| BUDDHADEB BHATTACHARJEE
March 24: Sample these.
A 26-year-old widow falls in love with a young man. The CPM cries heresy and drives her out of the village, ordering her not to return as long as she is “young”.
A middle-aged homemaker has an extramarital affair with a friend of her husband and the couple file for divorce. The CPM holds a kangaroo court and asks the woman to stay with her lover until the divorce case is over.
A man who gets his new house painted by a private company is called to a CPM office and asked why he did not engage local youths in the job. He is forced to pay some local youths “compensation” for the “loss”.
When the chief minister yesterday censured party workers for interfering in the lives and personal affairs of the civil society”, he probably had in mind such meddlers. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said such “unnecessary interference” had turned the common people against the CPM and identified such behaviour as one of the reasons behind the monolith’s debacle in successive polls.
Debika Mondal (name changed), the widow who lives in Murshidabad’s Beldanga with her nine-year-old son, had fallen in love with a local youth, but the CPM “disapproved” of it. Local functionaries of the party called a kangaroo court in 2006 and branded Debika “characterless”. She was ordered to leave the village and not to return “as long as she was young”. A CPM local committee member presided over the “proceedings”.
The poor, homeless domestic help had to leave the village with her son and take shelter in the home of a social worker for five days. The social worker helped her lodge an FIR and finally, she managed to return home with police protection.
A similar incident of the party interfering in the private affairs of common people happened in neighbouring Nadia the same year. A homemaker in Karimpur village who was having an extramarital affair with her businessman husband’s friend was asked to stay with her lover as long as the divorce case was on.
The kangaroo court, presided over by Sujoy Biswas, a CPM member of the local gram panchayat, also “decreed” that the couple’s daughter would stay with her father and the mother would be allowed to meet her only “occasionally”. An agreement was drawn up and Biswas signed it as a “witness”.
Biswas admitted having taken part in the kangaroo court. “We had to take the decision to maintain peace in the area,” said Biswas. When the CPM leader was today asked about the incident, he offered the same justification.
The comments appear at odds with the chief minister’s assertion yesterday that party leaders and cadres should not “lord over the lives” of the common people.
CPM state secretariat member Mohammad Salim too hit out at such “un-Communist practices” and said “undesirable elements” who interfered in the lives of the people “should be booted out”.
“There have been reports about some party workers indulging in un-Communist practices. We have started the process of weeding them out so that they cannot cause further harm to our organisation,” Salim said. Party sources said the CPM’s move to drop several sitting MLAs for the Assembly polls was aimed at getting rid of such “unwanted elements”.
The “unwanted elements” have given the party enough unwanted troubles, the most disturbing being the civil society “silently voting” against the CPM, the chief minister had said yesterday.
In the painting episode last year, for instance, a former CPM councillor called a private firm employee who had got his new house, at Chowbhaga, behind Calcutta’s Ruby Hospital, painted to the party office and demanded an explanation on why he had not engaged local youths. He was “censured” for hiring a private agency and forced to pay a group of local youths whose proposal to paint the house he had refused “compensation” at the rate of Rs 2.5 per sqft.
The results of such transgressions have been more vicious on some occasions. A former CPM leader is serving a life term for masterminding the murder of two youths after falsely accusing them of stealing jewellery in 2002.
Dulal Banerjee, who was then a member of the Dum Dum-Belgachhia zonal committee, had been allegedly involved in various antisocial activities, including running illicit liquor dens. The youths, Chandan Chakraborty and Sanjib Goswami, were apparently his henchmen. However, when they refused to obey his orders, Dulal hatched a plan to murder them.
The duo were called to a field in the locality on a March night, falsely accused of stealing a woman’s earrings, and beaten to death by Dulal’s aides. Dulal was present at the crime scene. He was arrested following a complaint by Chandan’s widow Sandhya. Dulal was expelled from the party after his arrest.
In Howrah’s Bally eight years ago, a local CPM leader allegedly demolished the house of a neighbour, accusing him of “encroaching on his land” by building a boundary wall. However, documents furnished by Binay Majumdar revealed that he had built the boundary wall on his own land.
Majumdar lodged a complaint against Madan Manna, a CPM local committee member, with the then pradhan of the local Nischinda gram panchayat, Mridul Bose. After Bose ruled that Majumdar had not encroached on Manna’s land, he lodged a police complaint against the CPM leader. The police, however, refused to take action against Manna.
Manna’s party, too, took no action even after nearly 150 local people complained against his “highhandedness” to Anil Biswas, the then CPM state secretary. Manna was seen yesterday campaigning for the CPM candidate in Domjur even though the party has asked “unpopular” leaders not to join poll campaigns.
The CPM, however, believes, such unwanted elements would “continue to exist no matter which party comes to power”.
“If Trinamul comes to power tomorrow, goons owing allegiance to that party will carry out such activities. It is difficult to stop such practices,” a CPM leader said.