Under Siege

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Who would have ever thought we would live to see the day the CPM government would be under fire, not just from the spontaneous bedlam generator otherwise known as Mamata Banerjee but from its long-trivialized Left front partners and the ever-sympathetic jhola liberals, when its activitists would be running scared from villages (the same villages where once their writ ran supreme) and when sharecroppers, small land-owners and minorities, the pillars of their 30 year old rule, would emerge as their most trenchant opponents.

Who would have ever thought this day would come.

Let’s take a step back and take stock of the situation at Nandigram. Even though the decision to stop all land-acquisition in Nandigram had been taken, the villagers had kept up their “resistance” by forming armed patrols, digging up roads and throwing logs, preventing the entry of anyone from the administration and more importantly, evicting all the CPM cadres from the villages. CPM local leaders were getting beaten up by “Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee” (Committee to stop eviction), a Trinamool front composed of angry farmers or local CPM renegade toughs (depending on whom you asked) so much so that loyal CPM local heavies are afraid to return to Nandigram. The wife of a CPM supporter alleged that she was gang-raped by members of the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee.

In such a situation of lawlessness, it was entirely justified for the police to step in and restore the authority of the government in a place that had effectively cut itself from the country. What happend next depends on whom you ask. According to the police, they were met with bombs and other forms of crude weaponry and had to resort to firing in retaliation thus leading to the loss of life. According to others, the police intentionally used excessive force to teach the “Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee” a lesson. They argue that even though the villagers were armed, the restoration of law in Nandigram could still have been accomplished with a far less bodycount. The fact that the police were accompanied by CPM cadres who cordoned off the region from the press and the fact that the police have been known to act as “agents” of the Communist government (the BBC has gone so far as to suggest the people doing the killings were CPM cadres in police disguise) strongly point to the violence at Nandigram being retributive — after all CPM cadre being forced to flee from the rural countryside is not something that the party, not known to forgive an adversary, can just let go without a reaction.

This is not the first time that the police machinery-cadre army have colluded against a section of the population but this is perhaps the first time that for such an attack, a huge political offensive has been launched on the CPM, not just by its traditional rivals but also by some of its “friends”. In happier times in the 80s, when CPM through legislation (Bengal Land Holding Revenue Act among others) and through sheer brute force (sharecroppers and landless labourers forcibly encroached on land) “redistributed” property in rural Bengal, they created a constituency of eternally grateful voters who had obtained so much benefit from the Left Front that they became the bedrock of CPM rule in Bengal. In Calcutta too, the Left got unalloyed approbation from the intelligentsia for seizing land “for the greater good” and everyone from the peasants to the jhollawallahs was happy. As a cynic once observed that unlike Congress who put all the money into the pockets of their leaders, the CPM were smart enough to let the benefits of power percolate down their cadre ranks so that everyone had a vested interest in the perpetuation of its rule.

Jyoti Basu realized that as long as he followed the above principle, CPM would be undefeatable. Which is why he put the state on auto-pilot, let industry atrophy away in the face of populist trade unionism, made the education system an extension of the party headquarters at Alimuddin street and concerned himself with summer trips to London to “drum up investment” and endeavours to kill jackals who were disrupting his sleep by shouting at night. And despite the state falling behind on multiple indices, rural Bengal was happy and so were the bhadralok who formed the intellectual backbone of the CPM.

Buddhadeb changed all that. Desperate to make the state catch up with the Gujarats and the Maharashtras and with a dream to rapidly industrialize rural Bengal, Buddhababu stepped on the accelerator so hard that his vehicle is in serious threat of having its axles broken. In Singur during land acquisition for the Tatas, the CPM’s interests and the sharecroppers’ first came into conflict: while the nominal owners of land (the Jotdars) were eager to sell to the government (because they were owners only in name, forced to lease their land, because of CPM legistlation, for generations to the “landless” labourers or Borgadars), the Borgadars had everything to lose and refused to budge. This irony is brought into focus in a must read article in the Telegraph which starts off thus.

It’s a role reversal neither Joydeb Ghosh nor Ganesh Koley ever envisaged in Singur, a rural block in Bengal’s Hooghly district. Yesterday’s jotdar (landlord) and a target of the ruling Left, Ghosh is today a comrade-in-arms of the CPM. Koley, originally a bargadar (a share cropper) and a beneficiary of the Left Front government’s pioneering land reform, today views the ruling party as his enemy number one.

Not just the borgadars, the CPM has also lost the intellectuals and the liberals who now are all for property rights (while they were against it during the 80s) even though it stands to reason that industrialization will bring about more jobs and “greater good”. And they have also lost the minority Muslims, another huge support base over the years, as most of those affected by the land acquisitions are Muslims. In addition, they have been ambushed by their Left front partners who over the years, because of their marginal influence on Bengal politics, have been shunted to inconsequential responsibilities and who, smarting under the humiliation, have been waiting eagerly for a chance to embarrass the CPM.

Which is why Buddhadeb is in a real jam now, having to backtrack on Nandigram, taking fire from once-allies like Medha Patkar, snides from Left Front partners, facing a backlash from the intellectuals , having alienated the party’s core base and rescuing the floundering Mamata’s career from gradual irrelevance. Everything that he has stood for and pushed through is now threatened by the bloodbath at Nandigram as the party for its own survival, will predictably jettison its “capitalist-friendly” image and woo back its constituents, rolling back the changes that Buddha managed to bring during his rule.

And for that the blame lies squarely on Buddhadeb for doing nothing to change the defining characteristic of CPM rule in Bengal: the suppression of dissent by violence through the use of the police and the army of cadres. All that remains to be seen is whether the Red bastion ultimately crumbles as a result of it.

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93 thoughts on “Under Siege

  1. Such police brutality can’t be justified at all. You can’t kill Indian citizens in cold blood, firing them in the head and chest. The way cops were beating the women is unpardonable. I am surprised how Buddha could even try to justify it. Who can tolerate this? Just because these women come from lower class of the society. Alas, this happened in a state ruled by communists.

  2. @GB,

    For those (like you) after Buddha’s ass for this, you have to remember that the villagers were armed and were not as “innocent” the media would like you to believe. They were attacking the police. There is no civilized country where an attack on the police would be met by Gandhian nonviolence or negotiations. Of course as the mail forward that I am sure you have received asks “why were women shot in the back?” and the answer to it is that the miscreants holed out inside Nandigram (who incidentally are all ex-CPM hooligans) attacked the police and then hid, leaving the police (who are no angels) to take out their anger on the weakest targets.

  3. Buddha is responsible for getting the situation out of hand. If he is ineffective to check in rogue elements in his party, then he is surely responsible. He has done some good with at least trying to change, but in the end a good leader is he who balances everythings. One good deed shot by a greater bad deed will surely be harmful.
    That said the criminal elements that are promoted by Laksman Seth, Biman Bose etc have should be brought to justice for provoking the CPM cadres. What they have done is totally unconstitutional – that is snatching away the right to life of innocent villagers. The CPM cadres in police uniforms who unleashed mayhem are the actual terrorists. If they are motivated by the senior party leaders to commit this mass murder, then yes they are criminals too. After all Hitler himself did not murder millions of innocent humans, but would it have been different had he not been there ? You do the math.

  4. A couple of days ago, Buddha Bhattchaj expressed wonder in an interview (publ. in TOI) if even the state of Gujarat can get success in industrialization, why cannot WB?

    I thought it was Buddhist humour because Gujarat is a leading state when it comes to plans of industrialization whereas WB is generally found trying in this respect.

    But now we can understand what Bhattchaj actually meant.

    Perhaps he meant that if with only indirect support for selective minority killing, the state of Gujarat can also successfully industrialize, then with with direct and indiscriminate killing of innocents, why cannot WB be more successful?

    Finally communism has matured up to Chinese levels in Bengal. We had already had near 10% growth rate. And now we have finally caught up with the dragon.

    “Heroic Buddhadeb”, as Gurcharan Das commended him (TOI OpEd, Feb 24), did it!

  5. @Rohan

    Please go through Indian Constitution and Article 21, before making such foolish remark. As far as I remember India is a democracy and in a democracy people have the highest power. Also no one can deny the right to live…..Not even your high and mighty CM. They knew their will be resistance, and could have tried to resolve the whole incident through talk, which may took time but would have resulted in peaceful settlement. Also after this mass murder why the CM failed to show up where as the Governor was their. What was he doing? How can he be so irresponsible?????

    @GB
    Good work

  6. The police brutality and atrocity that happened in Nandigram is unimaginable. Seriously can we still call India a democratic country? This is not and cannot be the path of a hypothetical “greater good” we have been hearing about.

  7. Debkumar,

    Rather than trying to counter what I said you resort to the standard Mamata-isms: when you take up arms against the police, your right to live is seriously in jeopardy. Go to any civilized country, charge at the police with bombs and see if they hesitate to fire.

