Ghosts Of Nandigram
By Satya Sagar
01 May, 2007
was panic at the CPM headquarters on Calcutta's Alimuddin Street as
rumours spread like wildfire of a 'special' investigative team having
arrived to do some fact-finding on the gory events of 14 March 2007
The 'dream' team, spotted
by party activists and corroborated by airport immigration staff, is
said to have comprised of the founding fathers of the global communist
movement - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels themselves. As if their presence
was not enough, accompanying them in tow were a certain Vladimir Illych
Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing
two white bearded men with prophetic looks asking for directions to
get to Nandigram and expressing frustration at the fact that all official
road signs in the city showed only turns to the right. Ordinary folk
on the other hand were observed turning left even if this sometimes
meant breaking through brick walls blocking their way.
One person with a Lenin beard
sitting inside the dark-windowed car was seen taking down notes under
the heading 'What is to be done?' while the Chinese gentleman, with
an enigmatic countenance, was overheard saying sceptically "Comrades,
getting to Nandigram is not going to be a tea-party".
This was the grim scenario
the CPM top brass had been worried about for years together- the return
of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Mao to West Bengal. As long as they dangled
like dead corpses from party banners it was fine but now Nandigram had
brought them back to life among the people and this was dangerous.
"Why are you all looking
so worried" said Buddhadeb Bhattacharya looking around at the glum
and sullen faces of top party leaders urgently gathered to discuss this
latest crisis hitting them. "And who are these four fellows anyway?
Foreign investors looking for land to purchase?" he quipped.
"Idiot! In all these
years how many times have I told you to memorise their names and remember
what they look like? And yet every time you open your mouth to say 'Marx'
out comes the word 'Market'" barked a voice across the table.
"The photos, hanging
in party offices all over the country - of Marx, Engels, Lenin - you
have not observed them even once in all your life- have you Buddha?"
the voice continued. "You just see your own reflection in the glass
frame, adjust your kurta, comb your hair and wear that silly grin you
got from the last corporate orgy you attended".
It was Buddha's turn now
to look glum and sullen for nothing he did these days seemed to please
Jyoti Basu anymore. And imagine, to be scolded like this in public when
he was only following in his mentor's footsteps and taking forward his
"Yes, the photos. What
will we do with them now? If these blokes, Marx, Engels, whoever….
write a report critical of our land grab operations in Nandigram, we
will have to throw away all those expensive portraits? They cost a damn
lot of money to make, and will all go waste now" whined Biman Bose.
"Give them to the CPI"
whispered someone (with a sense of humour) in the room.
No one laughed of course and instead an ice-cold Brinda Karat, adjusting
her red bindi, said "We give nothing to the CPI from now on, not
even leftovers. The bloody backstabbers, bad-mouthing us in public!"
The damp Calcutta air inside
the party meeting room froze. Only someone with such cold-blooded clarity
could induce this sudden drop in temperature so effortlessly (a clue
to tackling global warming!). The mood among those gathered also changed
"Ok, enough of lamenting
the fact that these stalwarts of global communism are here to check
out what really happened at Nandigram. The question is how do we get
out of this mess now, for given their reputation they will surely get
to the truth?" said Prakash Karat, grateful to Brinda for giving
him a chance to break into the conversation.
"Easy enough. Just discredit
them thoroughly and make sure no one believes them at all," said
Biman Bose. "After all that is what we have been doing to anyone
criticizing us, even if it is those who have been with our own party
all these years".
"Brilliant! Biman da!
You can start with the simple fact that all four of them - Marx, Engels,
Lenin, Mao - are outsiders in Bengal. Obviously they are here to incite
the peasants, join hands with Mamata and bring down the Left Front government"
said Sitaram Yechuri, excitedly jumping from his seat and almost leaping
onto the table like in the good old SFI days at some JNU canteen.
"Not just that, they
are all foreigners anyway so they must be surely foreign funded too
otherwise how did they get here all the way to Calcutta? Who bought
their plane tickets?" said Biman, warming up to his old passion
for throwing mud and making it stick- anywhere - even on Marx or Engels.
"They may have come
by the sea-route, all subversives these days do that" said Brinda.
"Foreigners causing trouble in Bengal? That sounds like the Salim
group or Dow Chemicals" said someone at the back of the room in
a soft voice. The time for hearing soft voices had however long passed
and the discussion now was at a frenzied pitch.
"I like your logic Biman
da. Now that I remember, from all the reading I have done - all four
of them can be shown to be anti-communist in general and anti-CPM in
particular" said Prakash Karat trying to give a pretty theoretical
cover to the ugly stuff flying around.
"To begin with, Marx
himself said at some point 'I am not a Marxist', which can only mean
he was anti-Marxist and automatically an enemy of ours. Engels' father
owned a textile mill, so he was a bourgeois masquerading as a revolutionary.
On top of this both of them have long beards like the Hindu or Muslim
communalists. Lenin too came from an aristocratic background and Mao
Tse-Tung is of course the biggest Naxalite in all of modern history"
continued Prakash, leaning over to Brinda to see if she was taking notes
to send to N Ram of The Hindu.
"Bravo General Secretary!
You have finally clinched the logic, now it is time for us to prevent
these guys from reaching Nandigram and stopping West Bengal from becoming
a global capitalist power. Call Laxman urgently to get the boys ready
for action," shouted Biman.
"Did anybody say action?
I know what we should do - get our women cadre to show their backsides
to this 'special' fact-finding team!" said an excited Benoy Konar,
who despite his age still had the spring of a street urchin about him.
He was famous for blowing hammer and sickle rings with his beedi smoke-
a cool comrade at 75.
"I run the women's wing,
you get Laxman's goons to do whatever they want" hissed Brinda,
the bindi now a fiery red. She didn't like this old fogy stepping on
"Laxman's men had better
watch out around Chairman Mao comrades! He still wears his spiked boots
from the Long March", piped up someone in the room.
At this point Buddhadeb woke
up with a jolt on his bed. The mobile phone was ringing loudly. He was
sweating all over. Phew! What a nightmare it had been! From Marx to
Mao in Nandigram indeed!
Buddha picked up the phone, "Salim, is that you?"
"What's wrong with you
babu moshai? You have been seeing the ghosts of Nandigram in your sleep
again?' said the voice from Jakarta with a laugh. "I told you many
times, we killed a million communists in Indonesia long ago and you
are still spooked by a few dozen dead in your little province?"
"Yes, I saw them again"
said Buddha, wiping his brow. "Here I am looking for German, Russian
and Chinese investors and all I get are Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao
giving me sleepless nights. Oh! Why on Earth do we still call ourselves
a communist party and pretend to be Marxists?"
"Good question, Buddha. Welcome to the Salim and Suharto neo-liberal
For the first time in an entire month Buddha Smiled.
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