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Posts Tagged ‘Adivasi Movement’

Lalgarh: PCPA Seeks support from LF allies

Posted by Admin on July 21, 2009


lalgarh7474Chattradhar Mahato, leader of Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), is now knocking at the doors of the Left Front — minus the CPM — to garner support for their agitation.

He recently spoke to and got a favourable response from the Forward Bloc and RSP. This, despite the fact that the CPM has branded him as a Maoist and he is on the list of “most wanted” by the security forces who are carrying on operations in Lalgarh.

“Our main enemy is the CPM and police. It is not necessary that other Left Front parties are against us. I called up and had talk with senior leaders of the RSP and Forward Bloc. I sought their support in our agitation and to stop the ongoing police operation in Lalgarh. They gave a favourable reply,” Chattradhar Mahato told The Indian Express over phone.

Mahato spoke to RSP central committee member Manoj Bhattacharjee and state secretary of Forward Bloc Ashok Ghosh over phone. Interestingly, both Forward Bloc and RSP have publicly stated that the Lalgarh problem cannot be
solved through police operation. Both parties were also against
banning the Maoists and have said they should be fought out politically.

“We had a talk with Mahato regarding Lalgarh. We still maintain that police operation is not a solution to the problems there. We will deliberate on this issue within our party and also highlight it in the Left Front meeting,” Bhattacharjee said.

The PCAPA, which was set up two years ago following police atrocities in Lalgarh, initially had the support of Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had even visited Lalgarh. Recently, however, she distanced herself from the movement after police operations started and denounced Mahato as Maoist.

lalgarh564Meanwhile, violence continued in Lalgarh on the second day of three-day bandh called by the PCAPA.

On Monday, over 3,000 villagers protested in front of the Gohumi High School in Dharampur against the retaining police camp inside the school. The villagers alleged that for the last one month, students in the area have been at the receiving end after security forces set up camp in the school.

The police lathicharged the villagers leaving 12 people injured. They were taken to Jhargram and Lalgarh police stations. Mediapersons covering the protest were also injured. Following the incident villagers blocked the Lalgarh-Katapahari road by felling trees.

A landmine also exploded in Bankisol forest, Ramgarh, following which gunfire was exchanged between security forces and Maoists. Owing to the bandh call, Lalgarh and adjoining areas were shutdown.

Aajkaal-1_2nd.pmdState Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen, meanwhile, expressed regret over the lathicharge on school children at Lalgarh but accused vested interests of making the most of the situation there. “Unfortunately there was a lathicharge at Lalgarh on school children and we are really sorry for that. But I believe there are some people who are using such occasions to serve their purpose,” Sen said on Monday.

At present as many as eight schools have been occupied by security forces at Lalgarh and classes have been put on hold.

Sen also said the police forces would vacate the schools very soon so that classes can be resumed. “We are looking for alternative accommodations and at some places we are making arrangements in which the forces can use the schools as just night shelters,” he added.

The Home Secretary said the central forces would remain in Lalgarh even after July. “The operation can go on for more than two-three months,” he said.

Indian Express

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Orissa tribals seek Freedom from Forced Isolation

Posted by Admin on July 17, 2009


In Maoist Fortress of Orissa tribals seek Freedom from Forced IsolationReport by Deba Prasad Dash; Malkangiri: More than twenty one thousand tribal people residing in the cut-off region ,just on the other side of the Chitrakonda Reservoir have sought freedom from the forced isolation.After remaining cut-off from the rest of the world for near about five decades,now the people of 151 revenue villages seems no more to find themselves in an absurd situation.In fact,they are planning for a major revolution against the state machinery under the banner of the newly formed “Cut-off Area Poor Tribals Association”.

The protest made at Chitrakonda by more than 300 tribals from the cut-off region on Wednesday gives a clear indication that a Lalgarh like situation is going to arise there with the tribals supporting the Maoists to get their problems redressed. Read the rest of this entry »

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CPI-M’s Downhill Journey in Bengal

Posted by Admin on July 12, 2009


Saturday 11 July 2009, by Barun Das Gupta on Mainstream Weekly

First the panchayat elections last year, then the Lok Sabha elections this May, and now the municipal polls. The CPI-M’s downhill journey to defeat, disgrace, despair and eventual dislodgement from power continues. One need not be an astrologer or a psephologist to predict that the curtains on the party’s 34 years of uninterrupted rule in West Bengal will be finally rung down in the State Assembly elections in 2011.

