Red Calcutta – or Kolkatta for the hard-core Bongs – is changing color. It is being painted Blue by Mamta Bannerjee, and with a vengeance. All the bridges, the road dividers, the bus stops and the the Government building are being given a new coat.
Interestingly, in this city of highly sensitive citizenry, even the private apartment complexes are being directed to paint their exteriors blue in keeping with the new hues of the City of joy. Even when they are being asked to do so at their own expense!
The Mayor of Calcutta – Sovan Chatterjee – sees this as an opportunity to differentiate Calcutta a bit.
“If Jaipur is known as the pink city, Kolkata can also be known as a blue city. Under the direction of Mamata Banerjee we are using a uniform colour for Kolkata,”
The total cost of this change? Rs 80 crores. Money that could have been utilized for feeding the poor or doing something useful for them. The truth is that such money is never used for that. Not that programs for poor aren’t important, but all the talk of “could have used the money for poor” is a stale and a useless argument if it is not backed by a polity which prides of audit of the programs and political action.
What Mamata Bannerjee is doing is ridiculous because it would not change the city or its situation and miraculously lead them to the growth. But the argument by the Communists – who are opposing it tooth and nail – is also cliched and ineffective. It is not as if, when the Communists weren’t spending the money on painting the town blue – they were using this money for the poor. The poor, on the contrary, increased during the Communist rule. Because only hopelessly poor, Government employees and the unemployed love to look for a social structure of entitlement without any responsibility.
Since even the cab drivers have to get their vehicles all blue, they aren’t a happy bunch.
“This would change our identity,” said Balwinder Singh, joint secretary of the Bengal Taxi Association, noting that yellow taxis are a long-familiar sight on city streets. “Rather than allocating money for paint, the government could invest in state transport,” Mr. Singh said.
On the other hand there are still enough hard core Calcuttans, who still think that their city is epitome of cultural society.
“We don’t need a colorful identity to glorify our city,” said Kaustabh Mukherjee, a 33-year old software engineer in Kolkata. “The city’s rich heritage is enough to speak for itself.”
Hopefully the new color will also change the future of the city
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