Thursday, August 03, 2006

Split Wide Open

Jagmohan Dalmiya has done what the Congress and their "grassroot" antecedents could not do in more than 29 years. Jagmohan Dalmiya has done the unthinkable! He has defeated the vote machinery of the CPI(M) right there in the red bastion. This is an ally that Mamata Banerjee would probably die for !!
But Dalmiya has done more than just that. He has done the "unprecedented". He has not only defeated the Chief Minister's dummy candidate, he has also split a party which is considered to be one of the most disciplined in India's political history, right in the middle. The "angry" Jyoti Basu, who did not open his mouth even when the Politburo denied him the Prime Minister ship(back in 1997), is now throwing brickbats against his handpicked successor Budhhadev.

Is Dalmiya the issue or is he only the catalyst? I would be inclined to think the latter. CPI(M) of today is much more of a broken party than it was 10 years ago. One of the main reasons behind this split is the emergence of a new power centre within the Party,a power centre that comprises of the more soft Leftists like Budhhadev Bhattacharyay. In the 6 years of his rule, Budhhadev has carved a niche for himself, as probably no other Chief Minister has done in the recent past. He is, as he says "A Communist trying to come in terms with Capitalism". Metamorphosizing (as he likes to put it) the Party agenda in the Deng XiaoPing lines, Budhha has brought a major policy shift in the workings of the W.B Govt(one that even the likes of Prachanda are contemplating to imitate!!).
Even the ardent supporters of the Party agree that West Bengal had become a "dead state" in the concluding years of Basu's rule. His nonchalance regarding the affairs of the State had become proverbial. In Budhha, for the first time in years, the State has found a leader who is more concerned about the down to earth problems rather than high sounding Communist jargon. In 6 years, he has brought Bengal into the investment map. Bengal is now generating IT professionals, who are really getting a job inside the State( Believe it or not,this was unthinkable 5 years ago!!).Calcutta is getting a welcome makeover with flyovers and swanky shopping malls.
But is all well in Budhha's "Ramrajya"? I would not think so. While Budhha has done appreciable work for the urban middle class, the "common man" is still wallowing in poverty in the "Communist" State. The dark underbelly of Capitalist aggression is clearly visible in the less developed districts of Purulia, Bankura and Midnapore. The dissent of the masses has, quite ironically, found its expression in the Maoist movement in the State. But India's most influential Communist Chief Minister has more to face, than the ghost of Chairman Mao.
His own predecessor Jyoti Basu, now thinks that he had picked a "Frankenstein" in Budhha. Basu wanted to remain the "Grand Old Man" of Indian Politics, to be remembered with awe and respect as the man who had ruled a State for more than 25 years, and created the mammoth organizational machinery of the CPI(M). But just 5 years after his stepping down, the glory of Jyoti Basu has faded into oblivion, and Budhha's success has brought into limelight his predecessor's failures like never before. As the realization dawns,on what should have been done ten years ago, Basu's incompetence and callous attitude is coming more and more to the forefront. To add to the wounds, his corrupt and inefficient stooges, who ruled the roost during his rule, are finding themselves cornered in the Party. Dalmiya (with whom Basu had signed a shady business deal worth crores back in 1993) and other such corrupt bourgeoisie whose association had made the Party unpopular in the past are finding themselves increasingly out of favour with the new regime.
Thus the old and wounded Basu is fighting a desperate battle to make up for lost ground and to protect his own loyalists in the Party. Where, then is this fight heading to? We only hope that the "evil" wont be triumphing over the "good" this time.

Monday, March 27, 2006

End of an Era

Anil Biswas, the State Secretary of the CPI(M) passed away yesterday. I am no fan of the CPI(M), and like most middle class Bengalis, I too regard them as hypocritical bourgeoisies as far removed from the Communist ideology as Sharon Stone is from the Palestinian peace process, or as Sushmita Sen is from Mother Teresa!!!!!

