peoples march

from the people against injustice in the society

Naxalbari to Nandigram

Posted by ajadhind on November 17, 2007

Friday November 16 2007 07:52 ISTV KRISHNA ANANTH

THE CPI(M)’s justification to post CRPF in and around Nandigram was that the Maoists had entrenched themselves there. This is not different from the positions taken by Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Madhu Kora in Jharkhand, Raman Singh in Chattisgarh and Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy in Andhra Pradesh.

The violence by the party’s cadre, aided by the state, against the people of Nandigram and the justification that it was necessary after the Maoists had entrenched themselves in the villages is also the same as Israel’s bulldozing Palestinian homes and shooting at children on grounds that the Hamas is entrenched there.

It is a different matter that the CPI(M) continues to celebrate the Chinese regime (and Mao continues to remain the deity of that regime despite zeal with which it is adopting capitalism) to deny the Tibetans of their right to nationhood.

As is the case of the new generation leaders of the CPC, those in the CPI(M) too seem to have reduced all those books to mere show-pieces rather than read them and internalised some of the thoughts. And that is, indeed, evident from their attitude towards the Maoists and the fact that it is the same as that of the BJP, the Congress(I) and the amoral Madhu Kora.

It makes sense to briefly delve into the history of the Maoists in India. When the CPI(M) teamed up with the Bangla Congress to join the Ajoy Mukherjee Government on March 2, 1967, it seemed to herald a new era in West Bengal. The Bangla Congress leader, Ajoy Mukherjee became the Chief Minister and Jyoti Basu Deputy Chief Minister holding charge of the Home portfolio. Hari Krishna Konar, veteran leader of the peasant movement, became Minister for Land and Land Revenue.

And on March 18, just 16 days after the new Government took over, the CPI(M) leaders of the Siliguri sub-division held a conference of the peasants in the region. One of the prominent leaders of that event was Charu Mazumdar then of the CPI(M) at that time. The conference gave a call for ending monopoly ownership of land by the landlords, redistribution of land through peasants’ committees and arming the peasants to destroy the resistance of landlords to any such mobilisation.

A couple of months afterwards, Konar, in an interview to Ganashakthi (the CPI-M’s Bengali organ) said: “The development of peasants’ initiatives and the advance of organised force would pave the way for further progress.” The veteran Kisan leader’s statement, incidentally, was not very different from the call at the Siliguri conference. Konar pointed out that benami transfers (that the landlords effected to circumvent the laws) and stay orders had scuttled redistribution of 121,000 acres of land, identified as surplus by the Government.

The extent of such land increased to 200,000 acres by September 1969. In the 30 months between March 1967 and September 1969, the United Front Government had collapsed and reconstructed after another election to the State assembly. And from what appeared to be an innocuous conference (Siliguri), a movement had taken shape across West Bengal, in the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, in Tamil Nadu and in Kerala.

Charu Mazumdar’s view that the CPI(M) had got stuck in a position from which they would not be able to liberate the landless and the small peasant came to be shared by a number of others in the CPI(M). They were, however, in a minority and hence expelled. All this laid the basis for the foundation of a new party — CPI(ML); even while they committed themselves to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin (as did the CPI-M), Charu Mazumdar and his comrades insisted that Mao Tse Tung’s thoughts were far more relevant to the Indian condition.

They insisted feudal vestiges remained strong and industrial houses unwilling to battle these vestiges. And they were also of the opinion that the industrial class (the bourgeoisie) was inclined to compromise with foreign monopoly capital rather than confront it; they came to describe the capitalists class in India as comprador.

They identified their task as being anti-feudal and anti-imperialist. It was in this context that a clash broke out between the police and armed villagers near Siliguri on May 23, 1967; the police was sent there to arrest some of the local leaders and Jyoti Basu was the Home Minister.

A constable, Sonam Wangdi was killed in the clashes and on May 25, a huge posse of armed policemen sent to Pradjote in Naxalbari, opened fire on the villagers killing nine, including six women and two children. This was just the beginning and the Sidhartha Shankar Ray regime (1972-77) went about shooting down Naxalites as well as members of the CPI(M) across West Bengal.

The CPI(M)’s attitude towards the Naxalites (as Charu Mazumdar and his comrades were identified because the initial stirrings of the movement were in Naxalbari village in North Bengal) was one of antagonism and this in turn led them, while in power, to unleash police against the leaders as well as hapless people.

The violent reaction by the Buddhadeb regime against those leading the struggle against indiscriminate land alienation in the name of development in Nandigram is just one more instance of this.

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