    Ronita,

    Where was your indignation when CITU members put a tire around an innocent factory manager, who was begging for his life, and set him ablaze? Gone for a vacation perhaps just like those of the rest of the silent West Bengal chattering class? Could we call India a civilized country then? If we could then, we can now.

  8. These are troubled times, Arnab. But I really believe that if there is one man who can salvage something out of the wreck, it is the CM himself. The traditional “you scratch my back I scratch yours” may be suddenly transformed into a minefield for anyone who dares tread, but the law must be above all. Lets have Mr. Bhattacharya bring in the forces, let him cleanse the system. What has begun (after 30 long years) must go to a finish. He might have stepped on the gas pedal too hard, but he still has the steering in the right direction. What would you suggest that he should do right now?

  9. For a long 23 years, Jyoti Basu has discharged waste all over WB. Buddha is merely cleaning up that heap of dung. But if everything is done by private players, what is the government doing? Governing best by governing least? Or merely disbursing land, as if that is their father’s property?

    There is no other way but to promote entrepreneurship in Bengal. That’s a distant dream, because law and order needs to be taken care of first. The biggest problem in WB is the dadagiri of the party cadre(s), and the statewide Coordination Committee. Who can control the party cadre? Buddha will ask Subhas Chakkotty, the nuisance? Or Biman Bose?

    I think Buddha took urgent action because of the intrusion of the naxals, and the maoists.

    But in free India, people getting shot because they are protesting land-grabbing by the government? The real problem is the 44th Amendment. Revoke it immediately; right to property is a fundamental right. Let the companies deal with the farmers directly. The land does not belong to the government, but to the people. The issue is letting go of power. If the government cannot disburse land, what else will it do? Then the shortcomings will be more prominent, and attention will be diverted to the usual cribs: health care, education, hospitals, law and order, potholes …

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  11. This is my first post on this site as I strongly feel about this issue.

    Let me get to the point straight away. Everyone feels upset about the innocent killings at Nandigram. But the question is how many of us feel upset about the fact that the number of registered unemployed in west Bengal is over 10 million? About the fact that the CPM is probably the single largest employer in WB? About the fact that 9 out of 19 districts in WB have been classified as “industrially backward” by the Govt of India? About the fact that WB is the only state in India which entertains Medha Patkar at Haripur as Rajasthan and Gujarat lobby the govt. of India to build nuclear power plants at Rawatbhata and Kakrapar? About the fact that the state government is burdened with Rs 79,000 crore cumulative debt? about the fact that 11 out of 19 districts in WB face either secessionist, naxalite movements or large scale infiltration from Bangladesh (Cooh Behar, Darjeeling, Purulia, East and West Midnapur, Bankura, Malda, North and South Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia)? About the fact that diverse global actors from Steve Waugh to Melinda Gates at Shonagachi to the U.S. Department of Human Trafficking make WB their claim to third world generosity publicity?

    No one supports the police firing at Nandigram. But anyone who supports the militarization of nandigram by the WB opposition or supports the framing of the current industrialization issue as a “village vs. city, industry vs. agri psychological battle” please stand up and defend.

    Let us not miss the forest for the trees (even the burnt ones). Let us, (mostly) NRI Bengalis who visit this site (and who have shown nothing but our backsides to our motherland) owe this to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

  12. Prithwi,

    I agree with most of your points. But do you think it is possible to do anything long-term unless we have mutual respect? Unless we value every single human life? Respect begets respect.

    Buddha cannot prove the Lee Hypothesis (of Singapore fame) right in middle of the most densely populated state of India (and one, as you rightly mentioned, which shares its boundary with an even poorer and increasingly hostile Bangladesh – which I think is even more densely populated). We must start with small wins, like saying dhonnobad to strangers, hoping these bring in virtuous cycles in whatever little way.

    Most importantly, we must learn and practice teamwork.

  13. The idiots in Alimuddin are so blinded by power that they are cutting off the very branch they are sitting on.

    I wonder from which cretin is the Biman-Buddha duo taking their ideas from.

    And Mamata is so ineffectual that she is unable to caash into the current situation. She is only good for stray bandhs, shouting, some weeping and railing…..she JUST DOES NOT HAVE a committed grassroot support base. All she does have are a few yes men and some lumpen elements who have been expelled from under the CPI(M) umbrella.

  14. A very good analysis of the situation Arnabda. The incident at Nandigram was very unfortunate and I feel it should have been avoided. If not for anything else, then at least because it may undo or stop all the good work that Buddhadeb has been doing over the last few years.

    But I do agree with Rohan on the point that we should refrain from being judgemental about whether the shooting was necessary. The mob was armed, and according to one report someone other than the police fired the first shot. In such a situation, the police of any civilised country would react by firing. What is the use of giving them rifles and bullets if they are never supposed to shoot?

    Besides, as Buddhadeb said, a region cannot be allowed to remain cut off from the country for so long. This had to happen sooner or later. Only a flash point was needed, and the longer it remained this way, more inflammable the situation became. I only wish that Buddhadeb had given a few more warnings and tried to solve it by discussion again before this police action.

    By the way, did you see that Jyoti Basu has criticised Buddhadeb on this issue?

  15. Thanks Arnab The Great’Bang’, great post

    @Rohan Police should not hesitate to fire, they should hesitate to hide dead bodies. When you do it, you should have the balls to stand up and say so. Let the world see the number of deads – and tell them the situation(s) which led an entire (cluster of) village turning extremists. Unless you are suggesting that “all ex-CPM hooligans” of the world have now settled in this area of Midnapur, like in “Duniyar Majdoor Ek How”

  16. Arnab,

    These are rather troubled times and very confusing too. Imagine the dilemna for someone like me. Having stayed back in Bengal and having tried the best to make a career in a dying economic scenario, Buddhababu seemed like oxygen . But , having seen the land deal processes in the last two years from close quarters ( I deal in Real Estate in Kolkata) as indulged in by the govt. and the way the entire Nandigram issue is being handled ( by the govt,by the opposition and the media) makes me terribly confused – should I rejoice at the new Bengal or should I grieve with the innocents who have lost their all and condemn the process taken by the govt? After all, on the day this happened in Nandigram in the name of industrial progress one Jute mill in Hooghly ( 500 employees) and one tea garden near Siliguri( 735 employees) closed down as aresult of militant trade unionism of CITU.

    We , who are approaching the end thirties can probably pray and hope that some sensibility comes in and the next generation do not have to face the trauma that we have had to face in our careers.

    Thanks for raising the issue.

  17. The right to live is supposed to be most fundamental right. There can be some criminals in the group of villagers there, but does that justify the police firing at them?

    @Prithwi
    Most probably you don’t know, but the police are not allowed to shot at the citizens where there is a chance of loosing lives. They are supposed to shot at legs, if at all they have to shoot. And that is according to Article 21 of our constitution. Also please go through the statement of CJ of Calcutta High Court.

    Many people here are talking about industrialization, but I have a question for you. How can the govt forcefully acquire land forcefully and then sell them to some private institutes? If you talk about market driven economy then let those Industrialist directly buy land from the villagers, exactly which is happening in Purulia( Jindal group is doing that). You can’t erase your failure of 30 years in just 1-2 yr. It takes time and lot of preparation. I am upset and feel really bad about “number of registered unemployed in west Bengal is over 10 million? About the fact that the CPM is probably the single largest employer in WB? …………………… third world generosity publicity?” But that does not prevent me to feel bad about this killing. Does it????????

  18. Nice post GB. Very good analysis.

    As for my views on the matter, I am afraid it is in contrast to most of the opinions expressed in the comments. Naidu, Krishna and now Buddha… it is heartening to see these darlings of the corporates and educated urban elites biting dust against the power of ordinary people.

  19. Yourfan writes:
    @GB:This article is excellently written and according to me without bias. But one point that u forgot to mention is that now the tactics employed by ruling party to silence the people who don’t tow along their path is raping the woman folk so that the men of the villages are forced to prioritize between saving their wife, daughter and sisters or hold on to their lands.!!
    All the tvs barring the CPM backed tv (where asim dasgupta was seen giving exclusive interview on his budget!!!! as if anybody should care) are showing that the so called police force in uniform who were beating, chasing everybody were in chappals – the same theory presented by BBC!!! The whole thing that is happening over here is really sickening. And what is more sickening is that barring a very few (like people who returned awards etc) most of the highly educated group of this ‘intellectual’ state are remaining silent!! At least you did your bit.

  20. Brilliant post GB. The nandigram episode has been going on for such a long time but nobody in the ‘Mainstream media’ tried to analyze it.

    I hope things change and WB rises. I hope Uttar Pradesh stops sliding.

