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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Whither West Bengal: Is Communist Citadel Crumbling?

West Bengal has been an impregnable Leftist fortress for over a quarter century but there is a feeling in this election that the Communists are losing ground in the State.

Though in earlier elections also, especially when Mamata Banerji formed her Mahajot, there were similar speculations. However, the difference is that even Communist leaders are feeling that there is a sense of disenchantment with the CPI (M) among section of voters.

For decades the rural populace strongly voted for the Communists. They had benefited from the land reforms and Jyoti Basu enjoyed an uninterrupted reign in the State for decades.

But the industrialisation efforts of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee received a jolt with the mishandling of situation in Nandigram. The farmers feared that land, their prized possession, would be taken over.

Besides, Muslims, who form 25% strong population in the state, are also unhappy, as they realise they haven't received adequate attention. The Bengali Muslim's share in government jobs remain abysmally low. [Photo: Congress candidate from Malda, Mausam Benazir Noor, the niece of late ABA Ghani Khan Chaudhary tries to beat the heat]

The findings of Sachar Commission were a wakeup call for Muslims. Despite repeated promises there was no development in areas dominated by Muslims and Urdu was not accorded the status of official languages in the districts where Urdu-speakers are predominant.

The fact that unlike other states, West Bengal (and Assam) have more Muslims in rural areas than urban agglomerations, can cause further trouble for Communists. The strong anti-incumbency after decades of rule can be damaging.

Star News' latest opinion poll

However, the Left can still tide over it. The latest Opinion Poll [Star TV-AC Nielson survey for Lok Sabha elections 2009] predict that Communists may just manage their hold in WB.

It gives 22 seats of CPI-M and its allies including Forward Bloc while Trinamool and Congress will together get 20 seats. The BJP remains a non-entity in the state. Also, CPI (M) will not be as major a party as it was in the Lok Sabha.

The poll says that after Congress (155) and BJP (147), the largest parties will be Samajwadi Party (28) and BSP (26). As a block, the Leftists--CPM, CPI, RSP and FB will get 35 seats from West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala.

Mamta may get benefited with the alliance. But the fact remains that shifting of Tata's Nano project hasn't gone well with the voters either. [The poll shows 202 seats for UPA, 191 for NDA, 102 for Third Front and 39 for Fourth Front (RJD-SP-LJP)]

This is going to be a setback for the Marxists. But it seems that they will manage to retain the state somehow. Is it because of the reason that the West Bengal doesn't want to go with the rest?

Bengali bhadraloke loves rejecting mainstream parties

Bengal has a strong identity. It had a renaissance unlike other states and gave the nation legendary reformist personalities like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Subhas Chanra Bose and Kazi Nazrul Islam.

And we are all too aware of the saying 'What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow'. The Bengali has a strong sense of culture and identity. The bhadraloke has refined tastes and loves to be a rebel.

It is this romance with the rebellion that perhaps prompt the West Bengal voter to remain different from the rest of the country by voting for a party that doesn't have much popularity in other parts of the nation, especially Delhi. After the Congress government had sternly dealt with radical youths during the Naxalbari movement.

Or it is the rejection of the mainstream parties that gives a sense of satisfaction to Bengal. Probably it is this tendency of the voter to rebuff the Congress and the BJP that may just help Communists survive another Parliamentary election.


shrek said...

I say thank god it is finally happening! Communist parties are still stuck in a 19th century and it is as if they haven't learnt any lessons from the meltdown of ussr. Even China which is avowedly communist has adopted liberal policies which boosted their economic growth, but our communist parties don't want any of that liberalisation which is ultimately about empowering the citizens. (I won't even talk about the astronomical levels of corruption within the party) But, I find it disturbing that a party that performs against national interest is still relevant to indian politics. (1962 invasion of china was not condemned by the party and some believe that in private circles it was actually cheered on)

Yuyutsu said...

@ Shrek:

CPI(M) actually split from CPI in 1962 because CPI took a 'centrist' position (neither supporting India, nor China)while CPI(M) supported China.


This has some more information on how often the Left finds itself on 'wrong side of history'.

Anonymous said...

155 seats for congress includes 25 in AP and 13 in TN...out of the 38 predicted they wont win more than 20-22. Expect congress to be limited to around 140 and not more. Their problem is as the days of polling come near, the congress tally has been declining steadily. They have their hopes in Rajashthan, Kerala and WB now .

On the other hand BJP is gaining ground in UP,Maharashtra, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and recovering some lost ground in Gujrat, MP, Rajasthan. They have made very good recovery in the urban pockets which was BJP's stronghold till 2004.

