Category Archives: West Bengal

>Mamata Banerjee and friends: the Singur siege

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One of Mamata Banerjee’s greatest achievements in Bengal today is the peculiar beehive she has constructed around herself. This conglomeration comprises virgin Marxists, ultra communists, political opportunists, renegades, NGOs, fundamentalists, right wing and left wing intelligentsia; all fervently anti-CPIM. Each one of them is finding solace under her competent leadership and audacious approach for an eye to eye confrontation with a ‘Stalinist’ party. This group also has an undeniably flexible body, one which can lovingly kiss the frog and the snake at the same time. Two recent fascinating additions in her bandwagon are Medha Patkar and Amar Singh. The first one is an ‘acclaimed’ social activist, constantly bleeding for the poor and subjugated. After the much hyped ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ failed to halt the Sardar Sarovar dam project subsequent to a Supreme Court ruling, this activist is scavenging all directions to find another fitting prey to ponder upon. She has now found Bengal a comfy place and Mamata Banerjee a reliable stanchion to revitalize her lost significance as a fierce agitator.
The second member is a high profile political vermin who has dashed in from nowhere and found Mamata Banerjee a ‘dear ally’. After reaching the siege sight at Singur in his Mercedes – Benz, this political crook pleaded apology to the ‘oppressed’ farmers of Bengal for his earlier stands on Singur-Nandigram saying he was ‘misguided by the CPM leaders’. Let the Singur agitators just forget and forgive the incidence of Dadri (Ghaziabad) where on 8th July 2006, UP police under Mulayam Singh government fired indiscriminately on the farmers who were similarly agitating against fertile land acquisition for Anil Ambani’s power project. The project was initiated and patronized by Uttar Pradesh Development Council (UPDC) under the chair of Amar Singh, Mulayam Singh’s closest confidant. Medha Patkar was then on the opposite side, a part and parcel of the ongoing agitation. Let the Singur agitators also ignore the fact that this same Amar Singh, who is now voicing tough words from Mamata Banerjee’s podium against the Tata project, was earlier proactive to grasp the same project for Uttar Pradesh.

Blatant hypocrisy, vicious jealousy, megalomania, denigration, intolerance and bigotry – all the typical Bengali characteristics are getting detonated on this new platform provided by Mamata Banerjee. This assembly, as anticipated, is the last hope to ‘liberate’ the despaired and strained Bengal populace from thirty years of uninterrupted Left Front misrule. Who can dare to disagree with the hovering notion that anti-CPM voices are the genuine representatives of democracy today?

It looks like Mamata Banerjee and her team of louts has finally hit the bull’s eye. Her ‘uncompromising’ stand on the disputed 400 acres (compensation is pending for 305.47 acres of land among which 51.11 acres are under legal disputes. The actual figure then is 254.36 acres, where the owners have truly refused to accept compensation. Therefore, Mamata Banerjee’s demand to return ‘400 acres’ is a blatant lie) of the Tata Motors plant at Singur is approaching the predicted outcome. On 22 August 2008, Tata group chairman Mr. Ratan Tata while addressing media queries has said that he is ready to pull out from Singur at any time if ‘Bengal feels that Tatas are unwanted’. He categorically said, “If anybody is under the impression that, because we have made this large investment of about Rs 1,500 crore, we will not move, then they are wrong. It is not a hypocritical investment…. We would move, whatever the cost, to protect our people (employees).”

Mamata Banerjee must be very satisfied after Ratan Tata’s concerned address. The mass she represents in Bengal also must be pretty pleased with their leader’s great fortitude to achieve the desired goal. After all, isn’t she fighting for the poor but unyielding farmers from whom the wretched LF government and the Stalinist CPM has grabbed land and gifted to the Tatas? Replying to Ratan Tata’s warning Mamata Banerjee replied, “Tata was not here for so long – did the people of Bengal starve to death?” After all, who the hell is this Tata? Why did the WB government provide them ‘undue advantage’? The Tatas have invested only Rs 1,500 crores while ‘several other industrialists are making a beeline to invest in Bengal’ was her candid response.

These sermons coming out from the chattering lips of a self declared ‘industry friendly’ leader is enough assurance for the section of Bengali psyche which wants to carry on farming and fishing uninterruptedly and still hopes to attain a bright future in the 21st century. Mamata Banerjee is indeed a very popular leader in today’s Bengal and many Bengalis consider her as the sole spokesman of anti-CPIM sentiments in the state. Her course of political action (or destruction) is directly correlated with the popular support she enjoys. For people outside Bengal, it might be unbelievable to watch enthusiastic crowd applauding in joy when their popular leader urges a major industrialist group like Tata to depart with prestigious projects from the state. But in Bengal it is an absolutely normal scene. Anti-CPIM populace in this state has found the appropriate leader they deserve.

