Biman Bose, the CPM leader is now 80 years old. He was born on July 1 in 1940. The other day, I was watching his news conference on TV. Before the conference, he looked around and asked with a smile: ‘Is everybody ready? Then, can we start?’ Watching him it seemed as if he is in possession of the unlimited power of mind even after a disaster.
He leads a restrained life at a small room of the party office on Alimuddin Street. He does vegetable farming on roof and in tubs for selflessly distributing those among people. A political personality like Biman Bose is rare nowadays. I came to know from an autobiography of Shyamal Chakraborty, a leader of the CPM, about his first meeting with Bimanda at the inter-college debate competition at Malda College in 1960. After passing the I.A. examination from Gurudas College, Bimanda was elected the general secretary of the Chhatra Union from Moulana Azad College. As representatives of Motijheel College, Shyamal Chakraborty and Subhas Chakraborty took part in the inter-college debate contest of Malda College. Shyamalda wrote that Bimanda had come of a wealthy family. He used to live with his family close to Baliganj police outpost. Being the youngest child of family, he was fond of his mother and elder brother. Bimanda’s elder brother was a major businessman who lived at Moira Street. Against the family's political atmosphere and opposition from guardians, Bimanda joined politics in school life. Shyamalda had a free access to his house. Bimanda’s mother was a loving and caring person. Shyamalda wrote that partiality was always done to Bimanda than the other family members. We too got that love and affection. Every winter, I was invited to join the party when seasonal cakes and sweets were prepared at Bimanda’s house. After being an all-time worker of the party, Bimanda abandoned his own residence and started living at a tiny room adjacent to Krishak Sabha on Benepukur Road although he was a loving family member.After so many years, I could not restrain myself from remembering and sharing this small event to others. A small number of elderly CPM leaders are alive now. Nirupam Sen passed away, while Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is unwell. Jyoti Basu left much earlier, while Anil Biswas faced a premature death and Subhas Chakraborty is no more. In such a situation, the outcome of the Vidhan Sabha poll is not only tragic, but also frustrating to the adherents of Marxism. In the entire world, the relevance of Marxism grows. Fresh discussions and studies on Karl Marx are underway, but in Paschimbanga, its sorry state frustrates all.
After 1947, this is for the first time in history that no left representative exists in the Vidhan Sabha. Not only that, a right-wing party like BJP emerged as a strong party. It is true that the number of the BJP lawmakers increased from three to 77, which is not a trifling matter. In such a situation, what is the status of CPM? What is its future? Former chief minister of Tripura Manik Sarker time and again said, “Are we the third kid of a goat?” “Sometimes, we oppose the BJP and sometimes we oppose the Congress. Why is this vacillation?”
Since 1982, the CPM ruled for 34 years. But, what was the reason behind its fall and rise of the Trinamool Congress and the emergence of the BJP as a strong party? The main problem was with democracy. After the CPM's ascension to power, party politics got entangled in rural Paschimbanga. The party existed everywhere. It got involved in the daily life of Paschimbanga. Today, a question arises whether the influence of party is good or bad for society! Different communities of rural society and different classes got themselves involved in party politics and started doing harm than good. The three-tier system of Panchayati Raj got involved in rural administration. This ingredient of local layer administrative structure is of utmost importance in the field of development worldwide. But, that Panchayat system created a beneficiary class. And, it was visible during the entire process of industrialisation with decaying of agriculture, the base of the party.
In an interview, late Communist leader Abdullah Rasul once said: “The base of our party is lower class people – the peasants and the workers. But, the leadership was shifted towards the urban higher class people. As to why, there developed a gap between the leadership and the base of Marxism.” Rasul’s statement created a furore inside the party. But, after a long time, Saroj Mukherjee expressed this in the party document. Later, Nirupam Sen in his book titled: ‘Bikalper Sandhaney’ showed that the alternative to left front is an improved left front. And, advancement towards industrialisation is a reality. Industrial complex should be established on the land of closed industry. It is the political duty of the working class. It will create employment resulting in economic growth. An all-time dependence on the centre should be lessened. The party should chalk out new programmes in line with evolution. Majority of the party lent support to the new trend. Despite difference of opinions, a consensus was reached between Prakash Karaoke and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the party Congress. But, because of communication gap, the new concept did not reach the local committee. The exercise of Marxism came down sharply during 34 years of the CPM regime. Cadre raj, jungle raj and influence of lumpen proletariat got prominence. And, all of the complaints against the Trinamool were inherited from the CPM rule.
Then, is there no possibility of getting out of this situation? During Paschimbanga elections, a ray of hope flickered. That is a bunch of youngsters became party candidates for the first time in the party history. It is hoped the elderly CPM leaders would strive to move forward depending on the bright youngsters in the coming days. In the entire world, relevance of Marxism is increasing. The crisis of capitalism gets intense. Then, why won't the elderly generation depend on them?
Once, Professor Fukoama of Columbia University declared that history is dead. I still remember that I used to visit the American library to read the 'Crisis of Marxism' during my student life. On arrival at the library at Dharmatala, I asked if the book is available. They replied in the negative citing non-existence of Marxism. Now, the Soviet Union sends troops to Afghanistan. Soviet Union has emerged as a new imperialist power. So, after the fall of Marxism, there is no utility of keeping the magazine?” On that day, I felt very bad due to closure of the magazine.When I observe that the Marxist theoreticians like Richard Wolff try to move forward following the tradition then these young representatives of the CPM will again try to move forward by holding the torch of socialism in Paschimbanga.
It is no doubt a tough task. The reason is that capitalism too tries to survive taking the ingredients of socialism. Bill Gates termed it as Philanthropic Capitalism, while many others termed it as Creative Capitalism. But, America knows how tough is it to save capitalism by applying the Kuramin. So, the new generation at Alimuddin Street will again sing ‘O alor pather jatri, ekhaney themona'. Surely, it is also the expectation of a greater section of the left-leaning civil society members of Paschimbanga.
The writer is a senior journalist of India
Translated by Z A M Khairuzzaman