April 30, 2009

Emami to invest Rs 2,200 cr in Bengal paper plant

Kolkata: The Rs 2,000-crore Emami Group is planning to invest Rs 2,200 crore for setting up a high-end writing and printing paper manufacturing plant at Kultikri in West Midnapore district of West Bengal.

The 200,000-tonne-a-year unit, to be developed by group company Emami Paper Mills Limited, would be completed within three and a half years from zero date, according to Mr P.S. Patwari, Executive Director of the company. The 1,415 acres required to set up the plant would be acquired within a year, he said.

Emami Paper Mills signed a memorandum of agreement here on Friday with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation for implementing the project. The State Government would provide nearly a half of the required land (vested land of nearly 700 acres), while Emami has to acquire the rest, West Bengal Chief Minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said after the agreement signing ceremony. All land to be acquired in the area is barren, Mr R.S. Agarwal, Joint Chairman of Emami Group, said.
“The paper mill project, one of the biggest in India, is expected to generate substantial employment,” the Chief Minister said. Nearly 8,000 people will be directly or indirectly employed in the project, West Bengal Industrial Secretary Mr Sabyasachi Sen told presspersons on the sidelines of the programme.

The Irrigation Department has agreed to supply water from the Subarnarekha, he said, while pointing out that the used water will be released into the river after recycling through canals. The plant would consume nearly 75,000 cubic metre of water daily while its coal intake would be two lakh tonnes a year. The wood pulp required as raw material would be supplied by the West Bengal Forest Department.

April 29, 2009


HARIPAL(HOOGHLY): Bharati Mukherjee, CPI (M) MLA from Haripal cannot yet get over the horror of the event, the beating up, and the final, agonising death – of a CPI (M) worker, comrade Bhaben Deeg, a member of the Haripal-II local committee. The rally that Bharati addressed at Haripur at Haripal in Hooghly district was large and as usual, a big part of the assemblage was women. The success of any CPI (M) rally makes a burn-out case of Trinamulis, always. The Haripal rally was no exception.

Bharati was later to tell us that from the beginning one Labanya Deeg, a staunch Trinamuli, started to blare out piercing music from powerful speakers during the rally from his shop nearby. This irritated the people no end, and a few CPI (M) workers approached Labanya’s shop and asked him at least to tone down the volume.

They were met with choicest of expletives. Seeing that the mass of the people were becoming angry, Bhaben, a comrade of calm disposition and great experience, went to the shop-owner and tried to reason it out with him.

A clutch of Trinamuli workers who were inside the shop suddenly came out and started to beat up comrade Bhaben till he was a bloody pulp, and very dead. The Party leadership brought the situation under control as the villagers by then had surrounded the Trinamulis and the latter, cowering, feared the worst. Zonal secretary of the CPI (M) Dulal Bhowmick called upon the CPI (M) workers not to loose control, even as they tearfully bade farewell to comrade Bhaben Deeg later.

Industry well on track: CM

KOLKATA, 29 Apr. 2009: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday fell back on his biggest USP the promise of fast-tracking industrialization to drum up support for the Left ahead of elections to 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bengal which would be held on Thursday. Addressing a meeting of the Calcutta Citizens' Initiative an association of eminent individuals from different streams, including a few mid-rung industrialists just 48 hours before the poll bugle is sounded in the state, the CM held out hope that mega projects announced earlier such as the numerous steel plants and petrochem hub were bound to come up, despite pressures induced by the global economic meltdown.
"I just can't accept the Opposition position. They are opposing everything, even the extension of national highways and acquisition of land for a thermal power plant at Katwa. But, I accept the challenge since I believe in people power and not muscle power," Bhattacharjee told a gathering at the G D Birla Sabhagar, which also included Nicco's Rajive Kaul and Titagarh Wagon's J P Chowdhary from the industrialist fraternity. "I have spoken to Sajjan Jindal and he has assured me that the JSW plant would definitely come up despite the problems in raising funds from banks at the moment," the CM added.
Incidentally, Jindal has already gone on record that the proposed 10-million tonne plant at Salboni, which was originally supposed to entail an investment of Rs 35,000 crore, could be delayed because of the current tough economic climate. Bhattacharjee whose industrialization policies had helped disparate Opposition parties to join hands said his government had taken lessons from the mistakes committed earlier in acquiring land. "Our intention was not bad. I have no personal preference for cars. All I wanted to see was the smiling faces of thousands of workers at Singur. We wanted to make Nandigram another Haldia. But the Opposition played a destructive role," he asserted.
However, the state was in the process of setting up a land bank largely comprising fallow land at a cost of Rs 500 crore to ensure that plots could be handed over to companies quicker. A rehabilitation package was also being drawn up for affected landlosers. "We are negotiating with a Czech company for a mass rapid transit system," he added.
Earlier, other speakers invited at the programme said the electorate should teach the Opposition a lesson for its negative brand of politics. "We have to ensure that agitational politics is washed away from the shores of West Bengal," town planner R M Kapoor said. "The intellectuals who are seeking change through hoardings should have the courage to specify what change they want," painter Sunil Das said.

