THE central government has dispatched a team of officials of the union home ministry for discussions with the officials of the West Bengal state government on issues pertaining to law and order in the state. The CPI(M) had strongly protested this on the grounds that this violates the letter and spirit of the federal structure of the Indian constitution. The Supreme Court on several occasions has judged that any central intervention on matters which fall within the purview of the state government, in the “state list” enumerated by the constitution, can only happen in consultation and in concurrence with the state government.
The Trinamul Congress had interpreted the dispatching of the central team as the first step in the process of ensuring central intervention in West Bengal leading eventually to the dismissal of the duly elected state government and imposition of president's rule under Article 356 of our constitution. The TMC has repeatedly expressed its desire publicly that it seeks an early election in West Bengal under president's rule. In fact, all its activities have been directed to achieve this objective. By utilising the Maoists they are continuously engendering violence and terror and use this to try and establish the breakdown of law and order in the state. On this pretext they are seeking central intervention. This has been their clear strategy which has resulted in the imposition of unprecedented hardships on the people of West Bengal and has claimed hundreds of innocent lives. Elsewhere in this issue, a detailed memorandum establishing the TMC-Maoist nexus and listing the series of attacks mounted by this combine on the CPI(M) and the people from the November 2008 attempt to assassinate Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, is being carried.
Forced to respond to the CPI(M) protests in the parliament, the home minister made a statement in both the houses which reflected a retraction from the position taken by the TMC concerning the import of the home ministry officials visit to West Bengal. Four points were unequivocally made by the government: a) The visit of this team of officials is non-confrontationist. b) They shall hold discussions only with the officials of the state government. c) They will visit districts or areas of conflict only if the state government requests and facilitates such visits. d) They may receive memoranda from political parties in West Bengal but are not mandated to have any discussions with them.
This assurance clarified the fact that the visit of this team was more in the nature of assisting the state government and not for assessing the law and order situation as made out by the TMC. Currently, the central and state security forces are jointly operating in Lalgarh and other adjoining areas in Midnapur in combatting the Maoist violence. The effort is to restore both normalcy and the rule of civil administration in these areas.
As stated earlier in these columns, it is simply untenable for the Congress to have the TMC as part of the ruling coalition. This is so because the prime minister on several occasions and the union home minister on more occasions have publicly gone on record to state that Maoist violence constitutes the gravest of threats to India's internal security. The TMC on the other hand is directly and openly collaborating with the Maoists in unleashing terror, creating lawlessness and anarchy besides claiming the lives of innocent people. It is for the Congress to explain how it can live with such blatant contradiction in its own union cabinet.
If the political objective is to try and weaken the CPI(M) and the Left in Bengal through murderous assaults and the spread of terror, then, all that can be said is that they have not learnt from history. Using Left adventurists to attack the CPI(M) is not a new phenomenon in West Bengal. For five years between 1972 and 1977, a semi-fascist terror was unleashed against the CPI(M) by a similar political combination. The CPI(M) not only fought back but has established an unassailable political and electoral leadership in the state for over three decades. Unable to break this consolidation of the Left Front in Bengal in the absence of any credible alternative policy direction that they could offer to the people of Bengal, the Trinamul Congress has ganged up with all reactionary forces, ranging from the Maoists to sections of Muslim fundamentalists, to dislodge the Left Front government and capture power through terror and violence. It is this unholy gang up under the leadership of the TMC that is mounting the current assaults in Bengal. This anti-democratic gang up and its violent terror attacks against the CPI(M) and the people of Bengal needs to be politically isolated and defeated in order to prevent the state from sliding back once again into lawlessness and anarchy like it was subjected to in the 1970s.
(December 2, 2009)