Three Decades of Uninterrupted CPI(M) Rule...

IN May 2006, the CPI(M) had won one of its most spectacular electoral victories in West Bengal. The CPI(M)-led Left Front government returned to power for the seventh successive term. The main opposition party in the state, the Trinamool Congress, had failed to win even thirty seats while the CPI(M) alone had romped home with an absolute majority and the Left Front as a whole had won four out of every five seats. Significantly enough, the CPI(M) had managed to win in a big way in urban Bengal as well, including the traditional Congress citadel of Kolkata. The CPI(M) was quick to claim that the May 2006 victory signified an overwhelming vindication of the party’s central election slogan: krishi amader bhitti, shilpa amader bhabisyat (agriculture is our foundation, industry is our future).

The ‘future’ peeped out quite prominently at the seventh swearing-in ceremony of the Left Front government when big industrial and real estate tycoons made a special appearance for the show. Soon afterwards a beaming Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addressed a joint press conference with none other than Ratan Tata by his side, telling the whole world that Tata had been gracious enough to gift an automobile plant to Bengal that would churn out cars for the people at a mere Rs. 100,000 apiece. The Birlas and Goenkas had long made Bengal their industrial and commercial home, now the Tatas and Ambanis would also make their presence felt, not to mention the Mitsubishis and Salims from Japan and Indonesia. What greater evidence of ‘industrialisation’ could Bengal ever ask for!

There was a small hitch though. The first corporate requirement for ‘industrialisation’ is the same land that also sustains the much-advertised success story of three decades of Left Front rule: agriculture. But then the countryside is the fabled traditional stronghold of the CPI(M) and who could possibly stop the CPI(M) from ‘convincing’ the peasantry and acquiring farmland as requisitioned by the Tatas and the Salims? There was no bourgeois opposition worth its name. Mamata Banerjee had been reduced to a poor shadow of the powerful rabble-rouser that she had once been and was now widely believed to be the best ‘oppositional insurance’ for the CPI(M)’s continued stay in power. The ‘bourgeois media’ which had been playing an oppositional role till some years ago had also turned into an ardent admirer of Brand Buddha, if not exactly the CPI(M) and the Left Front. Who could then possibly play ‘spoilsport’?

...And then Came Singur Followed by Nandigram!

While all calculations seemed perfect on paper and the conditions tailor-made for the launch of a ‘Bengal Shining’ blitzkrieg, the peasant women of Singur appeared suddenly on the stage and did the unthinkable by chasing away the combined ‘inspection team’ of Tata executives and government officials from their multi-cropped farmlands. It was still May 2006 and the focus in Bengal suddenly began turning away from the televised images of Buddha-Tata bonhomie to the simmering anger in the country-side.

Singur has since gone on to become a household name in Bengal and beyond and in January 2007 it found its partner in Nandigram. The air in Bengal today is thick with the slogan: Singur theke Nandigram, pratirodher notun naam (Singur and Nandigram are the new names of resistance).

With the peasants reasserting their presence beyond the tired and fading rhetoric of Operation Barga and Panchayati Raj and defying the stifling regimentation of the CPI(M)’s well-oiled party machine, one can see a new fluidity and dynamism in the otherwise settled environment of West Bengal. For all the talks of students turning apolitical and the entire middle class becoming a strong votary of privatisation and corporate globalisation, we once again see students from Jadavpur University and Presidency College and from across the state siding with the peasants of Singur and Nandigram even at the risk of incurring the wrath of the CPI(M) and the repressive apparatus of the state. Anandabazar Patrika, the highest circulated Bengali daily has suffered a significant drop in its circulation and new newspapers and television channels have made their presence felt riding on the resistance at Singur and Nandigram. Left-leaning intellectuals from within and outside Bengal have raised their voice questioning the CPI(M)’s Singur-Nandigram model of ‘development’ and ‘industrialisation’. The CPI(M)’s partners in the Left Front have also started distancing themselves from the CPI(M) on the issues of Singur and especially Nandigram.

The CPI(M) had certainly not bargained for such a big shake-up. Jolted out of its arrogance and complacence, the party and the government in West Bengal are trying out every option to overpower the peasant resistance and the broad popular opposition. The strong-arm methods – the police repression unleashed on peasants and activists at Singur, the massacre at Nandigram, abuse of administrative power, assaults on journalists and students, detention of members of fact-finding mission, incarceration of protesters in false and fabricated cases, and abuses and insults hurled at whoever questions the Singur-Nandigram ‘model’ – have predictably only boomeranged. The CPI(M) has therefore been forced to beat a partial retreat. In fact, Nandigram has forced the UPA government too to announce a temporary halt to its SEZ campaign.

