CPM leader Sitaram Yechury wasn’t being glib when he dubbed the Trinamool Congress (TMC) as the Trinamool Maoist Congress. Monday’s ‘apolitical’ rally at Lalgarh was indicator enough of the ties—even if loose and unstructured—that exist between the TMC and Maoists. The People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA)—a frontal wing of Maoists—mobilised villagers and ensured a full turnout at the rally. Mamata’s pronouncements echoed Maoist demands like halting anti-Maoist operations. All this should leave no doubt that Mamata is open to taking the help of Maoists to uproot the CPM from West Bengal. It is an open secret that armed Maoist cadres played a major role in the Nandigram agitation, which is paying such rich political dividends to the TMC. Post-Nandigram, Mamata tried to distance herself from Maoists and even succeeded to some extent. With the TMC becoming a strong force (after the protracted agitations and bloodshed) in all of East Midnapore district, the party has been able to push Maoists away from the district. Mamata is hoping to repeat this strategy—use Maoists to defeat the CPM, become strong and then drive away these Maoists—in parts of Bengal where Maoists are strong now. But this political strategy could go dangerously wrong. Maoists have learnt their lessons from Nandigram and will never allow the Trinamool to grow powerful in areas under their influence. Instead, they will ride piggyback on the Trinamool to get a toehold in new areas. If Mamata thinks that Maoists will facilitate her political triumph next year without extracting their pound of flesh, she couldn’t be more wrong. And Bengal, and India at large, will ultimately have to pay a heavy price for Mamata’s blunders.
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