  21. Just one question though….did China build it gigantic SEZs, massive dams and mega industrial areas out of thin air?

  22. Yourfan writes:
    @Joy Forever: I could not read your comment before I sent my previous comment for GB. Even now I couldn’t read Rohan’s comment which I intend to do later. But I differ from your view point.
    First of all we are talking about dirty politics not about say a gang of dacoits running away and then throwing some crude bomb at the police. We are talking about so much filth and muck of politics that you also should be aware of police tactics and antics that are prevalent all over the world!! How do you know that it was not planted by the police force itself? Ok, let us assume the police did not but what is the guarantee that the other camp people did not throw the bomb in that melee which is an age old tactics? Now say even that was not the case, say the villagers did throw the crude bomb. But here comes the question: are we talking about the police force who are trained to be calm and use their patience to deal with any ‘protest’ or are we talking about the police who are trying to catch a terrorist or are we talking about the police force who are just mere incompetent mortals who are out to take the revenge of losing one of their mates in the same village? Say even if we assume that police didn’t have any hidden agenda and had to do their job, but then why those people were shot at chest and at back and not at leg? Why the total number of bullets fired comes out pretty much as 1 for every 4 person? The ‘neutral police’ was supposed to chase those people away so that the administration can do their job – not kill them or maim them. If you read detailed descriptions of the incidents in any newspaper then you wouldn’t have said that one should desist from being judgmental. I am one person (with others of course) who in this blog has always been against being judgmental. But this is definitely one time where I want to be judgmental and I am not sorry that I am otherwise I wont be able to sleep properly at night!
    I don’t wish to be a part of the civilized country that u talked about.

  23. @Prithwi
    I am really moved by what you say.
    Everyone , including me, are posting comments based on certain assumptions and media reports of what actually happened. Since, I am a pro-development person, owing to my semi-South Indian(Bangalore based) upbringing, I am in total agreement with Buddha babu that West Bengal needs rapid industrialization. I have seen for my own eyes how industry changes the society. I had recently travelled to Coimbatore and was really amazed by the type of industrial activities in that zone.

    I strongly believe that land-losers should be properly compensated and given alternative livelihood. And that livelihood should give them a better lifestyle.

    Opposition parties and Naxalites never discussed these things with Buddha and rejected repreated invitations. They never considered the facts like tax-benefits and sops other states are giving to attract investments. They never stood for industry, unemploymed youths[the group that vandalizes the state during bandhs] or rehabilitation of land-losers. Instead, they created a militant force out of the villagers by handing over arms to them and cutting them off from the rest of the country.

    I feel extremely sorry for Buddha babu and hold him in very high esteem. This is because of the fact that the man wanted to do good to the state. And now he is being called as a muderer and people from all corners have cornered him.

    I feel extremely sorry for the people, both villagers and policemen, who died in that unfortunate clash. This is because the villagers has been provoked and misguided by miscreants of Naxalite and TMC. They neglected the repeated appeals by the govt that land will not be forcefully aquired. That can probably be attributed to the epidemic that I have seen in many [not all] home-grown Bengalis. The epidemic is the bad habit of jumping to conclusion without properly listening to what is being said. This epidemic or rather a genetic disease has led WB to its downfall. The reason I felt bad for the police is that they were on duty and wanted to save themselves before anyone else.

    WB and its people always had a bloody past. Right from the British days, people there got too much involved in the state affairs and completely ignored their own.
    After independence, they kept seeing the funds flow to other sates and still continued to engage themselves in mundane political discussions on Cold War.

    Kolkata has become a city of prosperity for outsiders like the Marwaris and the local sons of the soil are largely in misery. The locals participate in bandhs, strikes and curse the Marwaris for their progress. With fish curry and rice in their afternoon lunch, they go for a 2-3 hours long nap in the prime business hours. At any drop of a hat, there is Bengal bandh and violence. In Tamil Nadu, I can’t remember a single bandh in the past 8 years. Though there were issues like Karunanidhi high-profile arrest and Dharmapuri bus-torching, etc.

    The lack of opportunities and economic prosperity has turned the home-grown Bengalis into an agitated and angry group. And since they are agitated, their is no opportunity. An Australian company called ‘Emerson’ [need to check the spelling] plans to rethink their decision to invest in the state due to the violence they saw in the past week.

    Once these people cools down, the struggle for jobs and money will again frustrate them. Political parties would cash in and recruit the hungry youths and engage them in activities like bandh-organization, bus-torching, murder etc. And Buddha babu would be a mere spectator since everyone have ensured that his hands are tied.

  24. Apologies to all for the innumerable spelling and grammatical mistakes in the above. I clicked submit by mistake, before checking the contents.

  25. @GB
    Nice post. There is an “interesting article” in the indian express on the nandigram issue. We have to to see how long the left can carry on their double standards – one by budhha- changing the policies in bengal, and the other by karat and gang in the central government -continuing to reject any kind of reform in the name of ideology.

  26. @ LP
    China did uproot, starve and occasionally slaved its people to create its SEZs and and money-making ventures. But then again, it is a government of the red, for the red, by the red.
    It has a very controlled media and crushes any form of dissent with a iron hand (or should I say sickle).
    India has a fairly “free” media and there are relatively more checks and balances in place.

    I am just watching with interest, how the left leaning Indian media and intellectual ninjas are dealing with this situation, that leaves them with a Hobson’s choice to make.

    It appears that the ground realities point to a complicated cocktail of issues and interests and is not as black and white as is being potrayed by either sides. Too many selfish interests are playing in the muddy waters of Nandigram and the happenings of Nandigram are a pointer to other ripples that lurke below the surface in most of rural Bengal.

    Two players (pawns as of now) to watch over the next 10 years would be Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind) and the Maoist factions.
    Each one in trying to corner its share of disgruntled “red” sympathisers in rural Bengal.

    The problem with Bengal is that is is sitting on a ever growing pile of gunpowder for too long. It time that instead of just pouring water to keep it cool, Bengalis figure out of way to get rid of it.

  27. This was positively a very bad week.
    1. Nandigram shootings
    2. Maoists shoot 55 cops in Chhattisgarh
    3. Mush gets his cops to whack protestors and ransack Geo TV’s office for airing the whacking.

    What is wrong with everyone?

  28. @Yourfan: Not once did I say that the police action in Nandigram was right. I’m sorry if I sounded that way. What I did say was that we are not in a position to judge them and pass generalised verdicts like “Shooting innocent citizens is bad”. Maybe it was right, maybe wrong. Maybe time will tell, maybe even time won’t. The debates about whether Operation Blue Star was right still go on.

    As an aside I would narrate an incident that comes to my mind. It was a long time back, there was a hue and cry because Delhi police had shot two people dead while trying to control an angry mob. All human rights activists and opposition parties were baying for their blood. However, in an interview, the police officer stated his version of the incident. He said that the mob was protesting and throwing stones etc at the police. Police was trying to disperse them using lathi charge and tear gas shells. Suddenly, a small group of protesters had an idea. They ran to a loaded LPG tanker parked nearby and tried to set it ablaze. If it had caught fire, the whole locality, which was a thickly populated residential area would have blown up. Without even thinking the policemen shot two of the men dead, and the others dispersed. I feel (if this story is true) that in that particular case it was perfectly justified. Also, remember the suspected bomber who was shot dead in the subway by London Police in 2005? These examples themselves have nothing to do with Nandigram though. I just stated them to explain that such issues are best judged on a case-to-case basis.

    @LP: In China 200 people would be shot in place of 12, their houses would be demolished, and the cost of the bullet and the demolition would be billed to the family members. The press cannot question it. I am thankful I live in India where we can have this healthy discussion on a public space. However, sometimes I do feel that perhaps our govt. needs to be a little more authoritative. The issue is very simple, really. There are over 100 crore people in India. You undertake a project, any damned project, and do the impact analysis. Even if that harms only 0.001% of the total population, it means harming 10000 people. So our human rights activists will say we can’t have it even though maybe 1 lakh people would benefit from it.

    The bottomline is, we can’t please everybody. We need to take tough decisions. However I wish the villagers wouldn’t play into the hands of the local politicians so easily. They should learn to take their own decisions.

    I’m sorry, the last two sentences applies to the city folk as well.

  29. @Joy Forever

    I agree that we need to take tough decisions for a better future. The fact that only 3% of India pays tax and that burden falls largely on the middle class, once in a while rakes up some mild protests wrt ever increasing taxes. But we know its something the educated urban class have to sacrifice for the good of the country. Centuries of exploitation and injustice will have to be paid in such terms and we are all collectively responsible as citizens. These is also the logic given for reservations etc. So now that a person has the courage to correct his comrades’ past mistakes, the human rights, liberals et al seem to be up in cudgels. They want their cake with double icing on top which they had been having for so long and now want to eat it too .
    Why don’t they apply the same logic now ? Almost 2 generations of frustrated populace in Bengal …. is that not reason enough to bring about change ?
    And can anyone give an example of any big change happening without human suffering ? I am not justifying brutal police action but the ground realities in rural Bengal are not as simple as the media makes them out to be. Villages are infested with gangs of the state parties and for long have they parlayed for their own interests with the villagers, as it happens the world over getting crushed in the melee. I guess tough decisions are not new to CPM because when they went all out to help the rural populace at the cost of the rest, it was nothing short of murder of a generation’s aspirations. But now that the balance has to be restored , so that both industry and agriculture coexist keeping in mind the economic zeitgeist out thinkers have suddenly become hypocrites.
    Police in India were never the benevolent saviour and the Medha patkars know that.Why don’t they preach to their target group the benefits of industrialization in Bengal and invest their energies to ensure that industries come up with in an environment friendly way and the benefits percolate down to the lowest strata instead of inciting further pointless protests. In a way its payback time for CPM who have to shed their garb and face the consequences.
    I hope Buddhadeb is not sidelined by the party in his quest.

