(If you want to know more about “Mhysa”, click on the gif)


(especially in light of her most recent behaviour*)


*On June 7, a young woman of 20 was brutally raped and murdered in the village of Kamduni in Barasat. It’s an area that’s been Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party’s (TMC) stronghold. It’s believed that those accused of the rape were TMC supporters. They were, of course, labelled as CPI(M) men by the TMC.

(Anything that doesn’t meet with Banerjee’s approval is either a CPI(M) conspiracy or the work of Maoists.)

Ten days after this awful incident, Banerjee went to visit the family. By that time, the mood in Kamduni was furious because they’d expected Banerjee to visit or make some gesture of sympathy much sooner. It didn’t help that Banerjee spent precisely 6 minutes with the young woman’s family. So when Banerjee left, there was a crowd of angry women who were asking questions like what Banerjee was going to do to ensure women’s safety in the village. Banerjee’s response: “Shut up“.

All this week, this one incident has been all that Kolkata has spoken about. On the streets, on tv, at the dinner table, in hospital corridors — the only thing anyone wants to talk about is how it took the women of Kamduni to finally turn the tide against Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee came to power in Bengal with a thumping majority and everyone was full of optimism that she would change things. Why? Beats me. The woman’s chief skill is yelling and rabble-rousing. Which is precisely what’s passed as running a state since she became chief minister. Every month, things have got a little bit worse. Everything and everyone has to be TMC. If you don’t pledge allegiance to Banerjee, you’re an enemy of the state. She’s arrested students, cartoonists, basically anyone who has the temerity to question her. There have been custodial deaths, riots … in short, Bengal is in a bad place. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was Banerjee labelling two of the most vocal women at Kamduni “Maoists”. It’s a serious allegation because it’s essentially accusing someone of sedition. They didn’t take it lying down. The two women, with the support of Kamduni, turned around and asked how the chief minister could behave this way. Banerjee’s response: at a rally, she said the CPI(M) and the Maoists are plotting to murder her. She’s also said that many of the panellists who have participated in television talk shows are involved in pornography and that there have been a couple of rapes but they’re no biggie.

No, logic is not Mamata Banerjee’s forte. (See Blackadder gif.)

Today, thousands — and I do mean thousands. Ok, on second thought, maybe I mean a thousand. Basically, a large number — of people took to the streets to peacefully but strongly protest Banerjee’s behaviour. I’m far from fond of Kolkata, but it’s been good to be here these few days. The pomposity of the city receded. The debates were intelligent, articulate and idealistic. At the march today, people were protesting violence against women and unusually for such a rally, there were an enormous number of men. They walked, sang songs, waved a few banners and placards. Unusually for contemporary Kolkata, it was progressive and hopeful.

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