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Did You Say ‘US Imperialism’, Prakash Karat? Sankar Ray

April 26, 2011

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

The CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and the Left Front chairman Biman Bose deserve thanks for referring to the WikiLeaks revelation about the US enthusiasm in seeing a change of guard at the Writers’ Buildings, the seat of the Government of West Bengal.

Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary

Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary, courtesy rediff.com

Quoting the cable no 230353 10/20/2009, Mr Karat conveyed the gist of it as follows: “Since the May 2009 parliamentary elections elevated West Bengal’s regional party, All India Trinamool Congress, from obscurity to the second largest constituent party in the United Progressive Alliance, its leader, Mamata Banerjee, has conscientiously sought to re-brand herself as West Bengal’s Chief Minister-in-Waiting. She is using the considerable administrative resources at her disposal as Railway’s Minister, political resources as leader of the state opposition party, and personal resources to initiate this transformation. Supporters and critics acknowledge the new image, but question whether it is indeed a new product, or simply new packaging. Backed by a large parliamentary constituency and allied with the ruling Congress party, Banerjee’s Trinamool is well placed to win the 2011 state assembly elections if she can continue along her current path of self-restraint and avoid making any mistakes along the way.” For details, the reader has to visit http://pragoti.org, even though it’s unabashedly pro-CPI(M).

The CPI(M) supremo observed that the AITC brass “is very much within private outreach. I’m in no position unfortunately to investigate and tell you what they are doing to fulfill this general direction they’ve given in the cable”.

But hadn’t the West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee too been in the very good book of “US imperialism” during the super-belligerent hukumat of Republican leader George William Bush? We just need to flash back to mid-2005, and randomly pick up from national newspapers ( even if we exclude The Statesman). The Telegraph in a front-page story wrote (US kudos & caution for CM 19 Aug 2005), that the US ambassador David Mulford “warned the chief minister today that the two CPM voices – one from Delhi and the other from Calcutta and seen to be conflicting by the outside world, would impede the flow of foreign investment to Bengal.” Mulford in his first visit to Kolkata as the US Ambassador met Mr Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings”, spending almost an hour there.” Mr Bhattacharjee, a CPI(M) polit bureau member, told the US envoy “We have to be practical, liberal, because our people want us to acknowledge the ground realities and shape our responses accordingly. We have to walk the path after taking note of their expectations”. There was no rejoinder to this report either from the CM or from the party daily Ganashakti.

Mr Mulford found an unmistakable “investor-friendly attitude of the Bengal government” but cautioned against interference from mandarins of A K Gopalan Bhavan, the CPI(M) national headquarters, which might spoil the prospect through “the Left agenda”. He expressed his optimism over privatisation that “would yield major economic benefits”. And he had fulsome praise for the post-Jyoti Basu rule “The leadership has been able to introduce a new dynamism in the business and economic environment. It is seeking investment from other states and abroad.”

Indian Express in another story (‘The Buddha of the fast lane’ by Subrata Nagchoudhury, 8 August 2006) pointed to a further pro-US tilt. Cashing in on the base-work of Mr Mulford, the US assistant secretary and state department spokesman Richard Boucher had a one-hour meeting with the CM. “Boucher’s visit was followed up with some changes on the ground. Kolkata got its first US trade desk, which would facilitate business both in the state and the eastern region. Boucher also promised to send a big industry delegation soon, which would explore investment opportunities in the state”, wrote IE.

Remember the bonhomie between the LFG and controversial Salim Group of Indonesia for a special economic zone of chemicals and petrochemicals at Nandigram? The Indonesian business tycoon Benny Santoso frequently called on the CM. The entire CPI(M) chose to forget the 40th anniversary of CIA-backed massacre of 5 million communists and sympathizers and the Salim group grew exponentially for patronage of General Suharto who collaborated with the CIA for the coup.

The rest is history. So how should the CPI(M) brass including Mr Bhattacharjee and Mr Bose be characterized? Had it been in the pre-1975 years, the prefix would have been ‘running dogs of imperialism”. And not through via media – WikiLeaks, but a direct link to White House, the headquarters of war-mongering neo-liberalism.

After the debacle in the 15th parliamentary polls, the CPI(M) central committee at its meeting between 20 and 21 June, 2009 blamed ‘anti-communist gang-up’ and foreign-funded NGOs for its ignominious defeat : “In this election, we saw this offensive against the CPI(M) and the Left unfolding. The ruling classes and the imperialist agencies have concentrated their attack against West Bengal and Kerala in order to isolate the CPI(M). Spearheaded by the Congress, all the reactionary forces were mobilised to ensure that another government dependent or influenced by the Left does not come about. In West Bengal, we saw an unprecedented ganging up of all forces from the extreme right to the extreme Left. The Maoists became the instrument for killing cadres to disrupt the Party. The foreign funded NGOs and the divisive forces based on identity politics, many of whom are linked to imperialism were harnessed. In Kerala, sections of the Catholic Church, the media and NGOs were utilised.”