In context with the whole project what is the role of the ‘400 acres’ Mamata Banerjee is referring to? This land is allocated for 55 ancillary units, which are an indispensable part of the main car plant. These units are expected to generate more jobs than the main plant. 30 of the 55 units have already started their works. The easy proximity to these units will help the Nano project lessen its inventory level and thus ensure cost reduction. If these units are setup outside and far-off, the production cost of Nano will be higher and most likely it cannot maintain its one lakh pricing. This is elementary mathematics which even a kid will understand. But Mamata Banerjee and her advisers are not kids. She suggested an alternative plan, “There are 500 acres opposite to the factory location, which CPIM promoters have bought from the farmers. The state government was looking for the alternative. Here is the alternative.” Media investigators have revealed that the alternative land she is suggesting has not being bought by CPM promoters but by many other small industries, directly from farmers who are now willing to sell their farmland as the price of land has sharply climbed up in Singur.

From the total 13103 owners of 997.11 acquired acres, 10852 owners have already accepted the compensation (82.82 percent). 2251 owners (17.17 percent) who owned 305.47 acres has not yet received or accepted the compensation. Nirupam Sen, the Bengal minister of industries have raised a snappy question: in a democracy, what should be the conclusive decision of a democratically elected government based on these figures? Scrapping off the project or to go ahead with it?

Let us deal with just two facts about the misrule of the Left Front government:

The first: from 1990-91 to 2004-05 the per capita agricultural production of food grains in India has dropped from 200 to 180 kg. But in Bengal it has grown from 160 to 190 kg. What does it mean? It basically means that compared to India, Bengal has done remarkably well in food grain production in the recent years. The present crisis of soaring prices in the country, a direct result of low production of food grains is therefore not a contribution of the state of Bengal. The industrialization drive of the Left Front government should be viewed from this perspective.

The second: total agricultural land acquired for industry purposes by the WB government in 2005-08 was 10207 acres. Assess this figure with the 29937 acres of land distributed under land reform program in the same years. In comparison with the land distributed in the first two decades of Left Front rule these figures are low due to a narrower base of land available for redistribution at present. Even today, the extent of land distributed in West Bengal is much higher than the extent of land acquired. (Land reform continues in West Bengal: V.K. Ramachandran)

Land acquisition debates and disputes are common phenomena everywhere in this country but nowhere has it been twisted into a complete deadlock situation like in Bengal. Mamata Banerjee is definitely gaining political mileage from this situation because a large section of the Bengal mass loves her brand of negative politicking. In plain words, this attitude of a section of Bengali populace is not only a sign of obstinate minds but also depicts stupidity to a larger scale. It is also the mark of a collective cerebral sickness that has extended confidence towards a similar sick minded leader Mamata Banerjee.