Brinda Karat returns Sonia barb

MALDA,29 Apr 2009: Reacting to Sonia Gandhi's comments against the Left Front government in Bengal the day before, Brinda Karat tore into the Congress at rallies in Malda and Gajole on Tuesday. "Before criticizing the Bengal government, Sonia Gandhi must answer why a farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes in Maharashtra after so many years of Congress rule there," she thundered.

Karat was referring to Sonia's remark that "the Bengal government would have to answer why it has not done anything for the poor in so many years". Karat said Congress was "shedding tears" for minorities, farmers and tribals before the election. "But what have they done all these years? If they did anything at all, it was due to the Left Front's pressure," she said. "Sensing their inevitable defeat in North Malda, Congress is now playing the communal card. But people of the state are conscious enough to refuse them,"

she said. "Sonia said a lot regarding the Prime Minister fashion' in our Third Front. All we want to say is that the people of India have decided not to accept the Congress fashion in Delhi," she said. Regarding Sonia's comment on the "Bengal government's autocratic attitude", Karat said: "Sonia's comment on West Bengal was tantamount to insulting the people. In Bengal, the voting percentage is 70% to 80%. But in Amethi, from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting, the poll percentage is 40 to 45%. Is it not tanashahi' (autocracy)," she wondered.

CPI(M) will make Third Front workable: Biman Basu

Kolkata (IANS): The Communist Party of India(Marxist) (CPI(M)) will use its rich experience of running a Left Front government in West Bengal to make the Third Front a success if it wins the Lok Sabha elections, says the party's politburo member Biman Basu.He accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of encouraging "divisive and fissiparous" forces by aligning with the pro-Gorkhaland Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in the Darjeeling constituency in the northern part of the state.
Secretary of the CPI-M's powerful West Bengal unit, Bose told IANS in an interview: "The Third Front, the way the Left parties have initiated it, is not just a conglomeration of different parties."
He said to make a Third Front government workable, "there will be a Common Minimum Programme which will be accepted by all the constituents.

"I am hopeful this is possible. We have the experience in West Bengal where nine parties have been running the state government for more than 30 years. We consider the Left Front as less than a party and more than a front. "If we can apply this practice in forming the Third Front and can move accordingly, we can set up a sustainable government at the centre."

Mr. Bose underlined that the Left started coalition politics long before other political parties in India. The Left Front government led by the CPI-M came to power in West Bengal in 1977 and has won successive elections. He dismissed as "meaningless" Congress president Sonia Gandhi's comment that the Third Front was born out of some of its leaders' ambition to become prime minister. "She should remember that in any case the prime minister has to be elected."

Asked if West Bengal Chief Minister Buddahdeb Bhattacharjee could be one of the candidates for prime ministership, he called the question hypothetical. Mr. Basu came down heavily on the BJP decision to field heavyweight Jaswant Singh from Darjeeling with the support of the GJM. "The way the BJP has shown sympathy for the GJM and its Gorkhaland demand in its election manifesto, that will help the divisive and fissiparous forces to divide West Bengal.

