thanks for posting this excellent article. more material is required on the TPC case in English. kindly keep us updated.
From the tone of this article it is amply evident that the writer has already assumed that it was the CPI(M) which was behind this murder. What use then of "asking the CPI(M) leadership?" The present Government in Kerala is being run not by the CPI(M) but by the Congress led UDF. As amply (without there being any real need as the same is common knowledge) stated in the article it is for the police administration to investigate and put up the charge sheet and not the leadership of the CPI(M). Why then again question the CPI(M) leadership? On one hand the writer says that it is for the investigating agencies to do the needful on the other hand it is seeking a status report of the inquiry conducted by the CPI(M) which it certainly is not obliged to disclose to the world at large if it so desires. May be the UDF government should be put to pressure for expediting the investigation, but even such a step is not a prerogative for the CPI(M) alone.
Oh, Appukuttan Vallikunnu, as a former member of CPI(M) you sure realize that you have now invited the wrath of the ultra-revolutionary CPI(M). You dare criticize us. You dare hate us. If branding you as "petty bourgeois", "class enemy", "middle class", "agent of imperialism", "anti-left" are not enough, then you shall meet the same fate as TPC. After all, you are questioning the revolutionary credentials of the CPI(M). Didn't you see our revolutionary tactics in Nandigram and Singur, the ADB loan, when we shared the dias with Madani, when we chased a woman out of Bengal for writing a blasphemous novel, when we prided ourselves after a senior ideologue of the party accused us of "stalinist feudalism"? Or when we bumped off the counter-revolutionary you talk about? Or when another leader spoke about how strikes should be banned? And another incited rape publicly? Look, we reward our revolutionary heroes- Lakshman Seth, Pennari Vijayan, Buddadeb Bhattacharya. And we isolate the counter revolutionaries- Abdul Rezzak Mollah, V.S Achutanandan. How dare you question our revolutionary credentials?
the reticence of the CPIM in demanding the resignation of Mamata Banerjee can be understood from the fact that some senior CPIM leaders were hand in glove with the the Saradha group chief: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1130426/jsp/bengal/story_16829483.jsp#.UX-kFqLIs9q
moreover, saradha is not the only chit fund operating in west bengal. there are many others with whom several CPIM leaders have close proximity: http://www.epaper.eisamay.com/Details.aspx?id=3405&boxid=44540861
that is why CPIM is unable to raise its voice effectively against the scandal. it has lost the moral ground...
These days the most distinctive feature of the Bengalis is to keep on talking endlessly in order not to tell the truth, which is often both evident and simple. In India, no political party has ever alleged of shortage of swindlers in its fold. The CPIM was in power for long 34 years. There must have been many thieves in the party. To deny it is nonsensical. I guess, some of them may have had some benefits from Sharda-engineered financial genocide too. Nevertheless, there is a very very fundamental difference between CPIM and TMC. Neither CPIM as a party nor LF as a government had any interlocking relationship with Sharda, or any other Chit Fund company. On the contrary, Sharda's economic fortune and TMC's political ambition were mutually reinforcing. It is true, but less significant, that Sharda flourished after TMC came to power. Politically, far more important is the fact that Sharda had a role in TMC's coming to power by convincing its agents and investors that the security of their investment depended on TMC's coming to power. Thus the economic interest of a chit fund company and the political interest of a party were convincingly projected to hundreds and thousands as identical. To secure their own financial interest many, and really many, served the political interest of the TMC. This is something possibly unprecedented in Indian politics and Mamata and her think-tank really deserve kudos, morality and interests of the poor having suffered Machiavellian banishment long back. But that makes the obverse equally true. It is not a financial genocide committed by Sharda alone. The equally responsible perpetrator is the TMC and the Mamata government. While the Company deserves to be stringently punished, its equally liable political accomplice must also be awarded exemplary punishment. I fail to understand why the Left is so reticent in demanding, most aggressively, the immediate resignation of the co-perpetrator of the massacre -- the government of Mamata Banerjee.
