Thursday, March 25, 2010

Death of the Ideologue- The deceased romance of a generation

Kanu Sanyal, the Naxal ideologue died this week. He committed suicide. He died on a day when news channels across India where hyperventilating to give equal coverage to his death and the fire that raged the century and a half old Stephen Court building in Park Street, Calcutta, the one which houses the iconic Flury's confectionery store. It might just be a coincidence that in his death also he had to fight for equal footage on national airwaves with the symbolism of something he aspired to bring down with the dreams of a revolution.
Frankly speaking, none of us (and I mean the 'Bongs' of our generation) will be able to appreciate the nuances of the Naxalbari movement and the romance that an entire generation of our Babas, Jethus and Kakus attached to it. We are a far cry from that.
I remember a time when my Amma used to tell me stories about those horrific times. The times of the romance of the Naxalbari. I come from a Bengali family who have been supporting the INC (Indian National Congress) through thick and thin. My great grandfather have been a first generation Congressman. Needless to say we have been successful in maintaining that stand even in the times when an alternative to the CPM in West Bengal did seem impossible. But then again we were not unaffected. My father's days of youth were of those when Bengal was rising to a new dawn and a dream which later turned in to a nightmare. It may be his inclination towards reading up on everything that he being a staunch Chatro Parishad supporter in college days still read up on the  nuances of the Naxalbari Movement. He never supported it, (in fact he once told me that these were the people who have distanced an entire generation of Indian youth from the democratic process) but he was the run of the mill Bengali guy whom the now deceased Kanu Sanyal would have loved to meet.
Yes, I say this because somewhere I feel that there was a dream and it was ruined. And it is a sham of Communism in all the Communist ruled states that we are living in today. Kanu Sanyal, for once, accepted the fact. He preferred staying with the people he had fought for. His Comrades. Not like the ones we see everyday, brokering a deal with the local real estate dealer or may be with a big Industrial house to overnight convert a silent and previously unheard of village in to the Singapore of Bengal without much groundwork and detailing going in to it.
These are myopic dreams that the so called Communists and Maoists have been seeing for long now. albeit from the two different ends of the spectrum. Maoists continue with their penchant for violent struggle where the ultimate losers end up being the onces they claim to fight for. It is high time for them to understand that to fight a machinery as big and organised as "State power" you need to stop fighting first. Since the notions of a welfare state are deep entrenched in our system, in spite of the JNU returned Communists (who are scared of facing the democratic face of the country) plaguing the system- there is hope.Hope in our Political process which churns out the much controversy ridden yet appreciated efforts like the NREGA.
 Violence is never the solution. And hats off to Kanu Sanyal who had realised this and took a stand. It will take time before our Netas and the other self proclaimed ones take note of that. But for one who had started this movement with the precincts of violence, to accept this fact and not being dogmatic could have been a huge step towards blending Communist movement within the mainstream of Indian Politics. Sadly, that never happened and with the state of things at present, it might just be so that the next generation of Bongs would understand the Communist movement in India just as another 'Historic Blunder'.
Frankly speaking, I know very little of who Kanu Sanyal was and his work or the times he lived in. It is just another third eye perspective. A perspective of the sort whose fathers and uncles believed that Kanu Sanyal was practical and why Charu Mazumdar's strict hardcore line of violence is bound to meet with utter destruction.
In his death, our generation (the very few who actually bothered to take note) has relived the romance of Naxalbari and its original intent rather than despairing over the fact that the person who started it and later condemned the Maoist movement, died a lonely death. Popular media might be right on the fact that his death sent out the signals of despair over violence but it was also about going back and understanding the bent of mind of a person more Communist than the ones we elect and the alternative model that he accepted and could have propounded in case his dream would have not gone awry or his friends in power not grown richer by the millions.


  1. Nice free-flowing prose.

    In death Kanu Sanyal was as controversial as he was in life. Am I being diplomatic? Certainly. Like you, I do not share the same exact world-view as my parents' generation. Let us see how history remembers him. :)

  2. ideologies, and philosophies get diluted or change when it becomes a mass movement.Different people interpret it in different ways.
    Which makes me wonder how Gandhi or Hitler managed to drive a singular focus 90% of their lives ?Extreme peace and extreme violence have the same determined mind behind attaining the objective.Fascinating isn't it. If Hitler had won and Gandhi lost - how would history be written ?

  3. @anirban, Thank's indeed time's call. Just the way it was for history to remember the movement they all were a part of.
    @gyanban, Umm, weren't gandhi's call also distorted in the middle. and also history wouldn't have been any different. as if gandhi's win and hitler's loss could save us from the constant threats of bio warfare and closer home, metal detectors everywhere. :-)


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