The Chief Minister has backtracked from his initial version of ‘conspiracy and rumour’ behind the Nandigram incidents, he now talks about the failure of the party and the administration to allay the fears of the peasants at Nandigram. The bill to relax land-ceiling limits has also been deferred for further consultation among Left Front partners. It should be noted that despite major differences within the Front and even within sections of the CPI(M), not to speak of the known opposition of the radical left and the peasantry at large, the Left Front government had been bent upon pushing through this legislation to revert land reforms so as to facilitate its current land acquisition drive.

Sophistry and Subterfuge: How the CPI(M) Skirts the Real Debate

While the resistance at Singur and Nandigram goes on and revolutionary and democratic voices demanding a complete scrapping of the policy of corporate land grab, in particular the SEZ Act, get louder in different parts of the country, it would be instructive to take a close look at the ‘arguments’ the CPI(M) offers to skirt the real issue and derail the actual debate.

Let us first listen to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the West Bengal State Committee of the party. For the Chief Minister Singur is just a great symbol of industrialisation and the whole issue is one of transition from agriculture to industry and villages to cities. This he says is the direction of history and the law of civilisation and his government is only serving as a tool of history and civilisation. Regarding Singur all that he would say is that this is the place the Tatas had chosen and his government had to acquire the land lest the Tatas went to Uttaranchal and Bengal lost out on this great opportunity. The propaganda materials produced by the State unit of the party echo all these arguments and portray the protests over Singur as a ploy against Bengal’s development being hatched by corporate rivals of Tata and forces ranged against the Left Front and the interests of West Bengal!

Narendra Modi saw the opposition to the genocide in Gujarat as an assault on the state’s pride and unfurled the banner of Gujarat Gaurav to ‘silence’ his critics. A similar streak of propaganda is at work in Buddha’s Bengal – any opposition to the state government’s deal with the Tatas and the treatment meted out to the peasants at Singur is a conspiracy against West Bengal!

Behind the Euphoria of ‘Industrialisation’

Let us take a closer look at all this talk about industrialisation. The proposed Tata Motors plant at Singur will not be the first industry to be set up on the soil of Bengal. Big industries have been operating in the state for decades – in fact the history of industrialisation in West Bengal goes back to the colonial period. The district of Hooghly, where Singur is located, has long been known as part of the industrial region surrounding Kolkata. The district has been home to an old automobile plant of the Birlas, a rubber plant (Dunlop), and a number of textile, paper and jute mills. The Dunlop plant remained closed for most of the last one decade (in spite of economic liberalisation and the West Bengal government adopting its own version of new industrial policy in 1994), the jute mills have also periodically remained closed and employment in the automobile plant of the Birlas has steadily gone down. What is this new story of industrialisation that Buddhadeb wants to tell the people of West Bengal?

Buddhadeb is talking about a false transition from agriculture to industry. The countries that are industrially most developed are usually also the ones that are agriculturally most developed. Industry never replaces agriculture, it is capitalism that develops both in industry as well as agriculture and this process of capitalist development brings not just developments of technique and machine-induced increases in labour productivity but also a whole range of imbalances, uncertainties and crises. This has been the story of capitalist development even in the developed countries, and the story is all the more painful and perverse in our country because of our specific conditions marked by stubborn feudal survivals and imperialist domination. The overwhelming majority of the people of India have been at the receiving end of this process and hence their refusal to buy the euphoria of deliverance through the dazzling spectacles of corporate development. Hence the electoral debacles that have inexorably befallen the Chandrababu Naidus and the scriptwriters of the ‘India Shining’ opera.

