing the booths.

The signal was too apparent to be ignored, even as her speech was shown live on TV and her audience thereby stretched beyond this agricultural field in rural Nandigram to the whole of Bengal. Indeed, that speech was loaded with messages, warnings, symbolism, idealism, confidence, the fact she and her party “will not give away even one inch” in this battle.
Indeed, TMC MP Mohua Moitra and her party leaders have pointed out that the EC quickly agreed to the appointment of booth agents from outside (namely UP and Bihar) at the behest of the BJP; why was this allowed, and when there has been no such precedence in the past? This too indeed is ‘historic’. Surely, an all party meeting and collective consensus was required, said top TMC leaders.  Besides, they said, the BJP is thin in terms of cadre, so they are really short of booth agents. “A party which does not have booth agents, how can they claim a clean sweep,” they ask.

Political observers argue that the PM going to a Hindu temple worshipped by the Matua community, which is an important voting constituency during the poll campaign, was a clear violation of protocol and code of conduct. “Look at the timing, while polling has started, and the Matua community is yet to vote in their strongholds. What if someone had gone to a dargah, a mosque – the BJP would immediately call it Muslim appeasement,” said a political observer.

Mamata Banerjee did not mince words at Dinhata soon after: “Elections are underway and he went to Bangladesh. People in Bengal are not fools. Everybody knows why he went to Bangladesh.”

In the last rally at Nandigram, she asked Rajya Sabha MP Dola Sen to sing a few songs before she began her speech, while they waited for more people to join in the audience, claiming they had been blocked. “They can’t get people in their own rallies, they get outsiders and security forces for Amit Shah’s road show, and then they stop our supporters,” she claimed

Dola Sen sang beautifully no doubt,  revolutionary songs of struggle and idealism, with Mamata Banerjee clapping and joining in: Laraai, Hamla, and the legendary IPTA favourite by Salil Choudhury, Heyi samhalo dhan ho. Songs of struggle and great idealism. The songs resurrected the memories of the movement in Nandigram in 2007. The slogan of Ma, Maati, Manush – was back.

Mamata Banerjee ended her speech with a long spell of revolutionary slogans: for farmers, women, secularism. And then she said, repeating the No Vote to BJP campaign, BJP ke ektao vote deben na

Women in the front raw, full of passion, enthusiasm and joy, joined her in the slogans, hands raised and fist clenched. And then she stood up on one leg, and sang the national anthem, with her party leaders, and the people.

The signals and symbolism were all there to decode. The anthem for the protection of a secular, egalitarian, pluralist Indian democracy, and its Constitution, became a living reality in Nandigram. As much as the call for free and fair elections!

This synthesis too was a public spectacle, unprecedented and historic. And it is just the beginning. For Bengal, and for India!

 

Related:

Battleground Bengal: So, is it Advantage Didi in Singur and its neighbourhood?

Battleground Bengal: Notes from Furfura Sharif and village bylanes

Battleground Bengal: Security adviser’s powers seized

Battleground Bengal: Not one Vote for BJP finds a curious resonance

Battleground Bengal: Lukewarm response to Modi rally at Brigade Ground

Battleground Bengal: It’s Indian democracy at stake!

Certain media outfits are calling the Bengal polls ‘historic’. Particularly, the contest in Nandigram.  

BengalImage: Amit Sengupta / SabrangIndia
 

Is it, truly so? How come?

So why was a sitting chief minister, elected for two-terms earlier, camping outside a polling booth in Nandigram in this suffocating heat, on a wheel chair, her one foot in plaster? What was the point in this public spectacle?

Some journalists and self-styled prophet psephologists using academic jargons (identity politics etc) seem to have they gauged the public mood with such meticulous and scientific precision that they are out to create a wave for the BJP in the media! How logical and rational is that, even while journalists on the ground are trying hard to objectively report trends and the pulse, not jumping to conclusions, even while most voters are too intelligent and measured, while they choose to be tight-lipped or go round and round in circles before opening their hearts out? 