The civic election results are significant because they reflect the mood of the urban electorate. And it is among the urban voters that the CPI-M mounted a shrill propaganda campaign against Mamata Banerjee, the leader of the Trinamul Congress-SUC-Congress alliance, portraying her as the embodiment of forces opposing Bengal’s industrialisation and consequent generation of jobs for the educated unemployed middle class youth. She was conspiring to keep Bengal permanently backward—so ran the CPI-M propaganda. Read the rest of this entry »

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300 protesters stopped on way to Lalgarh

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2009


MIDNAPORE: Police had a harrowing time trying to prevent 300 workers of the Majdoor Kranti Parishad (MKP) on Thursday. The MKP workers looked determined to reach out to Lalgarh breaking the police barricade right at the Midnapore railway station. Police finally detained all MKP at Kotwali police station for five hours and later released them on personal bond.

Agitators complained that police heckled some of their senior leaders and rounded up 48 women without women police being present. “Police can’t stop us at Midnapore railway station because the prohibitory orders are not in force in this area,” said general secretary Amitava Bhattacharya. “Our target was to reach Lalgarh and put pressure on the administration to immediately call off the joint operation. Villagers are leaving their home and hearth. Most of them are scared of the security forces. Some have already faced police torture. The government should concentrate on the development of Jangalmahal, including the forest hamlets in Belpahari, where the distress is maximum.”

MKP president Binanda Jha alleged that police heckled women’s wing leader Rakhi Sarkar and arrested all 48 women workers without any women police personnel being present.

Meanwhile, PCPA spokesperson Chhatradhar Mahato saw a CPM and police plan in an unsigned letter he reportedly received, demanding PCPA’s accounts. “I have received an unsigned letter asking me to furnish PCPA’s accounts. I fear that it is a mischievous design of the ruling CPM and police. Police ransacked a PCPA leader’s house at Amkola near the Kangsabati and beat him up. We will launch a movement against such atrocities very soon if police continue with the repression,” he said.

Rajesh Mahato, secretary of the Chhatra Yuva Kurmi Sangram Committee, said: “We will violate Section 144 in Jhargram on Sunday as the SDO did not give permission for a peace rally requesting the administration to stop torture on innocents and putting false charges on poor people.”

Meanwhile, Sudir Mahato, Swapan Mahato, Buddheswar Mahato and Saumyajit Mahato CPM leaders from Chuansol, 25 km from Midnapore, quit the party reportedly after being threatened by Maoists.

TOI

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Lalgarh and the Radicalisation of Resistance: From ‘Ordinary Civilians’ to Political Subjects?

Posted by Admin on July 9, 2009


by Saroj Giri on Monthly Review

One image stands out from the Lalgarh resistance.  Chattradhar Mahato, the most visible leader of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), distributing food to ordinary villagers — not as a high-up leader doing charity but as one among them.  Is this the ‘new’ image of the Maoist?  But maybe Mahato is not a Maoist — he himself denies being one.  But if he is not, given his power and influence in the area, the ‘dictatorial’ Maoists must have eliminated him by now?  Then maybe he is only being used by them, following their ‘diktat’ out of fear.  But a man with the kind of popularity and love from the masses would fear the Maoists?  So, is he a Maoist, or like a Maoist, after all?  But a Maoist who is this popular among the masses and who does not seem to terrorise them?

