Forget Maoists, West Bengal's Left Front has lost its social constituency through years of inaction
The situation in Lalgarh in West Bengal's Midnapore district, still precariously poised, seems to have been overtaken by generous helpings of farce in nearby Kolkata and distant Delhi. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram kept urging West Bengal to ban Red ultras even as he completed the formality of notifying the cpi-Maoists as a proscribed organization countrywide. He might not have bothered had he been up to speed with the situation in the state.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has been talking about a political campaign against the Maoists for a while, especially since the attack on his convoy near Salboni (near Lalgarh) in November last year. Now, in the wake of the ban, he has announced a three-pronged strategy police action, political campaigning and development.
The fact, however, is that for at least a year Maoist sympathizers, not insurgents, have been the soft targets of the government and cpi(m) cadres. Several have been incarcerated on charges ranging from pasting posters to being in the possession of what is presumably 'incendiary' literature. The role of the party cadre and the highly irregular proceedings against people who can at best be described as propagandists was dramatically publicized when the police tried to barge into the accommodations of some students of Jadavpur University with no authorization soon after the Salboni attack. It was only concerted and immediate opposition from the student and teaching community of the university followed by a public outcry that scotched this proceeding.
While all this has been going on, the Left has not been able to string together anything even remotely resembling a convincing rebuttal of the Maoist claim that the genesis of their entry into Bengal goes back to a few years ago when they were 'hired' by the cpi(m) to take on the Trinamul Congress.
|Basic facilities like two decent meals and drinking water is stuff of fantasy in West Bengal's tribal areas|
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