Its going to be an interesting result and most likely BJP will emerge as the largest party.

shrek said...

I was commenting on the fact that post Indira, CPI/ CPI(M) have grown closer and both implicitly support each other. I find even the centrist view anti-thetical as it condones violence in aim of spread of communism.
Yet, I was referring to internationalists like Jyoti Basu etc who still find themselves relevant to Indian politics.

Yuyutsu said...


Of course, I find it funny when either CPI or CPI(M)talk of 'nationalism' and 'patriotism'.

These are relics of the past and past is where they should belong to. Pity, they keep winning 30-40 seats every time and dictate the agenda (as they did from 2004-2008 and as they're likely to do after these elections as well)>

Jaaneman chupke chupke saari duniya se chup ke tumne aisi baat kahi dil mera kho gaya said...

Picture abhi baki hai mere dost

Anonymous said...

Every man made ideology based on communism, capitalism or any other false deities based ideologies are bound to be thrown into the dust bin of history, eventually and the only comprehensive way of life and ideology that will remain eternally is the ideology based on submission to the will of God that is believing in One True Almighty God, Doing Good Works and accepting accountability even after death.

Mohamed Ameen said...

Part One Dress Code in Islam

Hot debate goes on in Europe on Muslim women’s garment and veiling.
The following are hotchpotch of some comments mostly from me and some from others on this issue. Is Europe biased? Is there not double standard? Is there anything called
ABSOLUTE FREEDOM as such in Europe or anywhere else in the world?

Even in the liberal West, it is an offence for women to go half naked revealing their whole breasts at public places, in educational institutes, at the churches and other places of worship? It is against public decency. There are restrictions on dress even in Europe, is my contention. So it is in Muslim countries. The difference is only in degree.

Absolute freedom is non-existent in any culture. Being social animals, men and women have animal magnetism and sex appeal. One can never deny the fact that when a young man looking at a woman revealing a major part of her firm, round, shapely and bulging breasts gets sexually excited and would have train of quite often lewd thoughts in his mind.

And in Islam we say, let men and women dress modestly not revealing more than what is necessary. This helps both to restrict their erotica, their sex urge. The following is a verse from the Muslim Holy Book called the QURAN, Quote,

“Tell believing men to lower their look and tell believing women to lower their gaze so that they will guard their modesty” this is a shariah law. Is it too much for Europeans to accept this?

We are not asking for the moon. As the French have fundamental rights, so do others? As it is the fundamental right of a European non-Muslim woman to reveal as much of her beauty as she likes, a Muslim woman has equal fundamental right to cover as much as she wants to cover.

Why does it bother some? It is simple prejudice and bias and hatred of other people’s culture. Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe as G.B.Shaw said Islam may be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.

A big issue is in the world is maintaining family values.75% of the marriages in the US end in divorces. How to make families live more happily and successfully. Please read the book, written by a non-Muslim scholar : Karen Armstrong: Title: Muhammad : A Western Approach to Islam

But after all, all religious laws are based on cultures acceptable by the and for the God's messengers, or prophets such as David, Solomon, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad ( All these prophets have been named in the Quran). No religious culture propagated, amplified and advocated by a God’s messenger allowed women not to cover their breasts or genitals.

If any culture allows (allowed) that, then God-consciously talking, that culture is (was) outside the receivers of the divine messenger or they changed and nullified the teachings of the God chosen messengers. So garments of both men and women are something to do with the Islamic jurisprudence.

I quote two verses from the Quran for your information:


Chapter 24: Verse 60 “ Such elderly women as are past the prospect of marriage, there is no blame on them if they lay aside their garments provided they make not a wanton display of their beauty. But it is best for them to be modest. And God is one who sees and knows all things”

Mohamed Ameen said...

Dress code in Islam

Every individual has his/her fundamental rights as far as clothing is concerned, of course within the boundaries of decency and laws existing within the country. Being a Muslim, I am certainly not in favour of full face veil. There again, It is not my preference that matters, it is the individuals.

As the French white non-Muslim woman has her fundamental right to reveal as much as she wants to, a Muslim woman has her fundamental right to cover as much as she wants to unless criminal activities initiate from these acts. Why should we force anybody for that matter on garments simply because in a particular Muslim country, non-Muslims are advised to wear in a particular way?

Assuming that one day, a French Govt brings a law that no woman should wear a dress covering her lower thighs, though she may cover her upper thighs. And French citizens belonging to an alien culture oppose this law and feel that it infringes on their personal rights on clothing. What will be the decision of the French Parliament? Will the Parliament and Judiciary force this law on all French women?

