September 5, 2008



KOLKATA(INN): Just over a month back, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat while in Kolkata to attend a state committee meeting, told us that once the ongoing campaign-movement reached a peak all-over Bengal -- against US intransigence, against the Indian government’s kow-towing before imperialism, and against the runaway inflation, all the secondary and tertiary issues that were created by the Bengal opposition in its different avatars, to tease, taunt, provoke and ultimately harm not only the people of Bengal, but also the Bengal CPI (M), and the Bengal Left Front government, ‘would get subsumed in the people’s struggles.’


Truer words were seldom spoken as was demonstrated by the massive, unprecedented attendance at all the rallies that were being held all-over Bengal, in towns as well as rural areas, on the occasion of remembering the sacrifice of the shahids (martyrs) of the food movements of the past, especially those who were brutally killed in 1966 by the then Congress-run Bengal government. That was not all as the campaign movement widened and deepened among the toiling masses.

The Maoist intransigence has stopped in its tracks. Nandigram has seen only occasionally flaring up despite the Trinamul Congress’s quite unexpected, and as yet unexplained, electoral step forward of the in the last rural polls; and the Darjeeling separatists have halted in their onerous trail to gradually convert the three hill subdivisions into a separate district for all practical purposes.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Bengal chief minister and a senior CPI (M) leader of Bengal started his address at the indoor stadium, after the roar of applause has finally died down when he had stepped up and taken the microphone on the podium, a usual phenomenon and one that leaves him visibly and always in great discomfiture, by asking rhetorically what could be the ‘ways-and-means’ to fathom and plumb the depth of the present situation in India-- and in Bengal?


Two issues, he answered his own query, ‘we must ponder over, and with seriousness that they deserve.’ These were, first, the programme of the campaign movement in the days, weeks, and months, even years to come. Second, what are the ideological, political, organisational, and yes, developmental tasks that the Bengal CPI (M) wants to achieve, taking along the toiling exploited masses of the people all the way?

Buddhadeb served a warning when he said that ‘at the present moment we have a central government that would not even marginally bother about the vast economic crisis overwhelming the nation.’ There is a double digit inflation just topping the fearful figure of 13% plus. The prices of essential commodities are soaring up, productivity has fallen below 7% -- and the smile on the faces of the hoarders and black-marketers, enjoying ‘safe havens’ under the Singh dispensation, are becoming broader and broader.


Buddhadeb said that some time back, and at the correct juncture, the CPI (M) and the Left had withdrawn their outside support from the Congress-run UPA government. ‘We may remind you of the circumstances that had led us to lend them our support in the first place: there was then a second coming of the BJP, claws, teeth, fangs and talons exposed, ready to ride the rath (chariot) of Hindutva, preparing to render the nation asunder along communal fault lines.’

‘We needed to stop the BJP from assuming office. That was the reason, and the sole reason, behind our lending outside support to the Congress whose authoritarian features the CPI (M) knows better than any political outfit in India, especially from our experiences in Bengal of the 1970s.

Nevertheless, was the support unconditional? No, it was certainly not. A Common Minimum Programme had been drawn up. Two committees had been formed: one of the UPA and the other, the pro-people, Left coordination committee. The condition was the implementation of the contents of the CMP.

‘Soon we started to realise that the Singh régime was moving away from the CMP – slowly at first and then with gleeful rapidity, and the two committees started to meet less and less, and the blemish did not lay with the sincere and mature leadership of the CPI (M) and the Left.

‘We knew that we were about to come under fire – already the people grilled us about our raison d’être of suppoporitng an anti-people government. The oil prices were allowed to float upwards with nary a concern for the cascading and harmful effects on the economy. Would the Singh government mind?


The LF government has withdrawn a large chunk of its share of taxes on fuel – a slight but important relief to the people’s economy, the economy where the toiling masses operate for their daily livelihood. Accountable to the people, we even stood the loss of crores of rupees every month by starting to supply rice, lentils, and edible oil at a concessional price.

In the meanwhile, the Singh government was running away with its wishes. ‘We had said “no!” to the “strategic partnership” with the US.’ The central government fussed over the issue but went quietly ahead with its anti-people, anti-national machinations. ‘We had said that they should put an immediate stop to all those “joint exercises” and their likes – but would they listen for a moment—no, and the “no” was not exactly unexpected by then to us, given the central government’s class character.’


‘On the last occasion I met Prime Minister Singh,’ said Buddhadeb, ‘I told him quite categorically that the being that stands between the left and the Congress is none other than the one and only George W Bush – and the prime minister would not bother for a response.’

An important task ahead is the building up of a third alternative – a long-drawn task, indeed, for that alternative must come up through the vagaries and the challenges of mass movements all over the country – and not just in the Left-run states. The Left would of course grow from strength to strength as the principal force of opposition in the days to come, was Buddhadeb’s firm belief and conviction.

agriculture and industry

Narrating the agrarian successes of Bengal in recent times, Buddhadeb iterated the need for industries for employment-oriented growth. He was critical of the opposition when they talk out of turn and damning the law of the land about ‘returning and for which compensation has not been received.’ Buddhadeb again said that the portals for discussion were open but within the present legal and administrative frame work.

Buddhadeb also explained what was meant by ancillary units and how these units must abut the mother plant for the production chain to be of any viability at all. The strife going on around Singur is one-sided – nay, more it is a strife between the opposition and the aam janta of Bengal, between the forces of development and the forces of regression – and the question that faces everybody is this: would the state move forwards along its determined path of pro-people, pro-poor, pro-employment growth or would the Trinamul Congress get on with its evil design of stalling the entire process?

Biman Basu who presided spoke briefly on the purport of the rally and on the significance of the day. He narrated his experiences of the food movements in which he had taken a part as a young lad, and had had its first test Congress régime’s brutal ways. Bimanda concluded by saying that all kinds of developmental works in Bengal must take the people along with the entire process and procedures.

Left Front constituent leaders addressing the rally were Manju Kumar Majumdar (CPI), Barun Mukherjee (FB), Debabrata Bandyopadhyay (RSP), Pratim Chatterjee (Marxist FB), Janmejoy Ojha (WBSP), Prabodh Sinha (DSP), Mihir Byne (RCPI), and Rita Chaudhuri (BBC).

31 August,2008

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