>The truth about Kabir Suman, Mamata and the Maoists

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On 21 July 2008, the ‘progressive and radical’ singer Kabir Suman made a speech in a public meeting of Mamata Banerjee. Kabir Suman is one of her new found friends after the Singur-Nandigram debacle in West Bengal. After acclaiming the Nandigram resistance in his speech, Kabir Suman declared that West Bengal has turned into a fascist state where the ruling party CPM has muted all democratic voices. According to him, the CPM is a killer party because they ‘kill three in retaliation to one’. “Once I felt proud to be a leftist, a Marxist. Today the same thought directs me to kick my own ass,” he emotionally proclaimed.
Lot of people, otherwise aloof from any political discourse had actively involved themselves in the Nandigram debate. Many words are still flooding the Internet sites on the pros and cons of the events happened in Nandigram, a rural locality in the East Midnapur district of West Bengal. A notice put up by a local government body on January 2007 instigated the subsequent bloody armed resistance against a proposed chemical hub. After the Singur movement failed to evoke enough appeal from the general public, courtesy to Mamata Banerjee’s highly publicized ‘fasting before public’ farce, the anti land acquisition groups were searching for another opportunity to explore. Nandigram provided them an appropriate ground. An overconfident government and its needlessly hasty methods contributed enough ammunition for these groups to infiltrate deep into the local villager’s minds by exploiting their sensitiveness towards the land. Even though on 11 March, the government announced that no land would be taken over at Nandigram and declared to abandon its plan of the proposed chemical hub, the agitation continued as it had already gained its momentum. After the police firing on 14 March claiming 14 innocent lives, Nandigram became a symbol of anti-industrialization protest in India. In the recently held panchayat polls, Trinamul Congress has achieved a sweeping victory in East Midnapur district, particularly in Nandigram. Previously, this area was dominated by the CPIM.
Kabir Suman’s proclamation could be evaluated on these circumstances. Throughout the Nandigram agitation, a chunk of prominent intellectuals and artists was proactive in supporting the Nandigram agitation. Famous faces, many of them earlier known to be CPIM sympathizers suddenly did a volte-face and openly went against the party on the issue. Many abuses were hurdled towards the Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya. His government and his party was branded as a neo-liberal tyrant, and accused as hypocrites for purposely distancing themselves from the Marxist way. Notably, there was a fine difference between the agitating artist-intellectuals on one issue: should they protest along with Mamata Banerjee or not. Kabir Suman was among the most vocal artists who along with some former naxalites were in favor of participating the agitation along with Mamata Banerjee and her party the Trinamul Congress (TMC).
The deliberate position of these artist-intellectuals and former naxalites for associating with TMC came from their apparent commitment with the Maoist (1) political line pursued in West Bengal to ‘prolifically use the different contradiction among the enemy in the bitter political battle’. This course of action was undertaken by the People’s War faction in the early years of 2000-2001 during the infamous Keshpur-Garbeta events. Who is this enemy they are indicating at? The ultimate enemy of the Maoists in West Bengal is the CPIM. To fight the CPIM, anybody who can provide support and assistance is a friend of the Maoists. It can be Trinamul today, could be Congress, BJP or any other political outfit tomorrow. The ‘contradiction among the enemy’ is to be exploited in theory and practise, all for the sake of the great people’s war! In the continuing murders of political workers in West Bengal by the Maoists, all their victims are CPIM workers. From January 2001 to June 2008 the Maoists have murdered forty eight CPIM workers. Only in the past three months (from March to May 2008), nine CPIM workers were killed by the Maoists. No other political party workers in West Bengal are attacked or murdered by them. During the Nandigram clamor, Kabir Suman had publicly appealed to “kill 3 CPM everyday”.
From the beginning of the agitation, the WB government claimed about the Maoist presence in Nandigram which was strongly denied by Mamata Banerjee, the sympathetic artist-intellectuals and also by a section of the media. After the recent arrest of the hardcore Maoist leader Somen (an alias; real name, Himadri Sen Roy), and recently revealed Maoist inner party documents give ample proofs to confirm the allegation. In an article in CPI (Maoist) organ Biplabi Yug, Somen wrote that his outfit had formed the front line in the Nandigram land war. “We were in Nandigram right from the beginning… we are in Nandigram and we will continue to remain in Nandigram” he wrote in his article. A Maoist document ‘The anti SEZ historical struggle of Nandigram’, has claimed that, “Many people are trying to call the Nandigram people’s struggle simply as another mass movement. They also believe that the movement continued for eleven long months entirely unarmed…but the real truth is, the resistance sustained only because of the presence of the armed militia.” The document also said that, “At the beginning, (people of Nandigram) followed the Trinamul leadership of Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee but from July onwards they continued their struggle under our leadership and plan.”
Let us come back to Kabir Suman and his proclamation about ‘fascist’ West Bengal. Is it not a wonder how he continues to publicly utter those seditious words in a fascist state without being hounded by the ‘fascist’ government or the ‘killer party’ CPIM? On the contrary, we do remember that this progressive was once summoned by Lalbazar police headquarters in Kolkata and cautioned because he was repeatedly abusing a popular actor of Bengali cinema in vulgar words through telephone. This incident happened long before the Nandigram events.
Who really cares if Kabir Suman is a Marxist or opportunist? Perhaps Mamata Banerjee does; because she might have discovered many resemblances with him. Kabir Suman’s radicalism was exposed when he had converted to Islam (he was Suman Chatterjee before) just to marry a Bangladeshi Muslim singer after abandoning his German wife. It is a pity that many people including the present blogger still regards him as a pioneer in modern Bengali music as a prolific songwriter, composer and singer.
Notes:
1. Two splinter naxalite groups, the CPI(ML)-People’s War and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) have merged to form the notorious group CPI(Maoist) on September 2004.

