People's Democracy

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


No. 46

November 18, 2007

Unity Of The Rural Poor Returns To Nandigram


THE Trinamul Congress and the Maoists in control of operations at Nandigram had one more set back dealt to their fleeing ego on Monday, November 12. Their desperate efforts to break the unity of the kisans of Nandigram, was wrecked on the rock of solidarity that has developed at Nandigram amongst the rural poor.


The series of row dinners and lunches that the villagers freshly returned from the relief camps treated the villagers who had been forced or cajoled into swearing off their earlier support for the CPI(M), virtually sealed the fate of the politics of division that the forces of the right reaction and of the left sectarianism have been so fond of, and dependent on at Nandigram, as elsewhere in rural Bengal.


The next logical step for the people of Nandigram was to open and run adjacent shops and vending cubby-holes at the different rural bazaars, and to work in agricultural plots abutting each other out in the green meadows and plains, having the afternoon lunch and the well-earned siesta under the deep shades of the same pipal or banyan tree. The unification process has made a great headway but all the Nandigram villagers remain wary yet of swooping visits by outsiders, trouble-makers all.


The bandhs called by the Trinamul Congress, the Pradesh Congress, the SUCI, and the BJP, and supported by the candle-wielding members of the ‘civil society,’ the ‘free thinkers,’ and the self-styled ‘intellectuals,’ façades behind which the Kolkata Naxalites and Maoists operate with impunity, saw no impact at all on Nandigram and the entire stretch of land from Khejuri to Garchakraberia, Sonachura, Ranichak, Satengabari, and Gokulnagar on both sides of the Talapati and Chuni-buri canals. Life remained normal, and the rural folks were a little too busy to rebuild their lives and livelihoods to give such marginal reactionary frivolities even the benefit of a moment’s glance.




L K Advani accompanied by the attenuating flock of the state BJP duly came trooping in at Nandigram sans the expected road blocks, leaving the BJP leader a tiny bit nonplussed, and it showed. The feeling writ large on his face read: if they bother to disallow a Medha Patkar or a Mamata Banerjee from entering Nandigram and inciting the people, why could not they do so in the case of a national BJP leader?’


At Nandigram, following a refreshing round of snacks and tea served from the very bazaar that the Trinamul Congress, and its now-junior, now-senior partner, the BJP, had shut down for eleven months, Advani dropped words of wisdom before the eager-beaver members of the corporate media, and pontificated in between heavy pauses, how the ‘CPI(M) is nuking the kisans of Nandigram’ mixing metaphors in a confused and obfuscated way, and leaving the media more than a tad grumpy at not getting a good enough anti-CPI(M) byte or copy, to write home about.


In the metropolis, a 100-odd admixture of Naxalite students, Maoist workers, SUCI activists, and a smattering of mostly junior film- and theatre-persons suddenly made a lunge in the early afternoon hours of November 12 for the Nandan film complex where the Kolkata film festival had started. Soon they were joined by hardcore toughs of the Trinamul Congress and Pradesh Congress as well.


The policemen and women present intervened but did not quite physically interact in the usual fashion with the demonstrators, who shouted maligning slogans against chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and used extremely intemperate language -- so much for the intellectuals of the ‘civil society.’ The police took 10-odd people into temporary custody, the rest scampered, releasing them subsequently, and allowing them to go in for a sit-in demonstration a small distance away from the crossing near Nandan, which they duly did. Both Buddhadeb and the police chief of Kolkata later described the incident as ‘sad.’




In between, Mamata Banerjee withdrew her bandh call, as did the SUCI, the BJP, and the Pradesh Congress realising that the people would not be with them at all. Medha Patkar sprouted about the Mahabharata battle going on at Nandigram, asked everybody, men, women, children to become Arjunas, and ‘defeat the evil,’ not quite bothering to identify the perpetrators of the devilry.


Elsewhere, the Left writers, artistes, painters, singers of Bengal led by theatre-person Soumitra Chatterjee called upon Buddhadeb in a letter to ensure continuation of the peace that could be established at Nandigram after a long time, and exhorted upon the Bengal chief minister to provide relief to those affected for a lengthy period, enabling them thus to engage themselves in their professions and callings without impediments, and lead their lives in normalcy.