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Un'seth'ling Drama payback time to CPM for SETH? - Snehangshu Adhikari - The Sunday Indian
 
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CPI(M)’S DILEMMA

Un'seth'ling Drama payback time to CPM for SETH?

 

Lakshman Seth was the man seen at the forefront of the CPI(M) goon violence meted out on villagers during Nandigram. Thus, the current expulsion of Seth from the party has raised many questions. TSI’s Snehangshu Adhikari investigates the truth behind the issue
SNEHANGSHU ADHIKARI | Issue Dated: April 20, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Seth Chapter | Mamata Banerjee | Shuvendu Adhikari | Nandigram |
 

The ‘Seth Chapter’ in Bengal politics seems to be not going anywhere very soon. For those not in the know, CPM expelled their dissident leader Lakshman Seth in the last week of March 2014, allegedly for his several anti-party activities. While explaining the cause behind the expulsion, the party’s state secretary who is also the state Left Front Chairman, Biman Basu asserted, “Actually, he was trying to malign our party and that too very much publicly. So, as per the decision of the state secretariat, he has been expelled from the party under the clause 19/13 of the party constitution.” For records again, in February 2014, Seth termed his party as being “incompetent and authoritarian”, and also confirmed that he would not renew his party membership, when it would have lapsed in March 31. Not only that, according to Seth, he had sent a letter almost a month back saying that he was no more interested to be associated with a party which was, as per him, actually being run by only a handful.

The expulsion was not all of a sudden. Neither was it shocking. Rather, much before the final decision, a two-member panel constituted by the party had started probing several corruption and anti-party allegations against Seth; these included allegations of an illegal allocation of a medical and dental college in Haldia to a private business group. But the latest ‘dhamaka’ indeed was what Seth said in a TV interview just the day before of his expulsion. Seth, while on one hand praising the “courage” of Mamata Banerjee, had vehemently charged the party leadership with having an ‘anti-communist’ party culture and particularly accused them of hatching a conspiracy to expel him. The subsequent day's comments by Seth were more explosive. He said, “Since a long time, they [CPM] have been trying to corner me out. My party did not stand by me during my crisis. When I had placed the report of the Nandigram incident to the leadership, they deliberately didn't place it before the state committee as both Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose would have faced criticism." Seth also gave a threat to ex-CM Buddhadeb Bose by saying, “[He shouldn't] dare test my patience. I have every knowhow behind the Nandigram incident and if I want, I can would expose him all out.” Seth also commented that “Buddhababu” should have resigned after the police firing at Nandigram on 14th March, 2007, that led to at least 14 official deaths.

Though political pundits anticipate this as a major blow to CPM, the CPM top leaders don't seem to be too concerned about Lakshman’s claims and allegations, at least on the face of it. Biman Bose commented with caustic sarcasm, “Since a long time, Mamata Banerjee has been trying hard to place someone against Haldia’s TMC MP Shuvendu Adhikari, as Adhikari is more popular than her in the whole East Midnapore district. Now, we have to wait and watch whether Lakshman is the person [that she wants to place] or not! ” Bose added, “It’s really sad to hear of that [public comments of Lakshman]. When an individual thinks that he has become larger than the party, only then does one make such statements. We don’t know with whom he is having a covert pact. We will discuss the matter in the party before deciding on the future course of action.”Similar was the reaction of Biman Mistry, who has been a long time associate of Seth. People would remember that once, in a protest to the misbehaviour meted out to Lakshman, Biman had even resigned from the CITU Majdur Union. But this time, he was quite displeased with Seth’s deportment, and commented, “I don’t know how he [Seth] could dare to comment such as he did. Undoubtedly, this is going to affect our party a lot. He might be a strongman and a great leader; but a rebel can't be a part of us.”

The other rebel inside the party, whom CPM had expelled just a month ago, Razzak Molla also had publicly criticized the party. Veteran CPM leader and the most known Muslim face amongst the party, Molla had recently even announced a completely different political outfit – Samajik Nai Bichar Mancha – finalising his dissociation with CPM.  In the first ever public convention of  the newly formed  pro-Dalit and minority outfit, Mollah belligerently announced, “In Bengal, the role of the Left leaders is completely zero. Not only that, it’s only due to their foul-play that an opportunist party like TMC is ruling the state as of now.”  According to him, there is nothing wrong in communism, but the communists here in Bengal are nothing but lost cases.