Killing of 14 villagers at Nandigram on 14 March 2007, on the 124th death anniversary of Marx by state police and armed cadres (‘harmads’ in the current political lexicon), numerous mass rape and disappearance of many or counter-revolutionary way of punishing protesters in Singur. The CC seemed to have lost the common sense to ponder that it indirectly snapped fingers at the electorate that voted the LF with their feet (Remember Lenin’s call to Russian soldiers to vote against the ruling class with their feet in the election to Duma when they were shattered after the First World War). Karl Radek wrote in 1923 on the 25th anniversary of RSDLP : “The Mujik must carry on the war. “But don’t you see that the Mujik voted against the war?” Lenin asked me. “Excuse me, when and how did he vote against it?” “He voted with his feet, he is running away from the front.” And for him that settled the matter. That we would not be able to agree with German imperialism, this Lenin knew as well as everybody else, but when he spoke in favour of the Brest pause for breath, he did not conceal from the masses for a single moment the sufferings which were bound to follow. But it was no worse than the immediate breakdown of the Russian Revolution; it gave us a shadow of hope, a pause for breath, if only for a few months, and this was the decisive moment. It was necessary that the Mujik should touch with his hands the earth which the revolution had given him; it was necessary that he be confronted with the danger of losing this earth, for then he would defend it.”). And about foreign-funded NGOs? Didn’t Sitaram Yecchury and many of his comrades rub shoulders with foreign-funded NGOs at the Mumbai session of the World Social Forum where most of the NGOs who had taken part were funded by the Ford Foundation? Were the foreign-funded NGOs, for Mr Yechury revolutionaries at WSF?

The lesson for the electorate that supported the CPI(M) for 34 years is that the Karat-Bhattacharjee-Bose-Yechury deceived the former which realizes that the India’s largest party among the official Marxists forfeited its moral right to oppose US imperialism years ago.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. ShobJanta permalink
    April 26, 2011 10:46 AM

    The original wikileaks cable regarding Ms Bannerjee can be accessed here:

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/the-cables/article1713067.ece

    Here is one cable that summarizes a meeting between Mr Karat and Mr Poloff:

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/the-cables/article1562928.ece

    One more cable that summarizes a meeting between Mr Buddadeb Bhattacharjee and Mr Polson (This has some interesting comments about Dow Chemicals):

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/the-cables/article1595100.ece

  2. Rajesh permalink
    April 26, 2011 11:37 AM

    Wikileaks had earlier published a cable sent by the US Consul General in Kolkata on a meeting between US Treasury Secretary Harry Paulson and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in October 2007. “Secretary Paulson commented that one of the obstacles to greater FDI in India was uncertainty over contracts and the legal process. He said that commercial disputes need to be resolved fairly and quickly and mentioned as examples disputes with Dow Chemical and McDermott International reflecting the long legal process. Bhattacharjee said he understood and in fact, wanted Dow Chemical to invest in West Bengal and the state’s proposed chemical hub. The CM did not understand why Dow should be saddled with Union Carbide’s liabilities from the Bhopal accident. He assured the Secretary that if there was any investment problem, he would personally resolve the issue. He also encouraged Secretary Paulson to raise investment issues with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister.” (http://m.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/the-cables/article1595100.ece/?page=3).

    Buddhadeb called this a `one-sided and distorted account’. “On Dow Chemicals, I had pointed out that subject to Dow Chemicals owning up responsibility for compensating the victims of the Bhopal disaster, we want the company to invest in the proposed chemical hub project. Quite clearly, the aspect of the responsibility of Dow Chemicals has been left out in the cable.” (http://www.hindu.com/2011/04/05/stories/2011040563751200.htm).

    Strange things, these diplomatic cables from the US consulate in Kolkata. “Bhattacharjee clearly is receptive to engagement with the U.S. However, his ideological flexibility and that of some of the West Bengal Communist leadership has not resulted in the West Bengal leaders being able to temper the national CPM leadership in its hard-line opposition to the U.S. and to growing Indo-U.S. cooperation”(http://m.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/the-cables/article1595100.ece/?page=4). This is `distorted’.

    “Her party’s public rhetoric, devoid of any anti-Americanism, and private outreach to post’s officers are encouraging signs that a Banerjee-led West Bengal government will be friendlier to the United States than the current CPI-M one. Post recommends USG officials continue to cultivate Banerjee, who has not yet visited the United States, in her current capacity as Railways Minister and the likely next Chief Minister of West Bengal.” (http://www.pragoti.org/node/4366) This is the undistorted truth.

    If you think the consulate is consistent as it labels the CPI(M) central leadership as unfriendly to the US despite Bhattacharjee’s stance, and the TMC as a friendlier party devoid of anti-Americanism in its public rhetoric, its because you don’t know how to think. Wily chaps, these US diplomats, who can make you imagine differences between AKG Bhavan and Writers Building when there never have been any. But their airbrushing skills are only second best.

