A week is a long time in politics, few years an eternity. In a stunning flip-flop the man alleged to be the mastermind of the Nandigram fiasco has decided to put his weight behind the current state government in West Bengal. This abrupt reversal of stance has left the CPIM top brass red faced quite literally.
In an effusive praise of the current state government, Lakshman has said that peace has finally returned to both hills and Jangalmagal (tribal belt of Bengal). The CPIM leader rued the fact that they could not show Mamata’s steely resolve to firmly crackdown on dissidents in the hills. The situation in Jangalmahal, a Maoist stronghold has also improved leaps and bounds according to the Left strongman. This sudden change in Seth’s stance has been seen as a tactical move to serve dual purpose. Firstly, he feels slighted by the probe launched by his own party on graft charges against him. Thus he wants to embarrass them. Secondly, he wants to extend an olive branch to the current regime hoping against hope of getting some leeway in the court cases pending against him.
Once deemed as the king of port city Haldia, Lakshman Seth is now a merely shadow of the past. The Nandigram saga hit the credibility of the Left hard, but it completely destroyed Seth the politician. The ex MP from Tamluk is not even allowed to enter his own district of East Midnapore by an order of the High Court. Unrest started in Nandigram back in 2007 over formation of a chemical hub. While Lakshman and local authorities wanted to push through it, the locals lead by then opposition TMC opposed it vehemently. After much bullying, bickering and bloodshed the project was scrapped. But it had scarred the hitherto unchallenged leader.
In January 2012, the CID had filed a chargesheet against Seth and 87 others in connection with the violence in Nandigram on November 27, 2007, when CPIM goons had tried to wrest control of the area. In a report to the Calcutta High Court, the CID had said that six people had been abducted by CPIM goons, killed and their bodies dumped in a river near Nandigram. Laxman had to surrender after being fugitive. With diminishing clout, his business ventures also suffered. The medical and dental college started by his NGO ran into troubled waters.
CPIM haven’t taken Lakshman’s U-turn kindly. They point out that he was integral part of decision making in the Left government. They question the timing and think it’s a mere grandstanding to grab some eyeballs. Lakshman though is adamant on his position. He has already decided to quit the Left brigade not even renewing his primary membership card. But he is still ambiguous of his future political plans. Some suggest backchannel talks have already started with Trinamool Congress. But others feel that his political history will be the greatest baggage for him to switch sides even if he intends to. But if he can throw some dirt about the current crop of CPIM leaders, specially ex C.M Buddhadeb , didi may be more than willing to oblige.
Not an exception
There is a feeling that Lakshman’s jumping the boat is not an isolated case, but merely a part in the deeper malaise hurting the Left. Shorn of credible leadership and a viable strategy to upset didi’s applecart, it’s a sinking ship. The old age ideologues may still think of bringing change but the pragmatist knows better. Thus from Arindam Shil to Lakshman Seth, the prominent faces of Left movement are changing their loyalties. Can the Left survive this onslaught and come out strong? Even the ardent supporters are clueless.