All this abstract talk about agriculture and industry, and industrialisation and development, is aimed at diverting public attention away from the core issue of the West Bengal government’s deal with the Tatas. Defying the Right to Information Act, the government of West Bengal has been suppressing information regarding the actual terms and conditions under-lying the government’s understanding with the Tatas. The facts that have already come to light – and not denied by the West Bengal government – indicate a major bonanza for the Tatas. Just consider the following major points: (a) the Government of West Bengal pays compensation worth Rs. 130 crore to acquire the land requisitioned by the Tatas while the latter pay the government only a paltry sum of Rs. 20 crore over a period of five years, (b) the Tatas will not have to pay any stamp duty on the Singur land and will have complete tax holidays for ten years apart from heavily subsidised, if not free, supply of water and power, (c) the Government of West Bengal has promised to compensate the Tatas for the 16% excise duty exemption that apparently the Tatas are foregoing by locating the plant in West Bengal and not Uttaranchal – an effective subsidy of another Rs. 160 crore, (c) a concomitant real estate gift of 650 acres of prime land to the Tata Housing Development Company at Rajarhat New Town and the Bhangar Rajarhat Area Development Authority for construction of an IT park and residential township in partnership with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

Why do the Tatas who have the financial muscle to buy an Anglo-Dutch steelmaking giant by paying more than Rs 50,000 crore have to be wooed and subsidised by a government that professes to take care of the interests of the working people? This is the million-dollar question that Singur has thrown up and that needs an answer. The government of West Bengal has refused to answer any question associated with the whole rationale of its land acquisition drive in Singur (questions like why Singur where the land is so fertile, and why so much land – 997 acres, that is more than 4 sq. km – when the Tata Motors giant Pune plant covers an area of only 188 acres or less than one-fifth of the land acquired at Singur), by simply ‘justifying’ everything in the name of the Tatas. Clearly, it is not the abstract idea of industrialisation but this blatant appeasement of big business by a government that calls itself Left that is at the heart of the whole debate.

Ideological Acrobatics to Justify Land Grab for Corporates

From West Bengal, let us turn to the CPI(M) headquarters in New Delhi. The party’s weekly mouthpiece People’s Democracy has been understandably busy defending the positions of the West Bengal government and the state unit of the party. Week after week, every piece of disinformation and conspiracy theory emanating from Alimuddin Street is being dutifully disseminated by the comrades at AKG Bhavan through the pages of People’s Democracy. In addition, the comrades in Delhi are also trying to give the debate an ideological appearance – and here they of course differ from Advani who now harps on deideologisation of governance!

Writing on Nandigram in People’s Democracy, Prakash Karat seeks to refute the critics who apparently accuse the CPI(M) of double-speak. He then goes on to show that there is no dichotomy in what the CPI(M) says in Delhi and does in Kolkata. Well, you are answering an old ‘accusation’ comrade, which belonged to the NDA period. Who doesn’t know that in the UPA period you are very much bound to the government in Delhi by the threads of a Common Minimum Programme? Who can still fail to see that you are now saying and doing the same things in Delhi and Kolkata, the only difference being your refusal to participate directly in the affairs in Delhi while in Kolkata you are in the driver’s seat?

But could you please spare us this old story of ‘limitations and compulsions of a state government’ and your governments in West Bengal and Kerala being forced into neo-liberal policies by the Centre? When the new policy regime came, the biggest virtue you saw in it was the abolition of the ‘license-quota-permit raj’, which made you considerably free from central control and possible obstruction to pursue your own goals of ‘industrialisation’ and ‘development’ in states where you were in power. You were quick to adapt to the new policies – West Bengal adopted its new industrial policy in 1994, three years after the Central Government had done it. But ten years later it was your government which played the pioneering role in legislating the SEZ policy – you did it in 2003 while Delhi did it only in 2005! So please do not tell us that SEZs are a compulsion ‘imposed’ on you – your West Bengal chief minister is reportedly particularly upset and angry now that the Centre has been forced to put the SEZ policy temporarily on hold?

Renewed Debate on the CPI(M)’s Programme and Practice of Running State Governments

“At the heart of the matter is these critics’ inability to comprehend the role of a State Government under India’s constitutional set-up and the CPI(M)’s understanding of what governments headed by the Party can do”, says Karat. Now who are these critics? Karat is certainly not talking here about either the Naxalites or propagandists from the right. He is actually talking about sympathetic observers and analysts who never had any problem in appreciating the agrarian reforms in West Bengal or the anti-communal role of the CPI(M) and who surely are not criticizing the CPI(M) for not building sovereign socialist republics in West Bengal or Kerala. Now Karat accuses them of not comprehending India’s constitutional set-up and the CPI(M)’s understanding regarding the role of state governments headed by it. One does not really understand how the Constitution of India comes into the picture in a debate over Singur and Nandigram. (If one has to go by what the judiciary has to say regarding the matter, we know the Kolkata High Court has recently termed the continued sealing off of Singur under Section 144 an abuse of power on the part of the administration.)

