Trinamool ropes in former Maoists to stop BJP in Bengal

However, while these Maoists stood rock-solid behind the Trinamool in its fight against the CPM government, a section of the force is now disillusioned with Mamata Banerjee

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Kolkata/New Delhi: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool has, in West Bengal, brought together former Maoists who fought against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee dispensation to stop the BJP― reported news agencies on Saturday.
What is referred to as Junglemahal, a bastion of the Maoists that was in news during the paramilitary forces’ crackdown called Operation Greenhunt, comprises the districts of Jhargram, Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia, where the ruling party of the State has formed a platoon of sorts with members of the Maoist-backed Police Santras Birodhi Janaganer Committee (PSBJC or People’s Committee for Resistance against Police Atrocities).

 

Members of the village resistance group like Jana Jagaran Mancha also are part of this formation that boasts of the experience of putting up a stiff resistance during the central forces’ near-successful exercise to eliminate Naxals in 2010-12.

Ajit Maitri, one of the key persons who is mobilising people, executing the Trinamool’s strategy, is the party’s West Midnapore district president. He says such a force is needed this time because the fight against the BJP is as much against a certain ideology as it is about politics. “You need a cadre-based force to fight a cadre-based party like BJP,” said Maitri.

Former Maoists, including PSBJC members, have a better understanding of the ground reality and they know ways of conveying their message to the people and also ways of countering ideology with logic. Maitri said, “They have excellent organisational skills. That is why we thought of bringing them together so that there is. an unmatched exercise of public relations.”

Trinamool leader Ajit Maitri says that, for the campaign against BJP, at least 200 people are in West Midnapore and Jhargram have been mobilised. Shyam Lal Mahato, president of the Trinamool Binpur Block, has been an active member of the PSBJC in Lalgarh and Medinipur. He admits that people are upset with the local leadership. He says, in West Midnapore, the biggest enemy of the Trinamool is BJP-RSS. Over the last few years, due to the weakness of the opposition, the BJP has infiltrated the district and is trying to mislead the tribals, he adds. “We will not allow this to happen,” he asserts.

Nishit Mahato, one of the founders of Jana Jagaran Mancha, says, “I am working in my fields, especially among tribals. Due to some mistakes of our party leaders, BJP and RSS have reached here. But we have corrected those mistakes.”

It may be noted here that while Naxalism originated in north Bengal from a place called Naxalbari, that movement is long dead, thanks to the severe suppressive regime of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the chief minister of Bengal in the early 1970s when the State was ruled by the Congress. Members of the local committees, who are referred to as Maoists in the media, maintain closer coordination with their counterparts in Jharkhand.

While the Maoists of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh tried to sneak in and command these local groups, Kishenji et al achieved limited success in this area due to the arrival of the central security forces in Junglemahal as well as the fact that the special police force called Greyhounds was eliminating Maoists in the southern States.

However, the limited wherewithal of the Bengal Maoists was a strong enough addition to the Trinamool when it was fighting the Left Front rule led by the CPI(M). The disillusionment with Mamata Banerjee among the ultra-communists of Junglemahal owes to the fact that they believe, after making use of their services to oust the Bhattacharjee government, the Trinamool did not care for them. “We were used and thrown,” says a former Maoist under the condition of anonymity.

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