Monday, March 16, 2009

Kabir Suman: Mamata Banerjee’s cute ‘Muslim’ candidate

The Congress party (INC) high command has ultimately declared that their party will ally with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the coming Lok Sabha polls in Bengal. After hesitating for some time and begging behind her for no clear reason, the party has finally succumbed to Trinamool chieftain’s effectual arm-twisting. Gulping their own, the party high command has unconditionally accepted all of Mamata’s pre-poll terms and conditions. Though the alliance formula is virtually a sell-out of the Bengal Congress to Mamata's party which has caused extreme dejection of the genuine Congress workers of the state, party leaders sitting in Delhi are showing a brave face. Justifying this meek surrender at Mamata Banerjee’s feet, the tacticians of the Congress party has said that the alliance is shaped in accordance with the ‘aspiration’ of Bengal’s anti-left public – to prevent anti-left votes from splitting. It’s disgraceful to watch the worried face of a century old grand party uncertain about sustaining the minimal influence it holds in certain pockets of Bengal. Is it an alliance, seat adjustment or simple understanding? Will Trinamool cut off its tie with NDA? Is there a possibility of Trinamool joining UPA? All these questions remained unanswered. Obviously, both the sides are not sure enough about the post election scenario.

However, like in all previous elections in Bengal, there is an upbeat atmosphere deliberately manufactured by the local and national print/electronic media to project a sure collapse of the Left and a sure success of this dubious alliance. Apparatchik columnists are working overtime to establish that the Left has reached a tipping point in Bengal and after the TMC-INC alliance “voters have a genuine choice” to push them out.

In a recent article, one Delhi-based armchair economist/columnist is too keyed up to ensure that the readers see only what he desires them to see. By using selective and manipulated statistics that fits his impish agenda of portraying the Left governance in Bengal as a total failure, he has even exceeded Mamata Banerjee’s own estimation on the outcome of the coming election and forecasted 8 seats out of total 42 to the Left! In the same article he has also suggested that “The Left’s governance record doesn’t warrant its being voted back” and loftily counseled the Left that “…some years in opposition may be good”. By sheer excitement the stupid columnist has overlooked the fact that he is not writing in the context of an Assembly poll. The Parliamentary election outcome can’t depose or reinstate the Left in Bengal. Impatient he might feel today but he has no option but to wait till 2011 to know whether the people of Bengal has rejected the Left or not. Also, neither Mamata nor the Congress leaders are in a position to assure whether the present opportunistic alliance is going to continue after the polls or not.

To woo the influential Muslim voters of Bengal, the ecstatic Mamata is now flamboyantly displaying her Muslim compassion and is boastful about her four Muslim candidates. Launching her party’s election campaign from Nandigram, Mamata on Saturday has reportedly said how the Trinamool Congress has selectively placed their Muslim candidates in ‘winning’ seats only. The Left Front in comparison has assigned all ‘losing’ seats for their Muslim candidates to contest. It is hard to identify with this ‘winning seat-losing seat’ jargon as in the last election Trinamool had won only one seat! Interesting enough, one of her Muslim candidate is the infamous Kabir Suman, the agnostic-nihilist-anarchist and self proclaimed polygamous singer. Kabir Suman doesn't believe in the institution of marriage but amazingly has wed five times ‘out of deep respect for the woman’! (The Telegraph, 2 September 2007) Media report suggests that his former German wife Maria had dragged him to court on grounds of torture. His international career as a bride-groom is inert for now following his marriage with Sabina Yasmin, a noted singer from Bangladesh. As a requisite to marry Sabina, he embraced Islam and became a Muslim. Kabir Suman himself has given a different ‘progressive’ reason of his conversion: “I decided to get rid of my Hindu Brahmin identity on the day that Graham Staines and his two boys were burnt alive.” The Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons were murdered in Keonjhar district of Orissa in January 1999 by Dara Singh, an affiliate of Bajrang Dal – the Hindu hooligan-activist group. The Bajrang Dal is intimately tied up with the hydra-headed RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) just like BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) – its political wing. It is worthy of note that in October the same year, Mamata Banerjee had pompously joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and became the Railways Minister.

While announcing her list of female candidates, Mamata Banerjee evidently stated that people should not consider her as a ‘female’ at all as she thinks herself just ‘a human being’. She ‘belongs’ among everything and therefore is above any gender identity. By saying so she has cleared all anxiety from the minds of her devoted admirers who were getting quite nervous about Kabir Suman’s proximity and subsequent encroachment.

