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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 30, July 11, 2009

CPI-M and Politics of Governance

Saturday 11 July 2009, by Arup Kumar Sen


In a seminal lecture (2005), the eminent political theorist, Partha Chatterjee, argued that upto the end of the 1970s ideology played an important role in Indian politics. The popularity of a political leader depended on the sacrifices she/he made. But, a new paradigm has emerged in Indian politics in the last three decades. The present-day political leaders seem to be self-centred, opportunist, greedy and consumerist persons. Ordinary people are forced to negotiate with such local leaders in everyday life. Violence and the threat of violence have become an organic part of this new “politics of governance“, argued Chatterjee.

The new paradigm of politics identified by Chatterjee may be helpful in understanding the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s politics in West Bengal in recent years.

The Binpur Zonal Committee Secretary of the CPI-M, Anuj Pandey, was the undisputed party leader in the Lalgrah belt. He ruled with an iron hand and had rarely faced any resistance from any corner. Nobody–including the police and administration–dared question him. He went on amassing wealth using his post and proximity to influential district leaders. His rise to power is a rags-to-riches story. His grandfather had migrated to Lalgarh from Uttar Pradesh to work as a priest. The family was given a small plot of land at Dharampur where they built a hut. His father carried on the family profession, working hard to support his family. But, Anuj chose politics. Soon after passing out from school he joined the SFI. He never looked back. By the late 1990s, he had become the uncrowned king of Lalgarh-Dharampur. He moved around with private security guards, who reportedly carried AK-47 rifles. In the recent tribal revolt in Lalgarh, his palatial house at Dharampur was demolished, along with all furniture and fittings. Pandey managed to escape to Midnapore town and has been given police protection.


The post-poll anti-CPI-M violence in the districts of West Bengal is organically connected with the atrocities committed by the Party on the people in connivance with the police.

At least 25 CPI-M party offices were ransacked and set ablaze by allegedly Trinamul Congress (TMC) supporters in Khejuri in East Midnapore. The TMC activists also gheraoed the Khejuri Police Station. Arms and ammunition were seized from the houses of local CPI-M leaders. The main targets of attack were party offices and houses of panchayat office bearers. The TMC activists specially targeted those involved in the attacks on Nandigram.

The same story was repeated in Lalgarh. It was reported in the media that the CPI-M decided to hit back at the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) and recover lost ground with 200 armed men from Keshpur and Garbeta at Sijua in Salboni. Now, the PCAPA backed by Maoists has taken possession of the Lalgarh region. Thousands of tribals and members of the PCAPA, heavily armed with traditional weapons, went on the rampage setting fire to police camps and demolishing the CPI-M party offices at several places across Lalgarh and Salboni. The police camps in Salboni, Ramgarh and Dharampur were set on fire. The CPI-M party offices in Dharampur and Lalgarh were torched.

It is unfortunate that the popular protest in West Bengal against the CPI-M rule is being expressed in the language of violence. But, the CPI-M leadership cannot evade their responsibility for the present state of affairs. They always silenced popular discontent with violent methods of domination. The present attempt of the Left Front Government to silence the popular revolt in Lalgarh with the help of Central forces bears testimony to the CPI-M’s coercive rule in West Bengal.

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