Much has been said about what happened at Nandigram on 14th March, 07. A number of rallies and dharnas have happened. A few intellectuals have returned the honours bestowed upon them by the State Government. However, in the high pitched, emotional and sometimes cerebral reactions to that ghastly incident, partly captured by news reporters at Nandigram, of which a part was shown, one major point was missed altogether.
That is this. That whereas the violence between the CPI-M cadre backed by the police on 7th January, 2007 might have been sparked off by ill concealed efforts at land acquisition by the State for industrialisation, the recent police and CPI-M firing at innocents at Nandigram on 14th March was not about that issue. The issue was re-establishing the CPI-M domination at Nandigram. Even though the CPI-M claims that the main opposition party Trinamool Congress and the Maoists are at work at Nandigram, these elements have no major presence at Nandigram.
The constituency was that of CPI, a partner of the Left-front that has been ruling the State of West Bengal for 30 years through so called democratic elections. The notification by Haldia Development authority which informed the people of Nandigram that it had been chosen as the site for the proposed chemical hub, sparked off an uprising amongst the people of Nandigram against the CPI-M and they severed ties with the Left-front and organised the Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee. The CPI-M party members felt unsafe at Nandigram and moved to Khejuri. And ever since, have been trying to re-enter and occupy Nandigram under police protection. It may be recalled that this police protection was not afforded to Trinamool supporters evicted from Keshpur.
So as to protect themselves against the CPI-M the people of Nandigram cut-off roads preventing access by the police under whose cover the CPI-M goons would try to enter and capture the constituency by force. The CPI-M has previously done the this, that is recapture constituencies, from where the people have evicted them, under cover of police protection at Keshpur, Chhota Angaria etc. At Keshpur, the CPI-M unleashed such terror that even today people are absconding and dare not return to the village. Needless to say CPI-M won the State Assembly election from Keshpur in 2006.
At Nandigram the same thing was planned. Though the CPI-M leadership says that it cannot tolerate that a village should exist beyond the reach of the government, the fact is that its leadership is unable to digest the existence of a pocket to which their rule does not extend. Besides they had become the laughing stock of the opposition and opposition supporters when their men had been driven out of Nandigram on 7th January, even though they tried to re-enter under cover of police firing. What could they say to their armed goons whom it could not give police protection ? So a devious plot was hatched to recapture Nandigram by force on 14th March, 07.
That this was coming was apparent from the statements of Shri Benoy Konar, State Committee member of CPI-M and the Chief Minister in the rally organised by CPI-M on 11th March, 2007, where the Chief Minister even warned that the people of Nandigram were going too far and their actions would not be tolerated.
Thus the events of 14.1.07 at Nandigram are another blatant effort by the ruling CPI-M to cow down the people through the use of force and impose its rule using the State Police. Today's reports regarding the CBI finding arms and CPI-M leaflets, police helmets, and the arrest of 10 CPI-M cadres from the neighbouring Khejuri confirm what I am saying.
Now, to my mind using the police force, which has been given to the State for governance, to establish the presence of a political party or to cow down the opposition, which the CPI-M has been blatantly doing, is a crime against democracy. Would the CPI-M like it if a BJP Government did the same thing ?
So, in order that no political partly ever ventures to use the police force for political purposes, the CPI-M must be punished. The CPI-M has been trying to foist responsibility for Nandigram onto the shoulders of the present Chief Minister, who is a well intentioned man. Thus it hopes to escape blame. The partners of the Left Front have made appropriate noises and left. Jyoti Basu, the original criminal against democracy, now playing the part of the patriarch, has castigated Buddha. And soon it will be business as usual. This must not be allowed.
I urge all responsible citizens of India who have been moved by the events at Nandigram to do something effective. Something to protect the democratic nature of our Constitution. I urge all such people to call for the punishment of CPI-M as per the law of the land in the Supreme Court, which is the watch-dog of our Constitution. The punishment could be banning the party altogether. Or, the party could be banned from contesting any election in the next ten years. Such punishment is required as a deterrent to any party that might in future try to use the police force for political gain.
The events at Nandigram leave me with a deep sense of anguish and inadequacy. I wonder whether we shall be able to do anything meaningful at all ? I wonder whether the will of the people of Nandigram will emerge stronger than that of the evil machinery of the CPI-M or will it be Keshpur once again. But I have hope. That is all we can have at the moment.