These questions are tricky, almost baffling to many.  For the resistance in Lalgarh is a unique experiment, not following any formulaic path or given script.  The Lalgarh resistance not only rattled local power relations and state forces but also challenged accepted ideas and practices of resistance movements, their internal constitution, and above all opened up radical possibilities for the initiative of the masses — partly symbolized in the unscripted image and contested political identity of Mahato and indeed of the PCAPA vis-à-vis Maoists.  Crucially, Lalgarh undermines conventional ideas about the relationship between ‘peaceful’ and ‘violent’ forms of struggle and inaugurates possibilities of resistance unfettered by given notions of political subjectivity or by subservience to the ‘rule of law’. Read the rest of this entry »

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PCPA bandh in Jangalmahal

Posted by Admin on July 9, 2009


LALGARH: Life was paralysed in almost all areas of Jangalmahal on Wednesday, thanks to a bandh called by the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Police Atrocities (PCPA). The bandh was also supported by SUCI.

All vehicles went off the roads in Bankura, Purulia and Jhargram subdivision of West Midnapore. Shops and other business establishments remained closed.

Panchayat employees, however, worked at Satpati, Lalgarh and Ramgarh panchayats and at Binpur-I block office in Lalgarh as state officials have instructed them to take up development work on a war footing. Most of the staff were busy preparing new ration cards.

Police, meanwhile, arrested Sardiha anchal Congress president Chittaranjan Mahato and Debagram anchal Trinamool Congress president Kartik Deb Singha from Sikorbhanga in Jhargram. According to police sources, Deb Singha has Maoist links and he is wanted in connection with several cases in Salboni.

Police have started interrogating Deb Singha. Mahato, who allegedly gave shelter to Maoist linkman Kartik Deb Singha, however, was granted bail.

TOI

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Amlashol: Unkept promises of development and lessons for Lalgarh

Posted by Admin on July 8, 2009


Sanhati

July 7, 2009

It was only five years ago that a village in the Jangalmahal of West Bengal hit the headlines – Amlashol. Today, another part of the Jangalmahal called Lalgarh is receiving lavish promises of development in the wake of a massive revolt. “Rapid implementation” of developmental schemes is being promised to the people of Lalgarh.

It is necessary to study Amlashol’s journey – because five years ago there too the government had promised a plethora of developmental schemes, in the same manner.

June 2004. Five Adivasis die of hunger and malnutrition in Amlashol village, under Banshpahari Panchayet, Belpahari Block, West Bengal. This incident rocked Bengal politics at the time. The government drew up a list of “left-behind” villages. Over 8,000 villages were on that list. Tens of millions of rupees were declared to be set aside for these underdeveloped villages.

After five years, Amlashol remains Amlashol. The outskirts may have changed a bit, but inside it’s still the same darkness.

Mountains and jungles on all sides. An undulating village on the border of Puruliya and Jharkhand. To reach Amlashol is perhaps not as difficult as before – there is a 21 km paved road from Belpahari to Kankrajhore, built under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojna. From Kankrajhore to Amlashol is 2.5 km – that road is still earthen. And after that the road simply disappears. One has to go through jungle paths to reach the village.

Kailash Munda was a CPI(Marxist) member of the Banshpahari Panchayat who first brought to light the death of the five Adivasis. He was subsequently expelled from the CPI(M) and is now very far away from a political life. He spends half the year in Andal as a casual labourer in a factory. The other half he spends in Kankrajhore, a labourer on a sliver of land. Kailash says “Politics today means taking care of personal fortunes. It means telling lies, making capital from the suffering of people. You see – five years have passed, and nothing has happened in Amlashol.”

According to government statistics, there are 86 families in Amlashol. Of them, 65 are Adivasis. Of these 65 families, 19 belong to the Sabar community.

The 30 hectares of land in Amlashol are totally monocrop. There is farming three months a year, depending on the rain. For the rest of the year the only work available is picking shaal leaves from the forest or making ropes from babui grass. Most inhabitants do not own any land.

Under the NREGA 100 day rural work scheme, Amlashol received an average of 10 days of work last year. Lakshmikanta Munda, Malati Sabar, and others informed us that 70 people had applied for work under NREGA on May 21 of this year. Nobody got work.

