Maoist politics of violence once caused incalculable damage to West Bengal. The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) may rightly feel upset about the murder of a youth leader of the party in Hooghly; but it is hardly an issue between the Marxists and their Maoist enemies. The real concern should be the return of the Maoists to the state’s politics. If the Maoist Communist Centre was the culprit in Hooghly, other groups upholding the ideology of political annihilation have been trying to set up bases in Midnapore and Bankura districts. Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s war against the extremists should, therefore, be waged, not just from a partisan point of view, but in the interest of the state. Extremist politics may target one party or another at a given time; but it is actually an enemy of democratic politics and open society. It would be suicidal for the Marxists’ political opponents to take the help of Maoists in their partisan battles because the destructive politics will eventually catch up with them. Unfortunately, there seems to be some truth in the Marxists’ complaint that their rivals have sometimes used extremists’ groups to settle scores with them.
But things seems to have gone wrong also for the CPI(M)’s rural strategy. Not just its opponents but even its allies, like the Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, have repeatedly complained against its bullying tactics in settling agrarian disputes. It is likely that political rivalries will intensify in the run-up to the panchayat elections due in May. As the biggest party whose share in panchayat power far outstrips that of others, the CPI(M) will increasingly come under fire as the rural polls draw nearer. Much of the criticism on corruption and mismanagement in the running of panchayats will be valid. Even the Marxists have found it necessary to regularly purge the rural bodies of corrupt partymen. But all this is part of the democratic process to ensure the proper functioning of an institution of local government. There is no place for Maoists in this process. They not only kill individuals but also try to sabotage the system.