Thursday, June 25, 2009

FE Editorial : Maoists’ best friends

The Financial Express
Posted: 2009-06-25 04:04:56+05:30 IST
Updated: Jun 25, 2009 at 0404 hrs IST

: The CPM is going through a very communist-like contortion on the issue of proper state response to Maoists. Prakash Karat spoke of political solutions, frowning at a ban. The Bengal government has implemented the ban. Now, some CPM central leaders appear to be saying coordinated state response is a good thing. This is like CPM’s response to market reforms—bad for India, good when it happens in Bengal, to be considered appalling in Kerala but is great when it happens in China.

But let’s take the central CPM’s first response to Maoists at face value—that there’s a political solution. This means one has to look at economic deprivation that supposedly leads to this kind of violence. Let’s paraphrase Mao: guerrillas swim like fish in a sea of popular support. Then let’s note that there’s a swathe of geographically contiguous districts afflicted by Naxalite violence, where governments and governance have almost ceased to exist. Physical and social infrastructure are non-existent, anti-poverty programmes don’t reach and law and order enforcement is privatised. This is spliced with usurping traditional land and forest rights. Now, here’s the question for CPM: how come the Orissa/Jharkhand/Chhattisgarh/Bihar story is exactly similar to the Lalgarh one? Lalgarh is in Bengal’s West Midnapore, one of the state’s most deprived districts. Bengal outside Kolkata or 24 Parganas is a state where per capita incomes are low and poverty levels high. Districts like Midnapore (West and East), Puruliya, Murshidabad and Darjeeling tell this grim story best. Here, AAY and BPL cards for subsidised food haven’t been distributed to beneficiaries. Here, Central government programmes like SSA and PMGSY have made no dent. Here, primary health centres and electricity connections are non-existent. Here, even the much-vaunted NREG is prone to heavy leakage. Bengal’s Left Front government has a Task Force on socio-economic development in tribal areas, but most Left Ministers are unaware of its existence. To top it all, expression of discontent has always been suppressed by CPM. It should surprise no one that there are secessionist movements in Darjeeling or that Muslims and STs voted against Left Front in recent elections. More than 30 years of progressive rule in Bengal has produced big marginalised sections. So if it’s politics that CPM wants to talk about in the context of Maoists, it should look at its Bengal record very carefully.

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