KOLKATA: IN its latest meeting of the state committee, held on February 24, 2009 the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) has called upon the mass of the people to stand guard against forces of reaction and their political patrons. A ceaseless campaign-movement must be waged against these anti-people and anti-poor elements. Presided over by central committee member Benoy Konar, state secretary Biman Basu made an important address, on the political-organisational reality and tasks.
Biman Basu said that a move had been started for some time now to cobble together an unprincipled mahajot’ or grand alliance comprising a rainbow opposition from the reactionary right to the sectarian left. To counter their moves, the CPI(M) must deepen mass contact and build up an intense political campaign at all levels, keeping in mind the interest of the masses. The unity of the Left Front must be augmented even further in all districts.
The meeting saw state committee members report on different political organisational issues. They said that the acceptability of the Party had continued to increase and the rallies at the call of the Party at the district level were bigger than ever. The resistance of the people is on the rise against the continuum of efforts by the separatists to try to create mayhem and chaos.
The issue of Lok Sabha candidates was discussed and it was decided to allocate the responsibility in this regard to the state secretariat. A meeting of the Bengal Left Front would be convened after all the partners had finalised their list of LS candidates. The comprehensive list of Left Front candidates shall be declared from that meeting of the state Left Front.
LF SURE TO DEFEAT EVEN COMBINED OPPOSITION: BUDDHADEB
BENGAL chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, addressing two meetings at Howrah and in Burdwan asserted that the Bengal Left Front would emerge victorious in the coming elections even if the opposition combined. He also asserted that industrialisation was the most suited way for creating jobs for the unemployed in Bengal.
The task before the Left would be to go deep amongst the masses and disseminate the Left’s political point of view in the backdrop of the evolving reality. The Left unity must be further strengthened. The crude face of capitalism-in-crisis must be unmasked relentlessly. He pointed out how the proponents of the ‘all-powerful market’ across the world were now reading Marx and extolling the virtues of the demand side economics of John Maynard Keynes. Socialism remains all powerful but it would be too early now to write off capitalism as a force to be reckoned with.Speaking in some detail about the danger emanating from the Trinamulis centrally aiding and abetting all kinds of forces of separatism, division, and religious fundamentalism, Buddhadeb emphasised that the issue central to the industrial policy of Bengal was the creation of jobs. Land is a prime requisite for the process to fructify. The LF government shall move forward with more discretion in the days to come and with a more organised approach in the task of land acquisition. At the same time, the ongoing process of democratisation and popular participation n governance shall move ahead.
EC FOR AN ADDITIONAL
11,000 POLLING BOOTHS
In one of its recent decrees, the Election Commission (EC) has called for reduction of voters per booth in Bengal. According to the EC, one booth will not include in its list more than 1200 voters. This translates to setting up of more booths than earlier. The state election department calculates that this will mean an additional of 11,000 booths, come the LS polls. At present the number of polling booths in Bengal number 51,919. After the EC ruling is put in place, sources in the state EC tell us, the number is likely to cross 64,000. The first experiment with the new figures of around 1200 per booth will be done at the Bishnupur west by-elections come February 26, 2009.
We learn from the EC that the argument behind the call for increase in the number of booths is quite straightforward. In Bengal where the political consciousness of voters is widespread, elections are held as almost a sacred event with voters coming out in their millions to vote in instances of assembly or Lok Sabha polls. Even in by-elections, the voting percentage is seldom below 70-75 per cent. Thus, long queues are formed even after darkness had fallen.
The average number of voters per booth now is between 1500 and 1600. The last assembly elections saw Bengal EC suo motu reduce the number of voters per booth to 1400. This time the number, as we said, would work out to 1200-odd. An additional and complex burden that the Bengal election machinery shall have to bear would be the additional components of election workers and security personnel who have to be brought in this time around, or, shall we say, from this time around.
