OPINION: NO TIME TO IGNORE THE WRITING ON THE WALL – and heed the call of the Gorkhas & Adivasis to just & constitutional self determination ?!!

The Calcutta Rally on Wednesday (Telegraph)


If the ruling Left Front government is forced to sit in the Opposition after the 2011 assembly polls, it might get a chance to forge newer and stronger bonds with the people, writes Shyamal Datta

In a marked departure from the past, the 33rd anniversary of the Left Front government in West Bengal, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was observed in a low key. The giant shadow of three successive electoral defeats since 2008 loomed large to make the celebrations, organized at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Calcutta on June 21, lacklustre.

Earlier, newspapers nationwide used to carry a full page write-up on that day, highlighting the achievements of the Left Front government. This practice was rightly described as a unique feat in a multi-party democracy. Such beating of one’s own drum looked rather audacious, especially at a time when there is a chorus of strident criticism all around.

The Darjeeling Rally on Thursday (DT)

At the latest meeting, the chief minister used his oratorial skills to convince his party leaders that all was not lost yet. There was still a year to regain lost ground and retain power in the 2011 assembly elections. He exhorted that the mistakes, which alienated sections of the poor, underprivileged and minorities from the party, should be rectified with all humility, speed and sincerity in order to woo these supporters back into the party’s fold. The CPI(M) state secretary sounded hollow when he naïvely attributed the electoral reverses to the “money and muscle power” of the adversaries. He failed to realize that by saying so, he only showed disrespect to those people who, in their wisdom, had chosen to vote against the Left.

The mind cloistered in dogma was in full view when the chief minister ridiculed the Opposition’s slogan of change. In a boastful manner, he averred that the CPI(M)-led Left Front powered the vehicle of change in the fields of agriculture, land reform, local self-governance, investment, industrialization, and so on. Therefore, the change that was being trumpeted by the Opposition undermined the changes already effected on the ground and extended an invitation to anarchy. He cautioned leaders of the Left Front, asking them to go all out warning the people of the sinister designs of the Opposition to create panic, terror and chaos in West Bengal.

Implicit in the warning was a disguised threat of the revival of the lawless days of yesteryear in the state in the event of the exit of the Left Front government from office. For a mind cast in the Stalinist mould, and for a political formation that has ruled for over 33 years without any break, the prospect of sitting in the Opposition has become unbearable. It has made the battle in 2011 a do-or-die for the party. The CPI(M) refuses to believe that the people who have reposed their faith in its government for seven consecutive terms — a unique feat in the history of parliamentary democracy — have now made up their mind for a change in a year from now.

The long years in power have made the Marxists complacent and overlook the inner contradictions that came up on account of a serious mismatch between the ideology of a highly-regimented, cadre-based party and the tenets of a multi-party democracy. They denied space to the voices of dissent. Everything was viewed through the coloured prism of the party. Consequently, an insolent mindset has set in the party hierarchy, showing utter disdain for the idea of change as a prelude to adapting to the fast-changing socio-political and economic dynamics of the state. The party failed to appreciate that change is a sign of life, a catalyst to progress, that it cannot be monopolized by any individual, group or party.

It is time that the Marxists exorcised the ghost of Stalin from their minds and accepted, without any reservations, that they have incurred a huge ‘trust deficit’ with the people. Over the years, an overwhelming section of the population has come to view the party as over-politicized, highhanded and partisan.The big-brotherly attitude of the party, exacerbated by the misrule of the government, has made the Left Front vulnerable. People resent the politicization of every walk of life. The brazen manner in which party satraps dominate the lives of the common people and dictate the instruments of governance at different levels has shaken people’s faith in the neutrality of the administration. No wonder, the government has come to be known as of the party, for the party and by the party. This has become unbearable for the saner sections of people in the state.

The CPI(M) suffers from a serious problem of perception. A sizeable section of the people, as revealed by the recent elections, has got disenchanted with the party and the government for a host of reasons. These people feel that the party has lost confidence to continue in office. It must, therefore, quit with grace and dignity. The management of adverse perception is not easy. It requires specialized knowledge and expertise to deal with its varied nuances, tangible and intangible. What has made the management of the popular perception of the CPI(M)’s image complex is the fact that people have known the party and seen its functionaries at different levels from close quarters for far too long. It is because of this that the promise of better conduct by the party appears less credible. In sharp contrast, the ‘unknown’, waiting in the wings to wear the mantle of power for the first time, has given rise to hopes of a better tomorrow. This is a dream that is selling better than memories that have turned sour.

