The razing of a fibreglass statue of Lenin yesterday in Tripura has left the side defeated in the recent Assembly election outraged, even as the supporters of the victorious side are elated by India’s European moment. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has officially distanced itself from the act of ‘vandalism’ and, like the Communist Party of India (Marxist), blamed the opponent equally for the sporadic instances of violence witnessed in the State. What is disconcerting for an ideological animal is the fact that the regime of control freaks, which communism fundamentally is, refuses to die anywhere in the world despite the persistent fall of communist governments in different regions, beginning with the fall of the Mikhail Gorbachov government in Soviet Union almost three decades ago.

Forget about the remnant Russia, more than a score of Commonwealth of Independent States that broke free of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a sorry Cuba and a sorrier Venezuela or lost Vietnam; communism thrives in the university campuses of capitalist El Dorado, the United States of America! Add Hollywood to that where the majority leans towards the Democrats, and the local press that President Donald Trump keeps complaining about.

In India, almost four years of a supposed Hindu nationalist party has passed, and none of the communist ideas the Sonia Gandhi-dictated Manmohan Singh government had brought in — reversing PV Narasimha Rao’s legacy of liberalisation — stands annulled. As reported by Sirf News in the recent past, the Manik Sarkar government was using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as an arm-twisting tool to accumulate votes for his party. Earlier, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government of the period 2006-11 had been accused of the same. It is supremely ironical that while economist Surjit S Bhalla spent years exposing the leaks of MGNREGA through his column in The Indian Express, he has now found accommodation in the Narendra Modi government that lacks the spine to scrap the law.

The Right to Education continues to keep private education expensive in the country because the law emphasises the state of the school’s acreage, buildings, toilets and playgrounds so much that only the filthy rich can sponsor a private school, and then they must recover the huge investment. The filthy rich include the Government of India (whichever party might occupy it) that takes our money and spends it on any account arbitrarily without the accountability of after-sales service.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Swadeshi Jagaran Manch looks equally communist while sharing the stage with leftists to protest foreign direct investment in retail business and introduction of genetically modified crops in our fields. The RSS’s Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh does not allow the government to cut the flab of extra employees in public sector units, thus ensuring that 100% taxpayers keep feeding 2.15 crore, mostly unproductive, people.

The extent to which the Modi government is in awe of communism can be gauged by several facts. He conceded, for example, in his speech at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit some years ago that he was unable to privatise whatever part of the public sector is sick because he is scared of a trade union backlash. So wary is his government of communist obstructionism that it has replaced privatisation with what it calls “strategic disinvestment”, which translates to nothing other than selling a sick public sector unit to some PSU that is better-off.

The Indian state continues to exploit with impunity poor citizens’ taxes to fly a vehicle of the rich, Air India. Because, otherwise, communists will be angry. The money of the poor continues to fund sick but rich hotels of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation. Modi cannot garner enough strength to sell off an Ashoka Hotel situated in the heart of a capitalist Delhi whereas the first UPA government, notwithstanding the critical support of 60 communist Members of Parliament, could sell off the Great Eastern Hotel located in communist Calcutta in 2005.

In this scenario of utter fear of communist reaction, it is necessary to bust the communist icons. The awareness drive might encourage a future government to discard the flawed, cruel ideology that enslaves the people. Let’s begin with the incident of 5 March.

A well-known researcher, not known to suffer fools from either the left or the right wing, Anand Ranganathan has taken exception to the act of felling the Lenin statue on Twitter. Given his record of neutrality, his objection is disturbing. He must be asked whether it would have been alright for a “democratically elected government” in India to erect a statue of Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini in the middle of a city of a State it ruled. If not, were the communist gods lesser villains of humanity?

While discussing the salacious details of the personal life of a public figure is not considered journalism in good taste, would it be awkward if one reminded the people how Karl Marx impregnated his maid, a poor Helene Demuth, who had been adopted by the parents of the wife of the Father of Communism? [Introduction: Marx, the Human Side translated and edited by Saul Padover]

Demuth had accompanied Jenny von Westphalen when the latter got married to Marx. When the maid got pregnant, the master kicked her out of his house to cover up the scandal. On 23 June 1851, when a boy sired by Marx was born to Demuth, Frederick Engels claimed it was his son. So desperate was the sponsor of Marxism to protect the name of the Marx-von Westphalen family that he overlooked the possibility that the claim would invite ignominy to his own bachelorhood. Marx’s legitimate daughter Eleanor was so embarrassed by the act that she befriended her illicit brother, Frederick Lewis Demuth, shortly after their father’s death in 1883. Until then, the young Demuth had been languishing as a toolmaker, having been brought up at a foster home in London meant for labourers.

Nevertheless, a lousy, irresponsible father can still be a genuine philosopher and ideologue, never mind how many do not share his ideology. What if he were a messiah of the proletariat in public life, regardless of the skeletons in his closet? To explore this, we must move from the thought leader to a leader of actions: Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov aka Lenin.

Under Lenin’s rule, Bolshevik (meaning “majority”) party administrator Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov carried out what historians of Soviet Union call Red Terror. Of course, it was not a one-sided affair. The Mensheviks (meaning “minority”) retaliated with White Terror. Nevertheless, restraint ought to be the duty of the state. Lenin couldn’t care less.

About one lakh people were brutally murdered by Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police in the Red Terror span of a month: September-October 1918. In Mastering Twentieth Century Russian History, Norman Lowe estimates the victims to number about 2,00,000.

