THE dastardly landmine attack on the West Bengal chief minister and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy that included the union minister for steel has, once again, sharply exposed the nefarious activities of the various Maoist outfits. While investigations will proceed and hopefully the culprits will be nailed and punished, it is important to note in this background the growing activities of the Maoist elements in West Bengal.
It is a well known fact, publicly announced by the Maoists, that the West Bengal chief minister is high on their `hit list’. During the past few years, the Maoist elements have stepped up their activities in the districts of Midnapur, Purulia and Bankura. The opportunity provided by the Trinamul Congress and the grand alliance of all reactionary forces and NGOs against the industrialisation policies of the state government provided the shield for the Maoists to expand their area of operations. Apart from targeting CPI(M) activists, they had also blown up railway tracks and used landmines to create their `liberated zones’.
During the `siege’ of Nandigram by this grand alliance, the CRPF had caught a large cache of arms and explosives. This included literature on military tactics which indicated according to the CRPF DIG, “the presence of Maoists”. Trinamul Congress had provided both the opportunity and the cover to the Maoists to establish their `liberated zones’ in the Nandigram area. About Maoists presence in Nandigram, the National Security Advisor is on record to state, “The Maoists said at their 9th Congress that wherever there is an opportunity, they will get in. This is one area that they have entered into. Some of the violence can be attributed to the Maoists”.
Media reports have revealed, on the basis of Maoist documents, that they had established a “free people’s zone” in Nandigram. “The current struggle at Nandigram is no longer confined to a battle against the CPI(M). This struggle is against the administration and the people of Nandigram want revenge. The revenge will be a violent one.” These reports further state that they have declared a “battle against the state”. “Some Trinamul Congress men are trying to pose as leaders of the ongoing struggle at Nandigram. But it will be a gross mistake if someone considers the Bhoomi Uched Prathirodh Committee as a mere forum controlled by the Trinamul Congress to prevent land acquisition. What is going on at Nandigram is armed battle against the state”.
Given this background, when the West Bengal state government had sought assistance from the central government for sending extra CRPF forces, these were delayed without offering any substantive reasons. This raised genuine suspicions that the eagerness of the Congress party to forge some understanding with the Trinamul in future elections in the state was the cause for this delay in sending CRPF forces. This delay was utilised by this grand alliance to reinforce the blockade of Nandigram and resist all efforts to restore civilian rule in the area. One of their leaders, as reported in the media, said, “The CPI(M) can’t match us. But with CRPF, we would have had a hard fight. So we laid landmines in all approached roads …..We would have eventually given up the fight because in plain land, you cannot continue armed struggle for long. But, by then, the CPI(M) would have been destroyed in East Midnapore”.
All this evidence is there before the central and the state governments. Yet, the necessary assistance to the state government to combat such Maoist activities, unfortunately, has not been forthcoming. This brazen attack against the chief minister’s convoy must ring the warning bell. It is only hoped that the central government will now provide all assistance to the state to combat this challenge.
These developments, once again, clearly show how the Trinamul Congress, in its desperation, uses terror as an instrument to browbeat the people into supporting it. In the process, the Trinamul Congress allowed the BJP and its communal activities to enter Bengal by forging an electoral understanding to defeat the Left Front. The Trinamul Congress has, repeatedly, called for a `mahajot’ (all in unity) of all reactionary forces to achieve its objective of defeating Left Front. In the process, it has facilitated the spread of Maoist activities in the state. Its desperation has reached such levels that it is preventing the industrialisation of Bengal that would have provided greater employment to the people and vastly improved their quality of life.
The Maoists, in all their plethora of incarnations, have always declared the CPI(M) as their enemy number one. For the CPI(M), the mounting of such attacks by them is nothing new. It is through fierce ideological battles against Left adventurism that the CPI(M) grew to emerge as the largest and the strongest Left force in Bengal and elsewhere in India. The Maoists, even then, had chosen the path of violence which was met and politically defeated. If they seek to mount such attacks again, these shall be met, once again.
While this battle will continue, the frustrated desperation being shown by the principal opposition party in Bengal which goes to the extent of patronising the communal forces, on the one hand, and permitting the Maoists to unleash senseless violence must be politically isolated and defeated. The recent attack on the chief minister’s convoy took place near Salboni in West Midnapore where India’s largest steel plant is coming up. Clearly, these are actions that seek to prevent the Left Front’s efforts to ensure speedy industrialisation of Bengal that would benefit the people and vastly improve their quality of life. In the interests of Bengal and the future of its people, such politics must be defeated.