How come some of these experts and journos only see Bengal through the prism of identity and religion? Or, suddenly become shrill in terms of the anti-TMC vote, even while seemingly going soft and mushy on the BJP and CPM?

Historic, is it? Unprecedented, in the history of Indian elections ever since Independence?

Yes, perhaps, it is, considering protocol and convention has been basically dumped in contemporary India, and so has decency and dignity, more so in the dominant discourse and narrative. Something unprecedented and historic seems to be happening each day, and it is out there as a vicious, existential, public spectacle, as negative as it can be, and much of it is in bad taste and bad faith.

Consider for instance the misogynist, xenophobic and communally polarizing speeches by the BJP candidate in Nandigram, targeting the chief minister, and how his party has allowed it, and so has apparently the Election Commission (EC)! Why?

The rise of one-dimensional Hindutva machine unilaterally backed by certain corporates, with all its money and muscle power, and a formidable State machinery at its disposal – this is historic and unprecedented in Bengal. Especially so, in what is essentially a secular, pluralist, syncretic social space, besides the great, progressive, revolutionary, intellectual, aesthetic and cultural inheritance of Bengal.

However, what could be actually historic is that whatever be the outcome of the elections, Indian democracy will be fully tested on the soil of Bengal, though there are important polls in four other states, including Pondicherry. Barring Pondicherry, in all the other three states of Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP is on a sticky wicket.  That is why in Assam, predictably, its back to hate politics and the communal card. The first, last and only trump card they have, when everything else fails.

However, the BJP-RSS seem to want only Bengal, and only Bengal, at any cost! This is a longing they have unleashed as melodrama, a public spectacle, which they just don’t want to lose.

Hence, it’s a test for Indian democracy.

The difficult and depressing questions rocking an anxious Bengal, especially among its secular citizens, are inevitable and uncanny: Will these be fair and free elections? Will the EVMs be fudged? Will victory be changed into defeat and vice-versa – as it happened in the final phase in Bihar – which is a widespread belief not only in Bihar but all over the country! Are the EVM machines fool-proof? Can they be manipulated? Is the Election Commission and the Election Commissioner specially, truly neutral and impartial, or is it what it appears to be in the eyes of the opposition, especially Trinamool leaders?  Is the EC controlled by Amit Shah, as Mamata Banerjee has alleged repeatedly? 

Historic, yes, if the sanctity of the election process and the results are not only protected, but also seen to be protected! In a context that Indian democracy, constitutional structures and inherited institutions seem to be in fragile state in contemporary India, and where dissent and dissenters are branded as anti-national by the dominant discourse, hounded, profiled and packed off to jail, or condemned as Khalistanis, etc, as it happened with thousands of peaceful farmers still camping in Delhi’s borders, these polls are truly historic.

It will finally prove that even Bengal will have to answer the call of secular democracy and its pluralist intellectual and political inheritance. More than that, it will prove, if India is truly a democracy, or, is it, as two international think-tanks recently declared, a ‘partially free democracy’, and an ‘elected autocracy’.

The American non-profit outfit, Freedom House, whose annual reports are an important index, downgraded India into a “partially free democracy” from – a free democracy. The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, based in Sweden, said categorically: “The world’s largest democracy has turned into an electoral autocracy.”

Besides, whatever happened to that mysterious car belonging to a BJP candidate in Assam with EVM machines? How come only some poll officials are suspended – what about the candidate himself? So, if there is one car belonging to a BJP candidate loaded with EVM machines, how can it be denied that there won’t be many more similar cars? It reminds of similar allegations of disappearing EVMS in 2019, widely shared on social media.

Why has this fear entrenched itself inside the hearts of Indian citizens that their votes can be manipulated in favour of one particular party? Will it lead to mass resentment and anger, or will elections itself turn out to be meaningless, a farce enacted for the gallery, its results predestined? So, then, will India slowly become like Russia and China, with an eternal head of state, ruling forever, immortal and infinite?

