Biman Basu, secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI (M) spoke to People’s Democracy on the recent developments at Singur and Nandigram. At both places, disruptionist elements of the reactionary right and the sectarian left are determined to stop the process of development through murder, mayhem and worse.
PD: Bimanda, CPI (M) workers are being killed at Nandigram, mayhem is being carried out there, and in the meanwhile, the Singur motor vehicles factory has come under fire from a section of the Bengal opposition who demand that 400 acres of acquired land should be returned to ‘rightful owners?’ How would you react to all this?
Biman Basu: As I was telling you just now, the need of the hour is not strife, not attack and counter-attack, slandering and mayhem, harassment of the people and disruption of development. Without peace and amity, no development work, especially pro-people development work can take place.
Allow me to give you a few other instances of larger dimensions but of similar nature. When the Sino-Indian border dispute took place in 1962 over the identification of the border, the eponymous ‘McMahon Line,’ what was it that the Communist Party did? It spoke strongly in favour of negotiations between China and India, between the Chinese government and the Congress-led Indian government. Although for saying this, the Communist Party leaders were promptly put behind bars.
We shall give the example also of the fratricidal, almost religious war in Lebanon where Beirut was rendered into a bombed, ruined city. There, too, negotiations took place and the issue was sought to be, and finally was, then settled amicably. Similarly, one could tackle the bleeding Kashmir and its unique problem – through peaceful negotiations, as we say, ‘across the table.’ What prevents a dialogue taking place on the Singur and the Nandigram issues?
On the question of return of the land, Nirupam, our Industries minister has already said how difficult it is to gather together scattered parcels of land and then find the owners, and then organise a fresh compensation – the task is an improbable one, without rhyme or reason the demand is being made for motivated reasons.
An industry is being set up at Singur. A motor vehicles factory is coming up, 85 per cent and more work has been completed. The factory will generate a lot of employment. The solution to the violence impasse started anew is a dialogue, dialogue with the state government with a free and open mind.
The opposition especially the Trinamul Congress has won many seats at Singur at the gram panchayat and panchayat samity level. It devolves on them to ensure that the wheel of development does not slowly stop. The onus is on them, the opportunity is for them to serve the people in a constructive manner. And this is not done by making demands that are unreal and impractical.
PD: What would you say about the Nandigram killings, Bimanda? CPI (M) leaders, workers, and supporters are murdered in a series of attacks of late.
BB: Well, I would still hold that peace and development go hand-in-hand. I denounce the killings strongly – there are no words strong enough to express my condemnation. I despise politics of individual assassination and yet, I appeal to the party and the persons concerned at Nandigram who are responsible for these inhuman acts, to desist from the initiative that encourages the poor to kill the poor.
Anti-social elements are brought in, under the protection and patronage of the Trinamul Congress and the Maoists and our men killed, injured, wounded, harassed, driven away, and Party offices as well residences (hutments and little else) are burnt to cinder. This must be stopped.
Trinamul Congress controls the zillah parishad. The people have voted them in there. Are they not responsible for carrying forward the amicability of the earlier months during the end of the last year and the beginning of the New Year in the run up to the rural polls?
PEACE IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR
We need peace, we need amicable environment, we need responsible behaviour from the opposition, and we want dialogue to be scheduled or multi-partite, at Nandigram and at Singur. Peace should prevail over everything.
I hear that the Trinamul Congress leadership has called for a dialogue with the entrepreneurs building the motor vehicles project at Singur. Would it not have been better had they spoken to the state Left Front government first? Our Industries minister has already called for such a dialogue.
In the meanwhile, the killing goes on at Nandigram, and elsewhere, too. In a barbaric assault in the afternoon of August 6, a combination of marauders belonging to the Trinamul Congress and the Maoists ambushed and killed comrade Niranjan Mondal, secretary of the local committee of the Rajaramchawk unit of the CPI(M). Comrade Niranjan was also a primary teacher in a school near to his place of residence.
A few hours earlier to the dastardly murder, Joydeb Paik, local committee secretary of the Sonachura unit of the CPI(M) was shot and left severely injured in his own residence. He is battling for life at a local hospital. Bengal chief minister has convened on August 8, an all-party meeting on the Nandigram violence towards establishment of peace there. There are lingering doubts as to the participation of the main opposition party in Bengal, the Trinamul Congress at that meeting for they have boycotted all such meetings in the past, recent and otherwise.
When a procession of the CPI(M) was proceeding along a narrow village path at a place near Adhikaripara, Trinamul Congress assassins attacked with guns and sharp weapons. In the assault that followed, a CPI(M) supporter, comrade Dulal Garudas was shot and killed. The houses of two CPI (M) workers, Badal Mondal and Anup Mondal were set on fire and burnt to the ground. The 24-hour bandh that Nandigram witnessed at the call of the CPI(M) was a complete success, proving the alienation of the Trinamul Congress, the SUCI, and the Maoists from the toiling masses.
At Midnapore west, at Lalgarh, the scene of many crimes committed against the CPI(M) by Maoists and their lackeys, a daily wage earner belonging to the poorest of the poor and a brave CPI(M) worker, comrade Fakir Karanga was shot repeatedly on head and chest in the Dharampur area on August 7. He was left dead in a bleeding heap – ‘revolution accomplished’ - the ‘stalwart’ killers then took off their chappals and ran away as fast as they could, shooting back occasionally at the villagers who had by then come rushing out and were on a hot chase.
The Maoists disappeared beyond the border and into a forest patch of a neighbouring state. They had been guided all the way by local units of the Jharkhandi party.