  30. we should make the population control dept. more efficient so that we dont see too many people fighting for too little resources.

  31. I don’t know why people are getting panic over such incidents. When a state is changing its economic structure, some stray incidents occur both culturally and socially. After the new system takes over, everything will be back to normal. Change cannot take place without problems. There will be resistance, fight, etc. Our aim shud be to install industralization template in WB. These kind of stray incidents shud not stop that process.

  32. just one clarification, only 3% of indians pay income tax. all indians pay several indirect taxes, which incidentally fund the police

  33. Thank you Aby. It is very sad people dont’ understand that we need to do some sacrifices for a new process to take place. The problem is people are scared to lose anything and still want a revolution in their lives. It is simply not possible. Sometimes, govt needs to be strong. If our govt under Nehru would have behaved the same way, we could have stopped partition of India.

  34. China did uproot, starve and occasionally slaved its people to create its SEZs and and money-making ventures

    What are you smoking? Can I have some?

  35. @Kishor
    People, particularly our chief minister Buddha babu, should not get discouraged by all these. This is a part of the process, particularly with the presence of people like Mamata and Naxalites. He should keep working towards the goal of development.

    The mandate of the last elections was a clear indication that people supports development. Common people don’t create a ruckus on the street to show that we are in favour of development. However, in the media, we normally get to see those who are into active politics. These guys scream, torch buses, beat-up people and get noticed. Media shows these people and claims that they are the common people, which is not true. Common people will definitely reflect their opinion in the their vote.

    I am sure that Buddha babu will be remembered in more glowing terms than Dr. B. C Roy.

    The best part about him and his govt is the way they have done analysis and layed out a plan for development. They don’t hesitate in appointing the best consultants in the world . If you watch his interviews, you will notice how clear his concepts and objectives are and how thorough he is with his data.

    Unfortunately, the thing that he is not good at is cheap politics. I think this is a place where he should try to develop. Else, tackling the fools in the state will increasingly become difficult for him.

  36. Rishi wrote:
    China did uproot, starve and occasionally slaved its people to create its SEZs and and money-making ventures

    LP wrote
    What are you smoking? Can I have some?

    Rishi’s response:
    Yes LP, I am smoking what many people might call “knowledge of reality”.
    It may effect your congnitive skills too….once you start to smoke it regularly….It also effects your “ideologica oblongota”.

    Please note I am NOT passing judgements, but just putting forth another perspective. Now to touch upon my comment about how China achieved its prosperous industries.

    1. China’s massive cheap labour industry, which in reality formed the backbone of its economic resurgence in the early eighties, was run by a slave labour system called “Laogai system”.
    Some info http://www.laogai.org/news/index.php

    2. Many of its “energy creating projects” are total environmental catastrophe’s (wish there was a Chinese Chipko Andolan). Please type “three Gorge’s dam” on google to begin with. Its strategic designs on the Tsangpo river (India’s Brahmaputra) are a cause for alarm too.

    3. This quote from Howard French, the New York Times bureau chief for China, explains the situation in Senzen (a Chinese SEZ)
    -most of the year, the Shenzen sky is thick with choking smoke, while the crime rate is almost nine-fold higher than Shanghai. The working class earns US$ 80 every month in the sweatshops and the turnover rate is 10 percent — many turn to prostitution after being laid off. Further, real-estate sharks have stockpiled houses which have caused prices to spiral and have created a new generation of people French calls “mortgage slaves” in an article in the International Herald Tribune on 17 December 2006.

    I have a friend who visits China regularly and has a high opinion of the effieciency of its SEZs and is quite impressed by its growth. But he has expressed very severe concerns about the way population displacement is happening and rural poor in China have been devastated and their social fabric torn apart by the cration of SEZs.

    It could well be that China’s bold steps and loving repression may be the need of the people. Thats between the Chinese people and their government.

    To re-express Kishor, no pain, no gain.It could well be the same for India too. Afterall its the people in India who choose or un-choose their future.

  37. “smirking under the humiliation”

    Do you mean smarting?

    You know, I have friends who used to own land in Singur and their main sorrow is that what used to be such a fertile arable land has been given over for industrialisation — the industrialisation itself is not such an issue. But why not elsewhere? Why wouldn’t the Tatas accept any other land?

    Then again, all the ‘news’ we get is so contradictory or rabble-rousing, it’s hard to know what really has happened.

  38. For those who haven’t read this hair-raising article yet:

    http://www.guruchandali.com/guruchandali.Controller?portletId=12&porletPage=1

    The article is in Bengali and the perspective is ‘inward’, for a moment, leaving aside the prospects (a term often used by Ritwick Ghatak in his Jukti, Tokko ar Golpo) in the global economy. I do not know the veracity of the report. And I do not know what counts as ‘evidence’ in our country, where arguments are made by the force of language. Ends justify the means? What can we do? How many of you want to join politics?

    Download the Bangla font after clicking on “Cannot see Bangla” on the left frame.

  39. Arnab-
    Nicely written analysis. Really liked reading the Telegraph article too. Couple of comments:
    1. Changing policy is easy, when compared to changing cultures. Buddha did what he could and the final outcome remains to be seen.

    2. Suppression of dissent using force and state apparatus is a fundamental communist trait. China had its red guards and CPM has its goons.

    I also hereby renew my request for a gavaskar / australia love-affair 🙂

  40. Have been expecting a post from you on this. I was wondering what you will say, being a budha fan(i deduced it from some of your previous posts) yourself.
    i think you did a fair analysis.

    is it true that this kind of suppression has always been happening in wb but this time it got into limelight because the victims happen to fall in “loved by media” category?

  41. Very good analysis. I am sorry that industrialization is not going to take off soon in WB. I am also sorry that Mamta Banerjee has won herself brownie points…however Buddhadeb should have been more careful and more smart about the whole issue….

    Also I agree with you, that a lot of the trouble has been creted by the other parties. After all BB had declared some time back that Nandigram had slipped out of the agenda…BTW I just read that CBI has uncovered weapons/bombs…

    Finally, I cannot believe myself- I am actually saying “something good” about CPI(M).

  42. “Bengali retards deserve this and more, if you vote for communists for decades this is what you get.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

  43. “Bengali retards deserve this and more, if you vote for communists for decades this is what you get.”

    @ Sid, Sandeepan… let me put it as bluntly as I can… you comprise more than three-fourths of the country’s problems…

    No I am not a card carrying communist… I dont approve of Prakash Karat or Arundhati Roy (her views, not her writing) or Medha Patkar… or even the dime-dozen NGOs proliferating thru’out the country (the main role of these organizations anyways are to channel hawala funds into the country… thats outside the scope of this comment)

    But there are some lines that need to be drawn in a democratic country… and ideally they need to drawn long before villagers are shot in the back…

    Sad as it may sound, good will probably come out of this incident… even the CPIM, in all its stupidity, must have realized that they cannot portray the Nandigram killings in a positive light, no matter how hard they try… so the next lot of SEZs will probably be allocated on the acres of sallow land that abound in the state, rather than on fertile agricultural land…

    Which brings me back to the main point of this comment… the line above…
    1. “Bengali retards”… slitely sweeping generalization if you ask me… more than slitely racist
    2. “deserve this and more…” … I can only presume you are talking of the villagers who got shot at in Nandigram… and no innocent or not is not the question… the point you’re making is if your father supported Hitler… you wife deserves to be shot in the back…

    Let me reiterate… you guys and ppl who think on similar lines are the real crisis the country is facing today… you need to be weeded out… and if necessary shot in the back…

    We live in a country which has more billionaires than Japan… and where 40% of the people live below the poverty line… if ever a country needed inclusive growth… India needs it now… we cannot afford incidents like Nandigram to be swept under the industrialization carpet…

    Remember Marie Antoinette… “if they cant have bread…” she deserved to be guillotined… revolutions don’t happen because ppl starve… revolutions happen because starving people are driven to the point of no return by the indifference of those who can afford three square meals a day…

    a day after Nandigram… Chhatisgarh happened..

    for the sake of my children… and their children after them… I hope idiots like you are guillotined before India reaches the point of no return…

    @GB… as usual a post thats bang on target… sorry for the long comment… I have hitherto confined myself to commenting upon / appreciating your main post… but some statements need strong replies…

  44. Last Sunday, strife broke out in Shanwei in Guangdong Province. Villagers fought with hired thugs over a land dispute involving a power plant construction site. About 70 villagers were shot dead in Shanwei in December, 2005, in a conflict over the same power plant.[Link]

  45. Why can’t we have high-tech agro industry?
    Farmers happy.
    Buddha happier.

    The only question is, is there such an industry?
    What about Israel, growing pink bananas and square tomatoes?
    Nah, we have to think of something better.
    Can we do it without companies like Montesanto or those GM seed-wallahs?
    Maybe there should be a special way of processing our crops to make products which will become must-buys for everyone.

