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Rudrangshu Mukherjee in the Telegraph:
In 1964, when the CPI split and the CPI(M) was born, the latter, at least in West Bengal, got the giant share of the party’s resources save the intellectual ones. The intellectual cream remained with the CPI. The CPI(M) was born under the sign of mediocrity. Its leadership promoted anti-intellectualism and the cult of mediocrity. This, it was assumed, would bring the CPI(M) closer to the people. Promode Dasgupta, the redoubtable head of the party apparatus in West Bengal, was the driving force behind this kind of thinking. Under his successor, Anil Biswas, this tendency was aggravated. Biswas personally controlled educational institutions and intellectual organizations. This brand of nepotism alienated real talent. Many came under the flag of the CPI(M) lured by the loaves and fishes of office, but numbers did not make for quality. The moral and intellectual high ground that communists had once enjoyed in West Bengal gradually came to be eroded. Today, the CPI(M) stares at a moral and intellectual vacuum....
...The transformation of society will never occur through the brutal use of State power and the deployment of terror through cadre. It demands a more sensitive handling by a leadership that is confident enough to be broadminded and open.
Read the full piece: Cult of Mediocrity. And staying with West Bengal, MJ Akbar has a word of caution:
Nature, and political nature, abhors a vacuum. The space vacated by the CPI(M) retreat is being visibly occupied: those who vote are with Mamata Banerjee; those who don't vote in rural Bengal are gravitating around the Maoists...Read the full piece: West Bengal: Next time, the volcano
...It would also be unwise to forget the game-changer of the 1960s, the riots. Violence is an infectious plague, and demographic tensions always have a fuse in the tail. Bengalis believe that they are not communal. No one is communal, except in that brief moment of madness when the civilized mind crumbles.
The drama of Bengal is full of actors making powerful speeches. We need a plot, very quickly.