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Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 24

Left’s Misfired Missive

Tendentious Anti-imperialism

Monday 2 June 2008, by Sankar Ray


The West Bengal supremo and Polit-Bureau member of the CPI-M, Biman Bose, slapped a suspicion at the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha leadership that the movement is inspired by US imperialism. In a more gossipy than substantive tone, he said: “We do not have evidence to prove the allegation but we have strong doubts that US Intelligence agencies are linked with the political turmoil in the Darjeeling hills.” Carrying on his political formulation in a cavalier fashion, he added that there might be a possible involvement of the US secret agencies in Darjeeling as the USA, adept in ‘the art of Balkanisation’ or vivisecting non-conformist countries into smaller ones, may have some role in the “ongoing disturbances in the Darjeeling hills”. Bose was speaking to the media at the Siliguri party office.

Bose, albeit as crucial a political personality as the Left Front Chairman, is at home in trying to sell rumours. Immediately after the people of Nandigram were astir in the first week of January 2007, he told the media that the Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar had a secret meeting at Sonachura, Nandigram, to chalk out the agitation. When Medha shot back saying that she had never been to Nandigram and threatened to sue the LF big boss, the latter climbed down stating that he got such an information and expressed regret. When Tapasi Malik, daughter of a landless labourer, was found assassinated and charred at Singur, Bose said she might have died out of a failed romance. A silly attempt to vilify the first martyr of Singur peasants’ struggle against the Tata Motors project. There are many such instances, all in video cassettes of several private TV channels, of baseless accusations or concoctions by the man, known as the best recruit of the CPI-M’s organisational genius, Promode Dasgupta.

The LF Chairman wants to differentiate between the GJMM and Gorkha National Liberation Front, led by Subhas Ghising, as the GNLF can’t be accused of links with US imperialism. B T Ranadive, a founding PB member of the CPI-M and infamous for pushing the undivided CPI into a sectarian quagmire in the late 1940s, wrote a piece in the CPI-M’s mouthpiece People’s Democracy two decades back and branded the Gorkhaland stir as “yet another attack of the secessionist forces on the unity and integrity of India”. (B.T. Ranadive: “Gorkhaland Agitation—a Part of Imperialist plot in the East”, PD, September 10, 1988) But the CPI-M stopped calling the GNLF and Ghising ‘secessionist’ when there was a discreet deal between Ghising and the CPI-M for smooth victory of the CPI-M nominee from the Darjeeling parliamentary seat. Every time (except in 2004) the GNLF used to boycott polls in the hill segments and ensured victory of the CPI-M. When in 2004 the GNLF decided to side with the Congress nominee, Dawa Narbula, the CPI-M campaigners raked up the secessionist allegation against the GNLF.

The CPI-M has in the last two decades been very often spearheading its criticism against US imperialism and the neo-liberal ideology. This is commendable. Now the party talks of peace and peace movement unlike in the 1960s and 1970s when its fire-eating leaders like M. Basava-punnaiah, BTR and Dasgupta used to ridicule the World Peace Council and its Indian arm, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation which now is gradually in for grab by the AKG Bhavan, thanks to the submissive attitude of the CPI. In the late 1960s, the CPI-M, parroting the Communist Party of China in its resolution at the Burdwan plenum, slandered the CP of the Soviet Union stating that the CPSU leaders “go to the extent of exaggerating the concept of peaceful coexistence... as a form of class struggle”. However, this was a downright lie as the document adopted by the 81-party meeting (Moscow, 1960) categorically said: “Peaceful coexistence of states does not imply renunciation of class struggle as the revisionists claim.” Among the signatories of the document was the CPC, which unfortunately distorted this in the letter of the Central Committee of the CPC to the CC of the CPSU on June 14, 1963; and that constituted the whole essence of the CPI-M’s ideology after splitting the CPI.

The tirade against US imperialism is excellent but not the misuse of it. The CPI-M General Secretary, Prakash Karat, propped up by the mainstream media as an outstanding ideologue, told newspersons at the recently-concluded 19th Congress of the CPI-M at Coimbatore that the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (Committee of Resistance against Eviction from Land) of Nandigram is inspired by US imperialism. West Bengal’s Higher Education Minister Sudarshan Roy Chowdhury, a delegate, and Karat referred to the US State Administration’s human rights violation report in India, especially Nandigram. “ It is now evident that there was something more than the issue of land,” Karat remarked, as if the Nandigram stir was inspired by the Bush Administration.

The role of US imperialism in the Nandigram movement was discovered by the AITUC General Secretary and CPI group leader in the Lok Sabha, Gurudas Dasgupta, who raised the matter during Zero hour in Parliament on March 14 drawing attention to the US State Department report, 2007 ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices—India’. “The issue is: it is India’s concern, not the US’s,” the firebrand MP said. But there is a catch here. A statement was issued by the CPI-M PB on the same day chiding the US Government for ‘unnecessary and unwarranted’ interference and denouncing the reference to Nandigram. The AKG Bhavan biggies advised ‘all right thinking people to reject this contention and interference of the US Government’. The choice of March 14 was to divert attention of TV-viewers from the coverage of events on the first anniversary of the Nandigram incidents that provoked the State Governor to express his sense of ‘cold horror’.

THE idea of giving the US (read the CIA) tag on the genuine agrarian struggle was novel, but ludicrous too. What Karat, Dasgupta and Roy Chowdhury suppressed was that it was not a report prepared by the US Government, but a verbatim reproduction of a UNHRC report. It is accessible to netizens the world over. The credit line to the UNHRC was there too. Karat’s feigned innocence is mischievous. Interestingly, the selective ballyhoo was not made on March 11 when it was uploaded in the US State Department’s website but on March 14. The concocted link between the US imperialists and Nandigram protesters was to give the protesters a bad name and hang them. This is not only cowardice but tendentious.

