The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has taken recourse to an antediluvian currency to buttress its opposition to demonetisation. A 12-hour Bangla bandh has been called on Monday (28 November), a move that has been stoutly resisted by the Trinamul Congress, which is now in the vanguard of the national opposition to counter the crippling currency crisis.
Alone among the Chief Ministers, save perhaps the unpredictable Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee has been more vocal than the CPI-M against what Manmohan Singh has called “monumental mismanagement”.
The revival of the bandh, which long ago reached its sell-by date, is testament to the political bankruptcy of the Bengal Left, somewhat coincidentally in the aftermath of the debacle in the two Lok Sabha and one Assembly by-election.
The disruption is bound to aggravate the general economic distress and will affect most particularly the daily wage-earner — whose income has dropped considerably — and the peasant, now grappling with his losses in the season of cultivation.
Which is not to forget the plight of hundreds of thousands still queuing up before the banks. Biman Bose’s plea that those who stay within walking distance of a bank will not be inconvenienced is neither here nor there. It is hard not to wonder whether the party’s decision, as announced by the Left Front chairman, was unanimous.
For, as reports suggest, Surya Kanta Mishra maintained a pregnant silence at Friday’s meeting. Calculatedly, the bandh has been suffixed to the weekend; the sponsors can’t be unaware that the fourth Saturday is a bank holiday. “Banking,” Mr Bose has averred, “is not an essential service, but we have exempted it keeping in mind the people’s problems.” How considerate.
He can’t be unaware that the banking sector has a pivotal role at this juncture; the economy is bound to get disjointed further still in the event of a three-day closure.
The truth of the matter must be that the CPI-M is set to exacerbate the dislocation in the midst of an economic crisis, of a kind that arguably no country has ever countenanced. Of course, the Chief Minister’s scheduled march on the same day will almost inevitably cause disruption; but there is a crucial point of distinction between a bandh and a rally — the second is part of the furniture in the city’s political landscape.
The Bengal Left is seemingly anxious to lend its own twist to Mamata’s agitprop after the Chief Minister sought the Left’s support in the movement against demonetisation. In the national perspective, the Opposition has emerged as a fractured entity when it should have pulled out all the stops. And this has happened in politically conscious Bengal.