Their humanism, their socialism, their nationalism, their concern for human rights, their respect for democratic values have always been suspect in the eyes of observers willing to suspend their ideological coolers. But the events in Nandigram, a village 300 km from Calcutta, over the past nine months has shown that the holier-than-thou communist parties are as nanga in the hamaam as the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
An extraordinary 18 people protesting the acquisition of 14,000 acres of land for a chemical SEZ to be set up by the Salim Group, linked to former Indonesian president Suharto, were shot dead by the police in March. The villagers, mostly supporters of the CPI(M), soon organised a resistance movement, which was reportedly hijacked by Maoist elements who drove out CPI(M) cadres. From then on, it has been all downhill.
Compensation to the next of killed has been deadly slow in coming. There has been no remorse, no regret from the Left leadership for the loss of innocent lives. And now a stoneage CPI(M) method to reclaim lost turf has seen more deaths. The media has been barred from the area, those opposing the method like Medha Patkar have been mercilessly silenced. Governor Gopalakrishna Gandhi‘s attempt to draw the nation’s attention to the disgrace has been condemned by fellow-travellers, but television pictures last night showed the full extent of what is happening.
Questions: Is Nandigram the Left’s Gujarat? Would Narendra Modi have been treated as magnanimously by the intelligentsia and the media if his police and partymen had resorted to methods similar to that of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya‘s police and partymen? Has the Left lost all credibility and exposed its hypocrises? And does the brutality of Nandigram provide a logical explanation as to how the Left has managed to retain West Bengal for so many decades?
Also read: The death of SEZs?