The real issue indeed is the CPI(M)’s understanding of the role of governments headed by it. According to the CPI(M)’s own party programme, the role of such governments had been defined in terms of carrying out reforms and providing relief to the people. In the early days of the Left Front government the most common slogan used to be “Bamfront Sarkar, Sangramer Hatiyar” (Left Front Government is an instrument of struggle). And we all know that in 1977 the party had come to power promising to restore democracy in West Bengal. Now if the critics find it difficult to comprehend Singur and Nandigram in the CPI(M)’s declared programmatic framework of relief, reforms and democracy, and Karat blames the critics for their inability to comprehend, how are we to solve this riddle? Marxist literature has dealt with this riddle since almost the inception of Marxism – devoid of an agenda and orientation of class struggle, communist parties entrusted with the running of a bourgeois state are bound to slip into the morass of the worst kind of class collaboration and betrayal of working class interests. This is why the Comintern guideline had insisted that local governments led by communists must constitute part of an overall revolutionary opposition to the central authority of the state.

Singur has exposed this phenomenon with a kind of brutal clarity that cannot be camouflaged by any talk of constitutional compulsions or any interpretation of Marxism. Who got ‘relief’ in Singur? The Tatas got whatever they wanted at whatever terms and the rural poor of Singur lost their land and livelihood without even any pretence of ‘compensation’ for the agricultural labourers and unrecorded sharecroppers. And who enjoyed democracy? Tata executives and government officials conducted ‘bhoomi puja’ on farm land acquired by the government and ‘secured’ by Section 144 while peasants got brutally beaten up, young Tapasi Malik was raped and murdered and the rest of West Bengal and India was not even allowed to go to Singur and express solidarity. If anybody still had some illusions left regarding the role of the ‘Left’ government, Singur has shattered them irretrievably.

Interventions by the Kolkata High Court on Singur

‘Consent’ Claim Exposed

ON February 23, 2007, a bench of the Kolkata High Court comprising two-judges and headed by acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya responded to a PIL filed in the matter of Singur land acquisition, by declaring that the CPI(M) Government had used fraudulent ways to acquire land from poor farmers. The bench further ordered the West Bengal Government to show its land acquisition policy being used by it in Singur, saying that method of compensation and land acquisition was not transparent.

The court questioned how it was possible that the state government was acquiring lands at the same place simultaneously under two different sections of the Land Acquisition Act 1894.

The affidavit filed in response to the above order by the WB Government on March 27 calls the bluff of the CPI(M)’s oft-touted claim that 96% of the farmers at Singur had consented to the process of land acquisition for industry. The editorial of People’s Democracy dated 10.12.06, for instance had claimed that the “ground reality” of Singur was that “the total land acquired is 997.11 acres. Of this, over 950 acres has the voluntary consent of the owners who have already collected their compensation...”

According to Section 11 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act invoked in Singur, the sellers will have to accept the price set by the government, but they can move court. The additional 10 per cent was offered to those who agreed not to go in for litigation.

The other option before the government was Section 11 (2), which allows sellers a month to voice their opinion on the acquisition, followed by one-to-one meetings with the collector where they can drive a bargain and arrive at a consensus price.

But in its affidavit in the HC, the Bengal government admitted that land was acquired in Singur under a section of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 that does not entertain disputes.

The affidavit, submitted in response to a series of questions posed by the court, says that owners of just 287.5 acres accepted the 10 per cent bonus offered by the government for agreeing to not move the court./p>

This translates to a less than 30 per cent of the total 997.11 acres acquired for the Tata small car plant and ancillary units.

Compensation cheques have been collected for just 650 acres till date. This compensation does not in any way imply consent, since it is being accepted as a last resort after the fait-accompli of acquisition. And even this figure amounts to around 67 per cent, which is still lower than the 96 per cent claimed by the CPI(M).

Section 144 in Singur: “Abuse of Power”

ON Fenruary 14, the Kolkata High Court struck down the prohibitory Section 144 orders imposed at Singur and observed that it amounted to an abuse of power.

Acting on a writ petition, Justice Dipankar Datta quashed the prohibitory orders issued under Section 144 of CrPC in Singur on February 4.

The court said the orders were predetermined and passed by abusing power. The situation in Singur did not demand the imposition of Section 144 of CrPc and the rights of the petitioners had been infringed on under Article 19 of the Constitution.

