December 3, 2008



KOLKATA, 3rd December, 2008(INN): Bengal Left Front candidates won overwhelming electoral triumphs, in the most difficult of circumstances, at the emanate township of tribal Jhargram in adivasi-dominated Midnapore west. The Left Front also won three of the five civic by-polls that were held on the same day 30 November 2008.

They also registered a thumping victory at the industrial township of Howrah called Kolkata’s twin city. Like in the earlier years, the Left Front lost out in Berhampore where Adhir Chaudhuri again put his muscle power in, and in ample measure, to bolster and supplement his money influence. Krishnagar’s civic board again slipped out of the political grip of the Left Front although margins of losses were smaller that the margins of seats won by the all-in alliance of the Bengal opposition, more of which later.

Much had been made in the corporate media about Jhargram. They said that the adivasis were no longer with the CPI (M). Some like the Ananda Bazar Patrika group of publications and the TV channels it owns, went a step farther to say, again and again, with a dry humour, that the adivasis were always against the ‘CPM control’ over them, and that this time around, the blockades and the dug out made of a few roads were clung to by the worthies of the media to outline a whole structure of danger signals for the Communist Party – whose candidates, they predicted with a fine, laid-back casual air, were going to lose in huge humiliation in the Jhargram municipal elections.

They were proved wrong and left, perhaps not possibly literally, quite red in the face. The LF supported CPI (M) candidates won 13 of the 17 seats that were contested. We had won 11 seats the last time around five years back.

Before reeling off the figures of the sorry losers, let us say that this time, in every municipal ward, and in all four civic bodies and in the by-polls, a mahajot, stretching from the separatist Jharkhandis to the reactionary Congress and the Trinamul to the left sectarian ‘Maoists,’ was active in a full-fledged manner with one-to-one contests being the order of the day. We still recall posters of BJP and Pradesh Congress during our recent visit to the laterite zone of Bengal that said ‘vote for the Jharkhandis or the Trinamulis as per strength and prospect of the candidate.’

Congratulating the adivasi brothers and sisters for the courage of political conviction, they had shown, when the time came to cast their votes, LF chairman Biman Basu said that the Communists had remained with the adivasis right from the 1950s through many struggles and movements in their interest and for their uplift.

From the Lodha struggle, to the rĂ´le played by central committee member of the CPI (M) Kumar Siralkar (who is fluent in five adivasi dialects) in helping Santhali make it to the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, to the hard struggle for the barrage on the roaring Kangsabati river, to struggling against the Jharkhandi and Maoist intruders and their killers’ ways, the Communist Party had always been in the van taking along the people of the vananchal till the very recent movement for the recognition of the right of the tribal to the forest resources.

Bimanda also made a very valid point when he said that the corporate media, print or otherwise would always call those engaged in digging up roads of felling precious trees, adivasis, and those going against these barbaric acts of commission men and women of the ‘CPM’ Bimanda asked the members of the fourth estate to be a little less biased when they regurgitate their anti-Communist ire. Midnapore west CPI (M) secretary Professor Dipak Sarkar has quietly pointed out to us, as the results were coming in, the crucially important fact that this year, the mahajot notwithstanding, the two reserved seats for adivasis at Jhargram went to the CPI (M) by a much larger margin than the last time around.

At Jhargram, in fact, the seats of the Pradesh Congress came down from two to a tragic one, that of the separatist Jharkhandis by the same statistical step down, while the Trinamulis just managed to hang on to two seats as they had done during the last elections although going by the diminishing return of popularity measured in terms of the votes won, one feels rather good when one looks to the next elections.

The question that the Telegraph correspondent, who has this bubbly outlook on whatever the issue is at stake, be it elections or accidents, in the instant case, both, chose to ask of Biman Basu was to probe and find the reason why, ‘despite the motor factory at Singur not coming to fruition, and what with Howrah abutting Kolkata’ (did he mean that the metro had ‘protested too much’ on the motor car factory issue?!), how could the CPI (M) make out so well, come the civic polls? Biman Basu as is his wont would not deign to reply to conjectures without analysis, and he told this straight to the reporter’s face.

But what struck us as fair bemuse was that the big money media owners have by now been able to make ‘corporate brains’ of young men and women sufficiently, hatefully corpulent enough about and against the Communists, for them to reveal their hatred openly, in public, in media conferences, and not bothering to wait to go back to sit at the spanking new state-of-the-art PCs back in the office to boot and the work sheet to open.

Elsewhere, in Krishnagar, 24 seats saw a split like this: Left Front 2 (4 seats won during the previous poll), Trinamul Congress 8 (from nought earlier), and Pradesh Congress 14 (down from 18 the last time around). Berhampore saw Pradesh Congress of the Adhir fraction sweep all 25 seats although margins were lesser.

In Howrah, the picture is like this (with seats won earlier in brackets): LF 33 (37), Pradesh Congress 9 (8), Trinamul 7 (4), and finally BJP 1 (1). The LF and the CPI (M) would go in for a detailed analysis of the poll results, ward by ward, before coming up with a review, the senior CPI (M) leader Biman Basu informed the media.


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