Lenin’s Indian children have been quite inspired by his biography. Even before they established a rule of 34 years in West Bengal, the CPM had executed the Sain Badi massacre in the Burdwan (now Bardhaman) district of the State. The young male members of a family — Nabakumar, Malay and Pranab — were murdered before the womenfolk. Some accounts of the crime, where the criminals were never booked and punished, say the killers forced the mother to drink the blood oozing out of her son’s body. Nabakumar Sain’s eyes were gouged out. Pranab was hacked to death and Malay was chased into the fields until he was caught and killed.

Once their rule was established in Bengal, the communists executed the Marichjhapi incident of 1979, where Hindu refugees (mostly Dalits) from Bangladesh were slaughtered in cold blood. This incident indicts the CPM more than that of Sain Badi because the Bengal’s police under the communist government’s command executed these murders. While a minister of the very government had invited the refugees from Dandakaranya, spread across Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, the Left Front government realised in two years that the influx of about 1,50,000 people was too much of an economic burden. An economic blockade of the refugee camp in Marichjhapi followed. It failed. Then, after denying the media entry into the area, the police opened fire at the hapless people with the brutality of the British action in Jallianwala Bagh. Many died, trying to flee and drowning in the distributaries flowing through the Sundarbans. The police boats and launches dumped the bodies of people killed in the firing in the rivers, too. By the turn of a few more years, the Bengal unit of the Congress (Indira) turned indifferent to Bengal, much as the message never percolated down to Mrs Gandhi’s grassroots-level workers. They continued to get butchered, maimed and silenced to submission until the State unit got too demotivated to reclaim the lost territory. Having handed over the educational institutions of the country to the communists, the then prime minister was, anyway, not a serious contender in Bengal. When the BJP struck a deal with the Trinamool Congress in the more recent past, assuring Mamata Banerjee’s party that the CBI would go soft on her Ponzi scams provided her MPs supported some Bills in the Rajya Sabha, Modi’s party risked repeating the mistake of the Congress (I) of the 1980s. For, the TMC follows the same CPM formula of mercilessly killing competition.

Mercifully, though, the CPM did not follow Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse Tung as much in letter and spirit. No less gruesome than Hitler’s concentration camps were Stalin’s Main Camps’ Administration or Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Settlements [Glavnoye Upravleniye Lagerej abbreviated to GULAG in Russian]. Established by Lenin in 1918 and legalised by a decree the next year, the brutality these camps witnessed peaked under Stalin’s rule. Commissions called NKVD troika (Special troika) held kangaroo courts to dump labourers along with hardened criminals in these gulags (alternatively pronounced kulaks). At one point in time in the 1920s, the camps’ inmates totalled about 1,00,000.

Stalin, in a bid to shore up the industrial production of his nation that lagged the average European economy by two decades, forced every worker to dedicate 14 manhours a day to work. Two years after the USSR disintegrated, a study of the archives found that the gulags had, between 1934 and 1953, claimed 1,053,829 lives.

While it is said that, at the end of the inhuman exercise, Soviet Russia managed to lead Europe by about 5 years, sympathisers of the CPM might find the Indian version benign as Jyoti Basu turned ‘all protest and no work’ the labour culture of Bengal. They might also thank the Bengali communists for not emulating Mao in letter and spirit, thereby sparing Bengal a famine like the one witnessed by China in 1959-61 that killed up to 5.5 crore people [Frank Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–62]. In this Great Leap Forward, Mao had also ensured that 25 lakh people were beaten to death; about 13 lakh committed suicide [ibid].

It would be too insensitive to pit human tragedies against one another to prove that one was a greater crime against humanity than another. However, if the cost of Hitler’s Holocaust debars him from being even a subject of research, how can an Indian government’s act of placing a statue of Lenin, Stalin or Mao in the middle of a city under its jurisdiction be kosher?

To the people upon whom Leninism was unleashed, it’s unbearable. How, following the fall of the Samir Ranjan Barman government in 1993, the houses of voters of the Indian National Congress were burnt to ashes and stoned; how their children were heckled on the way to their schools, how those interviewed feared another round of repression while talking to me, etc have been explained through some reports in this site.

Former Governor of the State Tathagata Roy can best explain why he attributed the pulling down of the Lenin statue to the BJP. The bravado was misplaced because his party’s government has not yet been sworn in. Manik Sarkar, the caretaker chief minister, was answerable even this Monday as to how a bulldozer (it looked more like an earthmover) could find its way to the location, cheered on by scores of people, in gay abandon.

The aspect of maximum significance on 5 March was, to extend the theory I propounded in a previous article, Bengalis rising like Europeans to condemn communism en masse. The sporadic orange T-shirts in the crowd hardly establish the act to be a part of the BJP’s programme. The party has disowned the activists, in any case, even as the local community is still relishing a re-enactment of Berlin before the German reunification.

This morning, two journalists, an anchor and a reporter, were heard frothing at the mouth on TV 18, condemning the incident. In all likelihood, they are part of the Delhi gentry that found the Aam Aadmi Party ‘cool’ because they had never been subjected to communism. When the people have had enough, they do not need a BJP to raze a statue of Lenin to the ground. Even if the BJP had been in power as on 5 March 2018, the party is too much in awe of communism to turn Ukrainian and dare its government to be as audacious.

Surajit Dasgupta

About Surajit Dasgupta

The founder of सिर्फ़ News has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life and columnist in various newspapers and magazines, writing in English as well as Hindi. He was, until 31 October 2016, the national affairs editor of Swarajya. He worked with Hindusthan Samachar in 2017. He is the chief editor of सिर्फ़ NEWS. He is a mathematician by training with interests in academic pursuits of science, linguistics and history. He advocates individual liberty and a free market in a manner that is politically feasible. His hobbies include Hindi film music and classical poetry in Bengali, English, French, Hindi and Urdu.