There is something seriously sad and wrong in a place where the fight over living people and the space they occupy has moved to a fight over the dead and their remains. In the unfinished horror that is the war in Nandigram, another grisly chapter was added when, earlier this week, a team of CRPF, CBI and police officials stumbled upon five mutilated and half-incarcerated bodies buried in a makeshift grave in a village next to the epicentre of Nandigram town. As has become habit in the grievous politics of West Bengal, both warring parties have claimed the dead as their own. The verbal tussle over the bodies between cadres of the ruling CPI(M) and the oppositional Trinamool are not too dissimilar from the other sparrings that can be heard in faraway New Delhi.
Using the 15th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a platform, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat made the usual statements about no one, apart from the Left, being untainted by the December 6, 1992, cataclysm in Ayodhya. We understand that the CPI(M)’s claims of being a party that “does not allow a mix of politics and religion” — in the sense of players in communal politics — are wonderfully valid. If Mr Karat wants a pat on the back for reminding us that, he can have it.
Also, as is the nature of the beast, politics allows the brand-building of a party by running down other parties. So when Mr Karat talks about the former Congress Prime Minister being tacitly responsible for the Babri Masjid debacle, that too is acceptable. The fact that the Left and the Sangh parivar feed off each other by mutual demonisation is part of the game we have been used to for a while now.
But where Mr Karat has (unwittingly) exposed the true nature of his ideology, not to mention his party, is in his total unwillingness (and inability) to consider that the Left Front may not have a halo permanently fixed above its head. In the context of Nandigram, the CPI(M) leader made himself clear when he said that those comparing the atrocities committed by the CPI(M)-led government in West Bengal in 2007 with the devastation committed by the Gujarat government in 2002 were “the enemy of the people and the country as well”.
For those who were brutalised in Nandigram and in Gujarat, it matters extremely little as to which ideology bred and nurtured the violence that they had to suffer. So if the rightful comparison between Nandigram 2007 and Gujarat 2002 hurts Mr Karat’s feelings, someone should tell the comrade that his statement about those criticising the communists for Nandigram being the enemy of Indians and India sounds rather like the philosophy of another authoritarian political ideology that considers individual and social interests subordinate to the interests of the State: fascism.