Monday, June 24, 2024

Jyoti Basu Nagar or not? Left, TC back to name-calling


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Kolkata: Shakespeare may have thought nothing of it, but names do matter. Certainly in politically polarised West Bengal where the ruling Trinamool Congress’ decision to scrap the former Left government’s move to name a township after late Marxist icon Jyoti Basu has triggered a bitter war of words.

In 2010, the CPM-led Left Front government had announced that Rajarhat-New Town – a fast-growing planned residential-cum-industrial hub near this capital conceived during the last days of Basu’s chief ministerial tenure – would be named Jyoti Basu Nagar.

The christening formed a part of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2010, passed by the assembly unanimously.

According to government sources, the suggestion to ‘rename’ the township came after Governor M.K. Narayanan asked for the Trinamool Congress government’s suggestion on some of bills passed towards the end of the Left regime.

The Mamata Banerjee-led government, which toppled the 34-year rule of the Left, has however decided to retain the name of Rajarhat-New Town.

The move has made the comrades furious.

“Such things have never happened in the state. We had never thought of changing the name of Bidhannagar named after former chief minister Bidhan Chandra Ray, who belonged to the Congress party. This is disrespect towards Jyoti Basu. They are indulging in vindictive politics,” CPI-M state secretariat member Rabin Deb told IANS.

The satellite township Salt Lake was renamed Bidhannagar after Bidhan Chandra Roy, who is regarded as the architect of Bengal and during whose term in office (1948-1962) the project was conceived.

“They used to criticise us… Now what are they doing? Is this not political indecency and vendetta?” asked CPI-M leader and former MP Sujan Chakroborty.

The Forward Bloc was critical too about the perceived insult to Basu, who ruled West Bengal for over 23 years from 1977 till 2000, the longest chief ministerial tenure in India.

“Trinamool has shown its true colours by taking this decision. They are interested in nothing other than vindictive politics. We condemn this,” Forward Bloc general secretary Debobrata Biswas said.

The Trinamool Congress has defended its decision and said the Left has no moral right to give lessons of decency to the new regime.

“The government has done what it felt right. Who are they to give us lessons on decency? What decency did they show to Congress chief ministers – from Prafulla Ghosh to Siddhartha Sankar Ray – after they died?” Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekhar Ray said.

The allegations of disrespect towards former chief ministers of West Bengal who died while the Left Front was in power has been a hotly debated topic in the state.

There was a political furore over Ray not being accorded full state honours after his death in November 2010. Ray, West Bengal chief minister (1972-77) and Punjab governor from 1986-89, was neither taken on his last journey on a gun carriage, nor was his body draped in the tricolour.

Political analysts say the atmosphere of hostility bodes ill for the state’s future.

“If this has been done vindictively, then this won’t do any good for the state. If we go on a payback spree for the mistakes done by the last regime with new mistakes, then it will lead us nowhere,” said Sabyasachi Basu Rai Chaudhuri, political scientist. (IANS)


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