The vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari stirs left vs right diatribe

The vandalization of Lenin's bust in Naxalbari has stirred new polemics between the left and the right over the politics of demolishing idols.

Lenin's bust vandalized in Naxalbari

The vandalized bust of Lenin, in Naxalbari. Our photo.

A decades-old bust of VI Lenin erected by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI (M-L)] in the Bangaijote area under Naxalbari Police Station in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district was vandalized late on Tuesday, March 7th, the activists, and supporters of the party alleged. This vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari has stirred tension in the region and many left-wing organisations have registered their protest.

On behalf of the North Bengal Regional Committee of the CPI (M-L), Purna told the East Post that while the vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari was carried out by unidentified miscreants, there was a political conspiracy behind it. Purna said, “They (the attackers) live in a fool’s paradise, they do not know that Lenin’s ideology cannot be erased by smashing his bust.”

Purna alleged that for a long time, there have been various attacks on the busts of the pioneers of the international communist movement and India’s Naxalbari peasant movement erected by the CPI (M-L) in Bangaijote. Earlier, in 2000, a group of miscreants had vandalized the bust of Charu Majumdar, the pioneer of the Naxalbari peasant uprising. Purna alleged that earlier attempts were made to demolish the wall surrounding the premises that house the busts.

Purna also claimed that the vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari irked the people. CPI (M-L) party leader late Mahadev Mukherjee installed the bust of Majumdar first and then he installed the busts of Lenin and Stalin in the area. Robin Patra, a CPI (M-L) leader, told East Post that in the early 1990s, when Lenin’s statues were demolished in the former Soviet republics, Mukherjee erected Lenin and JV Stalin’s busts in Bangaijote, which has historic links with the Naxalbari movement, as a sign of protest.

CPI (M-L) general secretary Manik expressed concern over this incident and said that this incident is linked to international events. He accused the vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari as part of an “imperialist plot”. The CPI (M-L) has held meetings and pasted posters on this issue, but no further programme has been announced.

On the other hand, Abhijit Majumdar, the state leader of the CPI (M-L) Liberation faction, has also strongly condemned the vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari. The North Bengal leadership of the CPI (Marxist) also compared the vandalism to the post-election violence in Tripura. Many left-wing organisations, except the CPI (M-L), have alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Hindutva-incensed forces were behind the vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the far-right paramilitary organisation and the ideological parent of the BJP, has increased its influence and expanded its organisation throughout North Bengal, including Naxalbari, by utilising the conflicts between the Bengali refugees from East Bengal and the local Rajbanshi and Gorkha tribals. It’s alleged that the RSS and other Hindutva organisations use Islamophobia to polarise the voters, which has helped the BJP immensely.

BJP’s Anandamoy Burman won the 2021 Assembly elections from Matigara-Naxalbari, thanks to the RSS’s ground support. According to the local people, Hindutva politics has strengthened its foothold in the region over the last 20 years, especially during Trinamool Congress rule, through RSS-run schools and various frontal organisations, especially religious bodies. The CPI (M-L) and other left-wing organisations didn’t comment on this development.

However, BJP’s legislator Burman dismissed the allegations made by Abhijit. Without referring to the incidents where alleged BJP workers uprooted a statue of Lenin in Tripura in 2018 and smashed a bust of 19th-century social reformer Vidyasagar in Kolkata in 2019, Burman told the press that the BJP does not take part in the “politics of breaking statues” and that left and ultra-left politics “no longer have any influence in the Naxalbari region”.

The ruling Trinamool Congress did not comment on the incident. However, the local police have started investigating the vandalization of Lenin’s bust in Naxalbari. Naxalbari Police Station’s IC Pradeep Trikshatri told the East Post that the police have started investigating the incident after receiving the complaint, but no one has been arrested yet.

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