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

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Myopic Popular Verdict in a Political Vacuum

West Bengal Elections

There is no end to mining into the depths of the Bengali psyche to uncover a vast underbelly of popular prejudices, political naiveté , absurd hopes, selfish interests, blind vengeance that were cunningly manipulated by Mamata Banerjee to shift the electoral verdict in her favour. Her promise of extension of freebies to all sections of society had seduced the voters to elect her, in a trade-off between their self-interest on the one hand, and democratic rights on the other. They are willing to sacrifice the latter, and remain mute spectators to the suppression of political opposition and dissent.

In Bengali society, there is a popular term derived from the old tantric ritual called panchamakar (five practices beginning with the Bengali alphabet ma). It stands for matsya, mangsha, madya, mudra, and maithun. The first three words mean the consumption of fish, mutton and alcohol, respectively; and the last two words sanction the practice of prayers with certain conjunction of fingers, accompanied by sexual intercourse.

During the last five years, the term panchamakar in West Bengal politics had been reconstructed by Mamata Banerjee and her party workers, and protégées in the administration. In 2011, during her election campaign, she started with the M, or “ma”-entitled three-word slogan: ma–mati–manush (mother–earth–human). The next two words which were needed to complete the new panchamakar concept were Mamata and mastan. The last word stands for the local gangster—who has emerged as a hero in West Bengal’s towns and villages, worshipped by inhabitants out of a combination of fear and patron–client relationship. The joint concept of Mamata and mastan played a major role in the All India Trinamool Congress Party’s electoral triumph.

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