12% INCREASE OF VOTERS AT NANDIGRAM VERSUS 2% AT KHEJURI
The Lok Sabha elections approach fast. One seat that the Trinamul Congress aims to wrest from the CPI(M) is Tamluk. Nandigram assembly segment is a part of this constituency that shall play a crucial role in the final outcome as would Khejuri. Data of the state election commission reveals something very disturbing – in an unprecedented electoral event for Bengal, there has been an increase of 12 per cent of voters in Nandigram assembly segment over the past two years of disturbance at the behest of the right-left combo. The concomitant rise in voters’ strength is a norm hovering around less than 2 per cent.
Subhendu Adhikari of the Trinamul Congress and their candidate designate from Tamluk has already started to boast that he would win the seat by an unprecedentedly huge margin. Let us take a look at a few statistical scenarios. Since the panchayat polls, the voters’ list has puffed up to stand at 12 per cent more than it had been during the past two years. How did this happen?
From January of 2007, the right-left combination let loose a veritable reign of terror in the entire Nandigram blocks, perhaps except Nandigram III. During the whole of 2007 and part of 2008, the voters’ list was revised in the appropriate manner by the Maoists and the Trinamulis with help from SUCI. They played political ducks-and-drakes with the entire process. At the end of the exercise we are now confronted with a hugely inflated voters’ list – 12 per cent worth of increase in less than two years. The whole development has thrown an additionality of challenge to the CPI(M) and its mass base, come the Lok Sabha elections.
LF GOVT GOES IN FOR RS 5106 Cr WORTH OF INCOME GENERATION, ADDITIONAL EMPLOYMENT
The Bengal Left Front government has declared a plan for additional generation of income and employment especially amongst the poor. This is a step to fight the recession that has spread its hydra-headed tentacles around the Indian economy.
Finance minister Professor Asim Dasgupta would prefer to describe the plan as a move towards farther empowerment of the mass of the people in distressing times. The plan aims at carrying beneficent economic and financial measures to the poorest of the poor as part of the LF government’s policy outlook.
The measures set in motion can thus be summarised:
1.Rs 1000 crore earmarked for non-BPL rural poor for housing
2.BPL families to get ration at Rs 2 for a kg of rice
3.Self-help groups to receive loans at a rate of 4 per cent from banks
4.Rs 50,000 to be disbursed as compensation to farmers whose potato crops have been affected with disease
5.All districts to have decentralised set up of godowns with a capacity of two lakh MT
6.Rs 500 crore allotted for land banks for medium and heavy industries
7.Rs 55 crore allotted for the handloom sector
8.One thousand vocational centres to be set up
9.Two new universities to be set up at Purulia-Bankura, and Jalpaiguri
10.50,000 primary school teacher posts to be filled up
11.Increase in the pay of para-teachers, school and college part-time teachers, and secondary education centres
12.The pension of workers of closed factories and closed tea gardens to be increased to Rs 1000 from the existing Rs 750
13.Increase of pension of the old, the widows, the physically challenged, as well as of kisans and workers
SPREAD OF EDUCATION IS FACILITATED BY THE USE OF THE MOTHER TONGUE
In order to ensure a fast spread of education, especially scientific education amongst the people, the use of the mother tongue is essential. This was stated by CPI(M) leader Biman Basu while addressing a seminar on ‘study of science in Bengali’, on the occasion of the international mother language day in Kolkata on February 21, 2009. The Bangiya Sakhsharata Prasar Samity (BSPS) organised the seminar at Kolkata University.
Biman Basu said that language had always played a central role behind the process that led to the formation and growth of States. Bangladesh is a potent example of this tenet. Imperialism was at work in ensuring that languages became fewer and fewer and diversity was done away with. This must be resisted.
Bengali language, too, was under attack from the forces of imperialism and their lackeys. The role emoted by such stalwarts in the development of the Bengali language like Vidyasagar, Madhusudan Dutta, Akhshaykumar Datta, Ram Mohan Roy, the Tagore family, J C Bose, and P C Roy were mentioned. Their tradition must be carried forward.
The occasion also saw the celebration of the 18th year of the organ of the BSPS, Lekha O Pada.