The Fiction of Economic Liberalisation with Special Benefits for the Poor

“West Bengal will have the basic features of a liberalized capitalist economy. Those who believe that it can be otherwise are only deluding themselves”, warns Karat as though his readers were dreaming of socialism in CPI(M)-ruled West Bengal. But his warning is only a half-truth that goes without saying. The whole truth is that the basic features are not confined to the economy alone and have begun pervading the polity as well. If Singur and Nandigram have shocked people, it is not because nobody expected the Tatas or the Salim group to enter West Bengal, but because of the obnoxious manner in which the state government and the CPI(M) leadership went out of their way to carry out the corporate agenda and suppress every expression of popular dissent.

Within the basic features of a liberalized capitalist economy, Karat tells us that “the challenge for the Left is to see how, in extraordinarily difficult conditions in which State-sponsored economic activities are severely limited, economic development can take place in a manner that benefits the people, particularly the working people and the poor.” Now Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram could well say the same thing in the context of the Indian economy and they do indeed often say such stuff – this is the rhetoric of safety net and reforms with a human face. Let us also note that Karat does no longer talk about the state being made to deliver relief, his context is one in which “state-sponsored economic activities are severely limited”. In other words, he is talking about economic development led by the Indian private sector and foreign MNCs and lenders and he wants us to believe that this development could be made to serve “particularly the working people and the poor” (emphasis ours)! He could well use Singur as a brilliant example – the CPI(M) is getting the Tatas to manufacture cheap cars for the working people and the poor!

Caricaturing Lenin’s Views on Narodniks

While dishing out such pious platitudes and proven fictions as his patented brand of Marxism, Karat brands the critics of the Singur-Nandigram model of industrialisation anti-industry and modern-day Narodniks. He perhaps believes that he can clinch the issue by cleverly presenting the debate as one between anti- and pro-industrywallahs, between those who seek to retard capitalist development and return to pristine pre-capitalist times and ones who recognise capitalist development as inevitable and forward-looking.

This is a sheer opportunist caricature of Lenin’s views on the question. Let us recall what Lenin actually had to say: “that it is capitalism which ruins the peasant is by no means a corner-stone of Narodism, but of Marxism. The Narodniks saw and continue to see the causes of the separation of the producer from the means of production in the policy of the government, which, according to them, was a failure (“we” went the wrong way, etc.), in the stagnancy of society which rallied insufficiently against the vultures and tricksters, etc., and not in that specific organisation of the Russian social economy which bears the name of capitalism. That is why their “measures” amounted to action to be taken by “society” and the “state.” On the contrary, when it is shown that the existence of the capitalist organisation of social economy is the cause of expropriation this leads inevitably to the theory of the class struggle... The Narodniks say that capitalism ruins agriculture and for that reason is incapable of embracing the country’s entire production and leads this production the wrong way; the Marxists say that capitalism, both in manufacturing industry and in agriculture, oppresses the producer, but by raising production to a higher level creates the conditions and the forces for “socialisation.”...”. (All quotations from Lenin are from The Economic Content of Narodism and the Criticism of it in Mr. Struve’s Book: The Reflection of Marxism in Bourgeois Literature, 1894-95, LCW, Volume-I).

So Lenin criticises the Narodnik position from the point of view of class struggle and socialisation, from the point of view of socialism, and not (as Karat appears to) from the point of view of capitalism and the big bourgeoisie. Lenin then draws the conclusion that “it would be absolutely wrong to reject the whole of the Narodnik programme indiscriminately and in its entirety. One must clearly distinguish its reactionary and progressive sides.” When it comes to comparing the Narodnik views with those “abominably crude” ideas that “presume police interference in the economy of the peasants”, Lenin had absolutely no hesitation in pointing out that “from the Marxist viewpoint there can be no doubt that Narodism is absolutely to be preferred in this respect.” “The Narodniks in this respect understand and represent the interests of the small producers far more correctly, and the Marxists, while rejecting all the reactionary features of their programme, must not only accept the general democratic points, but carry them through more exactly, deeply and further”, said Lenin.

When in the wake of Singur and Nandigram, Left intellectuals question and oppose the indiscriminate land acquisition drive, they are by no means echoing Narodnik views. When it turns out that Singur and Nandigram are not isolated incidents but part of a bigger and deeper pattern that would see many more SEZs come up, land ceiling abandoned and nearly 1,50,00 acres of land converted through governmental intervention to industry and real estate business, the question of food security and the livelihood of the rural poor cannot but come up as an issue of major concern for Marxists engaged in class struggle. It is patently cynical and mischievous to dismiss such concerns as Narodnik romanticism for the past or Luddite fear of the mechanised future.

