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Dear Taslima, let's forget Nandigram
November 28, 2007
Firebrand Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen [Images] is on the run. She has driven politicians across the country mad and the media into a tizzy. The Islamists in Bengal want her out of India.
Controversy sells and no one knows it better than the media. Therefore, our tongues are hanging out at the plight of an exiled writer who has been trying to make Kolkata her home for several years. Remember she managed to get a resident visa that is valid till February 2008?
So what? She is an infidel, say fundamentalists, the other side of the same group which had once sniggered at the length of tennis talent Sania Mirza's [Images] skirt.
The Islamists are unhappy with Taslima, there is no confusion about that. But what baffles me � what has that got to do with an issue as grave as Nandigram [Images]? I fail to see any connection between the two. Nandigram, Taslima; Taslima, Nandigram -- I give up. Which is exactly when realisation dawns.
Of course, there is an obvious link -- how could I miss it! -- West Bengal's ruling Left Front government and its sentiment.
The so-called 'secular' ruling faces of Bengal have always been 'overtly' tolerant of and friendly to those practicing Islam. Reason? They comprise the vibrant vote-bank that the Front thrives on. And when the bank threatens to go dry in the face of a Nandigram-like issue, the rulers are left with no choice but to grope for a ploy to divert people's (read intellectuals') attention to an issue absolutely neutral, totally incongruous. To facilitate the process, a scapegoat is required and Taslima just fits the bill.
A well-orchestrated state opera, therefore, sends the writer out of Bengal and ensures that the event hits the headlines everywhere. After all, it is the state government's duty to provide the so-called 'brains' of Bengal a non-Nandigram issue to munch on.
And if the Left shines can BJP be far behind? In comes Narendra Modi [Images] with a generous invite to the controversial writer to make Gujarat her 'home'. In her hideout, Taslima is now having a tough time making up her mind -- New Delhi, Gujarat or Bengal -- what should be her next address? A hyperactive media, I am sure, would soon get us an answer.
For the moment, we can only pray that the writer does not forget to take into account the 'planned genocide' the Gujarat chief minister Modi had perpetrated not too long ago. With Gujarat polls being just round the corner, the about-turn that Modi is doing now is sure to put army cadets practising at Kolkata maidan to shame.
Will Taslima return to Kolkata? It's anybody's guess. But what is evident -- her predicament has managed to take the sting out of anti-Nandigram uprisings in Bengal so thoroughly that even her Communist friends in and around Kolkata would welcome her back to the city with open arms. We are living in a democracy, remember?
Long live democracy! Communism zindabad!