Babulal Sabar, Mohan Sabar, Sanatan Sabar don’t even have job cards. Ajit Sabar, Sunil Sabar and others don’t have ration cards either. The ration dealer Sunil Manki tells us something peculiar – in some families, the father is BPL (Below Poverty Level) and the son is APL (Above Poverty Level). Haripada Munda gets 1.25 kg of rice every week, at the rate of Rs. 2 per kilo – but his son Duryadhan doesn’t even get rice!

Only 8 people have Antyoday Scheme cards. Only 9 elderly people receive an Adivasi pension. 5 self-help groups had been created but don’t exist any more.

Sanatan Munda had died of hunger in 2004. His wife Sakuntala says “There is no work here. My 18-year old son has left for Bangalore, to find work as a labourer”. Samay Sabar had died of hunger in 2004. His wife says “Half the days we don’t have anything to cook. We cannot cut trees in the forest. Picking leaves and making ropes doesn’t fetch anything. The moneylenders buy everything for nominal prices”.

Homes were built by the administration for 17 of the 19 Sabar families. What is their condition? Basanti Sabar retorts “Everybody takes us for fools and cheats us. The houses have collapsed in the rains.”

The grocer Tamal Das doesn’t keep puffed rice. “Who’ll buy it anyway”!

4 ponds were dug for irrigation purposes. They don’t have water. There is no arrangement for receiving irrigation water from these ponds. There are waterfalls in the mountains nearby – they could have been dammed and used. The administration didn’t do that.

Only 3% of houses have sanitation.

Kankrajhore, 2.5 km away, has a health center where there’s supposed to be a doctor three times a week. Only health workers are present. A new house has been built for the health center but there is no chance for it to be functional.

The only primary school has a single teacher. There are 26 students. There is no regular attendance on either side.

The current Panchayat member belonging to Jharkhand Party, Dulari Hembram, is quite candid. “What can a mere Panchayat member do? A change in the situation needs the drive of the government and the administration”. On the other hand, the BDO of Belpahari, Bhaskar Pal, says “The elected members of the Panchayat don’t want to do anything. Even if the administration wants to, it isn’t possible for development to reach Lalgarh. Amlashol is far from the Panchayat office and the path is difficult. The Panchayat has cast it aside”.

Amlashol therefore remains Amlashol, year after year. A Lalgarh is created.

This article originally appeared in The Ananda Bazaar Patrika and has been translated by Kuver Sinha, Sanhati.<!–

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The operation by the joint forces against the Maoists is only to divert attention of the media and people: Chhatradhar Mahato

Posted by Admin on July 8, 2009


Kolkata (WB), July 08: Tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato, who went underground after the anti-Maoist operation began in Lalgarh, today dared the government to arrest him and said the administration was scared to do it.

“I have not fled anywhere. I am at Lalgarh only and if the administration wants to arrest me, let them come and arrest me,” Mahato, the chief of People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) which is widely believed to have links with the Maoists, said over phone.

The police, Mahato said, did not have the guts to arrest him because they knew if he was arrested, the entire Lalgarh would erupt.

He accused the government of not addressing the real problems faced by the people of Lalgarh who, he claimed, had been tortured and looked down upon in the last 30 years.

“The operation by the joint forces against the Maoists is only to divert attention of the media and people from the real issues affecting the people.”

He said the people’s movement was being passed off as Maoist operation and the people of Lalgarh would continue their movement till their demands were met.

When reminded that state officials were coming with development schemes, he argued, “The government is only trying to lure the people out of the movement. Once the movement ends, they will be tortured again.”

Asked if there was any basis for his statement, Mahato said, “The police so far arrested 40 of our leaders, including some top ones like Asmat Hansda, Kartik Deb Singh, Dipak Pati and Prabir Gorai. If they are so sympathetic towards our problems, then why are they arresting our members?”

He alleged, “The police were entering villages and torturing the people. They are arresting them without any reason.”

“Do you think this is a sign of development in the area?” he asked

Meanwhile, a bandh, called by the PCPA in Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore, was observed today. Shops were closed and there was no transport in the entire area.

Government offices also remained closed for the day.

Mahato claimed that success of the bandh proved that the people were with them. “We will continue our movement until the government stops this aggression and comes forward for negotiation,” Mahato said.

