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Hope Over Experience!

Hope Over Experience!

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Statesman
Date: November 11, 2001

Introduction: Buddhadev takes some positive steps

It took an international film festival in Kolkata to bring the CPI-M and BJP on the same platform. The change was evident in Buddhadev Bhattacharya's style before Sushma Swaraj arrived in the city on Saturday. When Saugata Roy was stopped at the gates of Writers' Buildings where he had gone to meet the chief minister, it was due to overreaction of security staff. Buddhadev is more accessible as a BJP delegation discovered, even sympathetic to the views of his adversaries. He has reversed the party's rigid stand on sharing a dais with an opposition leader, as when Atal Behari Vajpayee came to Kolkata to release a music album. Buddhadev was then the cultural affairs minister and was obliged to abide by the party's directives. Now with Basu gone, there are distinctly healthy signs that his ideas of a "new Left'', spelt out in a party document, includes accommodating other views. Ideological differences need not come in the way of giving the Left a human face. Of course Mamata Banerjee may interpret this welcome change as drawing a distinction between two members of the NDA in which the spirit of bonhomie is applied to a party without roots in the state. Such a view is unfair to the chief minister's genuine respect of views other than his own. It needs to e said that the changes are due to Buddhadev's good manners and deserve a welcome.

To drive home the point that he proposes to allow full play to his personal reputation for honesty and integrity and wanting to provide good government, he has also chosen to appeal for Left unity. This is not only because the CPI-M alone is no longer in an unassailable position. He needs a positive response from Left partners to proceed with result-oriented programmes in departments under their control. H His new effort is a healthy mixture of firmness and tact. No questions need to be asked while uprooting encroachers in government hospitals. Nor is anyone likely to complain when he tries to restrain ministers like Kalimuddin Shams. The challenge is whether he can get his own party colleagues in vital positions to perform and whether Alimuddin Street will understand that his brave new style is not only the right thing to do but will also reap dividends elsewhere. Buddhadev is right to first put his own house in order. The basic challenge is to present a face that rises above a rigid Left culture and the evils that have accumulated over the last 25 years. It is a challenging task and, after one year in office, Buddhadev remains a symbol of hope.

If Jyoti Basu will let him function and not make last demands like not changing the Advocate-General for fear that Chandan Basu will suffer, Buddhadev would make faster progress. Will Basu please leave the government alone?

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