At a time when the CPI(M), especially the party’s student wing SFI, has come under fire for the assault on state finance minister Amit Mitra in Delhi, a section of the party leadership is in favour of considering the need to educate the student leadership about the basics of crowd control.
The obvious motivation for this plan is SFI’s all-India general secretary Ritobrata Banerjee who was leading the agitation. He is now being faced with questions from within the party, especially in view of the fact that those spotted in video footage of the assault on Mitra had no connection with the student movement.
The three major questions being asked are why Banerjee allowed outsiders to be part of the agitation, why the agitators weren’t briefed properly about the outer limit of the stir and why Banerjee’s first reaction after the assault on Mitra was so unrepentant.
One CPI(M) central committee leader said that the Delhi massacre brought an end to SFI’s plans to show demonstrations wherever chief minister Mamata Banerjee would visit.
This section is also of the opinion that since SFI in Bengal has been part of the ruling front for 34 years, the present student leadership are totally unaware of the tactics of crowd of cadre control in any agitation or movement.
“What became evident from the video footage, was that when the agitating crowd was going out of control in front of the Planning Commission office, there was no initiative from the agitating leadership to control them tactfully. A tempo was raised without any prior precaution or escape channel, without any plan on how to take control of the situation in case it goes out of control,” said a senior SFI leader from Kerala, who feels that the Delhi event has put CPI(M) and SFI on the back foot.
Party leadership from Bengal and other state are of the opinion that Tuesday’s assault and the ensuing embarrassment for the SFI could easily have been avoided had the agitating leadership conducted the agitation in a more organised manner, segregating the agitating crowd.
“Organising a student agitation is 100% more difficult than any other. Students, by the sheer power of emotion, often tend to breach the line of control. Our present SFI leadership seems to be lacking that crowd control training,” said a former SFI leader from Delhi University, now a multinational bank employee.
A CPI(M) state committee leader in Bengal admitted that the unfortunate incident in Delhi was a result of inexperience. “The thumb rule is segregating the agitating crowd, with each layer supervised by a couple of leaders so that the situation doesn’t go out of control,” he said.