Surely, it has taken a while for this uncanny feeling to become universal and widespread across the Indian landscape and in Bengal currently. Also,  the fear that even if MLAs are elected in the symbol of one party, they can be bought over by the richest party in India -- lock, stock and barrel, as in Goa, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, name it. Is it the new pre-poll and post-poll code in India – if you lose, cool, some MLAs can always be poached, isn’t it? That is, if you indeed manage to lose!

Hence, why is Mamata Banerjee saying this in a public rally at Dinhata, Coochbehar, North Bengal? “Do you know why I went to a booth in Nandigram yesterday and sat there? BJP’s goons, who had come from outside the state, had gathered there with guns. They were all speaking in some other language.”

She also said, “I am winning from Nandigram but this election is not about me. You have to assure that TMC should win more than 200 seats, otherwise BJP will use their money power to buy traitors.”

The West Bengal assembly has 294 seats. Earlier, in her last rally at Nandigram, she had accused her BJP opponent, without naming him, of being a gaddaar, vishwasghati and Mir Jaffer. She had alleged that his plan was to win on a Trinamool ticket and then hijack 40 MLAs to the BJP!

Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has tweeted, pointing to the incident in Assam: “Every time there is an election, videos of private vehicles caught transporting EVMs show up. Unsurprisingly, they have the following things in common: 1. The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates. 2. The videos are taken as one-off incidents and dismissed as aberrations. 3. The BJP uses its media machinery to accuse those who exposed the videos as sore losers.”  She has appealed to all parties to seriously reevaluate the functioning of the EVMs.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a press meet,  “The Election (EC) Commission’s car broke down and a BJP candidate Krishnendu Paul arrived with his car. The EC was transporting the EVMs in his car. In all of Assam, you (EC) only found the BJP candidate’s car?”

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, tweeted, “High time ECI (Extinct Credibility of India) should be disbanded & BJP should fully take over all its functioning, instead of running the show from behind. In Bihar elections, ECI itself rigged elections & results partnering with bureaucracy on behest of BJP & JDU. #EVMS.”

That is why what happened on polling day in Nandigram is truly unprecedented and historic. Never before it seems it has happened that a two-term chief minister of a state, and a feisty mass leader since decades who rode to power riding a mass movement and land struggle against a formidable CPM machinery, would visit a polling booth on polling day and stay put for two hours in this heat, sitting on a wheel chair, just to ensure that the booth is not captured by her opponents, that the EVMs are not manipulated, that people are allowed to vote without fear, and that there is free and fair elections.

This is precisely what happened on April I in Nandigram, and all signs on the ground indicate that her move was strategic and successful, and that her main opponent and his party got totally foxed. Whatever be the final outcome of the result – it raises too many questions.

Mamata Banerjee made her way to the Boyal polling booth number 7 in Nandigram block one after it was reported that the Trinamool booth agent was not allowed to enter the booth. Clearly, she took everyone by surprise, especially the BJP, and perhaps the officials of the Election Commission as well. Despite her meetings and rallies outside Nandigram, she has been camping here, clearly giving a signal that no hanky-panky will be allowed.  Did she succeed?

So, whatever happened in Boyal?

She camped there for two hours, the entire media collected outside, the police and administration were in full alert, EC officials especially, TMC women and men supporters clashed with BJP supporters, the entire area and nearby constituencies with huge minority population got galvanized, polling became intense, more women joined in the queue, she was given extra protection, and voting happened in full bloom. All is well that ends well.

Clearly, her main purpose was to ensure that no booth capturing will be allowed, that no bias if seen will be accepted, and that she is out there to ensure free and fair polls. Most importantly, it’s a message to the people of Bengal and India that if people, especially large sections of women, are voting for her party, those votes just can’t be hijacked anymore, at the booth, in the EVM machine, or, in the last instance, after polling. In other words, she is only sharing a deep-rooted, collective apprehension, that come what may, victory or defeat, the elections and the EVMs should not be fudged .

In any case she and her party leaders have been routinely accusing the EC of open bias and partisan behaviour, and the West Bengal chief minister has said that the EC works at the behest of Amit Shah who has been leading the battle for his party, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president JP Nadda, with repeated and hyped up visits, direct attacks against her, and much hyperbole about winning absolute majority. He claimed that the BJP will win 26 out of 30 seats in the first round.