  3. Jun permalink
    April 27, 2011 5:58 PM

    Bravo! The manner in which, in the serene cloak of neutrality, the hallowed intellectuals of Kafila have been running a no-holds-barred campaign against the CPI(M) is indeed magical! There is a touch of wizardry to the way in which heavyweights like Aditya Nigam and Sankar Ray have managed to convince themselves and others that calculated vitriol against the left, just before and during the elections in West Bengal and Kerala, can be peddled as dispassionate criticism! And the effortlessness with which the reactionary essence of the Trinamool has been concealed or sidelined – that surely requires some great virtuosity! The entire question of Amit Mitra (who can possibly be a surer sign of complicity with US imperialism than him?) has been masterfully airbrushed out of existence! The long alliance of the Trinamool with the BJP has been deftly made to dematerialise! The fact that the land policy of the Trinamool openly asserts that private companies should directly acquire land from the peasantry has been so beautifully suppressed! This is pure magic! While in the days of neoliberalism, when the ‘neutrality’ of corporations and ‘civil society’ has come to acquire a hegemonic salience in public discourse, and this kind of magic has become more common than it previously was, kudos to Aditya Nigam and company for having mastered this craft with particularly dazzling brilliance! Again, bravo!

    • Aditya Nigam permalink*
      April 27, 2011 8:29 PM

      Jun, you are a bit off the mark. We have never claimed ‘dispassionate criticism’. We do not believe in any such thing. Too much – and too many lives – are at stake in the cynical game of power that the CPM is playing at least in these two states. This does not allow for any possibility of dispassionate criticism. With all the passion at our command, we want the LF government to go. And let me tell you something else: when situations like this arise, when ordinary people have crossed the rubicon, as it were, they are prepared for anything – even hell seems preferable to the current dispensation. The arrogant antics of Gautam Deb can onlt rebound with more ferocity. That is why they chose the hellish post-Soviet dispensation to the morbidity and repressive lifelessness of the Soviet regime. This much is elementary. But for the CPM, everything is conspiracy. Apparently, if CPM theorists are to be believed, CIA is much better than communist in engineering popular rebellions across the world!
      So, do I celebrate the ‘reactionary essence’ of the Trinamool Congress? I do not know about Sankar Ray, but I can tell you that if the people are fed up of your party and want the TMC, so be it. I personally do not think there is any ‘essence’ that parties embody: the CPM for instance does not embody any ‘radical’ or any such essence; it is today the most ferociously conservative party on issues like caste, gender (and Anil Basu is a mere symptom!), ecology, nuclear power, – and of course not to forget, its reactionary sellout to the neo-liberal dream.
      Finally, for the likes of you, I should underline that simply because I do not believe in any ‘essence’ that parties supposedly embody, I will have no hesitation in opposing the TMC in future. After, it is only a conjunctural role that parties play – as instruments of popular aspirations.

      • Maidul Islam permalink
        April 28, 2011 1:36 AM

        It is a pity that those who claim to be on the ‘Left’ of the CPI(M), whether it is the ‘Maoists’ or certain sections of Naxalites today want a victory of Trinamool-Congress alliance: an alliance of the ruling classes. Of course, not all shades of Naxalites have taken such a ‘radical’ step to help the ruling classes and weaken the Left. People like Azizul Haque, Ratan Khasnobis [formerly of CPI(ML)-ND], Ashim Chatterjee (Kaka) [once with Trinamool but now supporting the Left], Barnali Mukherjee (once close to Mamata and formerly of Kanu Sanyal group) and some small Trostkyite groups like Communist League in Bengal have explicitly taken a sensible stand to oppose Trinamool-Congress alliance and have argued to vote for the Left Front. The CPI(ML)-Liberation, which makes an alliance with the CPI and CPI(M) in its stronghold–Bihar has also given a call for a 3rd Front in Bengal by being equidistant to both the Left Front and Trinamool-Congress alliance. Unfortunately, those who are arguing to vote-out the Left from Bengal even at the cost of making a reactionary alliance of Trinamool-Congress to power, does not at all introspect that why they have not been able to give a better ‘alternative Left’ than the largest communist party in India? If they claim that they are the real/actual Left and the CPI(M) is a ‘reactionary force’ then it would be simply an ideological opportunism to back the Trinamool-Congress alliance than strengthening a real/actual Left. Either they are a lazy tad, not to work hard for building a real/actual Left or they are simply jealous of the CPI(M) because of its large mass base or they can be simply anti-Left in the garb of some Marxist jargons to hide their masks of ideological opportunism. What an ideological degeneration of these petty bourgeois radicalism?

        • Garga permalink
          April 29, 2011 11:30 AM

          Wow ! Scriptural essentialism in the face of reality- the stance and culture embodied by the CPM vis-a-vis real estate promoters, violent suppression of political opponents, calling Mamata a prostitute, etc etc reminds us that party “research wing” honchos and apparatchiks who were penning volumes in the defence of Soviet leadership in Brehznev times have not disappeared – they have since then taken birth in Bengal again.

