Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What It Means to Campaign for the Left in West Bengal

by

Due east of Kolkata, near the Chandrakona forest is the village of Chandur. In this village, Ajit Bhuiyan is well known for his commitment and affection for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the CPI-M. On March 30, in the evening, a group of fifty members of the ruling Trinamul Congress (TMC) Party attacked Ajit Bhuiyan’s son who works as veterinarian. They then assaulted Ajit Bhuiyan himself. Many CPI-M cadres have been attacked in this region, indeed across West Bengal, with TMC men like these killing one hundred and thirty nine party cadres of the Left Front between May 2011 and January 2014.

The precise reason why these men targeted Ajit Bhuiyan on March 30 is that on the next day, TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was to be at a campaign rally in nearby Keshpur for her party’s candidate for the Lok Sabha (parliament) seat of Ghatal, the film star Dev. At the rally, on March 31, Banerjee arrived four hours late. Her helicopter had malfunctioned. As usual she wanted to milk the 15125371episode for political gain, “Many people didn’t wish me to visit Midnapore today,” she said. “We were supposed to come by helicopter. At the last moment, the helicopter developed a snag. We will have to check whether the snag was technical in nature or political.” Banerjee makes it a point to say that the CPI-M wishes to kill her. There is no evidence of any such conspiracy. Nonetheless, this is her standard line. It is what authoritarian populists do – they like a bit of drama, accusing their opponents of attempted murder and then using that emotional upsurge to cover over the lack of a genuine popular political programme. Her candidate for the seat is a film star. “I am a novice as far as politics is concerned,” Dev said. His party leader didn’t care for any discussion on this. “You should vote for Dev,” she said. “He is doing very well in films.”

“The CPI-M should be ashamed to seek votes here,” she thundered. It is a message that her party workers have heard loud and clear. When they visited Ajit Bhuiyan the previous evening they told him that he was no longer to campaign for the communist candidate, Santosh Rana. If he did not come the next day to Banerjee’s rally carrying a TMC flag,
they said, they would return and kill Bhuiyan’s entire family. This is not an idle threat coming from the TMC. They have been known to carry out such threats. This threat, according to his family, broke Ajit Bhuiyan’s heart. He remained in his house, and that night committed suicide. Ajit Bhuiyan could not see himself betraying his political life. He was given a ghastly choice.

The village of Chandur is distraught and angry, despite threats from the TMC not to speak about the incident. Ajit Bhuiyan’s political suicide is a new feature of Indian politics. It is a direct result of the culture of threats and violence unleashed by the TMC to push back against a resurgent Left movement in rural West Bengal.

The attack on Ajit Bhuiyan comes a few days after high theatre took place outside the house of the communist candidate Santosh Rana. In a rare act of bonhomie, Rana invited the TMC candidate Dev to tea, and the latter came to Midnapore to Rana’s home on March 25. When he was leaving the communist Santosh Rana’s house, Dev said, “My aim is to spread love. I am where I am because of the love of the common people. I want to do something for this constituency and the common people here.” The TMC machinery that is working to elect Dev has other ideas about the “common people.” For them, brutality and violence is the coin for the ballot box. They are not interested in love. Dev is either captive of his fantasies (still on the set for his Tollywood films) or he is maliciously aware that his language of love masks the language of extortion that lead to the suicide of Ajit Bhuiyan.

Vijay Prashad is the author of The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (New Delhi: Leftword, 2013).

 

 

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail