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Donald Trump effigy burnt in Calcutta

Rallying left ‘awaiting software update’

By Subhankar Chowdhury in Calcutta

  • Published 25.02.20, 1:52 AM
  • Updated 25.02.20, 1:52 AM
A Trump effigy being burnt at a Left union rally on Monday.
A Trump effigy being burnt at a Left union rally on Monday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Thank you, Mr President, for the good old memories and the almost-forgotten slogans.

When US President Donald Trump was receiving a rapturous welcome in Ahmedabad, some noise was being made in Calcutta, too.

Slogans such as “Down, down, capitalism” and “Imperialist Trump go back” rent the air at a protest rally by 12 Left students’ unions on Monday in Calcutta in a throwback to the Calcutta of the 1960s and 1970s.

The rally started from the base of Lenin’s statue in Esplanade and was to proceed through Chowringhee Road till American Center. Police stopped them in front of Park Street Metro station.

The anti-US rally and the slogans prompted a Calcutta-based academic to quip: “The Left software has not been updated. They were raising the same slogans their predecessors had raised 50 years ago. I wonder whether they realise that when the Left Front was in power in Bengal, they worked overtime to woo big capital.”

During the march, the Left supporters shouted: “Down, down, down capitalism/Up, up, up socialism” and “Capitalism hai hai/Nirav Modi paliye jai/Corporate dalal Donald Trump dur hatho (Down with capitalism/Nirav Modi flees/Corporate broker Donald Trump go back)”.

And, of course, there was that staple Left slogan that was coined during the Vietnam war in the Sixties: “Maarkin samrajyabad-er kalo haath bhenge dao, gunriye dao (Break and crush the black hands of American imperialism).”

Ushashi Pal, a postgraduate student of Jadavpur University who was at the rally, said: “What Modi is doing by wooing Trump would only consolidate property in the hands of the super-rich.”

Harvard history professor Sugata Bose has never been known to be charitable towards the Left but he suggested there were more reasons to protest Trump than just his association with big capital. “People like him are a threat to a genuine democracy,” he said. “Also, our government is not behaving in a way it should in receiving a foreign head of state, however important. Therefore, I think that under these circumstances the protests can be legitimate.”