But politics apart, Anil Biswas was quite a man. The little master of the Communist Party, Anil was the spokesperson of the Party since the days I have learnt to spell “Communism”!!!! He had literally become the face of the CPM. The 7 PM news on DD 7 was never complete without his statements on Mamata di’s mental health, or on the threat of communalism, and even on Subhas Chakraborty. I still remember his statement on Subhash Chakraborty, after the Salt Lake Municipal Elections on Star Ananda O sob faltu kotha.Uni to orokom onek kothai bole thaken. uni amader sorkarer montri hote paren tobe onar sob kothay gurutto dewar kono proyojon nei” Oh!! The inimitable style.!!!!!

Anil had become synonymous with the CPM and the Alimuddin Street. After Laloo Prasad,he was probably the most imitated politician in middle class Bengali drawing rooms. His nasal tone, flat delivery and near perfect round countanence had become an integral part of the 90s Bengali existence.

Anil never had the charisma of Budhhadeb, the intellectual prowess of Prakash Karat, or the blue blood of Jyoti Basu. He was never quite the intellectual Marxist. Rather, he was CPI(M)’s Aam Aadmi, the man who rose in the Party ranks from the grassroots level, and driven much more by practical sense than by the Red Book. That is probably the reason why the average CPM worker identified with him more than with any other leader. He was The Chanakya of the Party, the man at the top of the much famed (and infamed) election machinery of the CPM (which, the detractors say, is the machinery of scientific rigging). However,Even his detractors will agree that his organisational skills were unmatched.

With the death of Anil, CPI (M) will lose a great strategist, a man who has always acted as a mediator between the hardline faction of the CPI (M), and the revisionists, like Bhattacharyay. His demise will make it difficult for the party to reconcile between factions with widely differing political ideologies and self interests.

To Comrade Anil Biswas, Laal Salaam .

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Movie Review : Monster (2003)

"Monster" is much of a "made for the Oscars" movie. It treads on the same path as Boys don't Cry : A real life story outlining the personal struggle of a social outcast. However, as far as performances or the story is concerned, it does not go anywhere near "Boys don't Cry". Charlize Theron fails to go anywhere near Hillary Swank's magnificent depiction of Brandon Teena, which shall probably go down as one of the best roles in modern cinema in the nineties.
"Monster" is the story of the American serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Aileen is a highway hooker, serving the needs of drunken truck drivers on empty highways in the night. The story largely deals with Aileen's lesbian relationship with Selby(Christina Ricci), which gives a new direction and meaning to Aileen's life. Aileen wants to make some big money and start life with Selby "for real". At the same time, one of her hooking deals go bad, and a truck driver tries to rape her forcibly. She kills the guy in self defence, in what is her first murder. Aileen soon takes to a new business, that of taking her customers to some desolate place, and killing them off, looting the money and the car. The movie, for most part shows Aileen in a sympathetic light. While the killings are a quick source of income for Aileen, she also feels no guilt in killing people whom she sees are the scums of the society, men who have brought her down to the gutters. Finally, like all criminals, she too makes a mistake and pays for it, a little too heavily. The movie takes the predictable turns, but I guess thats the price you pay for sticking to a "real life" storyline.
While Theron does a great job bringing out Aileen's terrible disgust for a society that has denied him the right to a good life, and plays the uncouthed, foul mouthed prostitute to perfection, beyond a point,her acting becomes boring and repetetive. Her style becomes hackneyed as she keeps on using the same mannerisms time and again.As a result, The story seems to drag on and loses the initial charm and awe. However, Theron's acting in a difficult role cannot be dismissed offhand, and certainly shows her acting prowess.
All in all, Monster is an average movie. Its great for a night's entertainment, but would not go down as one of those great Oscar movies. that become the essential collector's item.
If not made solely for the purpose of winning awards, the genre that movies like "Monster" and "Boys don't Cry" have carved out, can see exciting new experimentation in future.