      • April 28, 2011 9:35 AM

        Dear Mr. Nigam,

        That is a rather delightful and revealing comment on your part. You are not dispassionate and therefore consistently partisan (not surprisingly only against the Left Front), appealing to all through this blog of yours to vote for ‘change’ and TMC (running a tacit anti-Left campaign in effect). A much-awaited, though still timely admission of the propaganda tool this blog has become. It is also interesting and impressive how the curses and spiteful pieces against the democratic-Left are
        strategically interspersed in this blog with contemporary issues that appeal immensely to an urban audience today. (I would like to clarify that I am not undermining the specific significance of such issues here). However the main agenda of the blog remains to discredit any sane and rational positive opinions about the Left Front through emotional invocations of stylized facts. I believe that, now that you are coming out on the eve of Bengal elections, let us hear it all about the intent and passion of Mr. Nigam.

        As far as the immediate comment goes, if there are n reasons for which you want the LF to go, you can rest assured that the TMC will do worse on all those n counts, and more. Just a couple of days back, the popular(ist) Mr. Derek O’Brien reiterated that the solution to the land issues in Bengal is that companies should directly acquire land from the farmers. I guess, this alternative you definitely find more radical (if not in essence, then conjecturally) than the continuing land reforms in West Bengal. Or since reactionarism cannot be the ‘essence’ of a political party, particularly the TMC (an ex-ally of the BJP and currently of UPA-II headed by World Bank Employees), they might change for good soon… Only the LF is essentially and irredeemably ‘conservative’.

        It is under, what you call the “conservative” regime of the LF, that 84%of the farming land in Bengal belongs to small peasants (< 5acres holdings) post-land reforms, and the recommendations of the Rangnath Mishra Commission are being implemented (and mind you, if you call this an election gimmick/appeasement, it is high time you started campaigning for the BJP too). I believe you are fully aware of more such facts, only that they do not gel well with the ‘passion’ you would like to command. It is a vicious and intellectually dishonest effort that you choose to perpetuate the illusion that the state government of West Bengal is actually running a sovereign republic (without any constraints from the centrally imposed policies of the World Bank Loyalists in power; and isn’t Ms. Bannerjee one of them?) All that is lacking to turn around the fortunes of that state is a political will that somehow the TMC is suddenly in possession of.

        I suggest you try running a successful political organization (and I’m not talking of a blog or an NGO) for 34 months (let alone 34 years!) and then we shall ask you about your romance with ‘puritanical radicalism’!
        (Since personal experiences are so central to Kafila’s ideological motivations, I would also take the liberty to remind you of one of your minor adventures of the recent past. You must remember that a few years back some of you as faculty members of DU woke up to a couple of high-profile cases of sexual harassment. In a few well-attended meetings with both faculty and students, something called the Campaign for Safe University (CSU) was instituted in the North Campus generating a lot of buzz, and unfortunately, also hope in some starry-eyed youngsters then. Can you tell us what happened to that “movement”? I believe with your collective passion and radicalism, you could not sustain the struggle beyond a few months. Both the accused eventually escaped with little penalties. Has the Campus become safer for young men and women today? If not yet, what is the CSU doing about it? Or have the ‘people’ of DU ceased to desire a safe campus? Or is it that the “conjunctural role” (utility) of the struggle expired once you had possibly settled your scores with certain people?)

        Hope I did not match up to the harshness that you so consistently muster up against the Left.

        Best Wishes.

        • Nivedita Menon permalink*
          April 28, 2011 11:47 AM

          V – I come in only with reference to your taunt to Aditya about “your minor adventures of the recent past”, i.e. the campaign in DU against sexual harassment, since I was very active in it, particularly in trying to ensure following up of the charges against Bidyut Chakrabarty, then HOD of the Political Science Department of which I was then a faculty member.
          (I am leaving unremarked upon at this point the full information you are privy to about all of us, while you hide behind a pseudonymous initial yourself – oops, remarked upon it, didn’t I!)
          People like you follow such campaigns from afar, and assume that if you can’t see anything the media, it’s fizzled out. The fact is that the thing has drawn itself out till today, with BC moving court and planting false stories in the press, while our struggle was hampered by the fact that we could not come out with the full facts in the public realm since the previous VC as well as the current VC have tacitly and explicitly backed BC in many ways. As things stand, the final report after cross-examination as ordered by the court, is still sitting with the VC, who has not tabled it in the AC. I have reason to believe the final report is very favourable to the complainant, but until it is tabled in the AC, it is not a public document.
          V, it seems to me that you have never actually tried to start and sustain any political campaign yourself, apart from at best, membership of a large party which enables you to think of yourself as being an activist without ever taking any risks or doing any hard work yourself. Nobody who has actually worked from scratch on any political campaign would taunt people who have, for not having achieved full success. That arrogance is only possible if you have never organized anything yourself, or taken the risk of public campaigns yourself. Which political campaign can claim success of that unequivocal sort that can say The End to any issue?
          You say ‘Hope I did not match up to the harshness…’
          Harsh? You have been arrogant, smug and dismissive of mass initiatives on the ground. You win this one hands down.

