People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 10, 2007



Trinamul Congress Chief Meets Jyoti Basu Over Nandigram


B Prasant


TRINAMUL Congress chieftain Mamata Banerjee met senior CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu at his residence at Salt Lake during the evening of May 4. They had a discussion for around 45 minutes over the peace process at Nandigram. Mamata Banerjee brought up the issue of Singur as well.


Jyoti Basu gave a patient hearing and agreed that peace should be restored to Nandigram and that the peace process through dialogue and discussion should continue apace.


In coming out to face the media, Mamata Banerjee did a volte face of sorts. She spoke of the need for peace, thanked Basu for his patient hearing, but would have words only for ‘her’ people who were allegedly at the receiving end at Nandigram.


She would not mention the brutal killing of 15 villagers till date for their having stood opposed to the anarchic tactics of the save agriculture committee; she would gloss over the horrible plight of the close to five thousand people living in refugee camps, she would not speak about the rapes and murders committed on women for bracingly standing up to the brigandage of the Trinamul Congress and its lackeys; she would not speak about roads and bridges that remained destroyed, she would not know much to say on life being ground to a halt in two Gram Panchayats by her lumpen cadre at Nandigram, she also would maintain a tight-lipped stance over the continuing violence indulged in by her outfit and its sidekicks at Nandigram and surrounding areas, even as she waxed eloquent over ‘wiping tears away from eyes of the affected.’. Interestingly, her press briefing did not mention the word ‘genocide’ even once.


Jyoti Basu later reiterated that the peace process through discussions would continue until peace was restored at Nandigram.


In the wake of the discussion held between senior CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu and Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Bengal state secretary of the CPI(M) Biman Basu, Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, industries minister Nirupam Sen, housing minister Gautam Deb, and land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah met Basu at his residence.


The consensus was that the pace process must be taken further forward in the days to come. Speaking earlier to the media at the Writers’ Buildings, Buddhadeb made it clear that the Basu-Banerjee meeting would help the peace process to move forward. Steps may also be taken at Singur after getting to know the exact stand of the Trinamul Congress leader on the issue.




Earlier, a double political-rhetorical rebuff was given to the Trinamul Congress leadership especially to its self-confessed ‘supreme leader’ when the Bengal Left Front, meeting recently at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan declared in complete unanimity that the peace process at Nandigram would continue and not just at the state-level.


Efforts would be made and persisted with to bring back peace to the people reduced to being the wretched of the earth – at the refugee camps and outside of it – poor kisans everyone of them, through peace initiatives and all-party meetings at the state, district, and block levels. Biman Basu, Bengal Left Front chairman appealed to the disruptive and hard-headed opposition groups to cooperate in the peace efforts at every level.


The rebuff to the Trinamul Congress’s ‘all-in-all’ (her phraseology) was of course at two levels. While storming out of the all-party meeting the last time around from Mahajati Sadan, a shrewd and calculating move to sabotage the initiative, she had later rasped out that such efforts were meaningless, adding as a complete non sequitor, ‘especially as it was a case of 235 MLAs versus 30.’ Thus the recent iteration and strongly, of the Bengal Left Front that it had full faith in the peace process through continuation of the all-party meetings was something she would find making her lose face before her lieutenants.


Second, she had all through insisted along with her Naxalite comrades-in-arms (more ‘in arms’ than ‘comrades,’ but that is another story) that any all-party meeting to be held on the Nandigram issue must be at the state-level. Ashok Ghosh, a veteran leader of the All-India Forward Bloc had somehow agreed carte blanch to the proposal.


Mamata Banerjee’s devious and criminal game was that she would be able to go through her antics only in the city, in the glare of the camera arc lights, and not at the lower levels of the administrative and political tiers since there, her cadres were principally illiterate goondas, and then again, mostly on hire from various districts and political outfits like the Maoists and Jharkhandis, indeed even from fringes of the metropolis itself. The results of the recent rural by-polls at Nandigram, Singur, and Khejuri bear this out rather forcefully.




