Abdur Rezzak Mollah, CPM Muslim face in Bengal and a rebel party is wary of taming, in conversation with Subrata Nagchoudhury.
Abdur Rezzak Mollah, one of the CPM’s key Muslim faces in West Bengal, has rebelled at a strategic time, launching a political forum before the Lok Sabha elections but targeting the 2016 assembly polls, and has left the party wary about taking action against him. Mollah, state committee member and nine-time MLA since 1972, has floated his “Social Justice Manch” for Muslims, Dalits and SC/STs, whom he calls the majority but who he says have been deprived by the CPM’s upper-caste leadership. He remains a party member, having joined in 1969, and says he is ready to face any action taken. The CPM, however, appears mindful of the influence he wields, and wouldn’t mind a dent he could possibly cause in Mamata Banerjee’s vote bank in 2016.
In this interview the day after the launch, Mollah describes his objectives and what he thinks of the party leadership:
Why have you launched your manch?
The Social Justice Manch has been launched to bring justice to Muslims, Dalits and SC/STs who form 94 per cent of the population but have been left out of development and the power structure. It will field candidates in the 2016 assembly polls and have a declared agenda of having a chief minister from among the Dalits from North Bengal and a deputy chief minister from among the Muslims in South Bengal. The deputy chief minister will also hold the home (police) portfolio. Power will be shared on the basis of proportional representation.
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Will it contest the upcoming polls?
It will not. It will be in the formation stage. So far, 14 organisations such as Association for the Downtrodden and Minorities, Dalit Mahasinistangh, Adivasi Mahasangh and various Muslim organisations have joined. More are expected soon.
How do you see the CPM performing?
Just wait and watch. You will see what happens to the existence of the party. I am telling you, its performance will be pathetic. Its existence will be at stake.
You belong to the CPM, which stresses internal discipline. Don’t your actions and statements constitute anti-party activity?
Unfortunately, I have raised these issues within the party time and again but the party has turned a deaf ear to them. They have accused me of individualism, of identity politics, of indulging in a caste struggle rather than a class struggle. I had no choice but to speak out and take this action. I am ready to face any action. But so far no one from the party has got in touch with me. I was not being able to bring about the desired reforms in the party, which is why I had to make this move.
Have you had a word with Biman Bose (state secretary)?
No, we have not spoken for long. I have not spoken to the leadership for quite some time. I know their mettle, I know how far they can go. If they keep me in the party, well and good, I will be there. If they don’t, I will be out of it.
You seem to have strong issues with politburo members.
These politburo members are not men of the ground. In the day they move in the corridors of power in Delhi, at night they need costly drinks. These are dalals, agents. They have no links with the soil, with the people and the grassroots.
Don’t you have issues with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee too?
Individually, I had no complaints, my complaints are collective. But then, as far as Buddhababu is concerned, we have seen the problems. Arrogance, cynicism and other personality problems have landed the party in deep trouble. The party needs a purge from the top, not the bottom. If the gomukh is polluted, the entire Ganga will get polluted. The need of the hour is to cleanse the gomukh.
You have also talked of lack of democracy within the party.
There is a thing called democratic centralism in our party. To explain, I will say centralism is needed when a democratic environment within the party is threatened. Centralism is intervention for the protection and sustenance of democratic norms and traditions within the party. If democracy does not exist, centralism becomes meaningless. Let me give you an example. Writabrata Bandopadhyay was given a Rajya Sabha nomination and elected recently. The name was selected by two or three politburo members at the top. The state secretariat should have decided the name. This is highly objectionable, not acceptable to me.