Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nandigram lament

The current issue of the Economic and Political Weekly carries an article titled "Reflections in the Aftermath of Nandigram" by "A CPI(M) Supporter".

Wooly-headed so-called "ideology" and hollow jargon appear to be of more importance to the writer - than reality.

His (I presume it must be a man) heart bleeds for the victims of Nandigram. But his pious plea for the West Bengal state govt led by the CPI(M) to show an alternative way to the neoliberal paradigm of foreign investment based economic growth - is plaintively disingenuous.

It would be no exaggeration to say that today the CPI(M) has no concern whatsoever for the common citizen of West Bengal. The only concern is the short-term interest of the party. The key indicators which reveal the real face of the CPI(M) are in primary education and healthcare. West Bengal ranks among the lowest in the country on these counts. The socio-economic and human development status of the Muslims in West Bengal is also pathetic. And all that can be said by the rulers, after 30 years in power, is that the Muslims have only themsleves to blame for being backward.

The party has eroded the fabric of law and order in the state; it has destroyed the edifice of democratic governance, with the party rather than the institutions of govt running everything. It has supervised an insidious privatisation of the public space, and criminalisation of life and politics.

The lack of any effective and credible opposition in the state has enabled the CPI(M) to attain this character. The party and the govt are completely bankrupt in terms of having any vision, strategy or capability to bring about positive improvement in the quality of life of the labouring masses. Rather, it has ensured that acceptance of living in utter degradation has seeped into the very psyche of the masses. It has crushed the very dignity of the common people, reducing them to servile begggars and ugly criminals.

In that respect, the resistance in Singur and Nandigram are definitely most cheering; they tell us that people cannot be taken for granted endlessly. But with no prospect of emergence of any progressive, anti-communal front to challenge the ruling party - the only thing on the horizon is destructive, violent opposition by various disgruntled elements, leading to growing instability and anarchy.

The true picture of the state of affairs in West Bengal has been given by Sumanta Banerjee in this article (also in the EPW). He writes:

West Bengal is in need of an opposition to challenge the hegemony of a partisan and oppressive CPI(M) governance. ... The alternative ... has to emerge from within a new democratic Left, with constituents that are seriously committed to the ideology of socialism and courageous enough to restore the moral integrity and high principles of the movement.

Related articles:

Sumanta Banerjee on Singur, and on the changing face of crime in Calcutta.

"Strategy for Economic Reform in West Bengal". This was published in 2002, but is still informative, especially the narrative on pg 23 of the document, just before the "Conclusion", about corruption and privatisation of public space.

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