Bureau Report

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After Koraput : Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangh targets Rayagada

Posted by Admin on July 7, 2009


Rayagada tribals lock horns with non-tribals over land 5 Jul 2009, 2055 hrs IST, Satyanarayan Pattnaik, TNN

KORAPUT: Taking a cue from the Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon areas of bordering Koraput district, tribals in Rayagada district are now up in arms against non-tribals, who allegedly grabbed their land.

Over 500 tribals from 30 villages gathered in Rayagada town on Sunday to prepare a blueprint for their line of action. The tribals in Rayagada claimed that large tracts of their land on the periphery and low-lying areas of Rayagada town have been grabbed by state government officials and non-tribals.

“About 100 acres of tribal land in Rayagada town have been taken over by the administration and non-tribals by deceit. We want our land back,” said tribal leader Basanta Ulaka.

“On Saturday, we met the collector and gave the administration a month’s time to resolve the dispute. If the administration fails, we will intensify our agitation,” he added.

Rayagada collector Krushna Gopal Mohapatra said, “We are looking into the matter.”

In the past two months, the tribals in Koraput district, under the banner of Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), had forcefully occupied about 500 acres non-tribal land in Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks.
TOI

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Lalgarh Pictures

Posted by Admin on July 4, 2009


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Police, backed by CRPF personnel, chase supporters of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities near Pirakata, en route to Lalgarh, on Thursday.

The West Bengal police, backed by Central paramilitary forces, swung into action against lawlessness in Lalgarh on Thursday. In the photograph supporters of the Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities

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Residents of Lalgarh and its surroundings wait to collect rice at the Block Development Office of Lalgarh on Monday. Due to “Operation Lalgarh,

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Lalgarh Pictures

Posted by Admin on July 4, 2009


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People with bows and arrows run to block state police in Goaltore, from where a road leads to Lalgarh on Friday.

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A procession of the tribals in Bankura’s Mejia. Picture by Gour Sharma

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UP IN ARMS : Tribal women hold bows and arrows and march during a rally in Esplanade area of Kolkata on Friday

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FIRE AND FOREBODING – The CPI(M) itself is responsible for the predicament it is in

Posted by Admin on July 3, 2009


FIRE AND FOREBODING

– The CPI(M) itself is responsible for the predicament it is in

Cutting Corners – Ashok Mitra (Former West Bengal Finance Minister)

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Legal rhetoric is not the real issue though. Spokesmen of the administration led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West Bengal had been importunating for the despatch of Central forces to quell the rebellion in Lalgarh. We have obviously travelled aeons since the days the Left questioned the very right of the Centre to raise police and security forces on the ground that law and order were an exclusively State subject. In response to the state government’s plea, CRPF personnel have entered West Bengal, taken charge in Lalgarh and its neighbourhood, and are currently engaged in combing operations with gusto. The drama, however, has only reached Act One, Scene Three. Having answered the state government’s prayer, New Delhi is now intent on extracting its pound of flesh. The Maoists are a national menace; to combat that menace, other states have banned them in terms of the relevant Central legislation. West Bengal too must fall in and apply the same legislation; the West Bengal government has agreed to do so.

From the first day of Independence, the Left has fought against what it used to describe as the obnoxiousness of preventive detention. The regime in West Bengal, led by the CPI(M), has now gone on reverse gear. It is, in consequence, in the tentacles of a double jeopardy. The perverse logic they subscribe to induces the Maoists to target the Marxists as their biggest enemies. The grisly, indiscriminate killings of Marxist cadre in and around Lalgarh have no other explanation. But are the Marxists sufficiently aware of the other peril lying in wait for them? The Congress leadership mapping the strategy in New Delhi wants to liquidate not just the Maoists but the entire Left, including the CPI(M). To make a particular coalition partner happy is only one part of it. The ‘soft Hindutva’ line of the Bharatiya Janata Party does not worry the Congress; it is confident about containing that challenge — if necessary, by organizing a spell of round-the-clock temple-hopping by the Nehru-Gandhis. There is, in any event, no class divide as far as the BJP is concerned. That is not the case with the Left, which, at the national level, continues to put up irritating roadblocks to thwart the completion of the ‘economic reforms’ agenda, class interest according to demands choking the Left wherever possible.