Perhaps the strongest argument that needs to be strengthen through some qualitative measures like case studies and / or FGDs across socio economic categories in rural West Bengal. However , it's great attempt no doubt.
a timely intervention from Subhanil reminding us once again that "economics is distilled politics"
excellent article. shows once again how the government has been burning the midnight oil to benefit private entities. they cannot absolve themselves of the blame for the scam which was just waiting to happen.
but how will this eye for an eye culture change?
media = all these medias just working as slave of profit. first they should declare that they are non profit organisation rather working for some owner . First shed your business tag who are exist on paid news, advisement from corporates, working in sole motive on profit, shrewd fox waiting for money in the time of election from parties like TMC and Congress. Those are advocating that everyone should loose their conscious and work as per their news view. ultimatly these dumb media want to regulate the thinking process of people.
TMC - Who s responsible for anarchy and murder of students, so that their party oldies will dictate in colleges. They themselves create anarchy , murder students and even murder inefficient police but at last shouting from roof top that there should not be student unions.
instead shedding crocodile tear these crocodile should realise that students have their own brain and that too much better than these craps.
From 2013 UNDP Human Development Report:
Between 1990 and 2012, almost all countries
improved their human development status.
.... Progress was particularly rapid in more than 40 countries of
the South, whose increases in HDI value were
significantly larger than predicted for countries
that were at a similar level of HDI value
This includes countries as diverse as
Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda in Sub-Saharan
Africa; Bangladesh and India in South Asia;.....
To be honest, the issue remains at the core of the nature of students' politics in West Bengal. Students' politics has become the engine of party politics with any independent thoughts! They follow what their party men ask them to do, without any thought of belongingness to their home institute. I think we should not see this incident as separate, but as a natural outcome of what we are practicing for long. This has happened earlier, this happens now, and also possibly will happen tomorrow.
An excellent exposition, in my opinion. Something else we should not lose lose sight of is that a communist party's sole objective is not the slow and gradual improvement of people's condition, there are other parties and other ideologies for that. Communists strive to elevate the societal level, and for that in West Bengal, we need a larger and educated working class, which is only possible by having industries, does not matter whether set up by private or public capital. If in order to achieve this goal, left has to keep out of political power even for a decade or two, no great harm is done, compared with the policy of sticking with a status quoist arrangement for years, which would only breed more corruption and more decay.
As you know most of the communities (such as Bengali or Tamils) in the entire Indian sub-continent are covered by ‘Culture of Poverty (hopelessness)’ (Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody genuinely condemn or ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption in this society, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-governance, bad work place, weak mother language, continuous consumption of common social space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold(supported by some lame excuses). Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent & caring society, fearless & dignified living. Simply pushing persons for a nasty survival. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative values to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately stop giving birth to any child him/herself till the society improves up to the mark, co-parenting children those are born out of extreme poverty, instead. All of us are driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever desires genuine freedom from vicious cycle of poverty, need to involve themselves in ‘Production of Space’(Henri Lefebvre), an intense attachment with the society at large to overcome inherent ‘hopeless’ mindset, decent Politics would certainly come up. – SB, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah -711101.
Thanks to Anonymous for the comment. I do not think that the Left lost the election because of "compromises with neo-liberalism" i.e. inviting private capital for the purpose of industrialization of the state. Whether a leftist party should go for private capital based industrial policy or not is a separate theoretical question, but I am concerned here with an analysis of why the Left Front lost the election. Firstly, we need to remember that by mid-90s the new industrial policy of West Bengal was in place and there were some controversial moves as well - Operation Sunshine for example. Land was acquired for Rajarhat, Haldia was expanded and by 2000 West Bengal was on its way towards industrial growth based on private capital. Sector V came up in Kolkata, a SEZ had come up in Falta by late 90s. This in fact helped CPI(M) up to 2006 election. I repeat, whether this was right for a Marxist party or not, is a separate question.