    Thinking, thinking …..
    Disposable nappies made up of banana peel?
    Superb paper from rice husks?

    Only ONE question.
    What will CPI(M) do with its arsenal (goons, guns, bullets) that it was hiding in brick kilns around Nandigram?

  46. The post was very well written. However, there are certain points that have not yet been put to words on the issue.

    What happened at Nandigram was not about land acquisition for industrialisation, development, etc. It was about re-establishing the CPI-M domination at the place. Even though the CPI-M claims that the main opposition party Trinamool Congress and the Maoists are at work at Nandigram, these elements have no major presence at Nandigram. The constituency was that of CPI, a partner of the Left-front that has been ruling the State of West Bengal for 30 years through so called democratic elections. When the local people found out that the local CPI-M mafia/MLA Lakhan Seth had offered Nandigram as the site for the proposed chemical hub they severed ties with the Left-front and organised the Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee (which may be loosely translated as ‘committee for resistance to de-root people from their land’). These people practically evicted the CPI-M party members and sympathizers from Nandigram, cut-off roads preventing access by the police under whose cover the CPI-M goons would try to enter Nandigram and capture the constituency by force. The CPI-M has previously done the same thing, that is, recapture constituencies, from where the people have evicted them, under police protection at Keshpur, Chhota Angaria etc. At Keshpur, the CPI-M unleashed such terror that even today hundreds of people are absconding and dare not return to the village. Needless to say CPI-M won the State Assembly election from Keshpur in 2006.

    At Nandigram the same thing was planned. The CPI-M leadership could not digest the existence of a pocket to which their rule would not extend. We see CPI-M sympathisers trying to justify Nandigram by the logic that no place within the State could be allowed to remain outside the purview of the governance of the State GOvernment. What they mean is that they cannot accept the existence of a place where no party office of CPI-M would be allowed though it was desirable that opposition party offices be allowed only where it suited them to show that they functioned within a democracy. They could not tolerate that they had become the laughing stock of the opposition and opposition supporters when their men had been driven out of Nandigram, failed to re-enter under cover of police firing on 7th January. So a devious plot was hatched to recapture Nandigram by force on 14th March, 07.

    That this was coming was apparent from the statements of Shri Benoy Konar, State Committee member of CPI-M and the Chief Minister in the rally organised by CPI-M on 11th March, 2007, where the Chief Minister even warned that the people of Nandigram were going too far and their actions would not be tolerated. Thus the events of 14.1.07 at Nandigram are a blatant effort by the ruling CPI-M to cow down the people through the use of force and impose its rule using the State Police. Today’s reports regarding the CBI finding arms and CPI-M leaflets, police helmets, and the arrest of 10 CPI-M cadres from the neighbouring Khejuri confirm what I am saying.

    I see some die hard CPI-M sympathisers here, which will be there, for no one doubts that the CPI-M would have a constituency. The Congress was the party of the ‘bhadralok’ the landed gentry, the moneyed-educated. The educated lower middle class arising primarily out of the displaced people from East Pakistan and later Bangladesh had no power. Neither, to a much lesser extent, did the peasantry, the daily wage earner, the factory worker, etc. When the Left-front/CPI-M came to power, these people felt empowered. It was their victory over the haves, the moneyed-educated bhadralok. It was their government. How can these people or their sons/daughters now abandon their creed because their party is seen to be engaged in criminal activities of firing at its own people to establish the rule of their party. They have to defend it.

    However, my main point is that this is another example of the CPI-M trying to re-establish its presence from an area where the people have chased them out. THis is not about the state taking over agricultural land for industries, though the industries to be set up would provide employment to their cadres. This is about a ruling party using the Police force, which has been given to the government to fulfil its duties under the constitution, to establish/re-establish its presence and to cow down the opposition through a brutality comparable to that of forces of occupation in East Pakistan, Vietnam and elsewhere. To my mind this is undemocratic. Would the CPI-M have tolerated the same behaviour of Narendra Modi in Gujarat ? This is an established crime against democracry. And this crime needs to be punished so that no party is tempted to repeat this mistake.

    So far all we see are ineffective facile protests. Then we forget it all, as we have forgotten Chhoto Angaria and Keshpur. And it is business as usual for the CPI-M. This must not happen again. I urge all persons with a conscience to do something effective. Please take up this cry for punishment of CPI-M. That party is trying to lump the blame for Nandigram onto some of its elements like, Lakhan Seth and Buddhadeb. They may try to sacrifice some of these elements to remain in power and maintain a clean image. This must not be allowed. Please take up the call for punishment of CPI-M as a party.

    Create/join a movement for punishment of the party. This may be derecognition of the party, banning of the party or banning it from participation in any election for the next ten years. This is necessary to prevent not only CPI-M but other parties which may endeavour to follow the example of CPI-M elsewhere.

  47. Yourfan writes:
    @Joy Forever: Yes of course, you did not say it was a right thing to do but nor did u condemn what happened. Of course your logic is that all the details are not known and thus refrain from being judgmental. I have said in my previous comment that in politics truth never comes out as truth changes color depending on which colored glasses one is wearing. But we, who don’t have any colored glasses should come out to protest based on whatever info is available to us. Otherwise without our fervent protests the people who have those colored glasses will only change the hue.

    Sorry to say the example that you gave goes against your statement. First of all I don’t have any faith in policeman defending his own case for obvious reasons. Secondly even if say we assume he was telling the truth what you wrote is sure a recipe for disaster for ‘a civilized’ society. You wrote “Without even thinking the policemen shot two of the men dead, and the others”. Now aren’t the policemen supposed to be trained to be of steel nerve and not lose their thinking cap in a “civilized society”? If they do lose the cap then aren’t they guilty and shouldn’t they be reprimanded? I also have another question : why weren’t they able to protect the LPG tanker prior to the mob getting closer it – why didn’t the police have that foresight into trouble tackling? Even when a child cries and starts throwing things around even the uneducated mother first makes sure that nothing is within the reach of the child which might harm him or others. Can’t we expect this rudimentary sense from the police of a civilized society? Aren’t they supposed to be trained in these and if not aren’t we to question and protest and shout that innocent lives are getting lost? Besides in your case why did the police kill those people instead of shooting them at their leg? If the argument is that they were not cool enough to shoot those people at their legs and that may be justified in case of a mob attack then something is terribly wrong with our thought process and also with the administration. So if I assume that this story was true just u mentioned; then your statement of “that in that particular case it was perfectly justified” really baffles me. In your example of Delhi the police did the same thing like the Nandigram case – the only difference lies in the reason behind those barbaric acts.The police should be criticized in both this cases.

    You also mentioned operation blue star to make your point. But in that case there were arms and ammunitions which were smuggled into but in Nandigram all that the villagers had at worst was home made bombs which are in any case not effective for long ranges. Besides don’t we all keep a big fat laathi or at least a cricket bat in our house just in case? I think the villagers just tried to protect themselves – they did not go for AK47! Did they?

    I still think that to protest against what happened in Nandigram is not at all being judgmental. If one thinks the criticism in the case of Nandigram is judgmental then we better erase that word from dictionary.

  48. I think its a disgrace that even after 30 years, CPI-M cadre battalions had to take the help of the police to try and recapture lost constituencies! No wonder things got out of hand. In the time of our venerable Jyoti babu, such an incident would never have seen the light of the day. Perpetrators would have been disciplined secretly, swiftly , ruthlessly and with professional ease and the next day, red flags would have fluttered atop every tree in Nandigram . And talk about the media!! Who let the media in ?! Buddhadeb hatao, party bachao comrades.

  49. @EditIndia: The CPM has not discriminated against relatively affluent people when it comes to retribution as the death of a manager that Rohan refers to demonstrates.

    @Rohan: I am not after Buddha’s ass in any way. The ass I am after is the CPM’s way of enforcing their writ through violence which has been there from long before Buddha. Buddha, a person for whom I have expressed my admiration for in the past, is culpable as he has done nothing to change that fundamental defining characteristic of their rule.

    @Anonymous: Godwin’s Law strikes 3rd comment. Hmm.

    @S.Pyne: Hmm.

    @Debkumar: Thank you

    @Ronita: The “greater good” relates to industrialization. What happened was a manifestation of the way CPM keeps its subjects in line, which is totally orthogonal to the “greater good” that is being talked about. In other words, the debate over Singur/Nandigram as viable models for Bengal’s economic regeneration is totally different from the CPM’s terror tactics.

