Date: 21 January 2011
While drawing your attention to certain urgent issues which can adversely affect the conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections for the West Bengal Assembly, we would first like to take this opportunity to thank you for appropriately responding to the issues raised by our delegation on August 27, 2010.
To recapitulate, we had brought to your notice that an unusually large number, – 56, 19,057 Form-6 applications, were submitted for being included in the draft Electoral Rolls. Now that the final figures are available, we are broadly satisfied with the results of your intervention. We had maintained that the revision of the rolls should ensure that no genuine voter should be excluded and, at the same time, no fictitious name should be included. The completion of the exercise shows that 37, 57,385 names were added which means roughly 20 lakh Form-6 applications were rejected in the due process. Your intervention to ensure this result has been a point of satisfaction, while our apprehension that large number of names are being sought to be included is also substantiated.
We would now like to underline the major challenge that threatens the holding of peaceful and free and fair elections in the state. As you are aware that in certain districts of the state, the Maoists have unleashed a campaign of violence. The spree of violence is pronounced in the three districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapur. These are districts which have their borders with Orissa and Jharkhand and have large tracts of forest. The topography of the area is conducive to pursue a strategy of unleashing violence and terror which the Maoists are obsessed with. The Commission is obviously aware of the position of the Maoists that they have declared that they will not be part of the Indian Parliamentary system, hence not participate in the elections. The special feature of the Maoist violence in West Bengal is the largely targeted killings of activists, leaders and organizers of the Left parties. These arise out of their nature of politics which derives from a deep-seated antipathy towards the organized Left.
To further inform you the Naxalite movement which arose in the late sixties and early seventies had similarly targeted the organized Left and the CPI(M) alone had lost 550 cadres in the space of one and a half years of worst violence at that stage. However, they had gone into subsequent disarray and had all but disappeared from the state.
However, in their present incarnation they display a more degenerate and anti-people campaign of violence – this is a very major disturbing feature. They are conniving with the major opposition party – the Trinamul Congress. The process of coming together of the Maoists and the Trinamul Congress had taken place during the Nandigram events. But this has now developed further and cemented in achieving their common goal of undermining and defeating the Left even at the cost of the politics of violence and depredation. The current situation of violence has escalated over the last two years since the Trinamul Congress improved its electoral performance in the 2008 panchayat elections in West Bengal. This is graphically demonstrated from the figures of political clashes and consequent killings from the table below.
Inter Party Clashes and Killings in West Bengal
Year No of Incidents No of people killed
2001 434 88
2002 191 63
2003 466 66
2004 262 32
2005 145 15
2006 246 40
2007 189 28
2008 1094 60
2009 1115 106
Upto 31.10.2010 943 95
Based on data from NCRB
It is well known that of the 333 civilians killed in the three Maoist violence-affected districts in 2009 and 2010; around 230 belonged to the Left parties. In no other Maoist violence-affected state can you find such a large number of civilian casualties, nor do they consist of political opponents of the Maoists.
The campaigns of violence by the Maoists are proving to be so worrisome and lethal because of the overt and covert support they receive from the Trinamul Congress. There is a large account of evidence and media reports underlining the reality of Maoist-TMC nexus. We append this as Annexure – I.
We are also giving certain specific information about this in Annexure – II which establishes operational coordination between the two. The latest startling instance is the detention of Karmu Mahato reportedly the Jhargram block president of the TMC by the Orissa police and subsequently arrested by Jhargram police in Cuttack. The arrest of Karmu in Cuttack was in the wake of him accompanying two injured Maoist gang members in a landmine blast for medical treatment. This incident has been widely reported in the press.
We are also appending in Annexure – III excerpts from Kabir Suman’s – a sitting Trinamul MP – autobiographical narrative which establishes the participation of Mamta Banerjee and Saugata Roy, ministers of the present UPA government, with Maoist linkmen Prasun Chattopadhyaya and Raja Sarkhel in the Trinamul Congress headquarters in Kolkata. These two have been subsequently arrested under UAPA and have been in jail custody as ordered by the court. The discussion centres around the possible ways of intervention in Nandigram where implicitly the Maoists would also be involved. In fact, the media had earlier widely reported the confession of Madhusudan Mondal, since arrested, who happened to be the Nandigram zonal committee secretary of the CPI (Maoist) confirming their association with the TMC. There are also media reports about the statement by Kishanji reportedly the Polit Bureau member of CPI (Maoist) operating in West Bengal to the effect that they would like to see Mamta Banerjee as the next Chief Minister of West Bengal. Other Maoist leaders also have issued similar statements and after publication of these, there have been no subsequent denials.
Since June2009, when the Central paramilitary forces have started joint operations with the state police, the situation has gradually improved. This can be seen from the large number of arrests of Maoists including their top leadership in the state. A large number of cases have been initiated and a large cache of arms has been recovered. This has also enabled the state government to improve the implementation of developmental programmes in the affected areas and resumption of political activities by different political parties have also begun to a certain extent. Importantly, in response to the gruesome killings and other acts of depredation by the Maoists, a large number of people in these three districts have come out to collectively protest and isolate the Maoists. This has also been a key factor for the success of the joint operations.
However, the threat of violence still remains as the Maoist terror apparatus is yet to be completely dismantled. On the other hand, the Trinamul Congress emboldened by the association with such a force has also continued with their own version of violence against political opponents in some of the other south Bengal districts. This violence has led to the eviction of substantial number of Left supporters and workers from their homes. They face the threat of not freely and fairly exercising their franchise. The most serious situation is in some pockets of East Midnapur – like Nandigram and Khejuri. If you so wish, we can furnish a detailed list for all such constituencies and booths subsequently.
In the light of all these, we feel constrained to point out that the Prime Minister’s observation, “Maoist violence is the single biggest threat to the internal security of the country” should be unexceptionable to everybody concerned. The heart of our parliamentary democratic system is the process of elections which have come to be invested with a great degree of legitimacy because of its largely peaceful, free and fair conduct under the superintendence and guidance of the Election Commission of India.
We, therefore, urge you that despite the improvement of the situation, significant challenges remain for the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections, given the spree of violence let loose by the Trinamul Congress with the active connivance of the Maoists in the Jangalmahal areas which is the central factor which can undermine the due electoral process.
MP (Leader, Rajya Sabha)
Member, Polit Bureau, CPI(M)
(A. B. Bardhan)
General Secretary, CPI
MP (Leader, Lok Sabha),
CPI(M) Member, Central Secretariat, CPI(M)
General Secretary, AIFB
Member, Central Executive Committee, CPI