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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 1

Nandigram : The Gujarat of Sonar Bangla

Tuesday 25 December 2007, by Suvrokamal Dutta


Whatever has happened in Nandigram is as bad as the burning Gujarat of 2002 in Tagore’s Sonar Bangla, if not worse. Such a thing to happen in West Bengal is unthinkable. Bengal has been known in the modern political history of India for her tolerance, progressive thinking, secularism and modernity. But alas! Bengal under Buddhadeb babu has turned into a fascist, intolerant, communal State which is perhaps the biggest negative outcome of the Singur and Nandigram carnages.

The classical definition of fascism, in Mussolini’s own words, is:

Anti-individualistic, the fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only insofar as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity.... The fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value.... Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number.... We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right’, a Fascist century. If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the ‘collective’ century and therefore the century of the State.

The mentality of the Indian Communist under the CPI-M in Bengal exactly believes in the lines of the above definition when it comes to the governance of a State; for them democracy and freedom of expression is nothing but a farce and a joke. After the happenings in Nandigram I feel ashamed in calling myself a Bengali. The day the carnage had taken place in Nandigram I felt hiding myself under the darkest corner of a tunnel from the normal daylight.

It is very hard to imagine that there is one place inside democratic India where people are still struggling for their basic rights. According to the Home Secretary of West Bengal, “Nandigram has totally become a battle zone with a number of innocent people being killed and displaced from their homes”. It is an open secret now that the Home Secretary of West Bengal had serious difference with the Chief Minister over the violent takeover of Nandigram. The Chief Minister’s defence of the carnage in Nandigram with a cold blooded, one- line statement is deplorable. “They have been paid back in their own coin!!” says it all.

Later on his justification of that infamous statement in NDTV came when he said:’’I stick to that. Some people are trying to project that the violence was started by CPI-M workers. Last 11 months, the Bhoomi Uchched Pratirodh Committee, the Trinamool Congress and the Maoists were creating violence with arms. And in the last two-three days, the CPI-M workers had paid them back in their own coin.’’ This speaks volumes about his fascist mentality. Had he been a person with a humane heart he would have resigned the next day after the carnage taking moral responsibility for his party cadres’ gang rapes of Muslim women, their mothers-in-law and small daughters, and for the killing many poor Muslim peasants and injuring many more .

It is time for the so-called modern, progressive- thinking Chief Minister to clear once and for all this entire well-known one-line epitaph “they and we”. The media should ask him by “they” whom does he mean? Does he means the Muslims? And what does he mean by “we”? Does “we” for him means the Bhadralok Hindus like him? It’s better to be a simple kind-hearted illiterate Muslim peasant rather than being a sugarcoated fascist Bhadralok Hindu like the CPI-M members and the so-called young Turks of that party.

Or does the Chief Minister of West Bengal by “they” mean the activists of the Opposition forces? Even if that is so he has no right in justifying the killing of innocent activists and supporters of the Opposition forces by his cadres. After all, he should not forget that he is the Chief Minister of the whole State and not of his CPI-M cadres; as such he has to treat everyone impartially and do justice with all.

If the West Bengal Chief Minister behaved like a fascist on Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee behaved like a bandit queen on the whole Nandigram issue. Was it her job to play her nasty politics at the cost of bullets for the innocent people. She has time and again demonstrated such a rugged behaviour holding the whole of West Bengal and its people to ransom. It is time to banish such people—the fascist Chief Minister and the bandit queen-like TMC chief—once and for all from the politics of Bengal. Lord Ram had gone to exile for fourteen years for upholding truth and honesty. Such politicians of Bengal should be sent to exile by the people of Bengal forever in order to bring back love, peace, brotherhood and tolerance within the Bengali society.

In my earlier article for the same issue in this very magazine I had written about Nandigram as the Indian Tiananmen square but I guess that was an aberration as Nandigram in fact is much more then the Tiananmen Square. It is state sponsored brutality at is crudest and most barbaric form.

THE CPI-M goes overboard in condemning the Gujarat riots of 2002 which no doubt is a black scar on Indian democracy. But then what about Singur and Nandigram? If Gujarat is a black scar then Nandigram is a turpentine scar for Indian democracy. If Gujarat was state sponsored against the minorities wasn’t not Nandigram the same. In what way is the Nandigram carnage different from the Gujarat carnage? Are not most of the victims of Nandigram who were killed also Muslims? If Modi of Gujarat for the CPI-M is the Indian Nero, is Buddhadeb for them the pristine sacred Indian lotus? It is also time for Mamata Banerjee to behave seriously in Indian politics and not play tantrums on every single issue as the cost of her tantrums are very heavy on the innocent hapless people who become the victims of her power politics and street fights.

She should stop all her ingenuous political tantrums only to gain national headlines and to remain in the glare of the media. If her heart was really bleeding for the hapless victims of Nandigram she should have sent her resignation letter of her Lok Sabha seat not to the Prime Minister but to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha for his acceptance. This step of hers shows how shallow is her fight for the people’s cause.

The CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc and others call Buddhadeb an arrogant man and the CPI-M dictatorial and cry foul on Nandigram but still they stick to the CPI-M like honey of the honey comb. Perhaps it is the lust for power which keeps them together even after such huge hiccups. What was highly surprising was the stoic silence of the Congress party on the whole issue except for some lip-service media condemnation. What I had expected was a much more serious position on the whole issue at least from two very important politicians of the Congress from Bengal for whom I have high respect. Pranab Mukherjee and Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi. But Alas! I guess their golden silence is also due to the compulsion of collation politics. Or was there a deal on Nandigram and the nuclear deal as the rumourmongers would like to say. One would perhaps never know why there was such a stoic silence by the UPA Government on the Nandigram carnage even though the honourable Governor of Bengal was scathing in his attack on the Bengal Government over Nandigram.

One should applaud the judiciary for showing its place to the dictatorial Bengal Government on the whole Nandigram issue. I salute the Kolkata High Court for its stand. It is good to see the High Court sending a show cause notice to the spokesman of the CPI-M for contempt of court and taking the Chief Minister and the West Bengal Government left and right. Perhaps the hapless victims of Nandigram will finally get justice from the High Court.

The Chief Minister of Bengal seems to be doing one flip flop after another following the Nandigram events. First, the carnage then sending Taslima Nasreen without her consent out of West Bengal like a fugitive which is highly deplorable as she is an honoured guest of India and of West Bengal and such a treatment given to her is highly deplorable. The CPI-M in West Bengal, it seems, has clearly surrendered to the fundamentalist Islamic forces in West Bengal just to save its Muslim vote-bank after Nandigram. The flip flop of the Bengal Chief Minister doesn’t end here. On December 6, while taking part in a meeting on the Babri mosque issue he questioned the existence of Lord Ram by quoting from Tagore saying Lord Ram is a poetic imagination which is again blasphemous though later on the Chief Minister took a hasty U-turn on it. By doing this he has again hurt the sentiments of many Hindus.

At least he should not tarnish the name of the Noble Laureate for his narrow politics.

It seems West Bengal has really very hard days ahead under such wonderful stewardship of Buddhadeb Babu and Mamata Banerjee. One strongly hopes no more future Singurs or Nandigrams will take place in Bengal. One also hopes that no one would be insulted like Nasreen in Bengal again. Let the Sonar Bangla of Tagore be preserved and protected. I pray to Providence that it remains so. Let the music of Ram and Rahim ring in the green fields of Bengal once again. Hey Lord Ram and Rahim, save my Bengal from the evil designs of the narrow politicians!

The author is a well-known foreign affairs and economic expert; he is the Chairman, Global Council for Peace, and the convenor, Debating India.

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