Making a Difference?

Dissidents come, Dissidents go. But the Communist Party of India–Marxist (CPM), otherwise the most regimented and authoritarian face of Indian Left virtually remains unaffected in terms of organisational crisis. After the initial furore in the media dissidents look tragically alone. Their cry for justice, democratic centralism and all that fails to make a positive impact on broader political spectrum. The reason is simple. In most cases they are politically and ideologically too weak to engineer any vertical split. Even if they succeed in giving some anxious moments to the top leadership, it is too little to ‘bombard the headquarters’ without which nothing will change for the better. In truth ideologically they hardly differ from the party against which they are revolting. As they are in no position to release the elements of sound leadership, they simply go into oblivion in due course. Nor do they have any idea as to how to launch popular organisations to develop grassroots civil resistance to party hierarchy. They can at best create some ripples here and there only to be forgotten by ordinary people when image-makers stop talking about them in the media. Making a difference while projecting a viable alternative in a complex world of survival politics is not that easy.

The latest crisis in the Bengal unit of CPM is essentially the fall-out of Nandigram episode that may have some spill-over effect in other state units as well. While the so-called ‘eternal rebel’ Rezzak Mollah raised the banner of ‘revolt’, if it can be so called, accusing the party leadership of ignoring the interests of minority community and dalit people, his fellow traveller from Haldia—the notorious Seth who master-minded the Nandigram carnage to execute the party’s plan to woo multinationals at any cost, simply talked of authoritarianism of party leadership. But they have all along been willing or unwilling partners in crimes by their party against vast masses, toiling and lower middle-class people to be precise. When the CPM-led Left Front Government under the supervision of sophisticated mandarin Jyoti Basu, terrorised the refugee settlers of Marichjhapi and evicted them with Hitlarite brutality and that too in the very heart of Mollah’s areas of political activity, these ‘rebels’ were silent spectators. Mollah’s Marxism is now trying to search for an escape route in reverse communalism and caste factor. Marginal and poor peasants of both communities—majority and minority—were severely affected by the Left’s industrial policy that was meticulously designed to forcibly acquire as much agricultural land as possible to make room for big business.

The story of how hundreds of dead bodies of Marichjhapi were dumped in the Bay of Bengal is unlikely to come to light anyday because they have left no evidence for future researchers. Incidentally all the victims of Marichjpahi belonged to the dalit community. Their crocodile tears for the plight of dalits at this stage seem too clever by half. As for minority card Mollah’s stand borders on fuelling communal passion. Nobody thinks the launching of Social Justice Manch by Mr Mollah, with an eye to the next assembly poll, will galvanise a generation that is desperately looking for an alternative as their mood is reflected in the rise of Aam Admi Party in Delhi. Mollah is the third senior leader for the district of South 24 Parganas after former MP Saifuddin Choudhury and former district secretary Samir Putatunda to be expelled. Both Choudhury and Putatunda are today nowhere in political scenario—their insignificant presence is no cause of worry to the top leadership. Dissidents of all hues find a ready staple in minority issue as if their revolution, electoral revolution, solely depends on minority community people.

As for the rebel of Haldia, his dictatorial behaviour during the hey days of CPM raj, became legendary. Once he even showed audacity to direct para-military units stationed in Nandigram to crush popular anti-land grab agitation. He was the last word in administration—a source of extra-legal authority—in his entire sphere of political mobilisation. He is up in arms against the party he built and managed so assiduously over the years because his bosses, faced with adverse criticisms from different quarters, including a section of party rank and file, have initiated a probe against his limitless corrupt practices and amassing huge ‘unaccounted’ wealth. Suddenly he sees values in democracy while criticising his party leadership for indulging in witch-hunting.

There is every reason to believe that these ‘rebels’ are talking turkey to save their own skin, not minority community and dalit people. CPM only once faced serious ideological and political challenge from the dissidents, who later made a real difference, both here and aboard, as naxalites. And they continue to trouble them despite so many ups and downs in the radical movement itself.

The naxalites are themselves to blame for discontinuing the ideological debate in the middle which in turn allowed social-democracy of Asian variety to thrive on its charted path of betrayal. For many people, both young and old, this type of dissidence the Mollahs stand for, doesn’t come as a great surprise. Nor do they feel a moment of freedom in such protests that are aimed at playing with the gallery. Floating a forum for social justice is easy but fighting for freedom, social justice, even of Mollah’s kind, equality and dignity is tough.

Vol. 46, No. 36, Mar 16 - 22, 2014