Sacrifice of Truth in Nandigram
The ‘logic’ of the CPIM and the (West Bengal) State police under its control for launching an all-out attack on the villagers of Nandigram who had totally cut themselves off from the State to counter its anticipated move to dispossess and displace them is extremely clear. The State cannot tolerate the refusal of the people to be ruled by it. That is precisely why it makes use of its sovereign power to demonstrate and establish its supremacy or hegemony. In this particular regard, the State presumably governed by Leftist ideology has acted no different – not at all. The main reason for worry here is that the CPIM has completely forgotten that it is not a wing of the State the way the police or any other administrative department is. One may, however, retort that hardly anywhere in the world wherever the Communist party has come to power has bothered to keep a distance between itself and the State. Rather it looks upon the State as an instrument for its own expansion.
Why the people of Nandigram could not trust the ‘assurance’ given by the Chief Minister? One has to keep in mind that this is the very people who had elected a CPIM candidate as their own representative. The initial attempts of the State and the Party to control Nandigram proved futile. We are here not talking of the ferocity of the attempts that the villagers had to face. Subsequent to that, the Chief Minister and his party announced the launching of a campaign to ‘educate’ the people about the benefits of ‘industrialisation’. It needs be reiterated here that the price that the peoples had to pay as a consequence of such ‘education’ campaign earlier undertaken by the Stalinist Communist Parties, including in the Soviet Union, proved to be extremely high. Those who had refused to be ‘educated’, who knows not what happened to them. Likewise if the people of Nandigram had drawn the inference, given the fact of ‘education’ campaign, that the move for forced acquisition of land is very much in the offing – waiting for an appropriate moment; they can hardly be blamed.
For the CPIM, people’s refusal to take its promises as gospel truths was something intolerable. The most interesting, and also disturbing, is, however, the reaction of the leaders of the Party and the affiliated intellectuals. The Chief Minister kept on repeating himself. And accordingly Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat echoed that the communal and fundamentalist forces are forming a grand alliance in Nandigram. They branded the resistance in Nandigram as the outcome of a conspiracy jointly hatched by the ultra-Rightist and ultra-Leftist forces. The naïve peasants of Nandigram have been in a planned manner instigated; that is the constant refrain of the Party. Aditya Nigam, in one of his comments, has aptly asked how come when the peasants would follow the Party line, they’d be termed as ‘class-conscious’ or ‘enlightened’ and when not, the self-same people would immediately become ‘confused’ or ‘misled’!
The CPIM has termed the ‘Jamait-e- Ulema Hind’ as communal and fundamentalist and on that basis objected to its role in Nandigram. The dismal conditions of the Muslims in the State, after thirty years of Left rule, have recently been brought to light by the Rajinder Sachar Committee. As a consequence the Party has been compelled to start thinking about their development. *If the argument of the Party is that under its rule there was no communal riot in West Bengal then how can it be differentiated from a similar claim made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee that under the BJP rule there were less riots?* Is not terming the united action on the part of the Muslims to defend their own interests as peasants, or something else, as communal, fundamentalist and reactionary not essentially an echo of the arguments put forward by the BJP? Is it ‘secular’ to demand that Muslims must remain ‘loyal’ (to the Party) in return for ‘protection’? One of my friends, in this context, drew my attention to a letter by Stalin when he had been working in the Caucasus area before coming to power. Stalin had termed Muslims essentially reactionary and sought permission from the Party to set them right. How is it possible to forget Stalin’s anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim attitude?
One human rights activist friend of mine confided in me with great sadness that after going through a fact-finding report on Singur by a team based on an on-the-spot survey, of which my friend had been a member; Brinda Karat has announced that no friendly relationship is possible henceforth. This arrogance underlying the assumption that she has the unilateral and exclusive right to continue or sever friendship also calls for some analysis and examination.
After Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Mahasweta Devi, Saoli Mitra and others openly came out against the CPIM, some ‘intellectuals’ have praised the actions taken by the West Bengal government even while they have termed the deaths in Nandigram as ‘unacceptable’. The media has described these intellectuals as CPIM supporters. I do really wonder whether after this statement its authors can ever henceforth expect to be considered as ‘objective’ or ‘impartial’.
Medha Patkar and many others have been challenged on their rights to speak on Nandigram on the ground of not being Bengalis themselves. One has very rightly put that by this logic, Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat et al also have no right either.
The most severe damage that Nandigram has caused is perhaps to the credibility of the ‘intellectuals’. The hesitations of the non-Bengali progressive-democratic writers, critiques and such others have now shown up that their real commitment is not towards ‘justice’ and ‘people’ but to something else. In a tone of arrogant superiority, Prakash Karat and his retinue of ‘intellectuals’ are calling Sumit, Tanika and others as ‘misled’ and advising them to ‘rectify’ themselves. The story of ‘rectification of the intellectuals’ in the erstwhile Soviet Union and the Eastern Europe under its suzerainty is long and blood-soaked. Mercifully the whole India is not West Bengal. Perhaps the time has come that we all start speaking up and debate undeterred. On violence, on Marxism, on the character of the State and power, and, above all, on the commitments and obligations of the intellectuals.