‘One of the three developments that surprised me was “the collapse of the CPM (Communist Party of India- Marxist) in West Bengal, which I really wouldn’t have expected.”   Eric Hobsbawm.



That the CPM in West Bengal is in dire straits and the red brigade is fearing a setback in the 2011 Assembly elections after being in power for over three decades is a fact that many in the party are not willing to accept publicly. But, party top boss Prakash Karat has set the cat among the pigeons. For the first time, he has accepted that the Bengal CPM was “beleaguered and besieged” and apprehended a poor show in the Assembly polls next year.


Karat made this observation to well-known Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who reveals the conversation in an interview to noted political journal New Left Review while talking about the developments that surprised him since he wrote the “Age of Extremes”, the book on the events of the 20th century which came out in 1994.


In the interview, Hobsbawm said one of the three developments that surprised him was “the collapse of the CPM in West Bengal, which I really wouldn’t have expected.”


“Prakash Karat, the CPM general secretary, recently told me that in West Bengal, they felt themselves beleaguered and besieged. They look forward to doing very badly against this new Congress in the local elections. This after governing as a national party, as it were, for 30 years,” he said.


Hobsbawm, arguably the greatest living historian, also gives his assessment about the downfall of the CPM and the Left in Bengal. “The industrialization policy, taking land away from the peasants, had a very bad effect, and was clearly a mistake. I can see that, like all such surviving left-wing governments, they had to accommodate economic development, including private development, and so it seemed natural for them to develop a strong industrial base. But it does seem slightly surprising that it should have led to such a dramatic turn-around,” he said.


Comrades at the Alimuddin Street are no doubt cagey about party’s prospects in the polls and desperately want the Congress-Trinamool Congress ties to be off before the polls. In fact, at the meeting of the CPM Central Committee last month, the consensus was that the party should highlight the inherent incompatibilities in the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance and adopt tactics which will help to weaken the combination.


(Yahoo News,  Mar 3 , 2010)

Top - Home