  4. ABRAHAM permalink
    April 28, 2011 2:11 AM

    the write’rs reading on this particular cable is curiously interesting, because of many reasons. mainly, it can be a useful pamphlet for TMC at this point. the consistent anti-left rhetoric in the garb of ‘ultra left’ but it finally returns to same right wing intentions. the intention of writer is very clear that it is not to save democratic left movement in this country. this becomes much more clear in his reply, he happily declaring that he wants this left front govt to go and his real radical Mamata to come. he hopes that she will implement all his people friendly and pro working class and peasant policies. nothing can be more emanicipatory than this understanding. you are providing us a truly radical alternative that will satisfy all your revolutionary fantasy’s. it is again interesting that a so called left intellectual like you cannot understand the extreme reactionary class nature of Mamata Banarjee.(at least he himself thinks as a real left intellectual) more importantly, we know that where Adithya Nigam stands in the working class movements in this country( he selectively unaware of massive trade union rally held by left unions and its relevance), and why you are writing this kind of paid essays or unpaid, it is to satisfy your petty bourgosie thirst for some fashionable academic circus. your cruelly jargonized language is the real evidence for this syndrome. however, as a left student activist i have no illusion that Aditya Nigam will speak for left politics because as Lenin had already informed us about you like intellectuals, this kind of intellectuals speak ultra radicalism but when it is the real time for political choices, they will show their real class character and reactionary content.
    certainly, left movement is facing serious existential crisis but if you think that you can write an obituary to the left movement then you are in a fools paradise.

  5. Aditya Nigam permalink*
    April 28, 2011 12:02 PM

    V (whoever you are), apropos of your:

    “I suggest you try running a successful political organization (and I’m not talking of a blog or an NGO) for 34 months (let alone 34 years!)…”

    Why don’t you ask Prakash or Sitaram (or your Delhi party netas) whether it was an NGO I was running for seventeen years!

    • Upal Chakraborty permalink
      April 29, 2011 2:12 AM

      Aditya,

      I would not like to get personal , but it seems you were a CPM cadre for 17 years but left them because you were disillusioned . Fair enough.
      Am also guessing that you have not just left the CPM but all forms of mass mobilisations and movements.
      I would prefer Sujat Bhadra or Mahasweta Devi who at least participate in mass struggles , while opposing the CPM (which stand I do not fully agree with but at least respect them for their courage of conviction) .
      The issue which both Maidul and V have raised has been consciously avoided by you. Let us for a moment assume that the CPM is the worst form of a reactionary and neo-liberal Party . But by repeatedly stating that you want the CPM to go , and directly avoiding an answer to the question whether you wish the TMC to assume power , you are taking shelter behind a curious form of escapism and – may I dare say – intellectual dishonesty.This leads to grossly politically immature statements like “… but I can tell you that if the people are fed up of your party and want the TMC, so be it.” (Are we to understand that the role of a Communist Party is then to blindly follow the masses -even in the Germany of 30’s ?) or “… I personally do not think there is any ‘essence’ that parties embody:” which we could expect from a greenhorn in politics but certainly not from you.
      An honest approach like Bratya , Sujaat or Mahasweta would have been preferred , because then we would have recognized who you are (undoubtedly by our yardstick ) . I suggest you wait till 13th May when you will realize that withdrawal from mass movements and political activities also leads to isolation from the masses and the way they approach the political realm.

      Upal Chakraborty

      • Garga permalink
        April 29, 2011 12:08 PM

        What Aditya has claimed is, given the humiliations ushered in by the CPM on the populace of Bengal, if the people of Bengal chose to dethrone the satraps of Alimuddin Street, so be it. The ridiculous straw-man in the form of Germany in the 1930s cutting across all specifics of a real situation to an abstract counterposing of ‘leftism’ versus fascism serves a set of purposes. It clearly situates the CPM , taking the German allusion at face value, in the realm of ‘good’ politics vis-a-vis the Nazis ( which in this case is who else but the folks who are killed in Netai, the raped and annihilated Tapasi Malik, the martyrs of Nandigram, the massacred at Sainbari, the dead at Marichjjhnapi, the displaced peasants at Rajarhat-where incidentally many bhadralok ‘left-democrats’ are getting 1200 square feet ‘left-democratic’ space with telephone showers and ingliss-style comodes). Germany in the 1930s as some kind of example that related to the CPM vs TMC tussle in Bengal is something worth peddling to the folks who are opposing the chemical hub at Nayachar or the nuclear plant at Haripur. I would love to know their reaction. The appeal of ‘essence’ is even more interesting as it leads to the curious “search for essence’. Others might chose to take the world as it is, not as touted to be. It is a pity they are called greenhorns. I guess hardened by theory and hardened by embedded praxis lead to different conclusions. The latter leads to greenhornisms of the Sankar Ray and Aditya Nigam kind. Kudos to that.