"The BJP is playing a dangerous game with the GJM. This will definitely break the unity and amity of the people in the hills and plains of Darjeeling," Basu contended. Mr. Basu discounted speculation that the Congress-Trinamool combine could end up with a much greater share of seats than in the previous elections five years ago. In 2004, the Left Front bagged 35 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, while the Congress and the Trinamool got six and one respectively.

"This combination cannot gain more seats since electoral results do not depend on arithmetic calculation," he said. He also disagreed with the view that the Congress-Trinamool combine was severely denting the Left Front's traditional rural base. "It's a fact that in last year's panchayat (rural bodies) polls, the Left lost seats. But still we got more than 52 percent of the votes."

He contended that the Left Front suffered reverses in the panchayat elections because of disunity in its ranks, leading to the partners fighting each other in more than 10,000 seats. He claimed that the differences had been ironed out this time. Criticising the Congress, the fulcrum of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Basu said: "It is now becoming a victim of rightist forces. Their policies are not meant for the common people. Rather, they are aimed to benefit the wealthy sections."

He said it was a pity the 123-year-old Congress was fighting the elections in West Bengal as the junior partner of Trinamool, its breakaway group. On Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee's call that it was battle for "mother, land and people", Basu said: "Their so-called 'mother, land and people' battle is not covering 543 constituencies across India. It is concentrated only in the 42 seats from the State."

Election in 14 of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal tomorrow

Kolkata April 29, 2009: West Bengal goes to the first of the three phase election in 14 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state tomorrow amid unprecedented security to ward off threat from Maoists or extremists. Prominent among those whose fate would be decided on the morrow include BJP heavyweight Jaswant Singh from Darjeeling, CPI(M) leader in Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharya from Bankura, CPI parliamentarian Gurudas Dasgupta from Ghatal and the wife of ailing Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, Deepa Dasmunshi. Jaswant Singh is fighting the election with the support of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which is spearheading a stir in the Darjeeling hills for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

A total of 1.69 crore electorate will be eligible to vote for 134 candidates, including nine women. West Bengal will have the highest deployment of 220 companies of central forces in each of the three-phases -- tomorrow, May 7 and May 13. Three helicopters will also be deployed during the election.The central forces would be deployed in static, critical mobile and mobile positions.
The constituencies going to polls are Coochbehar (SC), Alipurduar (ST), Jalpaiguri (SC), Darjeeling, Raiganj, Balurghat, Malda (North) Malda (South), Ghatala, Jhargram (ST), Midnapur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur (SC).
Star campaigners for the Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance were AICC President Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi. Besides them, Congress stalwart Pranab Mukherjee also campaigned for the alliance. For the ruling Left Front, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee, CPI(M) Politburo members Sitram Yechuri, Brinda Karat and Left Front chairman Biman Basu had hit the campaign trail. CPI(M) veteran leader Jyoti Basu was unable to campaign due to ill health.

The Election Commission faces a crucial test in holding a peaceful poll in the Jhargram seat in West Midnapore district, which includes Lalgarh where a tribal agitation against 'police atrocities' is on since early November last year.

Polling booths in four villages in Lalgarh, whose residents opposed the entry of the police, have been moved five kilometers away with the Election officials arranging for buses to ferry voters. In some North Bengal constituencies there is presence of extremist outfits like the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), allegedly having links with the ULFA, and parties like the Greater Coochbehar Democratic Party (GCDP), agitating for a separate state.

Apart from three regular central election observers for each constituency, the EC has appointed four special observers - two in Ghatal, one in Darjeeling and one in Bishnupur following complaints from those areas, while there would also be micro-observers. Keshpur, Sabang, Pingla, Chandrakona, Malda, Darjeeling and Bishnupur seats have been declared as sensitive, while some others were identified as 'critical'.

Rahul remarks an insult to West Bengal’

People continue to repose faith in the Left: Yechury

NEW DELHI: Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury on Saturday said Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the Left Front government in West Bengal amounted to “insulting the people of Bengal.”

