Monobina Gupta on Nandigram and the CPM Whitewash
[As reports started coming in on Wednesday of wanton killings of the local population by a combination of the state's police forces and that dreaded being called 'cadre' in today's West Bengal, the CPM lie-machine in New Delhi swung into action. Monobina Gupta, a senior journalist who has been covering the Left for almost two decades now, reports on both the press conference and the incidents that brought it forth. Our further information is that two days ago the chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had called a meeting in Writers' Building to plan out the offensive. As the report below shows, the Bengali daily, Bartaman had already predicted today's action almost to the detail - obviously based on information that the CPM finds uncomfortable. We have also been informed that the call went out from the state CPM leadership of "Occupy and Liberate" Nandigram shortly before the cadres swung into action along with the police force. Thirty years of unbroken rule has made the state leadership belief that they can get away with anything. This time they may have miscalculated. It is also worth bearing in mind that faced with feisty women leaders like Medha Patkar and Mamata Banerjee the most disgusting colours of the CPM leadership are coming out. So if Biman Basu had gone on record saying that Mamata is behaving like a spoilt little girl (in Singur), then his comrade-in-arms Benoy Konar had done far better. He announced that women from his party's women's wing would "display their buttocks if Medha visited Nandigram". We will soon be publishing Medha's recent report after her return from Nandigram where she was actually greeted by a demonstration of buttocks - of about a hundred and fifty little Benoy Konars. Only, the women - even from his party seem to have politely refused. Some hope here - even though the top leadership of the Mahila Samity has been completely silent. Is comrade Brinda Karat listening? - AN]
For the CPM central leadership in Delhi defending police actions in Singur and Nandigram has now become a routine matter. It is left usually to Sitaram Yechury – second in command in the CPM politburo (and Rajya Sabha member) to address the media in Parliament and whitewash the whole incident.
Today was just one more of such press conferences. The CPM politburo member condemned the killings at the same time made it clear that the police had no choice other than to do what they did. “The kiilings are unfortunate. But we condemn such activities that took place even after
the West Bengal state government assured that no land will be acquired without the consent of the people.”
By “such activities” Yechury of course meant the “activity” of the CPM’s political rivals – the Trinamul Congress, the Naxals and the Maoists. “The police action is not connected to the land acquistion issue. It is a political battle. We have fought it in the past and will fight it
now” said the Yechury.
He made repeated references to the bloody CPM-Trinamul clashes in Keshpur. “This is exactly what our adversaries did in Keshpur”, said Yechury swiftly disconnecting the real issue of land acquistion from the police action. He made it sound like a political conspiracy that has
been hatched by the Trinamul Congress and the Maoists.
CPM politburo member Brinda Karat said there were ‘agent provocateurs’ in Nandigram. The state government did nothing for days. But they could not allow the situation to continue.
Mediapersons drew Yechury’s attention to what Benoy Konar a CPM leader in West Bengal had said at a public meeting earlier. “Konar had said that the critics of land acquistition should be ostracised. Can this incident be looked at from that perspective ?” asked reporters. Yechury
asked, “Was this reported in the media ?” Many of us said yes. Then he asked with a sneer “Which media? the Bengali media ?” and laughed loudly dismissing at one stroke everything that is published in the Bengali newspapers.
For the CPM it is clearly now a matter of “Do or Die”. “Either with us or Them”. In today’s CPM language – either for or against industrialisation.
Later in the evening today the CPM politburo sent a press handout. “It is regrettable that lives have been lost in the police firing. But the organised elements who utilised bombs and pipe guns on the police have to take the blame,” said the politburo. There was no mention of the fact
that newsreports filtering in by the evening clearly indicated that those killed included more women and children than men. There were also reports that the police hd started whisking away the bodies to keep the toll down.
Yechury took great pains to explain how the people in Nandigram had first attacked the police and the police had only reacted. He kept repeating, “The outsiders had cut off a person’s leg.” Nobody in the media could confirm the incident. The CPM politburo in its statement said, “Even after the government categorically declared that no land is being acquired in Nandigram the Trinamul Congress and the other elements refused to allow the administration or the police into the area. Those who did not go along with their disruptive activities were targeted. Only a few days ago a woman Sumita Mandal was raped and killed.”
Yechury made the killings sound like acts in self defence. There was actually no even an iota of self defence involved in the incident. ‘Bartaman’ a Bengali daily, has been carrying
news about police preparations in Nandigram, for the last two days. Today’s edition of Bartaman said there were 3000 policemen surrounding Nandigram and there would be a police operation this morning.
Earlier reports in the same newspaper informed of a meeting that the chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had this Monday with the state’s chief secretary and director general of police. The administration was asked to go ahead and ‘clean up’ Nandigram. The newspaper reports showed that the administartion had made preparations for the action and it was a well-planned attack on the villagers.
When the police attacked villagers in Singur the first time, even at that time Yechury at a press conference in Parliament said what he said today. “The police acted in self defence. The villagers attacked first.” The party then struck up a chorus about ‘outsiders’. When the clashes in Nandigram took place and the police fired killing several two months ago the CPM
again blamed the incident on ‘outsiders’ who were creating ‘trouble’.