Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Butcher of Bengal

24th February, 2012

KOLKATA: A fantastic sight greeted the nation with a beaming Mamata, out from a meeting with the PM, nonchalantly blaming the ‘butchering’ of 2 senior leaders of the CPI (M) Bardhmaan district unit on internal feuds. This wasn’t the first instance when the ‘mercurial’ CM had pronounced judgment of criminal cases even before the investigation had begun. While the national media are in a twist trying to divine the rationale ( a rare commodity in this case) behind her statement, ‘ask the state government’, arguing the ‘firebrand’ leader’s eternal ‘opposition’ character, the moot point is her deliberate derailment of one of the most heinous cases of political murder in the country.

How did she know what to say? It was only hours after the murder & she was closeted with South block officials. Her party leadership, had by then, out of great individual initiative had propounded 3 other reasons for the murder, none of course, indicating the truth. Why was there a twinkle in her when the press asked her about the deaths? Is it simply co-incidental that the local police had stood as innocent bystanders while two senior leaders were being bludgeoned to death?

This incident, which shocked the entire nation & sparked off a spontaneous protest by people across Bengal & parts of the country, clearly seems to be one of pre-meditated, well-plotted murder. That it was done in daylight, in full public view, in the benign presence of policemen demonstrates the sense of immunity enjoyed by the Trinamul cadres. This also happens to be repeat attempt on ex-MLA Pradip Ta’s life & an hour after he had complained to the police about Trinamul’s attempt at inciting violence around a peaceful rally about the 28th Feb General Strike.

While 4 of the assailants, belonging to the Trinamul party have been arrested & the investigation is sure to reveal the entire truth of the conspiracy & the depth of involvement in the higher echelons of the TMC, the 2 issues that clearly emerge are; 1) The ruling party & its government plans to consolidate her electoral gains, not by development, but by unleashing terror on the Left organization. 60 workers & leaders have been murdered since they took over power. 2) The totalitarian leader of TMC, Smt. Mamata Banerjee is one of the most cynical political leaders to rise in post-independent India & she is committed to destroying all modern institutions, including the most important, Democracy.

Every act, be it the ordinances brought while the state assembly is in session, annulment of the representative governing bodies of the educational institutions, freedom of speech of the opposition parties & media, making the police & administration subservient to herself in blatant defiance of service rules, the focused attack on the rights of the working people, trade unions, etc are aimed at silencing every voice of opposition. People are taking increasing note of her Goebbelsian speak, celebrated artists & activists have already dubbed her ‘Fascist’, common people wonder as to the ‘Change’ they have wrought on themselves.

Every political party represent class interests, irrespective of their common pre-poll refrain of working for the majority, the poor. The communist parties are the only ones to solely & truly represent the working classes & the poor. The CPI (M) represents no other class & fights all ideological & structural bulwarks built against the achievement of a proletariat state. After decades of great work, both rural & urban, since coming to power in ’77, that too in the face of stiff opposition from a partisan center, the CPI (M) led Left Front government faltered in the eyes of the politically mature people, who voted for Mamata accepting her ‘more socialist than thou’ promise. They had felt that the Left government had veered away from their class focus & Mamata Banerjee would deliver their enhanced aspirations. Highlighted by the shrill & partisan campaign of the entire bourgeoisie mainstream media, licking their chops at the possibility of a Left defeat, the travesty occurred.

None months down the line, Mamata’s class orientation is clear now. Dismantling the democratic governance in educational institutions, she centralized all power in hand-picked elite from the temples of US imperialism. She sought to disenfranchise the poor students in the government-run schools by pushing elitist subjective criteria such as parental interview, etc.  Her party unleashed a reign of terror on the schools & colleges, while an expert group applied their minds at creating a world-class ‘Edu Hub’ in her favourite PPP mode. Privatisation emerged as a key policy parameter. In a state where the Left govt. has created infrastructure which almost covered 100% of primary education, the ‘market potential’ seems limitless.

She destroyed the existing public healthcare, which a record 73% of the state’s population used during the Left Front rule, the world witnessing unprecedented levels of child deaths across the state. It was sickening to say the least when not one out of the 177 hospitalised in an illicit liquor poisoning could be saved in Diamond Harbour, adjacent to the state capital, Kolkata. This is after some of them survived up to 4 days post the fatal consumption. She & her administration was quick to be seen next to victims of a disaster in an elite private hospital, but not one stood next to the families of the poor in Diamond Harbour. Why? The CM was busy in a beach festival & thought that the financial compensation announced by the government was enough. A consistent weakening of the public health infrastructure could only push the poor to the growing private health sector.

In one of the most bizarre incidents to hit Bengal were the 34 farmer suicides after a great harvest. A record crop after a good monsoon saw farmers across the state driven to suicide by the deliberate policy direction of the government. While the procurement price itself was a cash loss for the farmers, the murderous policy was sharpened by not providing funds to the grain procurement agencies. Hardly 10% of the target was bought after 2 months of the Kharif harvest. This has destroyed the entire village economy, painstakingly built by the Left & now estimates put the Rabi crop as low as 50% of the target. Is this merely cynical inaction or a clear ‘class policy’?

The first act of the Trinamul government was to take back the distributed pattas of land, whose paper work remained incomplete. This amounts to thousands of acres. The party has, in turn, driven out thousands of poor peasants from their land. The historic implementation of the Land Reforms policy after the left came to power in ’77 distributed small parcels of land to 28+ lakh farmers, sharecroppers, etc. West Bengal, from being a deficient state with food production standing at 74 lakh tones became a surplus state with food production standing at 174 Lakh tones in 2010-11. The CPI (M) & the left had to fight huge battles with the entrenched landlords, backed by the Congress to reverse the historical injustice meted to the poor farmers of Bengal. The current agrarian crisis achieves 2 objectives; one, of forcing the poor & marginalized peasants to sell off their land to the kulaks, & second, they along with the impoverished farm workers fatten the reserve labour army in the cities.

It would be a grave historical mistake to think of these policies as a product or either mercurial or infantile disorder. Her party’s reign of terror on the people’s only voice, the left & particularly the CPI (M) is born out of a clear strategy; 60 killed, 5000 critically injured,40,000 homeless & Rs.4 crs fined from party sympathizers/voters in just 9 months of coming to power, can only be the result of a ‘Pogrom’, backed by the administration. It is not coincidental that after a million+ people marched to the state capital from all over the state disregarding all roadblocks created by TMC, this desperate ultra-right lumpen formation chose to kill a fearless trade union leader & party organizer in Bardhamaan. The twinkle in the CM’s eye is not a coincidence. Her unconstitutional decree against the right to strike is not just a tactical political reaction. The systematic efforts at destroying democracy & throttling all avenues of people’s protest against her anti-people rule is but a throwback to history & in line with the current effort of global imperialist forces to accelerate the apocalyptic act of cornering the last dregs of surplus residing with the poor people of the poor countries of the world. The Indian government too has been systematically aiding this process across the country, the left ruled states of West Bengal, Kerala & Tripura being the only exceptions. These are the only places where the voice of the poor & the wretched boom louder than the rich.

The attempt is that of ‘wronging’ this historical ‘right’ in Bengal. It helps that the rein of the party & the government is in the hands of just one person, no fear of democracy queering the pitch here. The fight in front of the people, as demonstrated at the Brigade & again will on the 28th of Feb., when the exploited classes will bring the whole exploitative machinery to a grinding halt, is in sustaining this class struggle & stopping the darkest of all anti-people forces, the Mamata led TMC, before it causes irreversible damage to the social & economic infrastructure created for the people in the last 34 years.

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