Kabir Suman is the only celebrity from the big names of Bengal’s intellectual fraternity and civil society campaigners of Singur-Nandigram agitation who has blissfully agreed to contest the polls with a Trinamool ticket. It is certainly a big disappointment not to find any other ‘awake and aware’ names in the Trinamool list! This ‘cultural crusader’, as the media loves to describe him, has passed adulatory remarks on Mamata to a TV channel immediately after his candidature was announced by her. He proclaimed that Mamata is not only necessary for Bengal or India but is also immensely crucial for the well being of the entire planet!

Recently, in a hot gathering of Trinamool party workers, Kabir Suman elevated his sycophancy to a newer level. He reportedly remarked that “Mamata does not just mean Mamata Banerjee. It means our soil, our earth, water and animals” and asked the party workers to start greeting each other by ‘Jai Mamata’. “Bengal never had any democracy. Today democracy is emerging …” he ecstatically reveled to the crowd. (see link) Kabir Suman carries a sly brain inside his head. Whether he will win the election or lose is a different question but it took him lesser time to grasp the cajoling culture of Trinamool.

In a sense Kabir Suman shares a reciprocal relationship with Mamata. Like Mamata, Kabir Suman also has a stinking mouth. In a protest gathering during the peak Nandigram days, Kabir Suman pulled a girl to the stage and yelled against the CPI(M) leaders, “Son of a whore Laxman Seth, dumbfuck Binoy Kongar, come and rape in CPM style…let’s see what you can do!” (see link) A good section of bhadrolok (gentleman) Bengalis were highly impressed by his ‘let’s kill three CPM everyday’ appeal as a bold and daring attempt to register protest against the CPI(M) ‘atrocities’. He had once enthralled his audience by turning his buttocks towards them and asking them to find out how sweet they are. Otherwise why do his critics, those who “don't have the brains or the balls to understand me” love to pinch them? This firebrand jack of all trades poet-lyricist-composer-singer-journalist-writer-actor-activist’s frequent and spontaneously disgorged F-words are also been appreciated by a section of the ‘cultured’ Bengali middle class who loves to see in him a Bengali Bob Dylan. They get emotionally tempted to admire this lexicon and irreverent attitude. One intense critic of CPI(M) has once furiously written (see link) that the enduring contribution of the thirty two-year rule of the CPI(M) in Bengal is “vulgarization of the Bengali language, vandalization of the Bengali culture”. Why can’t the author, a former Secretary to the Government of India, for once mention that the language of Kabir Suman is similarly “threatening the very basis of Bengali language”? He probably contemplates the language of Kabir Suman as a blow for blow response to the ‘vulgar’ CPI(M) and thus praiseworthy!

In the year 2001, Kabir Suman had created a great fuss when he claimed to receive a phone call threatening to blow up his house. Immediately this former Voice of America (VOA) employee started distributing a chain of e-mails to his friends and well-wishers using a Bangladesh-based website. He wrote in the mail that though he was “…quite used to such threats since 1993” things have become “even worse now” and he is “not feeling safe in Kolkata”. He also alleged that “I have never felt secure in this city and in this state”. (The Times of India, 10 September 2001) This deceitful and obnoxious plot was hatched by him to establish his core agenda: how dangerously unsafe Kolkata has become under the Left rule (read CPIM rule) where a law abiding citizen, especially a ‘Muslim’ like him can be so easily threatened. This is a typical Mamata Banerjee style gimmickry and deception that Kabir Suman has flawlessly adopted. However we still remember that the same law abiding citizen was once reprimanded by the Kolkata police because he was found to be abusing and threatening a popular Bengali screen actor every night on telephone.

Kabir Suman’s entrance into the Bengal cultural milieu in the early 1990s with songs dotted with sympathetic social commentary and bouts of progressivism had acted as a balm on the urban emotions of Bengali youth. In his songs he articulated about his dream of bringing a change in the system, a dream very near and dear to the heart of the Bengali middle class. He sang about his hope to see worldwide collective farms before dying, sang about familiar anger, rages and unknown reconciliation, on endless longing for a classless society, about unsung victims and heroes, about the disgust, disdain and adoration of urban life. His lyrics were highly critical about vote bank politics, has ‘artistically and intellectually’ criticized the mainstream communist parties for adapting the path of parliamentary democracy. His advice to the Rajus and Amits of the younger generation was to keep away from vote politics and bombs which he considered equally dangerous for their future. Today after his candidature was announced, the same Kabir Suman has said, “If anything has to be changed it has to be through parliamentary democracy.” To him, “Trinamool Congress is not merely a political party, it is a movement.” Days are not far when we may find him pronouncing that Trinamool Congress is the only political party and Mamata Banerjee is the only leader ‘not only in Bengal or India but in the entire planet’ that will bring to an end his ‘endless longing for a classless society'.

The French writer Andre Gide once said that a true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception and lies with sincerity. The words of Gide fittingly delineates Mamata Banerjee’s cute and celebrity ‘Muslim’ candidate Kabir Suman.

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