The revenge of Nandigram economictimes.indiatimes.com10 Nov, 2007
What, however, renders the Nandigram conflict ironic is that the CPI(M)’s opposition — whether under the aegis of the Trinamul, the Maoists, or the Jamait Ulema-e-Hind — is largely made up of people who were the LF’s traditional constituency till trouble broke. Such violent politics is, however, hardly unique to Nandigram. It’s of a piece with the anti-democratic quest for power and privilege integral to the architecture and dynamic of grassroots politics in much of Indian society.
That said, the sporadic violence in Nandigram, when seen as part of a constellation of recent conflicts in West Bengal, is symptomatic of a perverse political culture the CPI(M)-led Left Front has fostered and perpetuated ever since it came to power in 1977. The CPI(M) has, as a matter of misplaced ideology, subordinated people and their politics of popular demands to the party and its cadre-based machinery. And that is squarely responsible for the emergence of a coercive political climate that makes engagement and dialogue with all varieties of dissent difficult.
Such an approach, in conjunction with its tactical principle of ‘occupying’ and ‘holding on’ to areas, has ensured the CPI(M) cadre rarely considers retreat, or for that matter negotiation, as a reasonable political option. To that extent, it’s only natural that the party should now be paid back in its own coin. Such a dogmatic, party-centric approach has led to the progressive caderisation of all government institutions, including the state police force. That has robbed the police of all autonomy, and much neutrality and legitimacy to deal with disturbances, like the one in Nandigram, as law and order problems. The CM’s proposal that the state government request the Centre for deployment of paramilitary forces in the area to restore order is, therefore, inevitable.