Politics of Hate

‘The Procession of Mourning’

Arup Kumar Sen

Hate is the dominant paradigm of politics in present time. Left politics, in spite of its achievements on the economic and social front, does not belong outside the domain of such a paradigm. Even the early politics of the Left in West Bengal bears testimony to it. Very recently, a Bengali little magazine, Padakshep (January, 2018), has revisited the days of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In his entry in the magazine, Asim Chattopadhyay, the prominent naxalite leader of the time, has made a distinction between the path of the Naxalbari peasant uprising and that of the Naxalite Movement, and argued that the "annihilation of class enemies" line pursued by Charu Majumder led to killing of the spirit of the Naxalbari uprising. Passing the blame solely on Charu Majumder for the violence associated with the naxalite movement is unethical. Moreover, Chattopadhyay's argument that the CPI(M-L) was formed with the sole purpose of "annihilation of class enemies", dissociating itself from the land question, is questionable. Chattopadhyay has expressed his support for the Kanu Sanyal line which, according to him, emphasised, before the birth of the CPI(ML), on the importance of mass organisations of the workers and peasants, and ideological struggle within the CPI(M).

Asim Chattopadhyay has quoted Samar Sen—"nothing remained the same after Naxalbari"—in his assessment of the Naxalbari uprising. But, Samarbabu's assessment of the movement was a larger one. The line quoted by Chattopadhyay from Samar Sen was preceded by the following observation: "Naxalbari exploded many a myth and restored faith in the courage and character of the revolutionary left in India".

Asim Chattopadhyay's critical appraisal of the naxalite movement presupposes that the CPI(M) did not follow the politics of violence and hate. Paradoxically, in the same issue of Padakshep in which Chattopadhyay's critical assessment was carried, Abhra Ghosh, in his assessment of the impact of the naxalite movement on Bengali short stories, has drawn attention to the 1969-70 Bengali reportage of Dipendranath Bandyopadhyay, one important literary and cultural personality of the time. The second United Front government was in power in West Bengal at that time and Jyoti Basu was the Deputy Chief Minister. Bandyopadhyay made a harsh critique of the CPI(M) in his reportage. He wrote: "What the Marxist Communist Party has done within a year of its coming to power by winning only 80 seats in the assembly elections in a single state of India, makes people terrorized". He accused the CPI (M) of inviting President's rule and military in West Bengal after its failure to crush the naxalites with brutal police violence. He further accused the CPI(M) of killing the progressive trend in Indian politics by instigating the peasant against the peasant, the worker against the worker, the middle class against the middle class, the teacher against the student, the student against the teacher and the brother against the brother. To put in his own words: "The CPI(M) has not only imported the politics of killing. It has inculcated in the minds of its cadres a passion for new and macabre methods of killing". Diptendranath Bandyopa-dhyay's short story written around that time, Shok Michhil (The Procession of Mourning), discussed by Abhra Ghosh, is a vivid narrative of the politics of hate nurtured by the CPI(M).

In the present time, when basic constitutional rights are threatened and politics of hate is the dominant paradigm of politics, the Left should make moral assessment of their past deeds and rethink the question of democratic rights in their everyday politics.

Vol. 50, No.35, Mar 04 - 10, 2018