Now, the crucial fact that often is missed out in analysis of West Bengal politics is that the opposition was hopelessly divided. In fact the break away of Mamata Banerjee from Congress and the formation of Trinamool Congress in fact helped Left Front as it further divided the opposition vote. However over successive elections if you calculate the total opposition vote you will see that the Left was winning by a small margin or in fact would have lost the election if the opposition vote would have remained united. This is what happened in the Lok Sabha Election of 2009 when Congress and TMC joined hands and united the opposition vote. This made it very difficult to Left Front to win the election from then on.
What remains to be explained is why the defeat was such a landslide defeat. This is where we need to look closely at what Left Front did since they received the first warning signal in the Panchayat election of 2008. Strangely enough, although there was plenty of time for course correction (nearly 3 years) Left Front actually did nothing improve the situation. It lost the alliance with Congress at the Centre, continued with its dadagiri at the local level, failed to throw out controversial leaders who had tarnished the image of the party, did not do anything on the development front to counter the opposition propaganda, so on and so forth. It also lost the media war as LF was not sure how to handle the new electronic media. From my own experience I can say that most CPI(M) leaders were just not ready for a situation where they actually might lose an election. The famous information network of CPI(M) from LC to Alimuddin also failed to read the signals as they were on denial mode. Thus they failed to put up a fight and collapsed. A party that was not used to stiff opposition suddenly crumbled under the weight of the combined opposition onslaught.
Till 2006 Left was able to resist the anti-incumbency factor because it could project the opposition, especially Mamata Banerjee, as unreliable and not a good enough alternative. Left was not winning because it was carrying forward the ideas of Marx but because the opposition was considered less reliable than LF. Not that there was not grievance against Left. But between Singur and 2011 election, a certain number of intellectuals and certain media houses were effectively able to change this mind set. The new argument became that the opposition should be given a chance as we have had enough of 'CPM' rule. In other words the anti-incumbency factor now became powerful. The general mood was that CPIM should be taught a lesson. The fact that the opposition vote united also made the electoral mathematics against LF. It won 41% votes but as it happens in West Bengal, a minor swing can result in a huge difference in number of seats.
Regarding the more theoretical question of "compromises with neo-liberalism", we need to ask the question - what could have been the alternative industrial policy for West Bengal in the post-liberalisation scenario? Was socialistic state-owned industrialisation possible in West Bengal? Perhaps some of the major Marxist thinkers of the country have already answered this question but I have missed it. In that case I would be grateful if somebody forwards a link.
I personally think that the poor people of West Bengal have nothing against private capital as such but they do not want forced land acquisition and want a good compensation package. The two issues are related but different. And they want to be treated with respect. This is what the Left failed to do at Singur and Nandigram. They forgot Panchayati Raj, they forgot Gram Sansad and they thought that they can just grab the land through some government order. Initially they were over confident in their ability to manage opposition dissent, and then they panicked and made one blunder after another and failed to recover grounds.
Mamata Banerjee’s government (consciously I do not call it TMC government) is soon to celebrate its second anniversary. How far it has been able to fulfill its commitment to the people would be judged after about three years. Taking a medium term and holistic view, I consider Mamata government guilty of three serious and calculated damages. First, as indicated, it has been working to turn democratic politics of West Bengal into extremely personalistic and plebiscitary. Trying to make ideological or programmatic discourses totally irrelevant, the political menu sought to be served to the people is ‘Mamata – Yes or No’. The immense harm that it causes to democracy was convincingly revealed during the experiences of Indira raj. India was, deliberately and shamelessly, sought to be identified with Indira. Succeeds or fails, the threat of fascistic authoritarianism always looms large when systematic projection of any single personality becomes the politics of the ruling party. Ironically, reactive politics of the opposition is also forced to hover around narrow personalistic idiom, if only by way of questioning that single individual’s omissions and commissions, strengthening, in the process, the forces of deideolisation. Second, while the erstwhile Left Front government could never rescue itself from populism (in any way, an uphill task in a postcolonial democracy like ours marked by poverty, social cleavages, federal compulsions and breathtakingly close electoral fight for power), the present regime celebrates populism. We have already started feeling its pinch in respect of economic development. In the years to come, populism is bound to appear as a devouring monster, if it has not already. The calculated articulation of identity politics indulged in by the present regime is a logical outgrowth of the extremes of populism that this government has reached. It will extract very deer price from the collective that we call West Bengal. Third, probably both good and bad, politics in West Bengal has long been dominated by the 'unique' Bengali middle class. The cultural infrastructure of the Mamata regime’s politics is consciously lumpen in character. Some unquestionably refined sociological minds, others dubiously so, have found in her politics the beginning of sort of a social revolution -- Mamata’s victory heralding into the arrival of the ‘subalterns’ causing so much reactive disdain of the Kolkata middle class in the public domain. (Poor Ashis Nandy has now been facing the pinch of his long and consciously publicized romance with the social forces celebrating this culture, never influencing, though, his personal behavioural pattern transcending theoretical postures!) True, lumpens had always had a role, at some troubled junctures quite prominent too, in West Bengal since independence and even before. Mamata Banerjee, one of the most authentic products of this political culture has become reasonably successful in enticing a sizable section of the middle class, especially the lower rung middle class in her dream project of lumpenization of mind. Therein, I believe, lies the greatest danger for the society and politics of West Bengal in the immediate years to come.
