KOLKATA, 21 JUNE: The protest march by intellectuals today against the recent rape and murder of a college student of Barasat and a spate of crimes against women under the Mamata Banerjee-government was a virtual rerun of the procession taken out by many of the same people and several others to protest against the Nandigram mayhem during the Marxist regime.
Hence, it sent shivers down the ruling party’s spine, especially when the crucial rural poll is barely a fortnight away.
The march brought to the fore two key issues ~ that some of the intellectuals, who rallied behind Miss Banerjee to overthrow the Marxist regime, don’t want to be counted as her “yes men” unlike some of their fraternity who have either joined the new government or are getting patronage from it, and that Miss Banerjee is no different from Budhadeb Bhattacharjee in her intolerance towards intellectuals critical of her actions.
Among the prominent intellectuals and artistes were Sankha Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Samir Aich, Suman Mukherjee and Kausik Sen, who were in the forefront of the movement to oust the Marxists. Mamata Banerjee then hailed them.
But, their credibility had come under a question mark as most of them went into hibernation when violence engulfed college campuses, protesters against government highhandedness were branded as Maoists and hounded out and rapes occurred at regular intervals.
The chief minister’s utterances and actions seemed to give the perpetrators a licence to carry on their nefarious activities.
Then, the Barasat incident took place. The chief minister took 10 days to visit the wretched family, and then attacked the victim’s friends and neighbours for seeking an explanation from her for the crime, branding them as CPI-M supporters with Maoist links.
Thereafter, Trinamul supporters went to the village to browbeat the protesters with hints that they would be framed.
It came a full circle when Miss Banerjee today taunted the intellectuals. describing them as “some latecomers” who had merely joined her 35-year-long crusade against Marxist tyranny, but went to town claiming to have “brought about a regime change.”
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had similar contempt for intellectuals who had attacked him for his highhandedness during his tenure as chief minister.