The 293-word portion on Nandigram in the UNHRC document reads:
On March 14, thousands of local villagers in the Nandigram district of West Bengal attacked police and Communist Party of India–Marxist (CPM) supporters who tried to enter an agricultural area earmarked for conversion to an industrial zone. Acting on orders from the CPM-led State Government, the police fired on the crowd, killing 14 individuals and injuring 45. The Kolkata High Court ordered an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), but the court later revoked the CBI’s investigative authority and asked the CBI to preserve evidence. On July 10, members of the Anti-Naxal Special Police Force killed five persons including an alleged leader of the CPI-Maoist cadre at Ammadlu village in Chikmagalur district. According to the Karnataka police, all five were members of the local Naxalite unit, while human rights groups alleged that four of those killed were residents of a house caught in the crossfire. At year’s end a magisterial inquiry into the encounter was underway.

From November 6 to 11, CPM members, whom human rights groups claim had State Government support and direction, conducted a violent campaign of intimidation to regain control over the Nandigram area from the BUPC. The BUPC included those opposed to the CPM’s plan to acquire local land for industry, some former CPM supporters, and Opposition party workers and was backed by the Trinamul Congress, part of the West Bengal Opposition. News reports and eyewitness accounts noted that CPM cadres fired on BUPC supporters and local villagers, killing at least three and injuring others, burned many houses, and engaged in numerous rapes. On November 27, journalists reported the discovery of mass graves in the area. Following a government order on December 7, the CID initiated an inquiry into the identity of the bodies”.

There is no exaggeration, but understatement. The judgment by the High Court of Calcutta, inexplicably delivered in an inordinate delay after a bigger and more cruel genocide nearly for the whole of November last year, recorded 27 disappearances, 162 injured and half a dozen of rapes.

Karat, Dasgupta, Roy Chowdhury should know that the UNHRC got Nobel Peace Prize twice for defending peace and human rights with their people working with great risks everywhere; why don’t they, then, pull up the UN affiliate instead of aiming at a deliberately wrong target? Dasgupta, arguably a vociferous pro-labour parliamentarian, danced to the tune of the AKG Bhavan honchos. True, without the CPI-M’s support he could not and will not be an MP.

About the CPI’s canine subservience, no elaboration is necessary. Its cadres lined up at the entrance of Coimbatore’s V. O. Chidambaram Ground, the venue of the mass meeting, to greet the first procession led by Sitaram Yechury. That’s the singularly great contribution of the CPI General Secretary, A. B. Bardhan, to his AKG Bhavan bosses.

The UNHRC referred to the Home Ministry’s 2006-2007 Report , revealing “1159 deaths in police custody between April and December 2006”. It makes a crisp reference to violence perpetrated by Naxalites—meaning the Maoists—in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and counter-terrorist excesses by the state too. Left MPs are deceptively silent about this. “Of the 336 individuals killed in Chhatisgarh, 93 were civilians, 170 police personnel (regular forces, as well as Special Police Officers) and 73 were alleged Naxalites. According to Andhra Pradesh Police, Maoists killed 44 civilians throughout the year.” The police too “were responsible for 47 encounter killings of Maoists during the year, compared with 110 in 2006”. Militants of the United Liberation Front of Asom “killed more than 110 persons in bomb attacks in the Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sivsagar districts of Assam”, the UNHRC stated. The official Left parties are unperturbed over the matter.

Let me drift a little to tell you a bit about Sudarshan Roy Chowdhury, now a Minister of Higher Education, West Bengal. He was a temporary Maoist during the early period of the Naxalbari revolt, but went back to the CPI-M to regain a safe life and career. He was twice elected an MP too. The other day I was seeing a documentary of the Naxalbari movement, Basanter Dinguli ( Memories of Spring Thunder), written and directed Amar Bhattacharya, one of the many victims of state terror for involvement in the Naxalbari struggle that relived those high-voltage days which catapulted the agrarian imperative to the national arena. Amar did a good job, leave apart our ideological differences. Roy Chowdhury’s active role during the days of ‘spring thunder’ has a mention there.

However, Karat’s role in ‘transferred epithet’—US link to the Nandigram stir—had a hidden purpose. He confirmed that he is an obedient boy of the cash-rich CPI-M’s West Bengal unit which calls the shots from Muzaffar Ahmed Bhavan. Asset values of buildings, constructed and owned by the CPI-M’s district and zonal committees and mass organisations like the CITU, All India Krishak Sabha, morninger Ganashakti and State and Central Government employees’ bodies, may be anything between Rs 300 crores and Rs 400 crores. Karat and other biggies at the A.K. Gopalan Bhavan, the party’s national headquarters, have to keep the M A Bhavan honchos in good humour, shelving ideological issues aside.

Poor Marx, five-star Communists like Karat and Yechury, posing as his disciples, conveniently forgot Marx’s words—“I am human, and nothing human is alien to me”—borrowed from Publius Terentius Afer, the playwright of the Roman Empire, known more as Terence (195-159 BC). Which was why Yechury wasted no time in justifying the mini-genocide at Nandigram on March 14 as if all this was provoked by the peaceful mass, under the banner of the BUPC. Maybe, tomorrow Karat and Yechury will defend the bumptious CPI-M MP—the overlord of Haldia—Lakshman Seth who tried to prevent the CRPF DIG Alok Raj to do his assigned task at Nandigram to help peaceful Panchayat polling there. The mafia face of false Marxism is out in the broad daylight of grim reality, at least in West Bengal.

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