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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Not Satire: Mamata Banerjee and North Korea

by | May 27th, 2012 | 07:00 am

Most of our “not satire” entries take one of two forms: the weird things the North Koreans themselves say and do with a straight face (soccer players struck by lightening; ostrich farms; North Korea filing claims against KEDO); and the even weirder things that come out of the mouths of foreigners enamored with the place. My colleague Marc Noland has served up some doozies in the latter category from the ANC Youth League and we joined the rest of the world in piling on British journalist Simon Winchester.

This one is a bit different, but is nonetheless highly worthy of the tag.  Mamata Banerjee is the charismatic populist chief minister of West Bengal. Banerjee took power in 2011, ending 34 years of communist rule; by far the longest stretch in world history for a Communist party to hold power through the ballot box. However, Banerjee is more than a little intolerant of dissent. In an infamous case covered by the Washington Post, an Indian chemistry professor was beaten by party workers from Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress Party and subsequently arrested after circulating a satirical cartoon about the First Secretary.

Asked about the cartoon in a subsequent Washington Post story, Banerjee “launched into a tirade about how her Marxist political opponents were plotting with Maoist rebels to discredit and kill her, in league with Pakistani intelligence and financed by North Korea, Venezuela and Hungary.”

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the newest axis of evil: Caracas, Islamabad, Pyongyang and…Budapest. The Communist opposition is having a field day with the allegations, but whether they can effectively counter this North Korea head fake is far from certain. And who knows? Maybe Banerjee, who built a career running against the Communists, made some offhanded comment about Marxism that riled the KPA Supreme Command Special Operations Action Team.