Protest Letter against the West Bengal Government action in Singur


To: Members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

December 6, 2006

Dear Comrades,

We, members of the Forum of Inquilabi Leftists, a broad network of US based South Asian Leftist scholars and activists write this to register our protest at the manner in which the CPI(M) led Left Front Government of West Bengal dealt with the land acquisition process in Singur for the Tata automobile plant.

The protests by the oustees of Singur whether by landowners or by the thousands of landless poor drawing sustenance from the local economies are emblematic of a new political force that is arising in both rural and urban areas of India. The challenge of this force cannot be met with by brutal repression. By resorting to such highhandedness, the Government of West Bengal leaves the CPI(M) with little credibility while protesting similar actions by other state governments in India.

We acknowledge the incontrovertible fact of opportunist politics by centrist and rightist political parties in Singur. But opportunist politics arise in the first place because there are opportunities to exploit. Those opportunities in the case of Singur, we believe, were created by the Government of West Bengal by prioritizing private investments with little promise of equity over large local economies that sustain numerous social groups that are marginal to the formal economy.

That such an approach has been adopted by the only leftist political party in India to hold elected state power is disappointing at the very least. It makes us wonder whether: the leadership of the CPI(M) in its capitalist-parliamentarist pursuit has dangerously internalised the dominant class/caste structures of the Indian society at the expense of unwavering loyalty of the poor peasantry and the working class that handed the control of the state machinery to CPI(M) in West Bengal.

As a group of people committed to the advancement of socialist democracy, we urge you to:

1) Immediately take steps to encourage democratic political activity in Singur, especially the five affected villages by:

a) dropping charges against the protesters and releasing them from custody

b) lifting Section 144 of the CrPC and withdrawing police camps, and

c) desisting from imposing formal and informal barriers to people visiting Singur.

2) Initiate a process to rethink your strategy for economic development in the context of globalization by keeping in mind the dangers of largescale dispossession of people everywhere. Such a rethinking is the imperative for a party like the CPI(M) especially because outside of Bengal – where the party is not in power, the CPI(M) has a responsibility to oppose similar projects.

In short, we are writing this to you to remind you of a historic responsibility that any leftist party has to confront. It cannot be sidestepped through circulating platitudes about the ‘reality of globalization’ as the spokespersons of the CPI(M) have been wont to in the wake of the incidents at Singur.

In solidarity,

Forum of Inquilabi Leftists (FOIL)

[signed on behalf of FOIL by:]

Anantakrishna Maringanti, Anivar Aravind, Anu Mandavalli, Ashish Chaddha, Ashwini Rao, Aurnab Ghose, Biju Mathew, Girish Agarwal, Kaushik Ghosh, Nandita Ghosh, Partho Ray, Pinaki, Pratyush Chandra, Raja Swamy, Ra Ravishankar, Ravindran Sriramachandran, Satish Kolluri, Sayan Bhattacharyya, Shalini Gera, Shourin Roy, Sushovan Dhar, I.K. Shukla, Sukla Sen, C.K. Vishwanath


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