Karat Rendered More Profound by His Comrades

Taking the cue from Karat, his comrades have of course gone further ahead in selling Singur-Nandigram as creative Marxism. In a two-part article titled “Singur, Nandigram and Industrailisation of West Bengal” Nilotpal Basu, a member of the CPI(M) Central Committee, tells us that “In the present age of globalisation, the major direction of neo-liberal policies is aimed at de-industrialisation in third world economies. In the face of this, industrial development, particularly in manufacturing and processing sectors, is, in itself, a struggle against those policies.” Wooing the Tatas to set up an automobile plant in West Bengal is thus an act of struggle against the neo-liberal policies! What a gem of a formulation! But has not the same globalisation also led to a deepening of the structural crisis in Indian agriculture, bringing agricultural growth to a standstill, if not negative, even as the overall economy grows at more than 8 per cent per annum? Has not agrarian crisis been as stark a manifestation of globalisation in India as deindustrialisation? And how would then Nilotpal respond if one said that by dispossessing 12,000 agriculturists (this is the official figure of people who are entitled to payment of compensation and it excludes unrecorded share-croppers, agricultural labourers and other sections of the rural poor) in Singur, the CPI(M) was only pushing globalisation’s agenda of assault on agriculture?

While Nilotpal sells class collaboration as class struggle, Benoy Konar, another CPI(M) Central Committee member, goes another step ahead and describes socialism as a higher stage of capitalism! In a lecture dedicated to the memory of Comrade Abani Lahiri, a legendary leader of the Tebhaga movement who cherished militant peasant struggles all through his life, Konar defended Singur as a service to socialism! The ‘argument’ goes some-what like this: socialism is a project of the future, the way to this future goes through the capitalist present, the present task is to build capitalism, to build capitalism you need to collaborate with capital and so you need closer ties with the Tatas and the Salims ... Have we not heard all this before? Do we not often hear ‘communist’ trade union leaders preach the same thing to workers: workers will exist only if industry exists, and industry will exist only if the industrialist can earn sufficient profit, so in its own interest of survival and progress, the working class and the trade union movement must make sure that capital is not unduly obstructed in its free operations?

Ever since socialism and democratic revolutions have been placed on the agenda of the communist movement, the movement has witnessed serious ideological-political debates and divisions on this line. One line has argued that the question of working class leadership can only come up at the socialist stage, democratic revolutions preceding transition to socialism can essentially be led by the bourgeoisie, any notion of working class leadership at the stage of democratic revolutions can at the most be a joint venture between the working class and the bourgeoisie. Lenin fought precisely against this ‘Menshevik’ line and stressed the need for correct identification of the section of the bourgeoisie with which the working class could work and march together. And he taught Bolsheviks (revolutionary communists of Russia) to discover that bourgeois section within the peasantry – alliance with the peasantry and a combined worker-peasant fight against big capital thus became the hallmark of Lenin’s legacy.

Mao carried forward this distinction and showed that communists could also work with certain sections of the bourgeoisie if they showed an anti-imperialist streak and thus developed the thesis of national bourgeoisie as opposed to the comprador, pro-imperialist bourgeoisie. But central to both Lenin’s concept of worker-peasant alliance and Mao’s notion of a bigger four-class front, which had room for the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie, was the absolute need for proletarian independence and class leadership. Both Lenin and Mao rejected the theory of stages that separated democratic revolution and socialism into watertight compartments and stressed the continuum between the two, the uninterrupted transition of democratic revolution into socialism, and consequently the need for nurturing the socialist component and vision right since the stage of democratic revolution.

What the Karats and Konars are preaching and practising (you are acquitted of charges of doublespeak, comrades!) today is what Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has proclaimed quite proudly and repeatedly: we are building capitalism. And this is capitalism led by the Tatas and their class under the aegis of the bourgeois-landlord state governed by the UPAs and the NDAs, capitalism which works in tandem with imperialism and will never peacefully mature into socialism. And the CPI(M) is using its entire party machinery and the constitutionally circumscribed state power it enjoys in West Bengal or Kerala to coerce sections of the working people into a ‘disciplined’ surrender to this project of the Indian ruling classes. Beyond the defence of land and livelihood, Singur and Nandigram mark a veritable peasant rebellion against this school of capitulation. Herein lies the continuity with Naxalbari and the great ideological significance and political potential of these struggles within and outside the borders of West Bengal.

[Liberation March 2007]