        • Upal Chakraborty permalink
          April 29, 2011 11:25 PM

          Garga ,

          I would not have objected if , like CPI(M-L) Liberation, Aditya would have given a call to defeat both the CPM and TMC- Congress combine. I may not have agreed because I am a keen follower of “The Theory Of relativity” albeit in its political form – but would not have penned even a single word against his stand.
          But to turn a blind eye to TMC-Congress atrocities and harp only on the CPM betrays perversity.
          Videos of Mamata’s speeches at Jadavpur are available where 1. she ridicules CPM cadres for running away from their homes in 70’s and returning after 5 years catching the coat-tails of JP and 2. publicly proclaiming that she controls “goondas” .
          A video of Bratya Basu is available where he has compared the octogenarian leader Somnath chatterjee with Egyptian mommies. (because of his failing health)
          Is gender sensitivity all that is required ? What about showing some sensitivity towards the aged ?
          Will Kafila care to post these videos ?
          I can go on and on.

          Upal

  6. Ritaja Basu Mullick permalink
    April 28, 2011 5:01 PM

    I share Aditya’s comments about CPI (M)but Mr Sankar Ray’s piece sounds unconvincing when he talks about deceiving the electorate, then TMC’s election manifesto should be targeted also – not sure whether this is a personal grudge of Mr Ray that drives him to write such a trivial & biased piece.

    • Garga permalink
      April 29, 2011 12:11 PM

      Why dont you supply the titles and themes of Sankar Ray’s forthcoming pieces to Sankar Ray? You can even write them for him, so that they sound convincing.

  7. April 28, 2011 8:45 PM

    Dear Ms. Menon,

    Like you say, “Nobody who has actually worked from scratch on any political campaign would taunt people who have, and for not having achieved full success”- The CPM is also not a divine gift. It is a political organization that has been built from scratch over the past many decades.
    And “Which political campaign can claim success of that unequivocal sort that can say The End to any issue?”- The CPM does not claim to have brought an ‘end’ to the woes of Bengal. However it is working in that direction.

    By this understanding, why does not the CPM deserve the same empathy that you so rightfully claim for your hard-fought struggles? There are many other problems with Kafila assuming a super-critic’s position against all of democratic Left which at least is accountable to the people by going to polls regularly. However it is pleasing to see that Mr. Nigam has now come out in open support of the TMC, though still in the cloak of the super-critic who will criticize the TMC also (Shouldn’t he already be doing that? Amit Mitra is their Finance Minister-in-waiting.). I hope he sticks to his position, especially if TMC wins the elections and unleashes ‘your kind’ of “left policies” on Bengal! (As to asking Com. Prakash or Com. Yechury about you, I think your shift to TMC has saved me the trouble of any further enquiry.) But on this I am reminded of the much reviled Prabhat Patnaik, who somewhere said “Criticizing everything amounts to criticizing nothing”.

    As to my anonymity, I think I have more democratic platforms than Kafila to hold me accountable for my politics. (However I expect you to have found my identity by now.)

    All the best with your “mass initiatives” while the CPM shall make do with its strength of a few lakhs or more (I am just one them). As to winning or losing it is concerned, you would never lose- for very few care for your micro-personalized battles!

    V

  8. April 28, 2011 9:30 PM

    Both Stalinists and Maoists are apologists of bourgeois and remain adherent to sections of bourgeois and petty bourgeois. While, at present, Stalinist left front led by CPI-CPM in West Bengal seek ways to draw support for them from Congress (I) led central government, Maoists seek shelter under TMC led by Mamata Banerjee. In both cases it is bourgeois that dominates, while Stalinists and Maoists do the ‘coolie’ service for it, in politics.

    The program for establishment of revolutionary Marxist Party has to evolve itself in direct struggle against Maoists and their theory of ‘new democracy, apart from fighting against Stalinists, liberals, social democrats and centrists. Only then this program would be able to re-orient the youth and workers, and the peasantry behind them, towards a proletarian revolution.

    look here: http://new-wave-nw.blogspot.com/2011/01/india-maoists-openly-pledge-to-throw.html

  9. April 28, 2011 9:33 PM

    Maoists are in complete agreement with Stalinists on all basic political disputes, which erupted inside Comintern against its degeneration at the hands of Stalinists. Both of them pay lip service to the cause of working class, while serving the real political interests of bourgeois in the name of ‘democratic revolution’.

  10. April 28, 2011 9:36 PM

    As the press release makes it clear, Maoists in the name of opposing the UPA and Congress, are seeking a pretext to hob-nob with TMC, a rabid rightist political party in West Bengal. The press release demonstrates absolute political bankruptcy of Maoist Politics.

    The very same Maoists who put out a whole document in 2005 parliamentary general elections theorising the ‘eelction boycott’ saying that the same is a strategic and not tactical issue valid for the period of ‘new democratic revolution’, the very same Maoists for whom the only form of class struggle till yesterday was armed struggle, for whom parliaments were ‘pig-sty’, who always preached working class to keep hands off the bourgeois parliaments, are now eager to assist the bourgeois leaders to take their seats in parliamentary bodies. Their slogan for ‘new democracy’ has become a vehicle for new bourgeois alliances.

    Maoism is nothing but a threshold to Market Socialism of Deng Shiao Ping. Deng is not anathema to Maoism, but its logical conclusion. If Maoists are really hostile to anything, it is the working class and its theory of permanent revolution.

