March 31, 2012

Coexisting Without Converging

It’s surprising how India’s political history will sometimes play out in the street as unintended coincidences as I found out in Kolkata.

I had little doubt that the freshly painted announcement by the All India Forward Bloc, a Left-wing Socialist party, calling on people to attend its 16th State Conference in 2009 did not intend to announce it with the blessings of the Indian National Congress, nor in its shadow however faint.

However, the juxtaposition of Forward Bloc’s symbol, Leaping Tiger and Hammer and Sickle, with the Hand, the Congress symbol, inadvertently highlighted their historical association.

And the irony of the Hand (Congress Symbol) in the background looking over the Forward Bloc announcement would not have been lost on the politically conscious Bengali, more so considering the reverence with which they hold Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

The All India Forwad Bloc emerged in 1939 after Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, having resigned from the Presidency of the Indian National Congress after a bitter fallout following differences with the leadership, broke away from the Congress and formed the Forward Bloc.

While the presence of the hand-rickshaw puller in the picture, the working class that Forward Bloc sought to represent using the hammer and sickle in its symbol, indicated Forward Bloc’s continuing relevance, its present-day reach however does not quite reflect it, marginalised further with Trinamool sweeping the Left from power last year.

Surely the juxtaposition had to be an oversight, the kind you’d expect from a painter rushing from one job to another, with barely the time to whitewash the wall of all its previous claimants to public attention before painting his new client’s political announcement. In this case he had left the Congress (Hand) alone even if weathered from gracing the wall.

Except that the announcement painted on the wall was across the street from All India Forward Bloc’s Jorasanko Local Committee office in Mukta Ram Babu Street. From above reading boards with local news, its office window looked out acoss the street at the wall opposite.

At the very least, the Forward Bloc sharing the wall with Congress would remind passers-by of its origins and its turmoil within wrought by Sheelbhadra Yagee and Mohan Singh seeking its re-unification with the Congress in 1955 resulting in a split and their expulsion, and the murder in 1971 of its Chairman, Hemanta Kumar Basu, allegedly at the hands of Congress workers.

Given India’s nature and history, it’s possible for coincidences to be mistaken for wilful acts, and for wilful acts to be passed away as coincidences.


All India Forward Bloc Party Conference


Riot Kitty said...

Thank you for the very interesting history. That last paragraph is rather cryptic.

PallSin said...

Another enchanting post. Shows your ease with history. Thanks for this :)

Anil P said...

Riot Kitty: India is cryptic :-)

Pall Sin: Thank you. Learning for me as well :-)

Meena Venkataraman said...

So true!!... Beautifully observed and beautifully written

Anil P said...

Meena Venkataraman: Thank you.

Pavni Talwar said...

Nice pics! It's give some useful information about our history. Great photo's