    @Yhac: Sorry. Corrected.

    @Sudipta: Well Buddha has had some time to do something about party culture. But sadly he has not.

    @Naiverealist: As I understand it, The government has to disburse land because of legistlation passed by the government which forbids private players from acquiring land above a certain size. In an ideal scenario, it should have been the Tatas/Salem group negotiating with the famers.

    @Desitroll: Sorry. Corrected.

    @Prithwi: I for one am not supporting the militarization of Nandigram at all. But yes several people are papering over that fact in their condemnation of the West Bengal government. However we should not lose sight of the fact that what happened in Nandigram (the killing of women and alleged rape) cannot be explained or justified by the fact that there were some lumpen elements present in the villages.

    @Swati: Mamata does not have a brain between her ears. Her only weapon is inconvenience.

    @JoyForever: Let me repeat. The people were armed. They were fighting back against the police. A bodycount was inevitable. But the death of women and alleged rape cannot be explained away as punch and counterpunch. And neither can the CPM barricading the region and taking part in the operation as a part of the police force.

    @Anirban: Yes we do pray for some sensibility.

    @Mohan: I do not see this as a fight between corporations/elite and people: that would be too Communist for my taste.

    @Aby: I agree. But if it happens,then Buddha does take the blame.

    @Yourfan: Am curious.Which of the Bengali channels have been sympatheric to the CPM? We all know that all channels (save the music ones) have some political sympathies…but I just dont know the alignment of the Taras and the Anandas and would be curious to know it.

    @LP: Thank you

    @An Ideal Boy: Vir Saghvi has one out in the HT,

    @LP: China as has been mentioned does not need to worry about democratic dissent . They can do whatever they want.

    @//slash\: Yes of course. The CPM cries itself hoarse against SEZs in all states save Bengal.

    @Visakh: The Red Corridor issue is a very very serious one. Nandigram is hopefully something that wont happen again in the recent future. But expect the Red terror to escalate.

    @Sunny: Population control? Sanjay Gandhi tried it. Overtly aggressive methods are undemocratic. Simple.

    @Kishor: The thing is that such “small” incidents have been happening for the last 30 years all over rural bengal in different orders of magnitude. I agree with your basic point that conflict is inevitable as we progress from a agriculture-based economy to an production-based one.

    @Sue: Yes sorry. Corrected. The fact that it was well-connected infrastructurally is what made Singur attractive. Fallow lands, because they are fallow, do not have the necessary infrastructure already built around them.

    @Sid: Absolutely we deserve it as we are retards while you are not.

    @Manu:Hmm.

    @Sriram: Yes true to a large extent.

    @SD: I have also been saying good things about the CPM for some time now. I used to be a Mamata fan but detest her now.

    @Tapas: How does punishment of CPM as a party really work? I would believe that has to be punishment of its more extreme elements? Derecognition means the people just form a new party and come back.

    @Rima: Yes agree.Under Jyoti babu things would have been different.

  50. The inherent risk in backing Buddha is that he is merely a human being. The party will outlast him and what are the chances that you will end up with someone like him again?

  51. @GreatBong
    I think people are too much polarized for or against political parties.
    I have no affinity towards any party. I favor policies and approach rather than a party. I like and admire the following people:-
    Buddhadeb, Ashim, Manab Mukherjee and Nirupam Sen
    Thats because these people are hard-working administrators. They have done proper analysis and have chalked a plan for the development of the state. It is just matter of coincidence that the people mentioned above belong to the CPM. For that matter, another ex-politician from Bengal whom I hold in very high regards is ABA Ghani Khan Choudhury who was from Congress.

    Let me tell you something that I feel very strongly about the residents of Bengal. They participate too much in party politics. Else, why should there be people from common middle class households who become Trinamool goons, Naxalites or CPM cadres. Did any one of you think about this? That is the socio-economic setup in Bengal where these young guys have nothing else to do. They have no jobs or prospects. Those, who have one, still have a lot of frustation in their economic conditions and get involved in these things. These constitute a majority in the political violence.

    CPM party has a bloody past. So does Congress and Trinamool. Who do you blame? If you see closely, the problem lies with the people. The people are angry and agitated. You can see that even in non-political matters like the cricket match between Sri Lanka and India, the Eden crowd threw cups at the Sri Lankan players. Several times I have seen people fighting on the street and a big crowd gathering across. The question is not at about changing a political party over-night. The issue is how can the socio-economic conditions be changed. With good economical reforms, the social setup would benefit. But that will not happen overnight. However, gradually things will change. The way people would participate in the various issues will change. But for that economic reforms should happen and with a human face.

    The reason I like Buddha babu is that he wants to create a economic scenario where the highly-educated to the less-educated all get jobs. Thats why he stresses on all the industries ranging from IT to core manufacturing sector. And in most of these West Bengal is a big ZERO as compared to many states, particularly Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. If he is allowed to successfully execute his industrial plans, it will be good for the state. The frustation of unemployed youth needs to be brought down and this can happen only through PROPER jobs.

    Also, on several occassions, Buddha babu has mentioned that workers should also participate with the management for the progress of industry. He also criticised the militant trade unionisms of CITU for which Trade Union leaders have often thrashed him.

    Please understand one thing, Buddha babu is a part of the CPM. Even if he does not like certain things in his party, he cannot go verbal about it on the press. He cannot make all his party cadres or Trade Union colleagues his enemies and continue the reforms of Bengal. To make reforms, he has to be in the post. And to be in the their, he cannot keep opposing his party cadres.Please sympathize with the fact that Buddha babu is not CPM. He is just a member of it. He cannot be the CM, if he is thrown out of CPM.

    BUDDHA BABU HAS TO BE IN THE SYSTEM TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM.

  52. Just to bring few facts on board, the notification issued by the Haldia Development Authority (that had led to the first round of protests and clashes in January) has not been withdrawn till date. This, in spite of the ‘promise’ by the Chief Minister in January. The failure to withdraw the notification even after passage of two months along with the alleged machinations of Mr. Lakshman Seth explain the suspicion and insecurity of the villagers.

  53. The whole thing leaves me sadder but definitely not wiser- Whilst everyone is talking with the privelege of hindsight-where does that leave us in terms of political choice for the future?
    a) A Left Front that reins in Buddhadeb and turns regressive once again?
    b) Mamta whoas everyone agrees is not a choice at all?
    c) A non-existent Congress
    d) The entry of Mulayam- Amar Singhr/ Lalloos/ Sangh Parivar with their agendae which seem so alien to the Bengali world visions (and I am only a Bangalorean )

    This is for all- rural/urban, pro and anti and confused about industrialization , soft state/ authoritarian state- all of us- where do we go from here- perhaps Ekta Kapoor can tell us since we seem to be giving up on Mrinal Sen.


  54. No I am not a card carrying communist…

    I hope idiots like you are guillotined before India reaches the point of no return…

    Your card is waiting at Alimuddin Street, sir. Please pick up the arms on your way out.

    For those of you who still think that this is about industrialization and such stuff, read Mr Bandopadhya’s post above. He is spot on.

    Of course the villagers were armed, they knew what was coming to them, and they tried to save their lives the best they could. They remembered the massacres in the medinipur district back in the 2000 (or was it 1999?) assembly elections. Mr. Bandopadhyaya mentions Kespur, but pretty much all of Medinipur was cleansed of Trinamul pockets then. This is SOP for the CPI(M).

  55. Whichever side of the conflict you are in, one thing is for sure. The future of Bengal is doomed. The Nandigram incident has created a vacuum and a whole new equation. There are some very dangerous new players taking advantage of the vacuum. And when we start to analyze who they are, we would realize that preventing WB to remain an agrarian state rather than an industrialized one works for the benefit of far too many people.

    1. Extremist leftist (Maoists and other such elements) – Their vision is to bring on a revolution aka the Chinese or the Bolshevik one. A revolution based upon the injustices on the landless farmers. It’s in their interest to keep the farmers the way they are, to point to them that the state is their enemy. To build up a strong base for recruitment and then indoctrinate them. If industry succeeds and a significant number of farmers are absorbed in manufacturing it will be a huge blow to them.

    2. TMC and Mamata Banerjee : Obvs. reasons.

    3. Jamaati Uleema (or whatever) : First time they have been active in Bengal politics. This is an indictment to the changing demographics of rural bengal. Bangladeshi infiltration has left many of the districts with a significant Muslim population. And most of the Muslim populace is dependent on the land. There is huge potential for an Islamic party to grow roots in Bengal now. Spin off an incident as an attempt to grab Muslim land, provide a helping hand to the migrant across the border and there you have it. It’s in their interest the CPIM gets more and more alienated.

    What’s most interesting is that none of the above benefits from industrialization in Bengal. And after Nandigram, neither does the CPM. So where does it leave us – the average Kolkata bhadrolok ? It’s time to face it, accept it. There is going to be no Bengal resurgence, no massive industrial revolution. Nah. The next 20 years won’t be that different from the last 20.