>Tata, Mamata and the future of Bengal

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Nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen, speaking recently in a function at Kolkata, has expressed his dismay over the recent developments at the small car project of Tata Motors in Singur: ‘Industrialization is a must for development……It can’t be attained only by agriculture. You will not be able to show me one developed country that has reached there focusing solely on agriculture. If the Tata factory can’t come up in Singur it will be bad news for West Bengal’s development. Concerned parties should try to resolve the matter through talks.’
There are valid reasons for Prof. Sen to be worried. Mamata Banerjee is again back in business. After her party’s euphoric performance in the Panchayat polls, she has now publicly vowed to disrupt the Tata small car project by all means. Her enthusiastic party workers have started forcefully evicting workers and employees coming to work at the Nano plant in Singur. The motive is to build-up a fitting ground for their beloved ‘didi’ who had announced to join them from 24th August for an indefinite ‘peaceful’ dharna at the factory site. She has declared, “Temporary camps will be set up on a 4 km stretch surrounding the automobile plant…If any attempt is made to prevent our peaceful agitation, there will be statewide protests and the government will have to face the consequences.” Her words are clearly a stern warning to confiscate the ongoing Nano project. Her demand: the state government (read CPIM) must “return 400 acres of land forcibly acquired from unwilling poor farmers.”
How she has designed the ‘peaceful’ dharna, is well manifested from the prelude actions by gory workers of Trinamool/BUPC in Singur. Let us chronicle it in a sequential order:
1. Posters are spread all around the Tata Motors plant locale by the Trinamul backed Save Farmland Committee (BUPC) warning dire consequences to the workers and employees who had come from outside to work at the factory site. The posters also served diktat to them for leaving Singur immediately,
2. BUPC hooligans blew up crude bombs at Singur railway station,
3. Bombs are thrown at Mainak Lodge, a temporary residence of some workers of Tata Motors,
4. BUPC hooligans stopped a trekker carrying workers to the factory site, slapped the passengers, and ordered them to leave,
5. Verbal abuse were hurdled at workers; some of them were beaten up when they went to the local bazaars to buy stuff to cook meals,
6. An engineer Manish Khatua, working at the Tata Motors project site was assaulted by the BUPC ruffians and later hospitalized. Convener of BUPC, Becharam Manna, was elated to assert that beating up the engineer was a good job done.
The results came instantly. Terrified workers fearing their life have started to leave Singur for safer homes. As per media reports, there were poor attendance registered at the plant site after the incidences. Rabindranath Bhattacharya, the local Trinamul Congress MLA affirmed, “Many workers have left the small-car project site. We will drive away the rest.”
The fervent media, which till the panchayat polls had adequately pinched and poked fun at the Bengal government’s industrial drive and have creditably manufactured the anti-people, autocratic image of the CPIM, suddenly become extremely concerned about the state’s industrial future. A worried media rushed for a comment from Tata Motors. Tata Motors finally responded. Managing Director Ravi Kant referring to the incidents remarked, “We will continue as long as our patience lasts” and “Ultimately, the people of Bengal have to decide whether they want industrialisation.” Works in the small car project at Singur was moving ahead fast and the production was expected to start within two more months of time. The anxiety of Tata Motors is comprehensible but the media’s overdrive is suspicious.
Total 997.11 acre of farmland was acquired by the WB government in Singur. Eleven thousand owners of 690.79 acres had willingly accepted the compensation. Owners of 306.32 acres are yet to accept the compensation. According to government figures (we agree to it or not is the subject of another argument), nearly a little more than one and half thousand of owners are the ‘poor people’ Mamata is referring to. Not all are unwilling but due to legal problems unable to claim the compensation. Even if we accept for arguments sake that all of them are against the acquisition, is it possible to return them their 306.32 acres, which are scattered in the form of small plots inside the whole project area? The realistic answer should be – a straight no. How is it possible to fish out those plots from the whole project map? Returning the 306.32 acres to their unwilling owners is a ridiculous demand. It is almost like scrapping off the project.
The second proposition floated was to allot plots to those unwilling owners from one side of the project periphery and exclude those lands from the project map. This proposition also sounds absurd as it means that the unwilling owner will be allotted plots from the willing owners’ account, which has been sold to the government for the purpose of building industry, not for the purpose of settling disputes. The willing owners’ then will certainly have a justified reason to disapprove this unjust decision and could legally move against the government for cheating them. The whole situation will then turn to be a complicated legal issue. According to a judgement of The Supreme Court of India, (judgement on Civil appeal No. 6856 in the year 1999 and Civil appeal No. 8110 in the year 2000) land once acquired by government cannot be returned to their original owners. Even if the project for which land was acquired does not materialize, government can utilize the land for any other public project or sell it through an auction to the highest bidder. Therefore, once acquired, by no way it is possible to return back the land to the original owners.
Mamata has also questioned: when 600 acres are sufficient for a car project like the one in Singur, why thousand acres have been acquired? Her conclusion is “the additional 400 acres (are) acquired for building shopping malls and other things”. She had not made it clear what she meant by ‘other things’. She will never spell it out because she knows very well that the additional land has been acquired to accommodate 55 small and middle scale industries who will manufacture ancillary supplies for the main plant. Ancillary units are an integral part of any major car project. As per the recommendation of NATRIP (National Automotive Research & Development Infrastructure Project), to manufacture one-lakh cars, initially 450 acres of land is required. To manufacture an additional one-lakh car, 25 percent of the initial land must be incorporated in the project. Land for ancillary units is not included in this estimate. Tata Motors is expected to build 3.50 lakhs of car at Singur and if calculated with NATRIP standards this project essentially requires 1575 acres of land. As an example, the Maruti Car Industry has 650 acres for the main factory and 600 acres for ancillary units. In total Maruti uses 1250 acres to manufacture similar number (3.50 lakh) of cars.
In this context, it is sufficiently clear that the movement of Mamata Banerjee, also devotedly supported with strategic inputs by ultra left groups, virgin communists, and ‘progressive’ nano intelligentsia, is actually part of a larger political gambit. The intention is to not only impede but also put an end to the industrial future of Bengal. The ‘cutting off own nose to prevent others passage’ attitude by a prominent section of our society, especially among the learned but fiercely envious middle class is a saddening reality of this country.
In near future there is a possibility of a twist in the tale. Mamata has expressed willingness for a dialogue with the Tata’s by announcing, “I have no confrontation with them.” How she has reached to this sudden realization will unroll in the near future. Trinamool insiders close to her are suggesting that she does not want to be labeled as anti-industry. The WB government and the CPIM party have welcomed her gesture. It could also be another of her gimmicks orchestrated along with the media to connote herself as a responsible politician.
Like Prof. Amartya Sen many of us are equally worried. Also the recent events in Singur give us ample reasons to be skeptic about Mamata Banerjee’s show of wisdom .

