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