People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 15

April 11, 2010

CHIDAMBARAM BERATES CM

                         

                        Home Minister's Visit:

                        Kolkata-Lalgarh-Kolkata

                        B Prasant

 

WORD is a powerful weapon. Misused, it is self deprecating and contrarian.  Malused, it is self-destructive. When home minister Chidambaram, smiling, informed the media with the words, “I have told [the] chief minister that the buck stops with you,” he was transgressing limits of decency, factually misleading, and adding insult to injury, for, it is known to everybody concerned, with a modicum of knowledge of the Indian Constitution, that law-and-order is a state subject and that the state government is headed by the chief minister.

Rubbing and nonsensically, something in, in public, was never in good taste.  Addressing the media in the afternoon of April 5, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee stated in his usual low-pitched mild tone, ‘mind your language, please.’  Buddhadeb went on to answer a barrage of questions from the media and narrated the facts of the situation concerning what the home minister said, what he did, and what he left with as an impression, as communicated to the media itself.

Buddhadeb started by reminding the home minister that he should mind his own business and look to the law-and-order situation in the country as a whole and consult with chief ministers as he considered necessary, rather than luxuriating in ‘stopping the buck’ kind of mind set, perhaps. Buddhadeb said that he had prevailed upon the home minister to make the opposition in Bengal realise the situation that had evolved.  It was always difficult to maintain law-and-order without cooperation from the opposition, underlined the chief minister quite emphatically.

Buddhadeb noted that during the one-on-one meeting with Chidambaram, he has placed his observations and the union minister had placed his point(s) of view and, as the minister later was to say to the media at Lalgarh, ‘there was considerable difference of opinion cropping up with the chief minister in this.’ 

This was not unexpected, we hold, for the two functionaries represented two opposing streams of political synergy.  Nonetheless, that should never have warranted the home minister indulging in a show of ‘strength’ and telling the media how he had told off the chief minister where the ‘buck stops,’ or not.  What about what have been taking place in e.g., Andhra Pradesh, in Chhattisgarh, and in Jharkhand where hundreds of heavily armed police personnel and paramilitaries are done to death even as we file this report?  Where does the ‘buck stops,’ then, home minister?

Elsewhere, and earlier in the day, central committee member of the CPI(M) Md Salim told the media at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan that Chidambaram should know that a cabinet colleague of his had been the consistent supporter of the ‘Maoists,’ and that she and her outfit had been raising violent slogans and that the goons in the pay and protection of her outfit had been on the rampage against the CPI(M) leaders and workers as well as Party supporters.  Salim recalled that prior to Chidambaram’s visit to Lalgarh, the 'Maoists' and the Trinamulis had jointly organised a procession.  Are there any words on that from the home minister?

 

VISIT TO

LALGARH

The home minister then helicoptered off next day, a long convoy of police and para-military escorts preceding and following him on ground, to Lalgarh in Midnapore west.  The journey was uneventful.  A special helipad had to be built at Lalgarh for the bump-free landing of the home minister, at some considerable cost to the cash-strapped state government; well, one takes such VVIP visits in unfazed stride—and merely tightens one’s belt.

What did the home minister do there, once he arrived at Lalgarh?  Well, he got out of the helicopter, he cuddled a few babies in the best style of US presidential candidates on the campaign trail, had one or two good words of greetings to say to the villagers, even as temperatures soared, and as the dust arose and the swirl of wind added to the great discomfiture of the people who had gathered around more out of curiosity than anything else, had a smile on his face even when he listened to the villagers talking grimly on the torture tactics, arson, mayhem, kangaroos courts, and killing by sharp weapons of CPI(M) leaders as well as workers, and then he told the rural masses ‘not to romanticise the ‘Maoists.’’ Has that been a fact, home minister?

Chidambaram, we have little doubt, had a political agenda to go through and in order to do that he had to go through also motions of concordance, sympathy, and display a penchant for orderliness in the law enforcement agencies, perhaps letting it slip that most of the joint forces operating in eastern India including Bengal belong to the central divisions of the paras.  By coming to Bengal and Lalgarh, he certainly satisfied and reassured the depleting leadership and cadreship ranks of the Pradesh Congress.

We were interested to note that despite having called for a ‘boycott’ of the visitation, by the ‘Maoists,’ the latter made no efforts to cause any discomfort or mental agony to the home minister.  Unlike Buddhadeb’s visit to Salboni last year, no mines were blown, no IED’s were exploded, no protest marches ordered.  Is the message clear politically or what? However the people came out and they would not be deterred by the ‘Maoist’ call for boycott.  They came out not to support the Congress leader but to berate him publicly about the ‘Maoists.’  Let the wounded ‘Kishanji,’ nursing his wounds, physical and psychological, in cowardly hiding, ponder over this -- if he dares do so. 

In the meanwhile, the killing spree goes on, and the latest victim of the ‘Maoists’ has been SFI leader comrade Partha Biswas at Belpahari  who was killed on the same day home minister had gone to Lalgarh.