>Mandela, Moloise, Nicaragua and our days of innocence

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Nelson Mandela was behind the bars in Robben Islands. There was a huge march in Kolkata demanding his release. Thousands were marching on the streets, hand on hand, carrying placards and banners, chanting anti-apartheid songs. At the front, leading the march was veteran and young communist party leaders and prominent intellectuals. The mood was upbeat. Nelson Mandela must be free at any cause. ‘Free Mandela’, ‘Down with Botha regime’, ‘Down with American Imperialism’, the marchers were roaring. Each of them were finding known and unknown faces everywhere and feeling a special bondage with them. The cause had nothing to do with the daily tribulations of the Kolkata folks but the spirit to reveal solidarity with a victim of discrimination, was enough for them to be a part in the protest. Soon, Mandela will be free on 11 February 1990. He will be elected the first Black President of South Africa on May 1994.
The black factory worker and poet Benjamin Moloise was hanged by the Botha regime of South Africa on 18 October 1985. He was convicted of murdering a policeman in 1982 but there were evidences that suggested that Moloise was not the real killer. The world opinion was against the execution but the arrogant and racist President P. W. Botha denied the request for a new trial. His mother was denied to visit her son in the jail and after the execution was permitted to see only the sealed coffin. Moloise, a firm supporter of the African National Congress (ANC) wrote before the execution:
A storm of oppression will be followed by the rain of my blood
I am proud to give my life, my solitary life.
When the news arrived in Kolkata the progressive artists’ association called for a memorial meeting. Very few knew about Benjamin Moloise, very few knew about his poetry. The memorial meeting was arranged at the University Institute Hall in central Kolkata. In a packed house poet Amitava Dasgupta recited his own translation of Benjamin’s poem Kosi Sikelel Africa in his incomparable style. Balladeer Ranjan Prasad sang Ondhokar Afrikar krishnokai kabbokar, Benjamin Moloise bhai amar bhai amar (O black poet of dark Africa, Benjamin Moloise my brother). Moloise is no more but he has now become a symbol of struggle against racial discrimination.
The Sandinista guerrillas and civilians overthrew the notorious Somoza family dictatorship of Nicaragua which ruled the tiny Latin American country in a ruthless and corrupt way from 1937. President Anastasio Somoza Debayle who was formally trained in the United States, fled the country, first to the US and later settled in Paraguay leaving behind the ruins with a debt of about US$1.6 billion. He was later assassinated in 1980. The leftist Sandinista government was never acknowledged by the US from the beginning and from 1981 it initiated for an economic blockade on the country. The remnants of Somoza’s National Guard, who were settled in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Miami, soon started to receive enormous financial clandestine support from the United States (later exposed in the Iran-Contra affair). They organized their army known as “La Contra” and started counterrevolutionary activities inside Nicaragua. In 1985, the United States dictated a commercial embargo to Nicaragua, supported by the fact that Nicaragua adopted a pro-communist attitude.
Despite this situation, Nicaragua had won huge international sympathy and in Kolkata the ‘Nicaragua Solidarity Committee’ was formed. The committee started to organize awareness and support for the Nicaraguan cause, collected aids for Nicaragua who was badly affected by the imposed US embargo. The Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega sent out a message appreciating the Solidarity Committee and the initiative of the common people of Bengal. Ortega was presented as the symbol of the Sandinista which later many found was not a great assessment. There was a special show of Miguel Littin’s film Alsino and the Condor arranged at Nandan. Information about Nicaragua was not available easily and the main source was the pamphlets published and distributed by the committee. From the committee spokespersons the people were informed how badly Nicaraguan people needed aids; they have asked to send even simple daily essentials like needles and threads. Workers and students were holding rallies, painters, sculptures, theater workers, singers and performing artists were participating in fund raising programme all over the city. Manabendra Bandopadhyay translated Rev. Ernesto Cardinal’s poems. For quite a few days the spirit of solidarity was everywhere. And abruptly it was over.
There were many who asked then and still ask now: what is worth of all these activism? What do we achieve by marching on the streets for some foreign cause? Aren’t there numerous internal issues of our own to concentrate upon than waste energy and time for something distinct to us? What the nincompoops never understand is the true meaning of the word innocence. Those were the days of our innocence. We live the rest of our life rejoicing those days.


