Finally revealed: The secret message in that Mamata cartoon

It was not a cartoon at all. It was a coded message about party warfare and murder and annihilation.

That’s the line some Trinamool leaders are coming up with as they struggle to explain why that Mamtoon has them seeing red.

Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien fired the first salvo in an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai.

“In the last 30 years or so 53,000 of my co-workers in Trinamool Congress have been butchered by the CPIM,”  O’Brien said to Sardesai. O’Brien was trying to set the context to the statements of the TMC minister who laid down the no social contact with CPM rule to his party cadres – no marrying CPM, no drinking tea with CPM, no adda with CPM.

The Mamtoon that is at the centre of a big controversy.

Now here’s the cartoon connection. Bear with us. It requires a few mental leaps. Remember in that cartoon take-off on Satyajit Ray’s detective film Sonar Kella, the Mamata figure  tells the Mukul Roy character “Dushtu lok, vanish.” (“Naughty person, vanish”) and the Dinesh Trivedi character disappears.

“The term ‘vanish’ has a different connotation for CPM workers,” Krishnakali Basu who organised a pro-TMC academics march explained to the Times of India. “It’s not merely a term used by the character Mandar Bose in the Satyajit Ray epic; it is how the CPM harmads bump off their rivals.”

What makes it more egregious said other TMC supporters was that this was not a cartoon at all. Look, it is not a distorted image of the Dear Leader, it’s her real photograph.

Basu had organised a march in Kolkata on Wednesday after academics and supporters of the Ambikesh Mahapatra led a large contingent in a silent march through the southern part of the city. Sukanta Chaudhuri, professor emeritus at Jadavpur University told The Telegraph that while there had been “indefensible persecution of people in the past” what happened to Ambikesh Mahapatra was in a league of its own. He was not an activist who was sticking his neck out and so mentally prepared for retribution, however wrong that retribution might be, as happened to the molecular biologist who was thrown into jail for ten days for his support of slumdwellers who were being evicted.

“Ambikeshbabu was doing something so common like forwarding a joke on email,” said Chaudhuri. “If this could lead to such consequences, then which of us is safe?” “People will think twice about coming to study or teach in Bengal if this is the way in which the academic community is treated,” said Supriya Chaudhuri, Sukanta’s wife and fellow academic.

With the cartoon controversy refusing to die down, TMC is battling the latest no sleeping with the enemy controversy. "Aren't some khap panchayats ready, willing and able to kill to preserve their gotra rules? So why shouldn't political parties do likewise? After all, what's losing a mere daughter compared to losing an election?" writes Bachi Karkaria sarcastically in her column in TOIThe Telegraph is having a field day with reports on how complicated life is going to become in Bengal whose own byzantine joint family soap operas might get new plotlines thanks to this injunction.

Derek O’Brien told Sardesai he would never sit next to a Left Front MP in parliament. But his brother Barry and father Neil were nominated to parliament by the Left Front government to represent the Anglo-Indian community. Unfair, said Derek. They are  not members of a political party.

Trinamool’s Lok Sabha MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar has an uncle in the Lok Sabha as well – the CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta. Maheswar Mukherjee, the Trinamool block president in Asansol shares his home with his cousin Sagar Mukherjee, the CPM zonal committee secretary. Even more scandalous, they sometimes share a meal together. Not to be outdone in this game of  family feud, the Forward Bloc has kicked out two leaders because their sons have joined the Trinamool Congress reports the Ananda Bazar Patrika.

What makes the whole diktat even more ridiculous is that even as its minister was laying down the no-truck-with-Communists rule, Trinamool members in a village in Midnapore are accused of stripping and beating a woman who headed the local CPI  Women’s Committee because she had refused to join the Trinamool.

Meanwhile the Bengal government is making the most of the one bit of surprise good news it got yesterday. Mamata Banerjee made it into the Time 100 list of most influential people. In his profile of her for Time, Ishan Tharoor wrote she is a “consummate politician” who “out-Marxed the Marxists” and “emerged as a populist woman of action.” Mamata said it was “an honour for Ma Maati Manush.”

If she reads the whole list of 100, she might also notice one Ali Ferzat. She’d do well to read  his story as well. He’s a Syrian cartoonist whose hands were broken by Bashar Assad’s goons to stop him from drawing cartoons. “In the end, the joke is on the regime,” goes the profile. “It thought it could silence Ferzat and break his will by breaking his hands. Instead it created a powerful symbol who draws cartoons the whole world is now reading. Talk about a great punch line.”

Updated Date: Apr 19, 2012 15:34 PM

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