Kolkata confidential

Harmad Forces,the sobriquet used often by Trinamool Congress leaders to refer to the “CPM goons”,seems to be gaining currency — much to the chagrin of the Marxists.

Written by Express News Service | Published: July 19, 2010 3:42:19 am

Return of ‘pirates’
Harmad Forces,the sobriquet used often by Trinamool Congress leaders to refer to the “CPM goons”,seems to be gaining currency — much to the chagrin of the Marxists. Last week,the word became official,gaining entry in the Union Home Ministry correspondence. In a letter to Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen,Ravi Inder Singh,Director (International Security-1,Ministry of Home Affairs) urged him to look into the allegations levelled against “Harmad Forces” for unleashing a “reign of terror” at Salboni and adjoining areas in West Midnapore district. In the Assembly,a CPM legislator rued over the use of word. Harmad Forces,he pointed out,originally referred to Portuguese pirates unleashing mayhem in the coastal villages of West Bengal in the 17th and 18th Centuries. He requested the Speaker,Hasim Abdul Halim,to provide a ruling,clarifying whether the phrase was “parliamentary or not”. Now,wait is on for the Speaker’s decision.

Flooded by advice
Trinamool leader and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly,Partha Chatterjee,is a harried man these days. Not because of any political reason but what he calls “a lot of self-proclaimed experts”. Chatterjee was heard ruing recently that “experts” in various fields are offering free advice to his chief,Mamata Banerjee,through longs letters and voluminous notes. And from from improving panchayat system in the state to converting Kolkata into London,they exhaust every topic under the sun. Often these piles of letters end up on his desk — sent by Mamata herself with instructions that Chatterjee goes through them and salvages every possible nugget of wisdom. Much as he would like to,he does not have the luxury of skipping the mails. From her office,Mamata meticulously keeps record of those despatches. Not only does she remember their content — but worse — is likely to ask him anytime for his opinions and updates.

Fire in Left’s backyard
After 33 years of domination,the ruling Left Front is witnessing dissent and divide in its own flock. The teachers,employees and students unions,which used to be the greatest strength of the Marxists,is up in arms against the party bosses. With the crucial Assembly elections approaching,things are looking worse for the Front,as the Government College Teachers Association — a CPM-backed teachers’ union — has already raised their voice against the government’s decision to bestow university status to Presidency College. Employees of the Calcutta University are demanding arears for increased salary under the Sixth Pay Commission. Now,a section of the Left teachers is also pressing for increasing retirement age from 60 to 65. And last week,the Students Federation of India (SFI) — the students’ wing of the CPM — decided to hit the streets against its own government,demanding a rollback in the fee hike of the state’s private engineering colleges.

Detecting a silver lining in Lalgarh
INDUSTRY might have received a thumbs-down in Bengal,but the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and kicking. While the Maoists have left most of the state shaken,others find there a window of opportunity. Overheard — this conversation between two shopkeepers in Kolkata:
Shopkeeper 1: You can open a telephone booth at Lalgarh. It will do brisk business.
Shopkeer 2: How so?
Shopkeeper 1: The paramilitary forces live mostly in fear there. Often they must be seeking an opportunity to call their near and dear ones. They would need a telephone booth.
Shopkeer 2 (with a grin): You are right. Cellphones in city don’t work due to network problem. I don’t think they work in Lalgarh at all.

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