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Meeting the Challenge


Tuesday 8 May 2007

While Nandigram continues to boil with CPM cadres once again trying to capture the area for the party bosses as the police takes the role of a mute spectator, the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) activists have from all indications mounted a concerted resistance which the principal constituent of the ruling coalition in West Bengal has failed to break till date. But the more the so-called ‘Marxists’ get thwarted in their game the more desperate they become in their bid to re-establish their hegemony over a territory that once belonged to them. Much has been stated by the CPM leaders and others about the role of the Trinamul Congress and Maoists in Nandigram; it needs to be reiterated that while the TMC has some influence in the area, actually it is the CPM-CPI cadres who constitute the backbone of the BUPC, wherein certain other parties like the SUCI are playing a prominent role and the Maoists are totally absent (even though it stands to reason that the strong-arm methods of the CPM will provide the ideological basis for the emergence of Maoists in due course). It is this reality the CPM wants to conceal because this brings out the party’s marked alienation from its own followers.

The fact is that the project of the proposed SEZ in Nandigram triggered the CPM’s alienation in the first place. Thereafter the horrendous events on March 14 resulted in its further alienation. The brutalities inflicted on that day generated both mass fear and mass fury, both emanating from the CPM cadres wanton assaults on the public in general. Regrettably the Stalinist CPM has not drawn any lesson from the happenings of that day. Not only has there been no sense of remorse on the part of the State or central leaders of the party, what is worse is that there is still a defiant note in the tone of the party leaders in West Bengal (of the two Bimans—Bose and Konar—in particular) that militates against the spirit of democratic functioning. [As for the Chief Minister, his acceptance of responsibility is more in the nature of guilt before the party leadership for his inability to ensure the CPM’s sway over the entire region rather than genuine sorrow over the tragic developments (not just the killings which, one is convinced, were far more than what the official figures convey, but also the barbaric assaults on womenfolk in general).] Against this backdrop the much-needed ‘healing touch’ is sadly missing.

In such a dismal scenario when every attempt is being made to obfuscate and blur the reality it is the sane voice of the West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, that offers genuine solace to the traumatised people of Nandigram who know there is someone they can look up to. Regardless of the intemperate outbursts of some of the CPM hotheads against him, it is the Governor alone who can emerge as the person capable of administering the ‘healing touch’.

The situation in Nandigram and the plight of the people there also bring out the brazen indifference of the CPM leadership. This is most unfortunate to say the least. Blinded by partisanship the party leaders have completely lost their sense of proportion. If this is the state of affairs at the top how can the leaders control their cadres?

The state sponsored brutalities and atrocities in Nandigram, howsoever deplorable, cannot and should not be equated with what is happening in Gujarat where the Narendra Modi Government is indirectly defending the fake encounters which have burst out in the open. That is something unimaginable in democratic India, and it springs from a narrow vision of ‘nationalism’ Tagore, Gandhi and Nehru had opposed with all the strength at their command.

Yet in Nandigram too the oppressed humanity is being forced to undergo further suffering thanks to the activities of those at the helm; and the party and state leaders have no time to ponder over the cost of such a callous attitude. The same callousness came out in bold relief when only the other day the lumpenised Red brigade attacked artistes and intellectuals returning from Nandigram after carrying relief material for the tormented citizens there, and the CPM leaders did not deem it necessary to decry the incident.

In different ways Nandigram and Gujarat pose a real challenge to our secular democratic principles. We shall be doing a great disservice to the nation as well as the toiling masses of this country if we fail to meet this challenge which in effect deeply affects our polity as a whole.

May 3 S.C.

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