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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Marxists end their honeymoon with left intellectuals

By Tushar Charan - Syndicate Features


With more than three years of the five-year term of the state assembly still left before it faces the polls, it is disappointing to note that CPI (M), the dominant party in West Bengal’s Left Front, is not even embarrassed, leave alone shamed, by the barrage of criticism on the way it has handled the situation in Nandigram. But the series of tragic and unfortunate incidents in Nandigram since the beginning of the year have shattered many myths about the Left rule in West Bengal, especially the image of the big brother CPI (M). The honeymoon between the intellectual classes and the CPI-M had perhaps lasted too long.

Even as groaning voices kept wafting out of West Bengal in the past not many outside the state were ready to shed the romantic notions about a party with leaders who looked ideologically and sincerely ‘committed’ to the cause of the poor and the unprivileged and were known to be the least enamoured of avarice unlike the politicians from other parties. A party like the CPI (M) was supposed to be free of the common vices of other parties like crime, corruption and sycophancy. Prolonged exposures from Nandigram have altered (if not erased) that image drastically.

Despite the popular conception—largely based on the governance in what was once known as the Eastern Bloc-- that the comrades have no belief in it, the CPI (M) and its allies notched up more points by proclaiming their belief in democracy. The CPI (M) appeared to many as a unique Indian party where its leaders lived simply, preached what they practised and believed in accepting the poll verdict.

The admiration, though silent and unspoken, for the comrades was high and widespread in intellectual institutions. It was assumed that higher institutions of learning would have a predominance of ‘Leftists’ among both students and teachers. A good number of top civil servants had flaunted their Left leanings before entering the portals of privilege. States ruled by the Left were known as ‘progressive’ as opposed to the retrograde states run by petty bourgeoisie politicians who had embraced ‘anti-people’ policies.

Now we have it from a person no less than Justice S. Rajendra Babu, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission that the Nandigram incidents are among the ‘worst scars’ on the face of India. (Incidentally, if it is of any importance the Justice comes from a ‘progressive’ state.) The West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, was stumped. When asked to give his reaction, all that he could say was that he would give his reaction after he had ‘studied’ the remarks of the NHRC chairman.

That reply appeared to be rather uncharacteristic of the post-Nandigram Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who had described the mass murder and rape by the musclemen of his party in Nandigram as a (befitting) ‘reply in the same coin’ to the ‘goons’ who had earlier driven out his cadres. This cavalier if not offensive expression shocked Kolkata’s vast intellectual circles, most of whom were among his admirers. He had no qualms about choosing words that could well have been spoken by Narendra Modi of Gujarat after the latter’s ‘cadres’ had executed a state-sponsored pogrom of the minorities. It earned Modi a notoriety with which he has to live his entire life.

Outside the Hindutva world of the Sangh Parivar, not many would like to be compared to Modi. But if the Gujarat chief minister had reportedly given a three-day amnesty (vide Tehelka exposures) to his ‘goons’ to stage an orgy of murder, rape and pilferage in his state, in West Bengal the state machinery had had a much longer holiday—almost a year. There must be only a thin line that distinguishes the fascism of the kind Sangh Parivar pursues and the brand patented by the CPI (M).

Actually, it may be worse in West Bengal. Despite incompetence, suspected bias and unpardonable delays before they swung into action, the state security apparatus did manage to show its presence in Gujarat. In Nandigram the state actually refused to summon the police and even prevented the forces sent by the Centre from doing their duty. All because the state government had more faith in its own party’s armed cadres whose given assignment was to ‘teach a lesson’ to the opponents.

If the Left Front government in West Bengal has its way, it is the armed and undisciplined party cadres who would manage the law and order situation in every state in the country. That would place the party and its interests above the units of the state and the people who live in them. The Bengal comrades have also shown that engaging dissenters and opponents in dialogue is a waste of time, a fruitless pursuit.

Criticism from any quarter can send the comrades fuming; more so when it comes from the Raj Bhavan where the incumbent had actually asked for some kind of introspection by the state government when it failed to deal with Nandigram adequately. It is ironic that it was the Left, still puffing with anger over their spats with previous governors like A.P. Sharma and T. Rajeshwar that had asked for Gopal Gandhi to be sent to Kolkata’s Raj Bhavan.

The poor farmers of West Bengal have been wrong in the eyes of the CPI (M) to oppose the land acquisition programme of the communist ruled West Bengal. The ruling party decided that the farmers’ organisation, the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee deserved no hearing, especially when many Maoists and ‘goons’ of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress had managed to infiltrate it. The only way to deal with them was to ‘teach them a lesson’ by beating them black and blue, raping their women folks, burning their homes and hearths and if they still survived and wished to return home, make them pay fines.

The West Bengal government’s determination to acquire land—mostly on behalf of the much maligned capitalists—would have been admirable had it not been for the fact that elsewhere in India the comrades think it is a cardinal sin. Except West Bengal, the comrades have been in the forefront of opposing special economic zones in the rest of India.

However, the contradictions in their new philosophy of industrialisation that looks quite pro-capitalists had become apparent even before Nandigram when the land acquisition plan in Singur had turned violent. It was perhaps a sign of the arrogance that has crept in the ranks of the comrade rulers who did not want to learn any lesson from Singur. Now they have even harder lessons to learn, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s public regret over Nandigram show notwithstanding.

- Syndicate Features -

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