Biman Basu has pointed out that the Bengal Left Front had always been in favour of all-party meetings at all levels, and had said so thrice, on April 7, May 7, and May 14. It had even pointed out the importance of the political parties operating at Nandigram itself taking the initiative to come together, sit across the table and carry on peace efforts. With the opposition not daring to appear at the local level, it was subsequently decided that an all-party meeting could be held at the state level, and this was communicated to Mamata Banerjee.


On being asked by the media representatives about the structure of the future all-party meetings, Biman Basu said that it had earlier been decided that only those political parties having representation in the state assembly would take part in such meetings. There was no fixed rule in operation that this index will be followed in the future as well, but nothing has been decided yet.


On being grilled on the issue of ‘genocide’ being applied to the March 14 incident at Nandigram (and this is an issue on which Mamata Banerjee is always scooting out, lackeys and all, of all discussions including all-party meetings), Biman Basu said that the term genocide was first used to describe the massive killing of the Jewish population by Nazis in Germany that amounted to wiping out a particular race.


The etymological origin of the term genocide, said Biman Basu, came from the word genos (Greek for tribe, or race) and -cide (Latin  occidere - to massacre). Biman Basu cited an example to say how the primitive tribes of the island Diego Garcia were the subject of genocide, and they were wiped out from the face of the earth. In no circumstances and under no measurement or indices the Nandigram incident can be called genocide. If the Nandigram occurrence is called genocide, the term itself gets distorted and even devalued. Biman Basu advised those who were fond of dropping the word genocide here, there, everywhere when taking about the Nandigram incident to consult lexicons, dictionaries, and encyclopaedias first.




Pushed into a corner through utterance of a series of false allegations against the CPI(M) on the Nandigram issue, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee blustered, shouted, uttered words not fit to print, and then stormed out of the all-party meeting held at Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata on May 24. On getting back to her Kalighat offices, she spoke incoherently about her ‘suddenly losing her head,’ a familiar enough refrain heard whenever she is hard put to explain her behaviour.


Attending the meeting were representatives of the CPI(M) and the Left Front, Pradesh Congress, Trinamul Congress, Jharkhand Party (Hansda group), and the RJD. SUCI chose to stay away. CPI(M) was represented by Shyamal Chakraborty, Madan Ghosh, and Subhas Chakraborty.


Following the placement of a resolution for discussion by Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh who presided, there was a one-and-a-half hour of discussion. Mamata Banerjee started to crate problems from the beginning. She needlessly brought out the issue of the big majority that the Left Front enjoys in the state assembly and said that what with Trinamul Congress lagging far behind that number, ‘consensus has no meaning here.’


Then she started to shout and gesticulate that the resolution must be thrown to the dustbin as it did not mention ‘genocide’ and the cutting off, of parts of the body of women after they had been raped. She used intemperate language here and said that six thousand women had thus suffered. When the CPI(M) leadership pointed out that a ‘CBI inquiry was going on,’ she hollered that in fact the CBI inquiry should be described as ‘going off’ because there was nothing being done, leaving it vaguely at that.


She then said that while ‘her’ delegation was high powered, the CPI(M) leadership had no ‘power to take decision because they were not high-powered’ enough. Starting to shout at the top of her voice about ‘genocide’ having been committed at Nandigram, she disrupted the proceedings. The CPI(M) leadership calmly explained the implication, legal and constitutional of the term genocide internationally, but she would not listen and kept repeating the word genocide like a chanting mantra.


Then Mamata Banerjee chose to walk out of the meeting. Unfortunately, for her, the meeting did not end. It went on for quite some time and it was decided that such meetings would go on in the days to come. State secretary of the CPI(M) Biman Basu, in Delhi to attend a meeting of the Polit Bureau, said that the Trinamul Congress appeared to lack the intention of establishing peace at Nandigram.