Anybody interested is an enlarged picture, not just the chauvinist attitude of Indian media, should Google "Mystery over Warning Shots, Times and Enrica Lexie’s Route" written in Feb 2012. This is the Italian side of the story. India was the first to commit breach of trust.
Pandering to Chandy's political requirements in the crucial Piravom bye-election, India refused joint investigation and international arbitration on sovereign troops in the course of duty.
Agreeing and paying Rs. 10 million to each of the fishermen's families, without any obligation ahead of any proven guilt, was no use to calm down Indian media and politicians.
The resulting stalemate took over a year until finally the SC quashed Kerala's actions.
Italy then took advantage of the ensuing limbo, i..e. lack of FIR and charges in Delhi. to start a diplomatic dispute which fully justifies our refusal to return the marines.
Checkmate on India who has simply been repaid in coin.
If Indians want the case to proceed they should participate and submit all (scarce) evidence to the Italian court-marshal or accept the arbitration offer.
If India now wishes to become the pariah of international diplomacy let it flout the Vienna convention.
Italy and Italians are cheesed up with this case and our marines will never be returned.
The only one to believe in that is your stupid Mr Chandy who keeps telling credulous Keralites they will have to.
With every passing day larger and larger number of people in West Bengal and outside tend to believe that the new regime is far more vindictive, violent, corrupt, insensitive, uncivil, promoter of identity politics and thriving in utter falsehood. It is a curse for the state. But the cruel irony is that the suffering millions are extremely hesitant and cautious about the alternative. The prime task before the Leftists is not to spend so much time for exposing Mamata. She is far more efficient in exposing her own ominous designs. We should better work hard to make ourselves acceptable to the people. The ordinary masses do not want much from the government. But they want to be convinced that we are sincere in and capable of rescuing the state from the vicious cycle of political violence and extreme intolerance. And, secondly, we can provide an administration with reasonable transparency keeping corruption at a tolerable level. We got enough time but could not change the face of Bengal not because we could not do things grand but we failed to do smaller things like preparing a transparent BPL list, implementing properly programmes like NREGA, monitoring the quality of school education, checking drop out rates, maintaining the autonomy of institutions, making rural health workers function appropriately, educating people to use ORS, ensuring minimum facilities in rural health centres, keeping everyday vigil on the operation of the PDS, and things like that. None required large amount of money. They needed commitment to the people and the belief that some improvements could be brought about even from within this system. Strangely, we failed to take this lesson even after the positive outcome of land redistribution and operation barga. Commitment to things small makes one great. Satyabrata Chakraborty.
