Bengali intellectuals, who recently participated in a huge march in Kolkata to denounce the recapture of Nandigram, have floated a platform for a set of demands. These include immediate return of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen to the city and no further pressure on farmers of Nandigram for setting up industry.
"Enough injustice has been done to Taslima by the state government. Now, both the state and central governments should see to it that the writer can return and live in Kolkata with honour and dignity," theatre actress-director Shaonli Mitra, the spokesperson of the platform 'Swajan', told PTI.
"We need to know where she is. She might have been under pressure to withdraw three pages of her book Dwikhandito. I do not hold it as her defeat," said eminent thespian Bibhas Chakrabarty, also a member of Swajan. The uncertainty over Taslima must end immediately, said another theatre personality Arpita Ghosh.
Referring to Nandigram, Mitra said that pressure on farmers for setting up industry in the area might be mounted again once the Central Reserve Police Force was withdrawn from the area. "The administration knows very well the hurdles of Nayachar, the alternative site for the proposed chemical hub. Under such circumstances, we want to convey the message to the people of Nandigram that Swajan is with them. We are regularly keeping contact with the local people. No decision can be allowed to be imposed on them. Consent cannot be engineered," she said.
For Singur, all eyes were on the Calcutta High Court verdict due this month, Mitra said.
Stating that Swajan's purpose was to fight for democratic values and institutions under attack in West Bengal by the ruling party, Chakrabarty said when any government violated the Constitution, the judiciary became the only path to get justice.
"In this context, the recent Supreme Court verdict on judicial activism has created confusion. The verdict is unfortunate. I hope a larger bench will modify the verdict," he said. Referring to the controversy over American thinker Noam Chomsky's statement on the political turmoil in the state, he said, "Chomsky's stand is irresponsible. When he said that the Left should not be divided, he must know the reality. We cease to call the Communist Party of India Marxist a Left party. Chomsky has a wrong notion about the current Left politics in India".
Theatre personality Kaushik Sen said Swajan was in search of an alternative economic model for the country. "We have with us eminent economists, scientists, doctors, social scientists. We expect to shortly present an alternative model," he said.
As for political parties, Swajan did not have any confidence on the opposition, he said. However, time might reorient them. "But we don't believe in a reformed CPI-M as aired by some quarters," he said. "Swajan has started a political process, but it is not a political group. We will work as a watchdog. We regret that intellectuals have not done it for the past thirty years," Sen said.
Echoing the same view, actor-director Bratya Basu said he pinned much hope on Swajan's success. "We will organise seminars, street theatre, make documentaries, write songs, draw pictures and take them to villages. Something more will follow".Arpita Ghosh was in favour of holding debates on political ideologies. "Gandhi appears to be more relevant now," she said. Swajan, floated on December 12, has on its roll, eminent personalities including film director Aparna Sen, painter Shuvaprasanna and poet Joy Goswami.