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Maoist movement plays a role in West Bengal Power Game

"For both the left front government in the state and the UPA government at the centre, the West Bengal situation is like a tricky trap. Tricky because Maoists played a vital role in bringing the left parties to power in West Bengal and they are still playing a major role in state politics."

Basudev mahapatra : February 22, 2010

Growing Maoist activism and violence in India has been described as the greatest internal threat to the country. The issue needs quick measures by the government for its resolution. But, lack of political will, increasing corruption at all levels of administration and growing poverty and misery in the outreach India are rather making a way for the armed Maoists to run their movement and organise violence.

In recent cases, twenty five armed forces posted in West Bengal and 11 villagers in Bihar have been killed by the armed Maoists. Many villagers of Bihar’s Phulwari village have also been kidnapped into the forests. A BDO who was abducted by Maoists in Jharkhand is released after the state government almost bowed down before the Maoist faction. Few months back a police officer from Jharkhand and another from Orissa were killed by the Maoists. During 2006-9, the Maoists have killed about 872 armed forces and 1108 civilians.

Even though the government at the centre and the states as well claim that they have strong intelligence network to help the forces track the Maoists and combat the problem, almost every time, Maoists come out successful in their operation primarily because of intelligence lapses from government agencies. Starting from Jehanabad Jail break to massacre in Dantewada of Chhattisgarh, Chitrakonda of Orissa and recent one in Silda of West Bengal, in every case there was either an intelligence lapse or a lapse in quick and proper utilisation of the information. In fact, there has been no mechanism developed by the governments for quick utilisation of intelligence information and rapid action. The Silda incident is a burning example. Had there been a mechanism to act on the information received three hours before hand, the incident could have been avoided.

On the other hand, as most of the previous strikes say, the Maoist groups have proved themselves better than the Indian police in terms of gathering information on every move of the police and paramilitary forces deployed to combat the armed Maoists including the strategic decisions taken to initiate anti-Maoist operations, full-proof planning for major strikes particularly on Police establishment and camps of armed forces.

Even though a thousand policemen are killed and a more number of civilians have fallen victim to Maoist aggression or vengeance, governments – mainly steered by different political parties with varying ideologies – in the states and centre are busy eye-washing through statements, announcements and by blaming the Maoists amidst security personnel.

But, unlike other incidents, the West Bengal incident was different as it was the first such violence by the armed Maoist Cadres in a State where left coalition is in power since about four decades. And, it was the armed left movement that once made the left parties come to power in the State.

The incident of killing of Jawans in West Bengal placed union home minister P Chidambaram in a fix since the left government in the State immediately demanded strong combined action against Maoists. All other states facing the Maoist trouble have also supported the demand placed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. But the political ambitions of TMC and INC are deterrent for home minister to take any strong action against the armed guerrillas. So, as a quick face saving measure, Chidambaram just condemned the act of violence by the Maoists and pointed the gun rather at the sympathisers for supporting the reasons behind the armed left movement. And, in the target of the home minister were organisations that are working for tribal rights and human rights who always fight for the rights of the innocent tribal and common people being harassed by police and the paramilitary forces in the name of Maoists.

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For both the left front government in the state and the UPA government at the centre, the West Bengal situation is like a tricky trap. Tricky because Maoists played a vital role in bringing the left parties to power in West Bengal and they are still playing a major role in state politics. Till Buddhadeb Bhattacharya became the Chief Minister, leaders of the communist parties including CPI-M often cited at the terror of seventies engineered by the then Congress government to wipe out the armed left movement sparked at Naxalbari, just to win in the elections. It’s only in the last election that CPI-M tried to come out of its conservative jersey, talked about development and targeted the armed Maoist outfits as development obstructers while blaming Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Indian National Congress (INC) as intolerant to the development initiatives pursued by the left coalition government. And, the results were not as expected by the left parties.

 “Jyoti Basu could manage to take the support of the peasantry by implementing the land reform policy and distributing land to the farmers and the downtrodden.  But since Buddhadeb Bhattacharya became the CM, West Bengal is being ruled more by a capitalist government under the mask of a communist government as Buddhadeb is working as an agent of different corporate companies. Be it Singur or Nandigram, Buddhadeb must hold himself responsible for whatever happened in both the places’, said Arun Dey – a three terms MLA from Balasore of Orissa.

Taking people’s anguish against the left political parties and the role of Maoists in adding strength to popular opposition as advantageous for a power riding, TMC and INC take a diplomatic stand to avoid any war against the Maoists operating in West Bengal. Rather these two parties see the Maoist supported people’s movements as powerful weapons to defame the left rule. As it’s believed by most of the political observers of the country, whatever growth of TMC and INC has been possible in West Bengal in the last general polls is largely due to the Maoist backed public opposition to the pro-corporate communist government in the state. So, it is obvious that both the parties have their own perspective of the Maoist issue in West Bengal based upon political possibilities.

On the other hand, the left government in West Bengal which has been ruling over the state because of the Maoist movement that started in late sixties of last century is demanding strong action by the centre to eliminate the Maoist danger as it backfires now. However, union home minister Chidambaram could tactically avoid declaring any major steps or operations against the Maoists by holding the sympathisers responsible for the growing strength of Maoists operating across the country.

So, the equation has changed in the state as Maoists are now against the pro-capitalist government headed by Budhadeb Bhattacharya and are sympathising Mamata Banerjee for her support to the people’s causes. So, ultimately, the issues related to an armed movement by Maoist cadres remains secondary and the urge of the political parties to be in power determines all the equations in West Bengal. And, believe it or not, Maoist movement still remains a factor in making parties to power in West Bengal. And in the power game, only the innocent civilians, village level political workers and people in the armed forces are being sacrificed.

 

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