Our good friend, West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, is in trouble, deep trouble. The farmers are up in arms against his murderous party, industrialists like Tatas have walked out on him, the voters have given him thumbs down and the Maos are after his blood.
Will he survive this multi-sided onslaught? Most unlikely. It is this kind of multi-pronged attack that brought the Soviet Union down, and since Bhattacharya is a communist, he knows that what happened in Soviet Russia can also happen in that little Russia which he and his comrades have been trying to put together on the banks of the Hooghly for the last thirty-odd years.
Let us go over the list one by one. First, the farmers. Farmers, here or elsewhere, have never trusted communists ever since Stalin had them slaughtered by the million when he found them to be too combative. The only thing of their own the farmer have is their land, and when you try to take it away is like castrating them. That is what Stalin did in Soviet Russia and he thought he had got away with murder. But within less than half a century-history is measured in centuries in Russia-the farmers whom Stalin used to call kulaks, revolted and brought the communists to their knees.
What happened in a primitive nation like Russia may not happen here in India, but farmers are the same everywhere, and so are the communists. Stalin never wore a dhoti but if he did he would look like our bhadralok comrades in Kolkota. And since the comrades always go by the book, the Bengal comrades will follow their old friends in Russia, para by para and word by word and end up the same way i.e. on the wrong side of history, as they always do.
The Marxists in Bengal are ill at ease with their farmers because none of them is or has ever been a farmer. They simply do not know what farming is and what land means to a farmer. They are considered a nuisance because Marx, who too was city-bred, thought so. Farmers simply do not fit in with Marxist theories and therefore are historically irrelevant. No farmer ever went to Jawaharlal Nehru University. And since, like Stalin, you cannot slaughter them, you put up with them as long as you can, and then try to get rid of them, as our good friend Buddhadeb tried to do in the name of Tatas and their car factory.
Now let us come to Tatas. It calls for some kind of genius of an extraordinary standard to get a company like Tatas to invest in your state, and at the last moment, so manage or mismanage things that they are forced to leave, lock, stock and the last spanner in the works.
Why did Tatas leave? Because they Couldn’t get the amount of land they needed, and why did they not get the land, because the farmers would not part with it. Buddhadeb & Co should have sat down at the very start with the farmers and the Tatas and perhaps form a permanent machinery to sort out the wrinkles in the process.
But the Marxists don’t believe in give and take; for them it is always the hammer an sickle-hammer rather than sickles-that settle things. There was nobody the farmers could take their problems to, and the government wouldn’t talk to them. In the end, the Marxist goons were let loose on the farmers who retaliated as they had done in Stalin’s Russia and sent them packing. They sent Tatas packing too, some thing the government had never imagined the farmers would do, and the curtain came down on the whole bloody–literally–show, Tatas going to Gujarat and the Marxist goons fleeing to Kolkota.
Now the voters and the Lok Sabha poll. The world looks very different from the air-conditioned halls of TV studios, which was the natural habitat of Karat & Co throughout the polls. It was in these studios that the company came up with melodramatic ideas like the third force with Karat himself at the head, ready to take the oath in the splendour of the Asoka hall. Why did the Marxists think they would win? Bengal had already slipped out of their hands and there was chaos in Kerala. They had nothing else to fall back on. Their associated parties like CPI, RSP etc are one-man outfits with big appetites. Their leaders talked of Third Force as if it was just round the corner.
The truth is that the Communists are a spent force, not a third force. CPI and RSP exist only on paper. Even the trade unions are slipping away from them. Increasingly, trade union membership now consists of middle-class people who are ashamed to have Marxists as their leaders. The white-collar workers in many of them, particularly banks and insurance companies, are so well paid they don’t need trade unions to help them. They are now part of the budding middle-class, not the proletariat, and they would not be able to even spell the last word, which you now encounter only in dictionaries and the faded pages of Marxist booklets.
Now, the Maos. Let us be clear, the Maos are the creation of the Marxists themselves. After all, what the Maos now do, the Marxists did at the time of Independence, setting fire to houses and killing poor policemen, under men like Ranadive and Sunderayya, and this is what comes to them naturally, like spying for the Soviet Union and China, and shouting at the top of their voice that China’s Chairman is their Chairman.
The Marxists are a dubious lot. You just don’t know where they might be next, and for whom they will work and how. The people do not trust them. They are now trying to be respectable, but old habits die hard. But I don’t blame the Central Government for suspecting they have close links with the new crop of Maos, who could well be receiving help from their name sakes in Nepal and, of course, the real Maos in China.
After all this, have the Marxists any future? Frankly, I don’t think so. This is not only because of what they have gone through recently or are going through now, but because the Marxists have no role to play in the new India that is taking shape before our eyes. The Marxists may not like that new India, but millions and millions of Indians do, and they feel that the Marxists are living simply in the past, the past of Lenin and Stalin and the KGB, and have become irrelevant, fit only for museums.
The number of Communist MPs in the world, that is, in all the 200-odd countries in the UN-number of individual Communists, not communist parties-may not be more then fifty or hundred at the most, including the MPs from India, and excluding, of course, the so-called MPs in China, where there are no elections, North Korea and Cuba. Communist legislators are an endangered species, like those Pandas in China, and will soon vanish from the Indian scene, and may be from everywhere else.
So, if you have time, go and visit Kolkota, or better still, Shingur and Nandigram, and have a good look at the species, before they are carted away to Alipore zoo, or may be Jawaharlal Nehru University, to be preserved as some kind of exotic fauna on the point of extinction, for you may never see their likes again. And may God have mercy on their soul!