    Bypassing the core political issues of importance, Maoists, in order to mislead the working class, draw a false division in political arena: arms or no arms, and when the time really comes to use them, they use them against the working class. Its part of history that they turned their guns upon the working class in China, Vietnam and everywhere after the power fell to them.

  11. April 28, 2011 9:39 PM

    The coalition government ruling the province of West Bengal in India, deceptively coloured in Red, under the banner of the ‘Left Front’ ‑ a block of four parties, dominated by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) ‑ has been the vehicle for carrying out so-called “liberal” bourgeois policies. Under the regime of this Left Front, West Bengal has more than ever before become a convenient playground for the adventures of domestic and foreign capitalists. Time and again the Ministers in this government have assured the capitalists that the province of West Bengal is the safest haven on earth for capitalist investments. All the four parties in this “Left” coalition consider the national (“liberal”) bourgeoisie as an ally in their “revolution”, the so-called National Democratic Revolution. But just as this Indian bourgeoisie has itself been under the tutelage of world capitalism so have its allies in the Left Front.
    Rattan Tata, one of the top Indian capitalists, once said that West Bengal under the Left Front is the best place for investment. This was not a casual remark, but one based on an assessment of the role of this government. In the name of National Democratic Revolution, these parties have long since severed their ties with working class struggles. Instead, they have become proponents of “tripartite settlements” between labour and capital with the mediation of the government, i.e. open class collaborationist policies pursued by this Left Front.
    Since 1991, after the proclamation of the introduction of a “liberal” regime of capitalism in India, the direct domination of foreign finance in the economic life of the country has become even more of a reality than in the past and all petty bourgeois opposition to it has been transformed into a farce. Efforts of the West Bengal government have since then been focused on facilitating direct and indirect foreign investment in the province. This “Left Front” has therefore to show, more than others, its zeal in the service of capitalism in general, to assure the masters of world capitalism that the red banner it holds is nothing but a smokescreen, behind which stand the cousins of Gorbachev.
    While the other local bourgeois governments, including the national government, were still proceeding at a snail’s pace to concretise the projects of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ), the capitalist hubs for the intense exploitation of labour and thereby the generation of super-profits, this “Left Front” has been taking the lead to prove itself the most deserving promoter of capitalism.

  12. Meghna permalink
    April 29, 2011 10:23 AM

    Such righteous delirium! Movement, intellect, honesty and the CPI-M – give me a break! You talk about being a participant of movements (preferably of course those led by your party) as the sole legitimate quality for being allowed to express an opinion; by that yardstick your hallowed general secretary Prakash Karat and senior leader Sitaram Yechury should be the last ones to open their mouths on any political issue of importance. Edinburgh and JNU do not actually count as the hotbed of movements; neither does sitting in an office answering phone calls, or addressing the occasional press conference in clear crisp English, or making smart-alec observations in rajya sabha. These are of course, the ideal leaders of the proletariat! When was the last time either of these eminent leaders of ‘the people’ contested elections, let alone won? rajya sabha suits a leader of people quite well, dont you think?

    And when was the last time that your party came up with a coherent intellectual formulation that transcended the boring mediocrity of a tired language? its good to see these red fangs out now, for they seem only to come out when the snake is crawling underground for good.

    • Upal Chakraborty permalink
      April 29, 2011 11:32 PM

      I have never claimed to be a CPM supporter or cadre. It only betrays your one-track mind.
      All I have tried to convey is that the TMC-Congress combination is a super-Fascist combination and turning a blind’s eye to the dangers inherent in their assuming power while focusing only on the CPM betrays a perversity.

      Upal

  13. Muzaffar Ahmed permalink
    April 29, 2011 12:58 PM

    It is interesting that some people earn their certificates merely by virtue of their party affiliation. You can then simply sit in your university or newspaper/ media offices and have the authority to opine on mass movements. Meghna has referred to some of the politburo members above who came straight from Edinburgh and JNU to become party leaders. Who does not know that all the experience they have is of inner party scheming and manipulations. But they have a party ‘card’ that authorizes them – just like it authorizes their minions commenting on this site. How many mass movements has Prabhat Patnaik participated in? Does anybody question his right to criticize others because of that? Yes, people have taken issue with his arguments. But that is something, as Garga rightly points out, people ‘hardened by ideology’ can just not do. They do not know how to deal with an argument. So, whether they belong to the Hindu Right or to the CPM, all they can do is raise the dispute to a purely personal level. The mode of argument here is simply this: If you do not participate in mass movements, then you only have the duty to support the CPM; you have no right to disagree with it. Who are these people?
    Who are they to decide who will have the right to speak or not?
    If this is the arrogance that comes simply by virtue of party affiliation, it is easily imaginable what is happening in our state where they have untrammeled power for more than three decades! And so, if the people of West Bengal want to get rid of them, it is the duty of every democrat to support the people in every way possible. This blackmail has gone on for too long and eventually people seem to have seen through it. If by any chance, they do want to want to return the LF back to power, that too, in the last analysis is to be decided by them. Not by anybody’s diktat and blackmail.

