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CPM cleanses Stalin tar, the master’s way

Calcutta, July 6: Far from Russia and five decades after his death, Comrade Josef Stalin has emerged victorious from yet another political skirmish.

Employing tactics that look similar to those the master employed, his followers in the state suppressed an attempted local replication of glasnost, the Russian phenomenon that turned the communist world topsy-turvy a decade-and-a-half ago.

Convulsed by the after-shocks of a non-hagiographic look at Stalin in the unlikeliest of places — party organ Nandan — the CPM has initiated “disciplinary” steps against the author of Josef Stalin Stalin Yug (Josef Stalin and the Stalin Era), the article that appeared in the June issue of the magazine.

On the surface, the party does not betray anything amiss except an unusually lengthy debate in the July issue of Nandan. Under the skin, there are admissions of far more serious import with the fire-fighting being led by none other than state party secretary Anil Biswas.

On Friday, Biswas took the unusual step (for a state secretary) of addressing a meeting of the branch committees that run the magazine. The same day, author of the article Anindya Bandyopadhyay was handed over a notice that accused him of breaking party rules and asked him to explain his position within seven days, said CPM insiders.

“It will be very difficult to say when a state party secretary last attended a regular meeting of the Nandan branch committees,” a CPM state committee member said. “Except for special occasions, it is unusual for a party member — as high in the pecking order as Biswas — to attend such meetings,” he added. Biswas’ presence was an indicator to how seriously the party was viewing the imbroglio.

The June issue of the magazine, meant to commemorate Stalin’s 50th death anniversary, sparked a debate yet unseen in the state CPM — on the methods he employed to snuff out leading dissidents like Trotsky and Bukharin. The article, despite trying to justify Stalin’s “crude” methods by focussing on an unpleasant childhood, trained the lights on his “mediocre” writings and understanding of theory.

The July issue, somewhat predictably, carries a long article penned by editor and CPM central committee member Biplab Dasgupta. Trying to place Stalin in the historical perspective, the article takes a look at his “contribution” to the rise of Russia and communism.

The issue has a clarification from Bandyopadhyay as well. Without retracting from his earlier contentions, he mentions his “embarrassment” at the tight spot his article has put Dasgupta and the CPM in. Emphasising that the article was based on years of research, he has promised to be “more careful” while writing for party organs in future.

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