Taking this rebel-legacy to a further extent, Seth – who was also seen sharing the stage with Razzak at the convention only a day before his exclusion – also could not stop criticizing CPM and demanded an immediate change to party leadership. As mentioned earlier, he also lauded Mamata Banerjee’s courage. Talking to a regional TV channel, he said, “Honestly, I feel that Mamata Banerjee as of now has become a most mature politician and administrator. Under her regime, West Bengal has recovered a lot from the cadaverous situation it was in... Where the Maoist fraction in Bengal had a strong base in Junglemahal, it’s only due to Banerjee’s intervention that the situation is now absolutely calm and peaceful. The Gorkhaland agitation has also all but vanished in the hills (Darjeeling). All the credit goes to her.” 

This turnaround is more surprising because Mamata Banerjee’s regime had cracked down on him for allegedly plotting violent incidents in Nandigram in 2007. For records, Nandigram in general still seems to not be in the mood to forgive Seth; some even allege that he was the mastermind behind the Nandigram mass-killings. The 180 degree turn from the ex-poster boy of Bengal CPM is indeed a political jerk, particularly just during the Lok Sabha polls.

Talking to TSI, the MP from Tamluk, Shuvendu Adhikari, who has also been the topmost leader of BUPC (Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee, formed in 2007 against the SEZ in Nandigram) commented, “So shameless [Seth’s move to berate CPM]... as if we were waiting for his certificate only! Total hogwash. It is only to protect himself that he is now praising Mamata. But people know what he had done in Nandigram. The culprit’s certificate is of no need to us.” Another leader of BUPC, Sk. Sufian, added, “In 2007, this man didn’t even give a second thought while indulging in mass killings in Nandigram. And now, the selfish giant again is in action by praising Mamata... Appreciation for Mamata doesn’t suit a murderer. Only people can judge how despite having a huge debt, how Mamata Banerjee is developing the state. That is why neither the ruling party nor its supremo care for Seth’s certificate. And if he really believes that CPM is a murderer’s party, then why is he not coming up with all the details of CPM-led politics of vendetta during their 34 years’ tenure? Since 2007 to 2009, Nandigram  had been like a battlefield and perhaps no one knows better than him how CPM designed the whole affair and who all were involved in it... He should come out with all these details.”

Known to be very much vocal against particularly the party politburo member and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Seth earlier had compared Bhattacharjee with Mikhail Gorbachev, under whom the collapse of the Soviet Union happened in 1991. Seth even alleged that the state CPM leadership was ‘much worse than a bourgeois system’. “The leadership has acted undemocratically by dropping me from the state committee, and that too when I was in jail. They didn’t even bother to inform me. I had only come to know from the media,” Seth commented during Molla’s mass convention this February. The former MP had also criticised the leadership for setting up the two-member commission without his knowledge to probe alleged financial irregularities in his NGO.

In a fresh salvo against the past Left-ruled Government, Seth in the first week of April alleged that the past government didn’t even bother to take a single step in terms of reviving the Haldia Port. Seth is still a  CITU-member and a leader of Kolkata Port and Shore Union. Seth also has sent a representation to PM Manmohan Singh, Union Shipping Minister Vasan, Kolkata Port Chairman and also to Mamata Banerjee, alleging that the past government was keener to have a sea-port in Haldia rather than giving a new life to the Haldia port. Given the depth of his allegations, questions are being raised on how could an expelled party leader still be a part of CITU!

But one has to accept that Seth still enjoys a  huge mass-support, particularly in East Midnapore. “So it’s not easy to cut him all out from every Left outfit. Most importantly, there has always been a difference between the main party and its several mass-organisation,” commented a top CITU leader to TSI. Same is situation for Razzak Molla also. This expelled leader still a Krishak-sabha member.

But there are some others who claim that Lakshman’s expulsion is simply a great game being played by the CPM and Seth together. Talking to TSI, a state-committee Left leader commented, “You never know whether i’s a fixed game or not. This time, the nominated CPM candidate over there in Tamluk constituency, is  Zakir Hossain. So the whole game might be a joint venture from both the Party and even Seth, who is actually out on bail.” Such questions are arising because two whole-time party members, Subhas Das and Pijush Pramanik, have been given the responsibility to look after Seth. Reportedly, they have been seen regularly visiting Seth’s Kolkata residence. While conjectures can be many, the fact is that as of right now, the Left front needed this inner party instability the least. Of course, no prizes for guessing which dynamite of a lady is laughing all the way to the bank (vote bank, if you may) while the Left is busy fire-fighting.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017