>The future of CPI(M)!

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Much is being discussed on the recently declared West Bengal Panchayat election results. The main topic is whether it is a debacle for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or not. The debate is obvious due to the fact that after 1977, CPI(M) never faced a situation like the present one. There were various critical problems and multifaceted attacks on the party and LF government before but ultimately most of them was controlled or nipped off before any serious damage. It was mainly through the rock-solid party organization and the mass base which always paved the way for them. At least the party was never in the grim mood as it is today. What is so special this time? This question is analyzed by anti and pro industrialization thinker and activist groups. They are concluding according to their very own politics. It is also said by some that there is no need to be an expert to understand the politics of the situation because the answers are blowin’ in the wind. Only the CPM does not want to listen to them.
The anti-land acquisition groups are asking CPI(M) to clarify the following: will they continue caring big capital or peasants-workers interest? Clinging on to the government at any cost or leading working people in their struggle? Embracing right-wing opportunism or leading various struggles and movements through out the country? The pro-land acquisition and industrialization groups are saying: industrialization is okay but the procedure followed by the government (read CPM) is faulty. Loosing some seats does not nullify the people’s verdict of 2006. In a democracy, people’s mandate is final but the people always do not deliver their verdict through thoughtful analysis but many a time gets carried away by emotional surge. The peasant front which was the backbone of the party is stagnant by the lack of peasant movements and the opposition fully utilized the opportunity. The difference between the government agenda and the party agenda got mixed up which substantially depleted the party’s credibility in the eyes of the people. Interestingly, both groupings have agreed on one point. The responsibility lies with the leaders who must have badly lost there mass contact.
There is no need to expand the scrutiny of the two groups by re-analyzing or de-analyzing them. Let’s just add a new perspective.
In the last two years, the volume of attack against the CPI(M) and the government (which was also the CPI(M) only, as all partners simply washed their hands and distanced themselves from everything) was unprecedented. Every resistance must have a class character which can be properly dealt with a specific class outlook. This is the first time CPI(M) faced a resistance on its policy from such a mixed class of protesters which was complex to analyze and hard to promptly reciprocate. Possibly the party was unable to politically analyze and explain with clarity to its own members about the unique class character of the opposition. The leadership was ideologically clueless to defend the resistance and therefore made many mistakes on their way. It might be temporary but definitely a political defeat for them.
Sans CPI(M) leftists had always argued that their movement against land acquisition and industrialization of West Bengal was a movement to defend the interests of the peasants and workers. From the results of the Panchayat elections it is clear that Trinamul Congress has gained the maximum from the situation. So will the same leftists now brand Miss Mamata Banerjee’s party as a progressive political force? And if not, then there is actually nothing for them to celebrate about the events.
CPI(M) will definitely introspect. Introspection will be a must not only in the lower tier of the party, but in all levels including the highest. The point that government and party agenda should not get mixed up is raised by two former activists of the CPI(M) in a honest analysis of the situation. This point seems to be a vital one to look at.
It will be a terrible mistake to say ‘nothing so serious’ now.


