ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

May Day is a paid holiday in Calcutta — and in West Bengal. In the afternoon, unending processions of the labouring classes converge on the maidan; they are entertained to passionate speeches by the leaders, the brotherhood of the international proletariat is fullthroatedly proclaimed. But something sticks out, something at least mildly uncomfortable. The declaiming leaders all belong to a particular slot. Scan their names: irrespective of whichever Left party they might swear by, each one of the names is high caste, high-breed Hindu. There are may be thirty incarnations of Leftism in West Bengal. None can thrive without being shepherded by upper class Hindu minstrels.

This, it may be argued, is unfair banter, since the malady touches all political parties, and is not specific to the Left. But this precisely is the point. If the Swatantra party is studded with glamour boys and glamour girls from high society, that ought not to constitute any news. A party supposed to defend the interests of feudal elements, filthy capitalists and the rest of the bourgeoisie must in any case be led by the upper class. What baffles is the persistence of the motif even in groups and parties preaching the international brotherhood of the working class and the tenets of violent revolution. One of course can analyse the reasons. Once upon a time, those who form the top echelon of the Left leadership were in the mainstream of the so-called national movement. They are the offsprings of the bourgeoisie, the offsprings of landowning barons. After Independence, the national movement splintered, and they drifted to the left. Their ideology got oriented, but, you cannot rewrite heredity, the class and caste bases were incapable of being altered. Therefore, whether you make fun or do not make fun, there they are, guiding the destiny of Bengal’s Left. Now and then, an occasional aberration, the scion of working class family has come to the fore, but by and large, the roster of names straddling the spectrum of Left leadership follows a set pattern. Begin with the Dasguptas and the Lahiris and end with the Mazumdars and the Chatterjees: all impeccable high caste names, either Brahmin, or Vaidya, or Kayastha.

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Updated On : 4th May, 2018

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