    • Upal Chakraborty permalink
      April 29, 2011 11:35 PM

      Am sorry if I sounded personal. That was never their intention.
      Have never questioned Aditya’s right to criticize – merely suggested that his isolation from the masses has made him impervious to the dangers posed by the TMC-Congress combination.

  14. Jun permalink
    April 29, 2011 11:50 PM

    Dear All,

    The guest post by Shankar Ray carried a substantive claim about the CPI(M) that it had compromised on the question of US imperialism. I, in my comment on the post, had pointed out that there are certain substantive criticisms that one can and should make of the Trinamool Congress (the projection of Amit Mitra as the next finance minister of Bengal, for instance), which writers on Kafila were evading in a partisan manner without, however, acknowledging such partisanship. I had identified such non-acknowledgment as dishonest. Aditya Nigam, in his reponse to my comment, had clarified that he did not wish to be perceived as ‘dispassionate’ and had clearly asserted that he was ‘conjuncturally’ supporting the Trinamool Congress because he thought that the regime of the left had been characterised by certain serious problems. He did not address himself, at all, however, to certain substantive features of the politics of the Trinamool which I had pointed out. Subsequently, V had identified specific achievements of the Left front (redistribution of land, for instance) which he thought should be factored into any serious analysis of the political juncture in Bengal today. Subsequently, Nivedita Menon, Aditya Nigam and a number of other commentators, completely ignoring the concrete claims made about the achievements of the left front and the deeply disconcerting aspects of the politics of the Trinamool, took the debate into a completely chaotic domain where the initial questions posed were completely lost sight of. Everything, from the ills of ‘Stalinism’ to the credentials of Prabhat Patnaik, were discussed, to the exclusion of any serious and concrete consideration of what the elections in West Bengal imply for the people of that state.

    I would believe that given the amount of time and space Kafila has devoted to condemning the CPM, such a concrete consideration is urgently in order. Let us not deceive ourselves here. If the CPM loses in West Bengal, it is the Trinamool Congress-Congress (I) alliance that will, without a shadow of doubt, come to power. Despite projections of a ‘third front’ by groups like CPI(ML) Liberation and other political interests, that is the indisputable reality of the situation we find ourselves in. Left Front or the Trinamool Congress – despite some people wishing that it was otherwise, that is the choice that the people in West Bengal have to make in these elections.

    Now, from the discussion which has unfolded on this page, one can discern five specific and substantive axes on the basis of which the relative credentials of the two competing sides can be discussed – the question of the achievement of an egalitarian agrarian structure in West Bengal (in V’s post), the question of caste, that of gender, that of imperialism (in Mr. Nigam’s and other posts) , and finally the question of communalism (in my post).

    I would, therefore, like to pose five specific questions to Mr. Nigam (I address this question specifically to him since he is the only one who has openly admitted his support, albeit ‘conjunctural’, to TMC). I would urge you to forgive the repetitive style of formulating them, but I believe that given the skill with which this blog evades concrete and specific issues, a certain amount of repetition and emphasis may not be completely out of place. The questions are the following.

    1. Do you believe that the Trinamool-Congress (I) alliance will perform better than the Left front in working towards an egalitarian agrarian structure?

    2. Do you believe that the Trinamool-Congress(I) alliance will address the question of caste better than the Left front?

    3. Do you believe that the Trinamool-Congress(I) alliance will address the question of gender better than the Left front?

    4. Do you believe that the Trinamool-Congress(I) alliance will perform better in dealing with the onslaught of neo-liberalism and US imperialism?

    5. Do you believe that the Trinamool-Congress(I) alliance will tackle communalism better than the Left front?

    Further, to extend the above questions, let me ask you whether or not you think that a victory for the Trinamool-Congress (I) alliance will lead to a further strengthening of the Congress (I) at the national level? If you do think that such a strengthening will result, what will be its implications for the questions of agrarian structure, caste, gender, neoliberalism and communalism?

    Mr. Nigam, you may be tempted here to say that criticising the CPIM does not require you to show how that the alternative dispensation will be better. But please resist the temptation. You yourself have stated that it is not a question of criticism alone – you have specifically said that you extend ‘conjunctural’ support to the TMC. The selective britzkrieg condemnation of the CPIM that your blog has been engaging in also suggests the same.

    You may also be tempted to ignore these specific questions. Again, kindly refrain from that. Who wins the elections in West Bengal will have enormous implications for the lives and well-being of the people of West Bengal. I believe that you share this conviction. Otherwise, the shrillness of your attack on the Left would be inexplicable. I, therefore, urge you to answer these questions.

    Regards

    Jun.

  15. Vishnu kumar permalink
    June 29, 2011 7:49 PM

    It is true that the LEFT has lost its relevence in National politics…. And if it doesnt change its attitude towards Liberalisation Left will continue to fall.
    .
    many leaders of Left in kerala are living a Corporate life…..Corrupt….
    .

Trackbacks

  1. A Few Lessons on Marxism and Politics « Kafila
  2. We Are Where We Know Not What Befalls Us…In Bengal! « Kafila

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