Friday, December 7, 2007

Karat claws at culture critic

The Telegraph

Calcutta, Dec. 6: Prakash Karat has branded intellectuals opposed to the CPM “enemy of the society and the country”, seeking to demolish critics at an event convened to decry the destruction of Babri Masjid.

“Some people, including a section of intellectuals, said that what is happening in Bengal is similar to what happened in Gujarat. They have compared Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to Narendra Modi and described both as fascists,’’ Karat said this evening in Calcutta.

He was addressing a meeting on the 15th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition. Chief minister Bhattacharjee was the other speaker at the “discussion”.

“These people do not know the meaning of fascism and have no elementary idea of the real face of fascism. Bengal is a bastion of communal harmony while Muslims were massacred in Gujarat. Even Christians are not safe in the BJP-ruled states. Those who are engaged in this conspiracy to equate between the Left and communal forces are the enemy of the society and the country,’’ Karat said.

Bhattacharjee, who has been trying to calm tempers by toning down his earlier remarks on the recapture of Nandigram, held fire but expressed concern over divisions in the “cultural world”. “If our cultural world gets bogged down in the quicksand of disunity and mutual, but unnecessary, distrust, it will bring disaster,’’ he said.

Karat’s comments reflected the party’s discomfiture at being alienated from what the Left considered its loyal constituency. Subhas Chakraborty, the sports minister and the brain behind the meeting, made his displeasure known by not inviting the intellectuals “who are still abusing us”.