In the last rally in a village in Nandigram block one, Mamata Banerjee took a dig at Amit Shah. “Why not 30 out of 30?” she asked sarcastically. “Did you capture the booth? Or did you yourself go and vote out there? Or have you installed BJP's lotus on the voting machine?"

She said that people will take all the trouble to come and vote for the Trinamool symbol of jora phool (two flowers) and that vote will be transferred into a lotus! That will just not be allowed.

She had then asked all the mothers and sisters in the rally dominated by the scheduled caste community and Muslims, especially women, who seem to be her ardent admirers and staunch supporters, that they should come out in the morning with their kitchen utensils (haata, khunti, belan) and stay till late night, till the boxes are sealed, to ensure free and fair elections, and to stop goons from capturing the booths.

The signal was too apparent to be ignored, even as her speech was shown live on TV and her audience thereby stretched beyond this agricultural field in rural Nandigram to the whole of Bengal. Indeed, that speech was loaded with messages, warnings, symbolism, idealism, confidence, the fact she and her party “will not give away even one inch” in this battle.
Indeed, TMC MP Mohua Moitra and her party leaders have pointed out that the EC quickly agreed to the appointment of booth agents from outside (namely UP and Bihar) at the behest of the BJP; why was this allowed, and when there has been no such precedence in the past? This too indeed is ‘historic’. Surely, an all party meeting and collective consensus was required, said top TMC leaders.  Besides, they said, the BJP is thin in terms of cadre, so they are really short of booth agents. “A party which does not have booth agents, how can they claim a clean sweep,” they ask.

Political observers argue that the PM going to a Hindu temple worshipped by the Matua community, which is an important voting constituency during the poll campaign, was a clear violation of protocol and code of conduct. “Look at the timing, while polling has started, and the Matua community is yet to vote in their strongholds. What if someone had gone to a dargah, a mosque – the BJP would immediately call it Muslim appeasement,” said a political observer.

Mamata Banerjee did not mince words at Dinhata soon after: “Elections are underway and he went to Bangladesh. People in Bengal are not fools. Everybody knows why he went to Bangladesh.”

In the last rally at Nandigram, she asked Rajya Sabha MP Dola Sen to sing a few songs before she began her speech, while they waited for more people to join in the audience, claiming they had been blocked. “They can’t get people in their own rallies, they get outsiders and security forces for Amit Shah’s road show, and then they stop our supporters,” she claimed

Dola Sen sang beautifully no doubt,  revolutionary songs of struggle and idealism, with Mamata Banerjee clapping and joining in: Laraai, Hamla, and the legendary IPTA favourite by Salil Choudhury, Heyi samhalo dhan ho. Songs of struggle and great idealism. The songs resurrected the memories of the movement in Nandigram in 2007. The slogan of Ma, Maati, Manush – was back.

Mamata Banerjee ended her speech with a long spell of revolutionary slogans: for farmers, women, secularism. And then she said, repeating the No Vote to BJP campaign, BJP ke ektao vote deben na

Women in the front raw, full of passion, enthusiasm and joy, joined her in the slogans, hands raised and fist clenched. And then she stood up on one leg, and sang the national anthem, with her party leaders, and the people.

The signals and symbolism were all there to decode. The anthem for the protection of a secular, egalitarian, pluralist Indian democracy, and its Constitution, became a living reality in Nandigram. As much as the call for free and fair elections!

This synthesis too was a public spectacle, unprecedented and historic. And it is just the beginning. For Bengal, and for India!

 

Related:

Battleground Bengal: So, is it Advantage Didi in Singur and its neighbourhood?

Battleground Bengal: Notes from Furfura Sharif and village bylanes

Battleground Bengal: Security adviser’s powers seized

Battleground Bengal: Not one Vote for BJP finds a curious resonance

Battleground Bengal: Lukewarm response to Modi rally at Brigade Ground

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