  56. @Aby : @ Kunal : I agree with all of you. My point is simple …if for 14 crores 14 ppl dies or suffers its ok ….its ok till 14 lakhs as well ……coz still we are doing welfare for 95% of the population abd 5% are suffering that is fine.
    Cannot agree more if this would have been China medha patekar, amta banerjee and other mother*** would habe been shot or beheaded publicly , which would have solved the problem. But this is India you cant do it .
    But the common man doesnot want see his son or daughter migrating to Kerala , TAMILnadu or Gujrat to make a living .We want industry in our state …..we dont want bandhs we dont want mamta or medha …we want jobs food and decent and peaceful life. I want my son to go to office in Park Street or RAJARHAT and come back home smiling….not brooding at another corner of India ….without his or her parents…..
    KILL MAMTA kill TMC , if needed carpet bomb nandigram ….kill those bastards and get the industry …Fro heavens sake we have suffered a lot.
    If anyone should be gangraped its Mamta and Medha .
    If anyone should be publicly beheaded its the Naxalities and guys like Sougata Roy.
    If any one needs to be welcomed its Narayan Murthy …
    If anyone needs to be patted at the back for a good job its Budhha , Nirupam and their team ….Periodddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

  57. @Anirban
    Why should 14 people die for 14 croore? Why is there a need to exclude people for the path of development? Why can’t we have a win-win situation?
    I think we have to take a path in which no one looses.
    Here are the stuff that has to be mentioned:-
    1. We need industry. There cannot be a rational argument against that.

    2. We need to support Buddha and his team. They are good administrators and a have worked very sincerely for the devlopment of the state.

    3. We need to properly compensate the farmers. Train those who are capable of getting trained. For the ones who are not fit, we have to arrange something like a monthly pension scheme and share-holding in the organizations so that not only they get their daily breads, but get much more than what they have now.

    4. Gradually bring the politically involved youths of Bengal out of active politics of bus-torching, murdering and other vandalizing.
    5. Gradually phase-out the participation from CITU in such a manner that the grass-root level support for trade-unions erode. But the union itself continues to stay, at least in paper. If the industrialist turn out to be exploiters, like the Marwaris of Kolkata, there will be a union which can be brought back into action. At other times, the union will be there, like it is there in Tamil Nadu or Gujarat or Karnataka, but in a hibernate mode. Like in Karnataka, last year Toyota motors union staged a protest. But these are one of cases.

    Remember, if the development is not inclusive, then the disparity increases between the haves and have-nots. On a drop of a hat, the real social set-up would erupt in violence. Like the Rajkumar death incident in Bangalore saw such a lot of damage. Microsoft Scientia building was completely destoyed, shops were looted and people killed. A poor truck-drivers tongue was cut near Old Madras road since he was playing a non-Kannada song.

    Don’t create a situation where there is growth for some and misery for others. And most importantly, to all Mamata Banerjee supporters, DON’T CREATE A SITUATION WHERE THERE IS NO GROWTH AT ALL.

  58. @aby : But do u think mamta would ever allow this to happen…protest and destruction is her sole means of existence. If she keeps quite for all this development work then in no time ppl would forget her. First we need to banish her from the state itself.
    Regarding what you said happened in bangalore when rajkuamr died i have witnessed that too. I stand witness everyday to the humiliations that north indians face here everyday ……but that is a failure in education and lack of sensitiveness

  59. @Dipesh
    All your points are very well put.
    But let me tell you that you have taken a very negative outlook.

    When a minority suffers in our country, there is a big hue-and-cry. And that is something we should be proud of.
    However, somehow we majorities, have a tendency to ignore the problems of the majority. Unemployment is a problem each household of Bengal is suffering currently. No one talks about it. No one takes out a procession saying ‘Create opportunities for us’ ! These people do not do that. But nevertheless,the frustation persits. Many of them now may even turn against the CM and call him a murderer, although he is trying hard for their well-being.

    Let me tell you something. Bengal will now progress much more than any other state. I am totally confident about it. The progress would be much more inclusive in Bengal than in any other part of the country. The participation of local Bengalis will be more. In a democracy, we take 2 steps forward and 1 step backwards. But that progress is far more sustainable over time.

    Industrialization is something that the people of Bengal wants. And that is the reason, they have supported the Left’s pro-industrial stand in last elections. It is not something which only Buddha babu wants. You cannot stop so many people.

    Majority will be beneficiaries, but not alone. Minorities, too, shall be included in the development. And that’s where Bengal will triumph.

  60. @Anirban

    Who is Mamata? People of the state wants development and have voted for it. I don’t think she will be able to stop it.
    No one can stop industrialization in state that has good pool of talents, cheap valuations of real-estate and good support for infrastructure. As an icing on the cake, you have a govt with clear policies, single window clerance and is ready to provide tax-sops to benefit the industry.

    Industrialists are not fools. They would give such value propositions that nobody would be able to resist.

    Many of you are speaking in such a manner as though Nandigram is the end of everything for Bengal. That is not true. Bengal will progress because Bengalis want progress. Nobody can stop a determined community.

    Killing Mamata is going to benefit her. If she is alive, she will suffer everyday seeing the progress of the state and the distance from the CM chair. That will be a proper punishment to her.

  61. Yourfan writes:
    @GB: Here is one channel called Chabbish ghanta – that is the channel which thrives on CPM propaganda. They were the only one where Asim Dasgupta gave an interview about his budget in the midst of all that commotions as if anybody was interested to know his so called economic pov. Sometimes Star Ananda also criticizes CPM but I guess they want to show how impartial they are. I don’t know the exact leaning of Star Ananda. But there is a channel called kolkata tv that always throws bombardment at CPM and they bring all the disgruntled CPM people for interview. It is really very heartening to see Shaoli Mitra and Aparna Sen condemning the attack in no uncertain terms although they were supposed to have left leaning. I was also very impressed to see that some of the lawyers took to the street to protest but what saddened me is that the cream of the society barring a few did not – well they are all apathetic it seems!!!

  62. @Anon

    I am happy to learn that there were people considered the ‘cream of society’ who were apathetic. Thats a very good sign. And people at the grass-root level should also be out of any political umbrella.
    No Trinamool goons, no CPM cadres or Naxalites or Maoists. People should focus in their day to day lives, their prospects and families. They should not come out in the streets to protest or to murder or to torch buses. If they have a political affinity, they should reflect in the ballot-box, not through bloodshed or violence or vandalization.
    People of Bengal should absolutely refrain from politics for at least the next 2 generations. If that means apathy, so be it.
    In Bangalore, I come to know about a Mahanagara Palike elections only a day before. In Kolkata, politics have become the prime job of every individual. Political polarization is too much in Bengal. That has already caused such a lot of harm.

  63. (Sorry my previous post seems to have confused the software, GB, if you would be so kind as to remove it?)

    If regular bengalis really think that it is ok for people to die so that the state can get its precious industrialization, then we have been deprived too long, for this is clearly the voice of frustration speaking.

    Economically speaking the logic of industrialization is impeccable. It’s the cpim / communist / socialist version that causes the deaths. If the Tatas/ or any other business were free to buy and sell land freely, they could easily obtain most of the lands, probably more cheaply than currently. Most land-owners would be happy to participate, for agriculture is unprofitable, even penurious. The few ( less than 10 percent ?) holdouts should not cause too much problem with a redesign of the plants / slightly higher offer prices (In a private deal, no one is obliged to offer the same deal to everyone). The reasons this eminently sensible transaction cannot take place are

    1. This is agricultural land and by law cannot be used for non-agricultural purposes without govt approval

    2. The rural land ceiling act.

    3. The probable risk of violence from the Bargadars (tillers) who had been given a kind of legal limbo in return for supporting cpm back in the 70s. They have tilling rights, but no ownership rights of the land.

    4. The communist cadres will mind if they cannot meddle in prvate transactions: their livelihood is threatened.

    Point 3 above is squarely the communist government’s responsibility. They made a promise to the bargadars; now that this promise is turning out to be expensive / difficult to deliver, they want a way out without any adverse consequences. They certainly have the muscle to brazen it out, but are paying for with the damage to their national political image of being non-goonish (I have actually met well meaning idiots who sincerely believe this).

  64. @GB
    You said it right that Buddhababu stepped on the accelerator so hard that his vehicle is in serious threat of having its axles broken. What went wrong in Singur and Nandigram is really hard to assess. One thing for sure nobody is a poor soul here. Yes, even the misguided farmers. It is really hard to take a position on this issue. Buddhadeb finds himself in a bloody mess which Iam sure he never comprehended but he deserves the criticism because he mishandled the situation. What worries me most that he may be forced to resign and some guy who can suck up to Jyoti Basu very well becomes the new CM because Iam sure for this party (as a matter of fact for all political Parties) keeping the party in power is more important than its policies. Secondly Buddhadeb himself might derail his own policies to stay in power and third God forbid, Mamata comes to power and even sadder is that there is no fourth option!

