ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

The outcome of the West Bengal assembly poll has established the basic point: what the media think is hugely irrelevant. An additional factor contributing to the demolition of Kali the Destroyer is an appraisal of comparative civilisations presented by the two alternatives. Rabindranath Tagore was successful, in the course of the 80 years he lived, in transforming a near-primitive dialect into a rich and refined language; give the lady even six months, she would drag the language down to the gutter. The electorate in West Bengal was not prepared to take the risk.

Scribbling of some notes on the just concluded West Bengal elections seems to be in order. Most of the newspapers are befuddled no end: how come the anti-incumbency factor worked in the other states, but not in West Bengal? The media, let it be humbly submitted, have been victims of self-delusion. Life is not worth living, a fairly large number among them had concluded in advance, if the Left Front government was not ejected from power in the state; it was a scandal that it had continued to be in charge of the state administration for 24 years at a stretch. This was, according to them, against nature and against democratic conventions. Democracy was synonymous with choice, change and innovativeness; these objectives have been frustrated in West Bengal because of the mulish behaviour of the Left Front: It has refused to budge from the seat of power.

The media took it upon themselves to redress this outrage. They took a principled stand. The policy of the principle is the best policy. Every party must have the chance to prove its metier in a democratic milieu. Since the Left Front government had continued this long, it is per se anti-democratic: some hanky-panky must have been committed in the past five successive state assembly elections, thereby enabling the Front to stay in power. Alternatives to undo this unnatural occurrence were discussed. One suggestion was to import voters from ‘safe’ states, such as Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh. Another possible stratagem mulled over was to persuade the centre to legislate an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting a party or combination of parties from continuing in power in West Bengal even if it receives the people’s mandate. Someone had the temerity to point out that it would be odd to have a constitutional amendment of this nature which specifically vetoes the indefinite continuation of a party in power in only one state despite its winning democratic elections; should not the same prohibition apply in the case of other states too, or, for the matter, the centre?

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