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In Capital, Marx, Lenin at Durga's doorstep

October 17, 2007 03:28 IST

For the last few months, this part of the globe could not have ignored the CPI(M)'s vehement opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal even if it tried.


But if you want to go beyond that, to learn more about the shrinking world of communism, its history, who's who and why the comrades welcome American microchips, but hate their potato chips then Durga Puja is the best time. For the Left, it's  the season to be jolly.


Das Kapital is coming to Kolkata at a Puja-stall near you. Amid the scores of kiosks selling a variety of goods from Made-in-China torches to water purifiers, jostled by hoardings announcing "heavy discounts", peeping out insistently from the glittering spectrum of colours, you will notice a 'red corner' — the CPI(M)'s bookstore at the Puja pandals.


The first of the stores in Delhi will be opened by Brinda Karat, the only Bengali politburo member of the party who is in Delhi during Puja, at Chittaranjan Park on October 17. Last year, the CPI(M) had set up a similar stall but on a much smaller scale.


This year, the party has planned four book kiosks around Delhi, targeting the best places where they can get maximum attention. The biggest Puja 'pandal' in Delhi --Chittaranjan Park's Mela Ground --is definitely on the red radar along with Chittaranjan Park's B Block, Karol Bag and New Delhi Kali Bari.


The kiosks, as usual, will be painted only in red and will be stocked with books on various aspects of CPI(M) ideology, important movements in India, biographies of CPI(M) leaders and their views on various issues around the world.


Material on the nuclear deal will also be for sale. The books are generally low-priced

to attract customers and will be available in English, Hindi and Bengali.


Those of a certain age will recall the People's Publishing House (PPH), a standard feature on many campuses, where you could get Marxist literature written not just by ideologues,  but heroes of the October Revolution like Lenin.


These pamphlets, which taught you why never to be a Decemberist, how important it was to avoid the perils of economic determinism, and why Trotsky must be condemned (because he opposed Stalin's theory of Socialism in One Country), went through lingering sickness before dying altogether following the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Clearly, it is this space in the Left market that the CPI(M) seeks to fill by setting up such kiosks.

According to sources, the bosses at AK Gopalan Bhawan, the capital's Kremlin, are not spending much on this publicity programme. Instead, they are banking on 'well-wishers' to sponsor stalls where the rates for stalls are sky high. A select team of cadres has already been formed to manage the kiosks for the next four days.


Most Indian Marxists are atheists and they view Durga Puja as a social celebration rather than a religious one. The kiosks are inevitably housed outside the Puja pandal.


Like corporate houses reaching out to customers through special efforts during the festival season, the CPI(M) tries to boost the sale of its literature during festivals.


The party may not have a strong foothold beyond three states, but its efforts to spread the wisdom of Marxism to every corner of the country seems to be unrelenting.

Saubhadra Chatterji in New Delhi