Certain aspects of Islamic culture or jurisprudence is not subject to change or interpretation, one example pre-marital and consensual sex is forbidden in Islam and this will remain so even in 31st century. Muslims are not ready to compete with the west in changing their comprehensive and God shown way of life and destroy the moral fibre simply because this world is not the end and there is a hereafter when accountability and answerability will take place.

We prefer to be losers in this world in terms of modernity in order t o get our rewards in the hereafter. After all man has been created with a purpose.

Male dominance and women's garments are two different issues. Male dominance is against the shariah law but a Muslim woman's garments fall within the Quranic laws. Islam gave more rights to women 1400 years ago, more rights than any other culture then. It was Islam that gave the women the right to divorce her husband 1400 years ago. There is no need to confuse both.

Forty years ago (1970s) the male domination was greater for instance in South and South East Asia among all religious groups including Muslims. But the 40 years ago fewer educated ladies were using even head scarves. But now in Malaysia alone for instance the University male female ratio is 50:50.

More women get liberated, more educated but at the same time more educated women wear head scarves, far more than 40 years ago. This indicates an Islamic revival, initiated by the organised state terrorist and aggressive policies of the West, supporting the oppressive dictators and monarchs and un-democratic regimes throughout the Muslim world, NOT GREATER MALE DOMINATION AS SOME FANATICAL NON-MUSLIM READERS IGRORANTLY ASSUME.

“The New Testament in the main offers offers a positive message to women, but in fact over the centuries the gaspel has been anything but good news for the ‘second sex’. Christian misogyny was peculiarly neurotic because it was based on a rejection of sexuality which is unique among the world religions and certainly not found in either Judaism or Islam. It is not fair to blame Muhammad and Islam for their misogyny. If Muslim women today reject some of the freedoms that we feel we have offerred them, this is not due to perversity but because the western view of women and the relation between the sexes is confused. We preach equality and liberation, but at the same time exploit and degrade women in advertising, pornography, and much popular entertainement in a way that Muslims find alien and offensive” Quotation taken from the book written by Karen Armstrong (Page 239)

Title of the book. “Muhammad : A Western Attempt to Understand Islam: Publisher: Victor Gollancz

Mohamed Ameen said...

Part Three:

Dress Code in Islam

Some get confused. They say every foreigner has to follow the Muslim rules in Muslim countries. This is absolutely wrong. Go to Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Lebanon, Beirut, Turkey, Brunei and Bangladesh. In those countries foreigners wear what they like.

You may find thousands of ladies in mini-skirts. Hundreds swim on the beaches in their bikinis. Muslim countries expect them to dress decently. That is all. But if anyone argues that a Western woman may bare her top and walk in the bazaar simply because that is her freedom. That is wrong. If the West allows their ladies to reveal as much as they wish to sensually reveal, that is their fundamental right.

Exactly the same way a Muslim or a Hindu lady should be allowed to cover as much as she wishes to cover. That is her fundamental right. Why two different sort of fundamentalism. Saudis constitute not even 2% of the worlds Muslim population, they follow a particular sect of Islam. And they are American puppets, no one in the world should interpret Islam by hypocritical Saudi version of Islam.

To many, knowledge of Islam seem to be limited to the minimal and confused information presented on American TV. Dress code has to do with cultural definitions of modesty. There are cultures where female genitalia must be covered in public, but not necessarily breasts.

There are cultures where female breasts must be covered in public, but not necessarily shoulders. There are cultures where female shoulders must be covered in public, but not necessarily hair. There are cultures where female hair must be covered, but not faces. And there are cultures where female faces must be covered in public. There are cultures ( Indian women are the best example) where female breasts must be covered but not their abdomen and hence too much showing of female belly and navel is a big entertainment in Indian movies and dances.

Reasonable people can disagree on the point to which a free and open society should enforce cultural norms of modesty, but forbidding people from practicing a greater degree of modesty than the majority culture shows bias. It's just an excuse for ethnic profiling and harassment.

Mohamed Ameen said...


Again and again western observers have sought to construct the character of Islam by focussing on the most extreme and repressive practices of Muslim states (there are no Islamic States in the entire world in the strictest sense of the term, though there are Islamic communities that live by Islam, as there are no Christian States but there are Christians communities who live by the teachings of Jesus Christ PBUH) or organisations like Al-Qaeda. Western critics of Islam disregard all other factors.

If we were to adopt the same attitude towards Western History, then it would undoubtedly be necessary to regard Stalin, who was educated in a seminary, as the creator of a Christian regime, and Hitler who was brought up as a Roman Catholic, as a Christian statesman. The fact that both Stalin and Hitler persecuted those Christians who opposed their regimes merely serves to strengthen the analogy. For in recent years the Muslim rulers (tyrants such as Saddam Hussein, Husni Mubaruk, and Saudi Kings) have themselves persecuted the many faithful Muslims who have opposed them.

