Dear Mamata... yours truly, “Maoist”

Not every silhouette is a terrorist, Bengal CM should tell cadres, too

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | January 19, 2013



Mamata Banerjee has a lot to tell everyone, every day. The general public, the voters, other political parties, political opposition (“CPM”), Maoists, conspirators, “anti-people central gorment”, “mischievous and conspiratorial media” — they all get their daily dose of homilies from the West Bengal chief minister.

But it’s time Banerjee directed some of those gyaan at her own party leaders and activists, given their explicitly thin skin and awkwardly touchy sensitivity for everything concerning her.

The latest from Mamata-land concerns a police complaint against a student of Kolkata’s Bidhannagar College, Ramnayan Chowdhury, a supporter of SFI, the CPI-M’s students’ front, who got excited at a caricature on circulation about India cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mamata Banerjee. In his excitement, political foresight or attempt to unseat the Banerjee government (take your pick), the second-year student hit the “like” and “share” buttons on Facebook without thinking about Didi’s thoughts in thought bubbles.

But one Suvakshan Dutta, the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad’s (Trinamool Congress’s student front) Salt Lake town president, found it offensive and filed a police complaint, as reported by newspapers on Saturday.

Written in Bangla, the text next to the duo’s caricature reads: “Doodh maango toh kheer denge, match maango toh series denge” (for Dhoni); and “Jawaab maango toh Maoist bolenge, shilpo maango toh shila dikhayenge”.

Loosely translated, they mean “if you ask for milk, will give you kheer; ask for match, will give series”; and “ask for answer, will brand you a Maoist, ask for industry, will give you stones/brickbats”.

The first, of course, is a reflection on the Indian team’s pathetic performance of late. But since the team won the last ODI at Kochi, and very convincingly at that, one can only guess the caricature is an old one — when Dhoni’s men were in dumps against England.

The second takes a dig at Banerjee’s extremely sensitive nature: she has discovered many “Maoists” among people who dared question her in the past. In fact, even on Friday, the day the “accused” student got a call from Salt Lake police about the complaint against him, Banerjee alleged that the opposition and the media are conspiring against her government and highlighting a “wrong picture” about crimes against women in West Bengal.

The contentious caricatures are not bad artworks but the messages next to them juvenile at best. They don’t rhyme, the sentences are poorly constructed/structured, are more forced than funny, and, well, sort of inane.

Yes, there have been 102 “likes” and 122 “shares” since Ramnayan put it up on his facebook status board yesterday (according to his timeline, though the complaint was filed on Thursday), and yes, they do take a dig at Dhoni and Banerjee, but they are just as certainly not insulting or offensive. And they definitely do not demand a police investigation.

So here are five advises (or instructions, as she keeps issuing others) Banerjee should offer to her party leaders and activists:

1. Don’t ape me. Don’t be so sensitive to criticism.
2. Don’t ape me. Don’t assume everyone is out to get you and me.
3. Don’t ape me. Don’t presume anyone not registered with Trinamool is a potential Maoists.
4. Don’t ape me. Don’t look for conspiracies at every word, action, image and silhouette.
5. Don’t ape me. Just don’t. Let me be unique in some ways.

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