>Make no mistake; this is the beginning of the CPM’s end!

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So now the Panchayat 2008 results are announced. All the progressives and well-wishers of Bengal are jubilant. Their toil and hard work for the last two years has ultimately brought them a great success. CPM has lost Nandigram and Singur.
The charming Lady of the Mass has assured to halt all industrialisation in the state because, as she predicts, this campaign will now definitely pave her way for the complete ouster of the CPM. East Midnapore results have fulfilled her heart. The oppressed mass has finally passed their verdict: they are looking up towards her, only her, as their savior, to rescue them from the brutal CPM. Progressive bigwigs like the ‘almost Nobel’ foulmouthed literati et al, also browbeaten by the arrogant CM, are also looking up towards her, only her, as their Messiah. She had assured everyone while distributing rasogolla: ‘Make no mistake; this is the beginning of the CPM’s end’.
The LF partners are visibly delighted after the debacle. One vocal partner said that they had already predicted the results and the other said philosophically, ‘whom should we blame?’ However, is it not crystal clear who they want to blame? It is the arrogant pseudo-left CPM, damn it. From the day Singur tumult started, weren’t they raising alarms? As pillion riders, they knew very well that CPM might manage himself even after the jolt as they had managed before, but they were not so sure about themselves. Therefore, they spoke in the tune of the dissent to public and media, trying hard to prove how pure leftist they are. One of them backed off after deciding to resign from the ministry realizing he might be more harmful by staying inside. One ‘national leader’ almost started to think about throwing CPM out to build a stronger Left Front. Sorry to say but a pillion’s optimism for authority is a pathetic illusion.
The progressives and intellectuals, by their achievement, are flattered. Soon, an apolitical victory march by the civil society will be mounting the central Kolkata streets. The march will be lead by filmmakers, actors, actor cum singers, poets, visual artists, singers, singer cum journalists, theater directors, playwrights, TV serial starlets, little magazine editors cum publishers, anchors, NGO activists, university professors and students, columnists, grass roots and tree tops; upbeat city folk followers chanting We Shall Overcome will also be tagged along to make the march a historic one. Just think, what a lesson! What a lesson we taught them! Never again the CPM would dare to diktat us, the progressives and intellectuals, the conscience of Bengal, and take us for granted. Websites and blogs will start pouring out the choicest sentences. The theme line is evident: ‘Make no mistake; this is the beginning of the CPM’s end’.
The neo liberal media is also bubbly with a caution. What will happen to the industrialization? What will happen to the FDI? Should CPM return to the orthodox communistic line after the shambles? What a pity, if so. We have tried hard to malign them with a calculative long term planning which continued till the polling days. We showed graphically how their harmad cadres vandalized and rigged the polls in Nandigram. How they prevented voters to vote, jammed the booths, filled the ballot boxes with false votes. And CPM has lost Nandigram.
The results from Nandigram are matchless in history. Here, a party who has ‘absolutely’ rigged the polls has lost!
The last words are for the CPIM. Please introspect. Try to recover the lost grounds honestly and sincerely. Stand beside the deprived. Be firm but polite. Identify and discard members and workers with megalomaniac attitude. Speak less, listen more. Reconstruct the Left Front. Do not compromise with principals. Do not hurry. Do not feel low after losing two Zilla Parishad, you have won thirteen.
And finally, do not forget.

