Finally, after weeks of dillydallying, the interlocutors have probably decided that it is better for them to withdraw from the charade that was being played in the name of talks. In fact, it is always a charade, given the multiplicity of tongues with which the various faces of the government speak on the subject of “talks” (be it with any movement), specially the security experts, both in office and out of office. Some would say that the outcome of the process, which had been flagged off with much media hype (as is the case everywhere), was a foregone conclusion, given the history of such processes elsewhere in the country.
The end result : the loss of a leader of a people’s movement, which had dared the administration with its demands and resistance. If the Left Front government had its base shaken by Singur and Nandigram, the Lalgarh movement provided the long-lasting challenge not only to the then administrators of the government, but also to the “leftism” of the CPI(M) and its allies.
And it remains a challenge to the new Mamata government. Whereas disgruntled voices elsewhere could be placated for a while with the promise of this and that scheme, not much moved in Junglemahal. So, the period of dancing around the “talks” was needed. It provided, perhaps, the time for the Trinamool to organize something like a Salwa-Judum – the Jan Jagaran Manch – which provided the muscle-power that could intimidate the local populace into spying with the promise of some social benefits. Such thuggery finally did yield results, as far as the security establishment is concerned.
The interlocutors did manage to get some response from the rebels – an unilateral ceasefire and possible negotiations, only if certain conditions were met by the government (like freeing political prisoners, stopping joint force operations etc.). However, the same interlocutors couldn’t take their bosses in the govt anywhere near the talking table and no amount of discussions led to any progress – the people remained behind bars, the joint forces continued their brutalities, arrests and killings never stopped, mass organizations were prevented from carrying out programs, activists from outside were prevented from going in, etc etc. The super bosses in Delhi continuously created sufficient noise – the usual ones that attempt to belittle or dehumanize any resistance and to muddle waters in order to ensure that there is no headway. All along, the interlocutors, consciously or unconsciously, just remained puppets in the rulers’ strategic games.
Cynics would say that there was no possibility of getting anything from the government. The only solution, which satisfies the ruling class, is the complete eradication of this resistance (or any resistance) and nothing less. In that ultimate objective, the idea of floating talks is just a ploy to get your foot soldiers in place for the next phase of assault. Till then, the charade of talks can be continued, with the help of the big media, to provide an illusion that the state actually wants “peace” – even that peace, as it turns out, is designed by the World Bank. In fact, if any talks or prelude to talks were to happen, it would actually be a headache for the government in case the rebels came up with demands which the ruling class can never concede, even if they are as simple as the 14 point demands with which Lalgarh erupted.
So, what now ? The joint forces will remain entrenched in Lalgarh, that is for sure. If the civil society is so keen to see peace in that area or anywhere else and if any lesson has to be learned from this botched lobbying exercise, they should come out in the streets, generate public opinion and paralyze cities, towns and villages until the joint forces are sent packing, the prisoners are set free and the people can determine their future. If they want less violence, they should, in the same vein, ensure that all political forces have the freedom to organize and propagate their politics. And, when the state comes down with violence (and it shall), they should fight back hand-in-hand.
Today the ruling class is hungry for the land/resources and the people are bound to resist. So the battle is on. Let us fight it the proper way.
- by Rajib Guha