It was a bloodless coup. As whole Bengal was celebrating Holi, a group of intellectuals attended a press conference to profess their support for TMC candidate from Balurghat, Arpita Ghosh. Among those endorsing her were some of the major left leaning intellectuals of the state much to the chagrin of the party cadres and supporters.
Person over party?
Arindam Sil, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Subodh Sarkar are some of the recent entrant to the “paribartan” (change) bandwagon. Among all who professed allegiance to TMC these three were most close to the Left. While Rudraprasad tried to rationalise the flip-flop, Arindam was much more blatant about it saying Left was no longer a viable option. Arpita Ghosh is herself a veteran theatre artist who openly professed her support to didi at a time many were hesitant to pick a side. Arpita landed in controversy for her alleged closeness to Saradha supremo Sudipto Sen. But all those seems to be buried in past as leading intellectuals gave glowing endorsement to her. They hoped that the poor condition of the artists can be highlighted by Arpita in Loksabha. Many intellectuals said that they are lending their weight to one of their own, keeping party affiliations aside.
Left supporters shocked
The left cadres and supporters are though evidently not amused. Just as the news of this political reverse swing tricked in; Facebook walls were littered with messages of disbelief, grief and anger. Message like “Dan ba bam noi, era beiman” (They are neither right nor left, merely traitors) were to be seen. Conspiracy theories like intellectuals angling to get ticket for 2015 Kolkata municipal elections were also floated by some of the supporters.
Main behind the coup
The main architect behind this mass defection from Left camp is state education minister and theatre artist Bratyo Basu. Subodh Sarkar even went on to say that Bratya was the only person who stood beside him after the demise of her wife. Hence he couldn’t reject Bratya’s request to campaign for Arpita Ghosh. According to many, Bratya’s standing in TMC’S hierarchy is likely to get a lift after engineering such much deluge. There seems to be a beginning of disillusionment with TMC within the urban middle class. The party will hope that it can consolidate its vote bank firmly in the city bastions.
Lone man standing
As I mentioned in my blogpost, “The disappearing civil society of Bengal”, there is an acute dearth of truly neutral budhijibi (intellectual) in Bengal. Crony activism it seems to have now eclipsed the genuine urge to be the voice of conscience of the needy and downtrodden. In all these controversy, Kaushik Sen seems to be a rare breed of intellectual who has maintained an element of neutrality in his views. Just as he protested against Nandigram and Singur incident, he has been vocal against allegedly intolerant behaviour of the current administration. Kaushik has minced no word about this latest round of volte face from prominent left leaning intellectuals. He opines that most people want to be part of the power centre to curry favours. He terms this flip flop as a brazen opportunistic venture in that path. This has evoked a fresh round of controversy with intellectuals under fire vehemently denying the accusation. One may never know the true reason but it raises a serious question about idealism and probity in public life. Whether the soft influence Left enjoyed in the cultural front has completely been obliterated is also a question worth venturing. But in all of it, civil society in its true form is well and truly dead. Long live civil society!!!