The task of bridging the ‘deficit gap’ is time consuming. The year that is left before the elections is woefully inadequate to make any meaningful change to a situation that has gone from bad to worse, bringing down the morale of the party activists to its lowest. The CPI(M)-led Left Front needs to embark on confidence-building measures, focus less on politics and ideology, and more on welfare, growth, development and security with a human face. It has to shift gear from ‘party first’ to ‘people first’ in order to make society more inclusive. The platform that the role of the Opposition provides allows space, time and opportunity to re-engage with the people and forge new bonds of togetherness above party lines.

Any attempt to destabilize the government that the people’s mandate might bring to power after 34 long years in 2011 could prove to be suicidal. Political wisdom lies in sustained action, based on lessons drawn from the mistakes of the past, and in performing the role of the Opposition in a constructive and responsible manner.

[The author is former director of the Intelligence Bureau, and the former governor of Nagaland]

OPINION: Judgment without Prosecution – the telephonic intercept – damaging ABGL’s prospects at impartial justice ?!!


The article based on the transcript of the alleged official interpretation of the telephone conversation, believed supposedly amongst GJMM political activists (statehood demand) before the broad morning daylight killing of ABGL leader Madan Tamang, released in the media is an expression of freedom of speech no doubt. The intent however maybe interpreted according to the mindset of the reader, more subjectively than otherwise objectively.

Whatever the conclusion derived, the media exposition, is recognized as a direct assault on prejudging the GJMM activists as the culprit. Such consideration on the other hand, directly impinges the right to law and justice, intending enforcement of judgment on the basis of the telephonic intercept exposed by the press the material (CD) of which, the source of availability is unmentioned.

In confirming the authenticity of the telephonic intercept, names of Bhupinder Singh, DGP, West Bengal and K.L.Tamta, IG, North Bengal have been conspicuously mentioned by the writer Madhuparna Das of the Indian Express. However their quotes as law officers are seen as predetermining judgment without giving the accused a fair trail in a court of law, as required by the codes of justice. Hence judgment without prosecution in a democratic country is inconceivable.

Having read into the transcript thoroughly, a couple of times over, in order to arrive at an analytical and judicious interpretation to the actual happenings of the incident, whatever the intention, pre and post is herein indicated as follows.

1. Bimal Gurung, President GJMM is least involved, directly or indirectly in the homicide. This is clearly indicated in the intercept. It is transparent he came to realize the situation ipso facto the time and situation of the incident. Under the given circumstances, in no way can he be considered an accessory to the act of perceived crime. There is no evidence at all implicating Bimal Gurung on any lawful charges merely by alluding to his phone conversation which infact is evidential to exonerate him beyond any suspicion of doubt incriminating the homicide to his mind or person. The telephonic conversation rather surprisingly expresses his complete detachment in relation to the act, as a result of seemingly being acquainted with the information of the news of the incident only after the situation had transpired. The case is closed.

2. In the diverse range of telephonic conversations connected with Roshan Giri too, on proper examination of the incident, absolves him from any insinuation relating his person to the aforesaid homicide. In his case too there is no tangible evidence he was neither related to the act of crime nor does his person is involved in anyway, indicating the homicide ever was premeditated, schemed or attempt to manslaughter. Reading into the chronological time frame of the actual scene of the crime, it is more a probability that the entire episode was incidental to a prevailing situation wherein the situation itself was created as a result of, quote ‘Naresh to Giri….they (ABGL) are with swords and khukris. WE are less in number what to do”. This is evident enough to declare a warlike situation wherein the reaction itself, created directly or indirectly the very act of retaliation resulting eventually in the gruesome fatal attack on the person of Madan Tamang. This situation would not have risen at all had the administration were fully equipped with the impending information and planned a proper action in anticipating the eventual crisis. There is no circumstantial evidence relating the incident of the crime either to the person of Roshan Giri too.

In fact in pictorially conceptualizing the entire episodic situation from day before the incident on 20 May 2010–9.12pm and thereafter, the conversation between Roshan Giri and Puran does not indicate any information as to the incident as contemplated premeditative act of crime on the following day 21 May 2010 between 9.17am 9.23am in the homicide occurred.

Infact it is a perception that the GJMM react to a provocative stance posed by the ABGL members, seemingly armed by aggressive weapons which display itself induced a reflective reaction resulting in the disastrous event of the day, when the indomitable Madan Tamang perished as a hero, whether the cause was justified or not. Surely with his stature in public life, at least so proclaimed, his shortened life exclaims him iconic.

