lod (oldhen) wrote,

Nandigram pt. 1 - or Damn the Bloody CPM

Folks that read this space will know will know my eternal fondness for the VHP fascists (yes, I know what that word implies thank you). But, the current object of ire is state terror from a different party, one that claims to speak from the "left" but in practice has long abandoned any pretensions to communist ideology in favour of the authoritarian neo-liberal model favoured by the Congress - so-called "Communist" Party of India (Marxist). I should say that I write from the perspective of a "person of the left" and pretty much all the linked articles are critiques of the CPM from the left.

The state uses colonial laws to displace peasant farmers from their land which is acquired for Big Business, party cadres fire on and sexually abuse peasants while police stand by.. Yawn, this is such old hat, yet another repressive Indian government that doesn't give a hoot about poor farmers - yet this one is from the party of EMS Namboodripad - a man who stands head shoulders chest above any of our current "leaders". They have fallen to truly craven depths. For all the news and analysis you're ever likely to have the appetite to consume regarding the CPI(M)'s state thuggery and ideological bankruptcy do check out the quite excellent Sanhati. A very good summary of the CPI(M)'s political history in Bengal can be found in this well written article(pdf) by Sumanta Banerjee published in the EPW. To quote:
The rot started with the CPI(M)’s using the administration to spread and consolidate its party base by selectively distributing largesse, and forcibly doling out plots of land to sections of the farmers and peasantry, who ultimately became their apparatchiki and retainers. This privileged segment of the rural population has emerged as a tyrannical force in the West Bengal countryside – bullying the villagers into accepting their party dictates, persecuting those who refuse to toe their line, extorting money in the name of collecting party funds, and assuming the role of the sole arbiter in any village dispute....
And their "achievements" after being in power for 30 years:
At the turn of the 21st century, it was revealed that only15 per cent of the net arable land had been distributed in the state. Even among those who received land, on an average 13 per cent had lost it by 2001, and the number of landless rural households increased from 39.6 per cent in 1987-88 to 49.8 per cent in 2000 (according to the West Bengal government’s first Human Development Report). The Human Development Report of the Planning Commission brought to light far more devastating facts – in rural West Bengal 85 per cent of the population did not have pucca houses; women and children were more underfed and anaemic than in other states; 35.66 per cent of its population still remained below the poverty line – all these figures reducing the state to the 20th position in the list of 32 states and union territories in terms of the human development index.

The government’s tall claim of improving the lot of dalits and tribal people was also punctured soon when the Pratichi Trust, headed by no less a person than Amartya Sen, came out in 2002 with shocking revelations about the discrimination against students of scheduled castes and tribes in the primary schools of the state. As for the other Left proclamation of enhancing the status of the Muslim minority (which constitutes almost a quarter of the population of the state), the Sachar Committee found that its share in state jobs was only 4.2 per cent. We must add to this the dismal record of the government’s failure to prevent closure of factory after factory, leading to unemployment and suicide among industrial workers
. A couple more articles on Nadigram one from Ashok Mitra an old and disillusioned CPM member (well worth the time), and another a citizens report

The people of Bengal deserve better than this craven party, for those of the left this is a challenge we must meet. Sumanta Banerjee's article ends with with this lovely poem by Langston Hughes, that serves as a timely "or else"

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fetter like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
Tags: authoritarianism, politics
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