November 11, 2007 - Who is fighting this turf-war, and why sides need to be taken
By Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati
A few months ago Nandigram erupted over the question of forcible land-acquisition, protesting neo-liberal models of “development”. Today it can be said that the battle over Nandigram is not about the SEZ directly anymore - it is about territory. Economic questions and progressive issues have taken a back-seat, while all that seems to go on is turf-war. It is necessary to examine this, and clearly understand why one must still take sides, and in doing so who it is one supports. The CPI(M) district leadership has clearly stated that they are out to “recapture” lost territory. It is unthinkable for the CPI(M) that the people of a certain area has defied them and set up a pocket of resistance where the writ of the CPI(M) cannot run. (My home is in an area where not even a street light can be fixed if the CPI(M) doesn’t want it - a generic feature in the city, magnified thousandfold in the villages). The people of Nandigram had committed the cardinal mistake of defying the state government and the party machinery. They had to pay. A pocket of resistance could not be allowed to survive.
It is incidental that the Trinamul Congress or other political parties are leading this Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee; as soon as the CPI(M) authority in the area collapsed, there was a vacuum which was occupied naturally by the next available political party. The important fact is that CPI(M) hegemony in the area collapsed due to genuine progressive issues and the violent protests of masses of common people. The same masses of people have vehemently denied the ruling party the luxury of resuming control over their lives - a control that they have no reason to have faith towards. Conciliatory damage-control promises of compensations made at opportune moments cannot change the basic fact that the party-police machinery intends to regain economic control over peoples’ lives and mete out its perverted justice once it does so. People have protested - the leaders of this protest have emerged from existing political vacua - but it is the people who have protested.
The CPI(M) is trying to cover up the entire issue by telling us that it’s their homeless supporters who are returning to their homes in the process, but what they’re not saying is these people constituted the party machinery in the area and were naturally targetted when people realized that the CPI(M) was out to acquire their land for the SEZ. Its important for the CPI(M) that these people return in order to reinstate the party machinery. It is also important to discard the party’s attempts to distance itself from the police by promises of punishment towards offending officers- in reality, the police is the party and the party is the police, with minor reshuffling when the heat gets turned on.