    For all said and done the middle class deserves a chance in WB, a chance to have a better living condition, better job opportunity to progress in life, better opportunity to inculcate good work ethics and be at par with those few developed states of India and once such opportunities are created the CPM goons will disappear in the thin air because they themselves will find their escape to freedom.

  65. One interesting point – After TMC vandalize the state assembly, Budhha Babu invited common people and some school children to visit the assembly. As a good administrator, should he not invite people to see the current Nandigram? 🙂

    @Anirban
    You are great, I wish everybody should think in your line. By the way do u support Gujrat riot? Remember BJP had a thumping victory after the riot there, so the majority supported it (ur logic, not mine). Also I wish to know your reactions after one of your family member dies in some police/political brutality for industrialization (just an academic wish not a real one, so no harm meant for your family).

  66. @dEBkUMAR: One of my family member has suffered coz the poor kid had to restructure her learning schedule coz of the bandh called by mamta ….and not only she but millions of children in bengal sitting for their ISC CBSE AND Higher Secondary suffered the same fate…..Guess when u have children and they get stuck in the traffic jam due to mamta dharna and cannot sit for their exams you will also ask for her blood if not anything else….and i wish you suffer that way coz moron bengalis like you learn their lessons the hard way

  67. @Anirban
    What you said at last is very true! It feels sad to say that Bengalis have a chunk of population who feels in the same way as DebKumar.
    Debkumar and the likes are making comments that shows nothing positive. Their thinking is similar to the Trinamool, Naxalites and CPM cadres. Eye for an eye. They don’t know that bloodshed can’t stop bloodshed.
    I am surprised that no one is talking anything positive. We need to have massive fast-paced industrialization with proper compensation to the farmers and good job security to the local Bengali youths. I don’t think it is difficult to create a win-win situation for everyone!

    You are correct when you say that these people will learn in the hard way. Though it sounds sad, it has a very positive message. And that is they will learn.

  68. @Aby and Anirban
    Why it have to be that if someone is opposing CPM they either have to support TMC or have to be Naxal? Who told you that I am supporting the bandh culture in Bengal, though it is also being started by this government 30 years ago? Remember Justice Amitabha Lala wanted the state govt to oppose any bandh and wanted to impose fine on the political parties etc for disruption of public life? What I am simplying trying to say that we don’t need this bloodshed…Let the industries directly deal with the landowners….let the govt be there to ensure no body is cheated. Let them improve Infrastructure. Let them provide Social Security. Also CBI submitted report saying thetre were armed CPM men present with the police. Your thoughts?

  69. @Debkumar
    I totally agree with you when you say that let industries directly deal with land-owners. Let them be made accountable for the rehabilitation of the displaced. I believe in the principle that one can govern best by governing least.

    But the point is, in order to grab an investment from a consortium of companies and financial instiutions of the magnitude that is being talked about, governments of all states compete hard. And in that race if Bengal govt has to provide some sops for the industry. Else Bengalis will miss out the opportunity that is currently booming in emerging markets.

    If you are cognizant about the worker practices of Marwari medium-scale businesses in Kolkata, you would surely agree with me that they perhaps deserved trade-union thrashing. However, I am totally against militant trade unionism.

    Debkumar, you are a politically polarized person. And you think everyone else also to be the same. Let CBI do anything to CPM, Congress or Trinamool goons. I don’t think you and I will be affected by it. What will affect you and me are policies, execution, leadership and administration.
    Let us all show apathy towards party-poltics even at the grassroot level.

  70. @Aby

    It’s nice to see that you agree to some points. Now in Anirban’s post he said it is ok if 14 or for that matter 14 lakh people die in the process of industrialization. And I protested, which made me, in your words, TMC supporter and Naxal etc. So aren’t you politically polarized? What I am asking for is transparency. Don’t we have the right to know what is happening? Also if someone don’t want to sell his land, does not he have the right to do that? It’s absolutely perfect to sell land, but if somebody is not willing then why? Educate them, tell them the goods and the bads. Let them decide. Who are we to decide for them? What right do we have? Because we read some books, have some degree? I know you will again term me as Naxal(I wish I had there courage) or anti development, but that would be the case of taking an easy way out. Please take the hard way, and please give answers to my questions.

  71. @Debkumar
    Apologies, if I sounded politically polarized.

    You need to first travel across the country, particularly in the developed regions. Only then you would be in a position to discuss the issue with maturity.

    First, you talk about industrialists aquiring land on their own. You possibly don’t know that most industrialists are encouraged by the Bengal govt to aquire land on their own. For that matter, most state govts asks industrialists to directly deal with owners.

    But here we are talking about SEZ that demand huge amounts of land, budget and involve a consortium of companies that probably have little local knowledge. Also, the omay face a problem in convincing all the land-owners to sell their lands. That is why all state govts have to act as a facilitators. The govt must through legislation reserve the right to forcefully aquire land for the benefit of larger mass. Otherwise, we can never have roads, railway lines, highways or even large scale industries.
    That’s what Anirban told in very strong words. But I am of the opinion to carry that out in a humane manner, so that every Bengali becomes a part of the development process.

    If you say that a land-owner has the right not to sell his land, then you are not being democratic. Think of the impact of such a void and foolish argument, if everyone starts applying it.
    It is like saying, ‘Look I put a lot of hard-work and make a lot of money, Govt does not have the right to forcefully take away a part of my income through income tax!’

  72. Finally a viewpoint which sees what I see in Nandigram.

    What was Budhhadev thinking? A joint operation by police and cpm cadres!!??
    A bad idea with a worse execution….

    and Budhha needs to cleanse his own house. We donot get a whiff of it in the city…but the crazy sense of power that some of this district or grassroot level CPM guys have, (from an autorickshaw driver to son of a panchayat pradhan!!) is sickening.

    I donot think the intellectuals or ordinary people are saying “We want Mamata’ ..but they are saying that things need to change..most definitely. We are not putting up with the sh* of it, anymore.

    ……………

    retard bengali on pot?? :B

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  75. @aby:
    “Apologies to all for the innumerable spelling and grammatical mistakes in the above. I clicked submit by mistake, before checking the contents.”

    And no apologies for ….everybody knows what i mean!!

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  77. Many of the respondents have sent entries that reflect loyalty to a fascist party, and reminds me of Bob Dylan’s famous line: “How many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?” Of course blind support to the CPIM has over the past 30 years given enough dividends to the party’s supporters, and that’s enough cause for many to close their eyes on the state violence at Nandigram and Singur. Of course the justifiers have never visited Nandigram and talked to the villagers there after the massacre, ever – just as none of the ministers have dared to visit the place till date.

    Unless you believe “whatever my party does must be sacrosanct”, it’s impossible to justify (a) raping 10 women, ripping children by the legs and killing 14 men because they refused to give up their land, (b) vituperating Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy and all intellectuals – including Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar – whoever spoke against the state-sponsored brutality, and (c) shooting bullets and bombs at Nandigram from Talpati across the canal every day, a fact that anyone can witness if one wishes to stay in Nandigram for half a day – anyday.

    I urge all decent communists to visit Nandigram just for a day (I will assure all security to them), because I witnessed the witnesses of victims at the People’s Tribunal held on 26-27 May 2007. I also witnessed the abysmal morals of CPIM party cadre when Medha and others were blocked from entry into Nandigram in April. I am ashamed here to mention that on the day of Medha’s trip to Nandigram, the male cadre lined up on the road to put down their pants, while a local leader was shouting at their women cadre to “Lift! Lift!” their sarees to show their “leftist” bottoms to the “outsiders”. To our relief, the women failed to obey their leader, demonstrating that feudal good sense still can prevail over party commands amongst the party supporters…. I hope the loyalists follow their women’s example.

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  79. “Not just the borgadars, the CPM has also lost the intellectuals and the liberals who now are all for property rights (while they were against it during the 80s) even though it stands to reason that industrialization will bring about more jobs and “greater good”.”

    wow, there’s just so much wrong with that assertion. the first time it was to (at least theoretically) dismantle feudal proprietary rights, the second time it was to preserve them FOR the peasants. it’s so disingenuous of you to gloss over this bit. i’m hardly a CPM doctrinaire, but even i recognize the land reforms as a (perhaps the only) major achievement which didn’t happen in UP/Bihar btw, and WB is better for it. Could you write one thing on here that isn’t stale hearsay? This blog is full of the sort of ad hominem stuff my mom would say. but then, she isn’t attempting to write a political blog!

    i’m convinced you are a political conservative, who has been soured by the reality of CPM’s Stalinist electoral politics into stubborn recalcitrance and thus refuses to ever have a dialogue with any progressive whom you dismiss as effete liberals with your magic wand of anti-intellectualism.

    also, your slant is terribly obvious. you need to not equate Marxism with Communism. Define your terms. you’ll be a better writer for it. and being pro-free markets isn’t being very objective/moderate.

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