>Stories of fear: you see what you want to see

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First phase of the much awaited West Bengal panchayat poll was over on Sunday, 11 May. Even as five districts went for poll in the first phase, the media which termed the poll ‘officially peaceful’ has concentrated their focus on Nandigram, which also went for poll the same day. As expected and foretold, (see the previous post Nandigram again) the media aim was to acquire fair and unbiased reports of massive booth jamming, armed booth capturing and open rigging by CPM harmads.
Reporters found a family of placid villagers in Kendamari area of Nandigram, coming from far Delhi to cast their anger against CPM. They were waiting patiently in the polling queue for three and a half hour for the angreji reporters to complain that the queue has not moved an inch from dawn 5 to 8.30 am. It’s a pity that the daring reporters cannot support their finding by a photograph only because CPM cadres waiting there threatened to smash their camera if photographs were taken.
Reporters found helpless families, all obviously anti-CPM, in Sonachura, Garchakraberia and other places waiting for them to express their grief that they were not allowed to come out from their homes to cast votes because from early morning armed cadres were patrolling the area. The reporters also were able to dig up the scrupulously detail list of country made arms the cadres were carrying. As if each of the arm carrying miscreant had a placard hanging around there neck with the words ‘we are CPM harmads’ written on it and made it easy for the reporters to identify them.
The reporters found an honest Presiding Officer admitting that the brute cadres forced all including him and others like the lone security staff and opponent party polling agents from a booth in Baruni Snan Primary School. When they were able to return, they found all the 884 votes were already cast. The officer also told the reporters that he was unable to identify the loyalty of the miscreants but sure that all the votes in this booth has been cast in favour of CPM. The ballot boxes deployed in that particular booth must be of a new variety. It displays voting result even before counting. Or the ballots must be chatty.
A section of the local-national media and the apolitical while staunch anti-CPIM swajan intellectuals made a peculiar mix. They were by and large successful in creating a caveat in the mind of common people on the recent events in West Bengal. Their main weapon is a mixture of half truth and farce activism. Unfortunate; but in the end it is always the way of seeing which matters the most. The viewpoint, if deliberately chosen will always conclude to the predictable.
You see what you want to see. But the truth remains elsewhere.

>Nandigram again

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News about clashes started pouring in from Nandigram again. The Panchayat poll day is looming near and there were reports of sporadic incidents in the recent past. As desired and predicted by the free media, the violence has intensified now. The harmad CPM force are attacking the simple and peaceful but immensely anti-CPM villagers of Nandigram, scaring them to ensure that they either vote for CPM or remains housed in the polling day. The tortured villagers were inspired by the extensive support they received from M. K. Gandhi’s grandson, the Governor of Bengal, and decided to remain nonviolent.
The Governor is so worried about the suffering of the common man due to the seasonal power cuts that he has wisely decided to take a two hour break from the uninterrupted power supply at Raj Bhavan and suffer in the dark just like the common man sitting in his imperial palace. The darkness will also help him to think deeply about Nandigram again and deliver a perfect media exclusive at the right moment.
The charming Lady of the Land, for obvious reasons, now cannot only concentrate on Nandigram alone but is sending regular bites to the mass through the unbiased media. She had masterminded various genuine sensations earlier and with the novel company of the one and only Marxists were busy planting highbred seeds of the similar kind in Nandigram. Lots of brainstorming has been done in the past months, to keep Nandigram alive till the Panchayat polls. The scope to capture the minds of the distressed people was partly achieved during those turbulent days. But public memory is short. They should be refreshed timely.

And for the Sushil Samaj, Nandigram clashes are as always inspiriting. Lots of creative poem and prose, theatre, documentary film and cinema, song and music are ready to explode in the coming days. Their only sadness is that the spectator and audiences are the same old and known faces.


>A small piece on Singur and Nandigram protests

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When Singur and Nandigram was steaming, more in the minds of the middleclass Bengali intelligentsia, various celebrities and political groups were busy fishing in the murky water. Watching from a distance it was unlikely to track the events accurately. The internet played a vital role to negate the difficulty.
The awesome and loud protest by the devi’s and babu’s termed as ‘sushil’ was rather extraordinary. Also it was surprising to watch the hardcore self proclaimed underground rebels joining hands with reactionaries, theorizing and justifying their stand in their various inscriptions and dialogues. Almost every of these were documented in the newly discovered net sphere by enthusiastic cyber volunteers where they were published and republished. Whichever side one belongs to, it is undisputed now that these volunteers were basically honest, sensitive to voice their concern over an important socio-political issue of their time. Emotions were running high with obvious support from a big chunk of the sarcastic bhadrolok society. Also the protests were a relatively trouble-free one sided act as their enemy number one were defensive from the very beginning. Without any real backlash from the tactfully low key opponent the hullabaloo went on in full swing. Lot of imaginative forecasts and rumors were floating in the hot wind and it was pathetic to see, there were actually no difference between an illiterate, superstitious village folk and a high educated, rational, city dweller buddhijibi on this matter.
From the background the nefarious authorities were down to business. They were invisible as always, wearing different masks at different time but purposely promoting the welfare farce. If that clicks, well. If not, no problem; they were not loosing anything. There will come plenty of opportunities in the drastically changing scene of Bengal.
The only difference may be that this surge of activism by the intelligentsia will not repeat in the same manner. By its very nature they can’t sustain a particular emotion for a long time.

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