There is no denying the complex process underlying the defeat of the LF in 2011 assembly elections, and there is no question of simplifying it to a "mono-causal" one of pursuing neoliberal policies. However, can you deny that compromises with neoliberalism was ONE cause behind the decline of the Left in west bengal, and that too quite an important one? there may be many other reasons.
the point is not about finding one to one correspondence between districtwise human development indicators and election results. that is nobody's case. the point is about trying to understand the underlying causes behind the difference in developmental outcomes in two states having similar political dispensations in office for a 10 year period. doesn't policy priorities have anything to do with it?
Warren Anderson of Union Carbide escapes in 1984 after the Bhopal Gas tragedy......Kim Davy escapes after the Purulia arms drop case in 1995.....now the Italian marines....
the question is - has the Indian government been duped, or has it been complicit?
Thank you for a thought provoking piece. It is certainly true that West Bengal should have done a lot better than it did in terms of key human development indicators and it is also true that Tripura has done very well in terms of these indicators. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's government should have been far more motivated to implement the national flagship programmes to improve the condition of the poor. Where Central funds are not available his government should have used state resources to help the poor. Some efforts were indeed made - SAHAY or Backward Village - for example, but these were not implemented with enough vigour. SRD project started a process of decentralised planning but was never taken up at the level of state policy. On the other hand Manik Sarkar's government has utilised the national flagship programmes to improve the human development indicators. West Bengal Government (Left or TMC) has a peculiar anti-Centre attitude, which results in poor performance in almost all national flagship programmes. I think a similar attitude is absent in Tripura. It is also possible that Tripura simply has a better administration capable to delivering the national flagship programmes.
However there are areas of Dr. Bose's analysis that I do not agree with. Why Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's CPIM fell in West Bengal has to be understood through a complex analysis of the political process. Mono-causal explanations such as pursuit of "neo-liberal" industrialisation or poor human development indicators is not sufficient to explain the fall. For example, Purba Medinipur has very good human development indicators. Yet after Nandigram, the district went to TMC in the panchayat election. Similarly greater Calcutta region has human development indicators that are much better than the state average. Yet here the LF lost almost all the seats. So even though human development in these areas is good, LF lost. Thus we cannot say that left lost because of not improving human development indicators.
Institute of Social Sciences
Prasenjit has highlighted some interesting contrasts between bye-election in WB and Tripura, one agrees with the major content but another point which needs to be added is that the leadership in Tripura is yet to be affected by the virus of BHADROLOK culture as is evident in WB, a petty bourgeois attitude masquerading caste and communal overtones in the garb of avowed internationalism, unaffected by this virus it is not only Manik Sarkar but the entire leadership of left in Tripura has retained the ingenuity to read the pulse of the people and lead them to a decisive victory. People can very well understand the duplicity in words and deeds among the left in different parts of India e.g. the recent hullabaloo about creation of SEZ in WB is an indication in this direction
if the parliamentary left in India has the courage to look beyond their gentrified space which is occupied by the toiling masses, we can have many more Tripura's in India
there is a problem if while writing the history of the motor car, you start from the discovery of the wheel! there may have been 1001 problems with the CPIM and left front in west bengal since 1977. but the fact is that they continued to win election after election till the 2008 panchayat elections. unless you believe in the BS that all those polls were rigged, you have to accept that the majority of west bengal's electorate rated the LF government's performance to be positive, IN NET (i.e. POSITIVES - NEGATIVES = STILL POSITIVE). after 2008, the story has changed. the reasons are manifold, nandigram, singur being the trigger. but since 2008 elections the people have judged the Left in the negative, IN NET (i.e. POSITIVES - NEGATIVES = NEGATIVE). this trend has continued.
many commentators on the left have noted that this defeat is basically due to the neoliberal turn taken by the LF government in west bengal. the roots of that neoliberal shift can be traced to the 1990s. some even trace it back to the decision of allowing joint sector industries in 1985. but the fact is all those compromises were not rejected by the people. they continued to vote for the Left. under Buddhadeb, the LF has been rejected by the people. yet there is no admission of mistake. only adamant re-assertions of the need to build more SEZs and acquire more land from farmers. that is why the support of for the LF is eroding fast.
you may have some complicated theories on the degeneration of the Left. but for lesser mortals like me, this seems to be a realistic and credible account.