In effect the episode no doubt centered on holding the ABGL meeting at any cost and which Madan himself had openly expressed to do so in advance. It was both an act of bravado and misplaced egoism both of which combinedly betrayed his valuable and precious life, more so, to the close members of the bereaved family.

It can be realized, in reading between the lines, the GJMM were infact only planning to organize an event management in order to disrupt and counter balance the proposed meeting of the ABGL, which Madan had declared to hold despite all eventualities, truly a fatal but a second event in the political history of Darjeeling. The first was also a broad daylight event in which the GNLF leader late C.K.Pradhan was shot dead at point blank range in Kalimpong only a decade back. This is not withstanding the horrific display of mutilated heads displayed hanging in the town’s main thoroughfare of four persons in Kalimpong during the earlier Gorkhaland agitation of 1986-88. That the present agitation for a separate state has been absent of violence as such, except the stray incidents of doling out aggressive attitude towards opposition, no doubt has been frequently applied. This is to presume politics anywhere in India is not totally free from active acts of aggression and violence, being the order of the day. This is in no way to justify carnal violence in any circumstances but unfortunately the culture is migrating up into the hills from the plains down under. It is truly a sad day for the hills, the peaceful nature of the hill people are slowly eroding with the seepage of the wrong side of the plains street culture.

While further considering the various aspects of the telephonic transcript, it seems the idea of the GJMM frontal organization too was adamant in disallowing the proposed meeting and anniversary foundation celebration of ABGL. The blatant aggressive display of the latter to practice democracy and within that display, at the same time, to obtain a foothold space to oppose the GJMM in a camouflaged subtle sense, evidently, was the stand taken by the ABGL. This direct opposition to GJMM, it seems was intolerably non acceptable, and which was attempted disbanding in blitzkrieg fashion, popularly applied, as usual to the minority opposition. Ethically unacceptable but a reality in acceptance under the ground situation in the political milieu of the nation. In India many great personalities have fallen prey to mundane causes unrelated in a sense to the persons who fell victims to assassins. To wit leaders who fell victim as preys to the assassins’ bullet were none other than the likes of the late three Gandhi’s, Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Under the given stances of the present agitation for statehood any act of opposition to GJMM who happened to be spearheading the movement was without any question of a doubt was conceived by the agitationists as confronting the statehood demand, which was considered the sole prerogative of the spearhead, the GJMM. Accordingly all political parties, of all hues and colour, were, rightly or wrongly considered as opponent of the statehood movement, seen as diluting the cause and therefore in a way, supporting the stance of the state in opposition to the statehood demand. This perception in reality is factually not incorrect given the understanding, any instance, even political parties countering the GJMM predilection in adventing the statehood cause, in a certain sense, was accepted as roadblock to be cleared by the bulldozers, in order to move ahead within the folds of the Constitution in demanding the perceived state, more correct constitutionally than under the garb of political considerations.

After all it is to be clearly understood new state formation is a constitutional provision and not a democratic right.

When all these aspects are considered in a wider space of understanding the transcript of the telephonic exchanges are to be seen in the light of the Constitution of India and not blinded by right to democratic nuances. After all the fervour released by the aspirations of statehood, a challenge the Darjeeling hill peoples have been facing at least for more than half a century , is blinding enough for even the eyes whoa re able to see the daylights out of the night that has befallen the Darjeeling hill people under the glare of the State. It is still unfortunate the Darjeeling hill people know that their rights have been unjustifiably deprived by those who can see and have been leading the blind. This very act of the ghastly encounter tolling the life of Madan Tamang is an example to the point. Would Madan Tamang be alive if the state had dealt the cards fairly? Many innocent lives have already been dispensed in the cause of aspiring a state for Darjeeling hill people. The GNLF agitation demanding a state alone cost a recorded number of 1200 lives whereas in the sidelines it is believed more than 4000 lives were dispensed with in the process. How many more innocent lives are to be sacrificed for keeping Darjeeling District within Bengal when already there is a clear cut statutory constitutional mandate for Darjeeling District to become a state within the provisions of the Fifth Schedule?

If at all this perception Is conceived as a misdirected misinformation it is only appropriate the readers may ask all pertinent questions in relation to the Fifth Schedule aspects of Darjeeling District in its state formation beginning with accepting a Union Territory initially as an interim setup as per the provisions of the Constitution.


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