Western observers are reluctant to acknowledge such facts and in general quite unwilling to recognise that Islam, like any other ancient faith, is profoundly heterogeneous.

Instead they have sought again and again to force upon Islam which has often shown great religious tolerance, a narrow stereotype which portrays it all as the quintessence of cruelty and intolerance. In Lebanon for example there are Muslim terrorists, Christian terrorists and Jewish terrorists.

But you will not hear of Christian or Jewish terrorism in relation to what was happening in Lebanon. All acts of violence are put together and wrapped up in the package of ‘Islamic terrorism’.

The conduct of adherents of every religion varies from country to country, from sect to sect, from age to age and from person to person. How very different is the conduct of Jesus’s disciples from those in Pinochet’s Chile, or in South Africa, who claim to uphold Christian values. Which is to represent Christianity? Are we to describe the First and Second World wars, in which millions of people lost their lives as Christian wars against humanity?

Any act of war in a Muslim country is perceived in the West as the extension of ‘Islamic terrorism’ but in any other country such an act is seen as a political dispute( Hindus fighting for a separate Tamil Elam in Sri Lanka). Why must such dual standard of justice prevail? One really begins to wonder if there is an undercurrent of hatred for Islam beneath the apparently calm surface of Christian civilization. Is it perhaps a hangover from centuries of Crusades against Muslim powers, or is the old wine of secularists venom served in new goblets.

For instance Salman Rushdie served the old wine of the Christian venom (as he had received a huge price for treason) in the latest goblet. Satanic Verses belong to this much larger undercurrent of hatred for Islam.

irainesan said...

Can any of the readers deny the existence of 22% reservations for STs and SCs and all of them are Hindus by definition, I am not sure about the RSS definition for Hindus, and 27% reservations for the OBCs and MBCs : all of them are Hindus.

And so 49% of the places are reserved for Hindus. Hence, when BJP ays that Hindus are denied reservations where as Muslims are to get 10% exclusively makes no sense.

The Muslims who are economically deprived are begging the Indian Govt. to include the deserving ones under the OBC category by increasing the OBC reservations from 27% to say 35, 36, 37%. and extend supreme court limit correspondingly thus giving the benefits of reservations as is being done in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Muslims are not asking for the moon.

They are asking the Govt to consider them as economically weak and poor and hence to be included under the existing quota by making minor adjustments.

49% of the places are reserved for economically weak/segmentally backward/ideologically dalitized Hindus, so Hindu religion is already in the big picture whether BJP likes it or not.

Politically the Hindu SCs/STS/MBCs and OBCs are not going to accept if BJP scraps that and asks for one reservation for all Indians who fall below the poverty line.

But it is a fact that 80% of the Indian Muslims are economically as weak, in some regions even weaker than the STs and SCs.

So it is a fair request from Indian Muslim parties to consider giving them a guaranteed percentage of reservations, say 7 to 10%.

They are not asking for 17% based on their population ratio. In the long run, it will create huge social problems and political problems by openly discriminating 170 million people ( Indian Muslims) of a nation simply because they belong to an alien religion, Are the present day Muslims responsible for this for this alienation? It is unfair to make them responsible.

The only thing that Hindus can do is to persuade them to get reconverted to Hinduism ( Navudubillah) after all India is a free nation and people have the right to change ideologies.

Are the Naxalites and Marxists and Dravidian party guys Hindus?

What will be the future political consequences if driven by frustration, the 170 million Indian Muslims are politically united and polarised and started their one and only political party for the entire Umma, call it Muslim League or Muslim Progressive Party or whatever.

Should that happen, all other political parties will be at the feet of the minorities seeking their votes, because in the Indian democracy it is just the 10-15% margin of votes that decide the fate of the rulers as we saw a few weeks ago in West Bengal: the citadel of communism collapsed when the Muslims changed sides in Punjayat elections.

Some may rebut saying that in which case the Hindus may get united too. That is an impossibility as long as the caste and linguistic differences exists in India

Red Force of Bengal said...

Secular left front


Promote Bangla | প্রচার বাংলার said...

I would like to point out that: Why does the West Bengal Government link urdu with Muslims where as Muslims of Bengal are overwhelmingly Bengali speaking.. why force urdu upon them ?
Urdu is just another Indian language it has no links with any religion.
Jus 2% of the 25% Muslims of Bengal are Urdu speaking! Facts on Wikipedia.
Jay Bangla !