Future imperfect

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A long Red Corridor begins in Nepal and runs through India from north to south. If theoretically, all shades of red collude, it becomes a political force to reckon with

For the Left idealist, the map on this page presents immense possibilities. Is it likely that on a future date, all shades of Left – Marxists, Maoists and Stalinists — could come together and decide on the future of India? Could you also have a scenario where the reds on one side and saffron on the other could dominate the country’s political space?

At the moment, such a broadbased Left unity looks far-fetched, but it is a possibility that has been broached from time to time – to be refuted on as many occasions.

The presence of so many Communist parties in India itself suggests the country’s immense diversity and ability to find space for everyone – from parliamentary Marxists to rural Maoists to independent thinkers and anarchists, you name it.

Like most things Indian, the Left is no monolith here. The animosity between the organised Left, read the CPM, and the Maoists runs so deep that they have not sat on the same table for years and show no inclination of doing so now.

The history of this intra-Left animus goes back to the West Bengal of the early 1970s. Jyoti Basu, a CPM apparatchik from the beginning, took a dim view of Charu Majumdar, one of the founders of the Naxalbari movement, who himself was a CPM man before he left the party.

In this, Basu tacitly supported the then West Bengal chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, who ordered one of the most brutal crackdowns in the state during 1971-72, putting to death most cadres – or suspected CPI (ML) cadres. There is no account of how many Naxalites, including Majumdar, were killed.

Since then, the Maoists who call the Left Front a conglomeration of ‘revisionists’, have never seen eye to eye on any issue. The familiar chant in Naxalite circles in the last days of Jyoti Basu was that he be tried for ‘war crimes against humanity’.

The CPM and CPI on their part refer to the Maoists as ‘adventurists’ not aware of the reality of India’s political system. The crackdown on the Naxalites has continued in Bengal in some or the other form since the great purges of the 1960s and 1970s.

Even during the Singur and Nandigram agitation, both the CPM and its bete noir Mamata Bannerjee accused the Naxalites of stirring up trouble in the state, suggesting thereby that only strong-arm tactics will help against anti-nationals like the radical Left extremists.

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