It was the strangest of times.The communists in Bengal had gone wild.Budhadeb,the progressive face of the red was marking out special economic zones .The public in feeble attempts to stop the industrial houses were protesting in the opposition's platform and their voices.Momta di was the messiah.Comrades went over-board trying to supress the voices of dissent.Their excesses in Nandigram saw repercussions in the adjacent states.The headlines spelt doom for Budhadeb.
In Jharkhand, the elections were on .The police,the politicians and the jungle were a law in itself.The last but a week of March withnessed a complete stand-still as far as any kind of work being done was concerned.Everything that moved were carted to the politician's rally.The jungle law seemed abnormally near.People you talked to everyday,people who greeted you with their hands on their heart were being fried away with smuggled guns.The reality of India shining,an upwardly mobile India with everything gleaming was in sharp contrast to the villages in Jharkhand where people live in mud-houses in stark poverty.
As we engineered our car through the gullies in between the mud- houses and make-shift roads made by our tyres,one saw the enormity of the task a conceintious government had in hand.
There was Nandeo and his wife Sheila Devi .They lived in the middle of a cluster of make-shift houses.They were nearing the eve of their lives.Their son had gone away to a bigger city to earn his living .He would get a few bucks back ,but there would be a bigger price to pay in terms of loss of innocence,heaps of bad habbit and invariably some disease.The luckier ones would get away with tuberculosis and the more adventurous lot would harbour the HIV virus.
Bengal is quiet.Budhadeb is still around-'Nano'-the cheapest car in the world moved out of Nandigram . It is to roll out from a factory in Gujarat.Momta di is gearing up for the elections.
In Jharkhand,the president's rule is on after the state government collapsed for the 'i don't remember how many times'
March has definately come in and guess what?we have't had a bundh for two full weeks.It's a record of sorts.People are still being fried away-the last I heard it was the gentle burra babu with his four assistants from the adjacent thana.
The people in Jharkhand continue to live in the same stark poverty-the muddy gullies exist-there is one difference though-there is no elected government.
'Slum-dog millionaire' has won eight oscars.
Nandeo and his wife Sheila are alive and kicking.Their son is back without the disease!