The Marxists would therefore be living in a fool’s paradise if they think that once Lalgarh is cleared of Maoists, the Centre would shake hands in a gentlemanly way and withdraw its forces from West Bengal. The aforesaid coalition partner, fired up further by the results of the state municipal polls, will turn more raucous with every passing day. It will, rest assured, plot to create a situation in the state where the demand will intensify to bring certain parts of the state under the purview of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Chaos will mount, and the Left Front administration will be fighting simultaneously on several fronts; New Delhi, it is a fair surmise, expects it to collapse reasonably soon.

Is not the CPI(M) itself responsible for most of the predicaments it finds itself in? It was inordinately confident of its ability to persuade the Congress to rein in enthusiasm for both neo-liberal economic policies and the strategic alliance with the United States of America. And in spite of its severe disappointment, elements in the party still seem to think all was not lost, the Congress might yet bail the Left out at the very last moment.

Even more worrying is the gradual withering away of the party’s mass base in what was hitherto its strongest bastion, West Bengal. The Left Front administration’s desperate move to re-establish its control over certain parts of the state through induction of Central forces, with all its implications, is a sad admission of that reality. The CPI(M)’s political line for coping with the Maoist threat is unexceptionable: to isolate the Maoists from the people. In this context, should not the prime task of the party and the state administration have been to use all the energy and resources in their command to improve the conditions of the wretchedly poor adivasis in areas such as Lalgarh? The panchayats should have been made the focal point of welfare and developmental activities, with party leaders and cadre acting as the eye and ear of the masses.

Nothing of the sort, it is now clear, took place. Funds allocated to the panchayat bodies under different heads were either not spent or disappeared in mysterious directions. Party leaders generally played a passive — if not negative — role. Many of them imbibed the habits and attitudes of feudal overlords and allowed a social distance to grow between them and the people. What Gunder Frank had called the development of under-development expanded its empire. This, in sum, is the story that unfolded over the past decade or thereabouts in several districts of the state.

Lalgarh has, for the present, been freed from Maoist clutches through Central help. The prior question, though, is to ask how the Maoists got their opportunity to penetrate into territories where the CPI(M) had once overwhelming mass support. The answer is simple: instead of isolating the Maoists, the CPI(M) succeeded in getting itself isolated from the people.

When Maoist mayhem was at its peak at Lalgarh last month, television cameras had occasion to zoom their sight on a particular event: a frenzied mob setting fire to an apparently newly built, dazzlingly white palatial building, standing in unabashed and isolated splendour in the midst of squalor and destitution all around: parched earth, dishevelled huts, rickety children with not a stitch on, men and women with sunken cheeks and deep hungry looks. Then came the astounding revelation: that mansion was owned by the CPI(M)’s zonal secretary — by profession, trader, and by caste, high Brahmin; the party’s zonal office too was located there.

When the Left Front assumed charge of the state administration in 1977, it made a commitment to itself: notwithstanding the restraints set by the Constitution, it would carve out a Left alternative for social and economic development that would inspire the rest of the nation. Its initial years, marked by land reforms, speedy decentralization of administration and animation of the panchayat institutions, enabled it to make great strides toward that direction. Something obviously snapped in the later years. It could be the lure of economic liberalization in spite of the general party line: class awareness wobbled, and hubris set in. The panchayats, once considered the salvation of the people, can no longer claim to be as clean as a hound’s tooth. The state administration, as a whole, is in a state of atrophy. The CPI(M)’s state leadership, which was expected to act as a moral guide, is transformed into an unfeeling bureaucracy.

Does not one almost hear the whispered foreboding of an excruciating tragedy? Objective conditions in the country call for radical initiatives on the part of the Marxists and their allies. Were they to fail to fulfil that task, the nation’s millions, hapless victims of deprivation and relentless exploitation, would conceivably have no alternative but to migrate toward the direction of those who promise nothing beyond murderous anarchy.

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