SILIGURI: Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on election tour across a vast stretch of north Bengal was clear in pointing out that the opposition in Bengal worked to organise, hearten, and applaud divisism of every kind including territorial separatism. It is the CPI (M) and the Left, Buddhadeb told the various gatherings he addressed between 28 and 31 March, which is ready to go in for sacrifices of every kind to ensure that Bengal remains integrated and a united entity.
The Trinamulis and the scions of Pradesh Congress, said Buddhadeb, were eager and willing to witness the prosperity and political flowering of such dangerous political devices as the call for ‘greater’ Coochbehar, for a separate ‘Gorkhaland,’ and for a ‘free’ state of Kamptapur, for a separate western Bengal centering around Lalgarh.
The separatist ‘Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’ (GJM) was ready to encroach upon the dooars and the terai with impunity for the sake of building up a separate Gorkhali entity that was conceptually and behaviourally a wrong notion from the first to the last of the premises they fatuously advanced. ‘We,’ said Buddhadeb ‘have told the Dooars adivasi organisations that had become very angry at the GJM’s move, that you should maintain calm and be of orderly conduct, for otherwise, the purpose of the GJM would have been served.’ We are aware of the problems that the adivasis face and whether it was the dearth of Hindi-medium school or the issue of closed and sick cha bagicha, the LF government would look into them for a fruitful but amicable solution.’
The CPI (M) and the LF stood for unity – of the plains and the hills, and of the plains people and the hills people in all their colourful existence. Buddhadeb appealed once again to the GJM leaders not to go in for separatism for that would not solve whatever anguish they nourished in the hearts-and-minds, and whatever was the sort of deprivation they might nurture.
‘We are ready to provide the hill area with more administrative and financial powers for developmental purposes, but who would stand to gain if you go in for separatism? Has the carving away of Jharkhand from Bihar been of any help to the people of either of the two neighbouring states?’ asked Buddhadeb.
Buddhadeb asked the Pradesh Congress leaders to come clean of they could on the issue of a separate hill district. The Congress speaks in one tone in the terai and dooars and in quire another in the hills. This was duplicity and the victims are the common people, especially the poor who become more and more confused and angry at being played as ducks-and-drakes.
Recalling the 1970s when the violent Naxalite (later the ‘Congxalite’) movement swept Bengal and the 1980s when the Gorkhaland movement under the counter-progressive stewardship of the GNLF, shed the blood of the poor, the bourgeois parties had silently provided succour and encouragement to the politics of destruction. Those days would be allowed to come back and haunt the poor of the province again, asserted Buddhadeb firmly. In the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the electorate must vote for peace, for amity, for progress, for development.
Later fielding a plethora of questions, some mundane, others facetious, only a few that could be deemed having political content, Buddhadeb said that the prospects of a strong Third Front grew fast every day, every week. The BJP a vicious outfit that believed in religious fundamentalism of the physical kind (e.g., a young BJP leader’s horrendous threats to non-Hindu communities, uttered brazenly in front of rolling TV cameras) was losing ground fast. Allies were dropping off the ship-ran-aground called the Congress. The resultant political vector clearly worked for the repository of popular trust in the secular-democratic Third Front with the Left and the CPI (M) playing the role of a catalyst.
Elsewhere in Darjeeling the LF’s CPI (M) candidate for the seat Jibesh sarkar was heckled by the GJM but nonetheless, he also received a cheerful welcome from the masses of the hill station, and his campaign up in the hills was such a success that the Bengal CPI (M) would extend electioneering in such important hill towns as Kurseong, and Kalimpong shortly, urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharyya, a long-time Party activist of Siliguri and Darjeeling assured us.