It was just five years ago that intellectuals of Bengal had whole-heartedly championed the historic change in the state politics. Troubled by the alleged ‘misrule’ of the erstwhile left front government, they had welcomed the change of power at the helm of the state, some even campaigned for it.Year 2016, the poll bound state looks no different. Many of the state’s well-known intellectuals who once stood for the change, are pressing for a change once again.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>So what went wrong ?Film and theatre actor Kaushik Sen, for instance, is vocal about his views. Talking to dna, Sen reveals that before last elections, he had maintained that the civil society groups of Bengal should form a separate society, instead of supporting a specific political party.”However, many of us went ahead in supporting the Trinamool Congress. The problem with the ruling party is that it is not exactly a party. It is a kind of club, or a platform which doesn’t have a philosophy,” he says.Sen, since the last few years, has brought out his protest against TMC through a variety of plays like Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Greek playwright Sophocles’ Antigone.He, however, admits that chief minister Mamata Banerjee does have a history and have come up through a lot of struggle.”So even if she has some good intentions, she is surrounded by a bad team. She is not a statesman, because at some point, she will have to accept her team. What has come out of that is not good governance,” Sen says, adding that it reflects in the insecurity of women in the state and has failed to deal with unemployment.”At any given place, political syndicates operate in every sphere without fear. Without a job, most youths here get pulled into these syndicates to act as the local muscleman,” he says.Sen has also organised meetings with neutral people and had held press conferences to create awareness on the subject. He, along with other civil society members and the group ‘Save Democracy’ had recently visited the state election commissioner to complain about the bouts of violence reported in the last three phases of the state polls.Renowned painter Samir Aich, who was also part of the group that went to the EC, admitted that he, like many other citizens of Bengal, wanted a ‘poriborton’ or change in the 2011 West Bengal elections. Aich says the last few years of the left front rule was problematic in many sectors, especially in that of health, education and industries.”The violence went up in the last few years. That’s when Mamata Banerjee came into the picture. People thought she can get residents some relief,” Aich recalls.”I soon realised she has lied. The first instance of that was her comments during the Park Street rape case. Then there was the case of Mir Amirul Islam (social activist), when he self-immolated himself outside the Karaya thana. There are syndicates, rapes and a sense of insecurity everywhere,” Aich, who has made several paintings to voice his protest, said.Aich and Sen, however, did not voiced their support for any political party this election.”Let the masses decided what option they want against the TMC,” Aich says.Talking about options against the TMC, Sen says he has many questions about the Congress and left alliance.”Both the parties have different philosophies, which do not meet. However, if they get a substantial number os seats, they will at least form a strong opposition, which is important for a democracy,” Sen says.Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen, on the other hand, is campaigning for the Congress and CPI(M) alliance. She had addressed many public gatherings and had recited many of her poems which protests against the TMC. Sen had returned her Sahitya Academi award last year protesting intolerance and author MM Kalburgi’s murder.”I never had any expectation from Didi. I knew very well that the TMC will start falling apart within days. Even they knew that and that’s the reason they had rigged every election in Bengal after the assembly elections, whether it was the municipality or the panchayat elections,” she alleged.But is the alliance better than the TMC?Sen says yes, but denied joining party politics. “I have joined politics. There is no getting back from here. But I don’t intend to join any party,” she says.Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee, however, thinks differently. “I don’t have any political views. There are few intellectuals who still stand with Trinamool,” he says.And he is right.Mamata Banerjee does have a steady steam of supporters among a separate group of intellectuals. Many of them such as theatre activist Arpita Ghosh, artist Subhaprasanna Bhattacharjee, theatre personalities Shaoli Mitra and veteran painter Jogen Chowdhury have stuck with Banerjee through thicks and thins. Indeed, they have been rewarded handsomely by Didi; they are either an MLA or MP today, or members of different committees with the central government.
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