By Goutam Shankar
At the outset, let me admit that I have no intention of hurting the purity of a politician with the term, ‘Dear.’ I very well remember the bloke who had to face three and a half days’ of not too dear a music from the Bahu turned education minister who was addressed as ‘Dear’ by him.
My use of the term ‘Dear’ here is to denote my adoration and adulation for the Bengal Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee who, besides taking up her state’s political, social and economic vagaries, has her nose to the ground where she can sniff filth and muck and take her Hawaii chappal strides to clean the mess and beautify the places for smooth traffic and snatches of clean air. She was very particular about this cleansing and beautifying factor even during her first innings.
Recently, she took up the cause of the Howrah denizens and held a high level paw-wow session with her ministers, police top brass and the councellor and government officials concerned to make the district habitable in better ways. However, she did laud the efforts of the MLA and the DM and of course, the Councellor for their attempts in the direction by clearing certain places of the vast Howrah areas of dirt and filth.
But a lot remains to be done before the ‘foul’ odor evaporates in spite of the insistent humidity which is another matter that can be tackled with long-duration rains. But reigning in rain is beyond Didi although she has been known to do the impossible. May be, with time, the indomitable Bengalis of naturally Bengal will be able to goad her into doing it before the end of this five-year tenure.
After all, nothing is impossible, by Dear Didi’s grace. She may train her mind and psyche and one day yell during the monsoon, “Let there be rain” and the already falling rain will rain further. Then that will be the CMC’s headache and not mine … or yours.
Didi wants the Howrah roads to be cleansed of hawkers, especially those at the weekly and nationally frequented Mangla Haat held on, naturally and officially, Tuesdays where retail and wholesale traders from all corners of the country crowd the Howrah Haat from early morning to bargain and purchase clothes, garments, banyans and undergarments and what-have-you at incredibly low prices to make a kill at their own markets six days a week; and this process of haat-karobar does not leave any one financially weaker.
Morally? Well, I don’t know. But this is now Didi’s area of concern and I am not denoting the moral cleanliness aspect. She wants the hawkers spilling on to the roads during Mangla Haat to be removed to leave the roads clear for the otherwise hiccupping traffic. I suggest that this Haat be converted into a Sombaar thekey Robibaar Haath where traders and pickpockets can have a leisurely business rendezvous.
That way, the lot of traders can concentrate on their cut-throat sales and the pickpockets can live to pick another day. Moreover, the overflowing lot of hawkers will be able to spare a few inches of the roads as the Haat traders and buyers, onlookers and the omnipresent pakeetmaars would not be interested in a seven day Mangla Haat as every day cannot be a Tuesday.
Now, about the beautification part. Checking the overflowing hawkers at the Haat is a part of it. Checking this breed in the vicinity of the Howrah station is another part.
Controlling these businessmen in this part of the station precincts is difficult but not impossible as that defamatory term is not in our great Didi’s dictionary.
Apart from this ‘waste clearance’ drive, she wants that attempts to beautify the Howrah side of river Hoogly must be taken up in full swing and with dedication.
The other side, the Kolkata side, has been witnessing the beautification undertakings and even the perennial grumbler has to admit that the general visitors and the compulsive lovebirds find the parks and peaceful pathways along the banks of this sacred river a joy to loll in and around.
Dear Didi’s eye for beauty and the beautiful is evident as she is sparkling up the roads that were earlier, nightmarish for wayfarers. Add to that the well designed and decorated lights and lampposts and the ever-agile traffic police and one has a complete picture of growing comfort on the streets and by-lanes.
But if Didi is able to put clamps on corruption-inundated politicians in her Trinamool family and come clear in the Sarada and Narada scams, that would be the best example of beauty taking on the beasts by their horns and cleansing the most unpleasant odor prevailing here.
Didi can set an example for the nation to follow. I offer my advance salutation to the great, dear Didi of ours.
The views expressed are personal of the author. He can be reached at (firstname.lastname@example.org).