“Rajiv Gandhi had once said Kolkata was a dying city. And you remember what happened after that. Now, his son is echoing similar things about Bengal,” Mr. Yechury told journalists when asked to respond to Mr. Gandhi’s charge that the situation in West Bengal was worse than what was in Uttar Pradesh. “Why are the people continuing to repose faith in the Left? If you say they are doing so for the wrong reasons, then it is tantamount to insulting the people of Bengal,” he added.

The CPI(M) leader drew attention to a study, commissioned under Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, which ranked West Bengal among the top three States. The World Bank too had reported a decline in the below-the-poverty line-level population in the State.

“You too won’t agree that Ahluwalia is a Left spokesman or the World Bank a Left body,” he observed while warning that the Left parties too could reveal worse social indicators in Congress-ruled states.

Conceding that anyone could voice his opinion and Mr. Gandhi was no exception, Mr. Yechury pointed out that the fact that the people of West Bengal had elected the Left Front seven times in a row “merits a re-thinking” among those criticising the government.

The Election Commission had in the past conceded the demand of the Opposition parties by inducting security forces in large numbers from outside the State and staggering the elections in five phases but the result was the same.

“I had then told the Election Commission jokingly that so long as you don’t bring in voters from outside, you can’t fight the Left in Bengal,” he said while pointing out that the Left Front had then won two-thirds of the seats.

On Mr. Gandhi’s remark that West Bengal had failed to properly implement the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in some districts, Mr. Yechury blamed the Centre for not responding to the Left Front government’s plea to effect some changes in the utilisation of funds due to the State’s unique climatic conditions. The senior CPI(M) leader said the Bharatiya Janata Party leader L. K. Advani’s political standing would be at stake if he accepted the clean chit given by the former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief, K. S. Sudarshan, regarding his role in Babri Masjid demolition. Mr. Yechury felt it was inconceivable that people would believe in the clean chit given by Mr. Sudarshan or accepted by Mr. Advani.

NREGA performance - West Bengal fares better irrespective of hitches from the Central government

KOLKATA: West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala’s Left Front government had led the fight for proper implementation of NREGA. This infact took another proportion when West Bengal said that proper resource sharing mechanism on the issues of NREGA will be absolutely needed. The fight that the Left Front particularly the CPI(M) fought against the bureaucratic decisions of the UPA led government infact made the UPA bow down.
Mentionable that the 100days work itself under the NREGA scheme was forced upon the UPA government by the Left parties as right to work was an essential demand primarily of the Left parties. Although now the Congress is trying to take credit of this but the bitter fact remains that probably the Congress if returned to power is planning to weaken the national rural employment generation programme. An indication of this wily design has already been manifested by the current budget where for 2009-2010 Rs 55,170 crore has been allocated for the ministry, a decrease of 14.93 per cent from 2008-09. Quite understandably, the World Bank in its 2009 World Human Development report has slammed the NREGA as a policy barrier to the internal mobility. Therefore it is not surprising that a concerted attempt is being made by the UPA to carry on a vicious campaign against the propagator of NREGA i.e. the LEFT parties due to whose emphasis the UPA government had been forced to adopt this landmark scheme.

Infact in the first phase of the implementation of NREGA about 2 out of the 4 districts in west Bengal where NREGA had been carried out has received awards from the Central Government. The rest two missed the prize by whiskers. Out of the 18 districts of the West Bengal where NREGA is being carried out in 2008-2009 financial year a total of 11 lakh 68 thousand 428 families or 15 lakh 37229 people has got work under this scheme according to Central government report only. On the other hand the number of districts covered under the NREGA in Rajasthan, Orrissa, Madhyapradesh Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra has been more. Currently in West Bengal work is going on under NREGAin 59thousand 868projects. This is also because of the extra emphasis of the NREGA on earthwork which perhaps is not entire suitable for a state like West Bengal which itself is agriculturally advanced. Also West Bengal government has many times urged the centre and the bureaucrats in including rural community resource creation within the scope of work of NREGA. However with West Bengal’s elected Panchayets and the mechanism of participation of the village governments within the scope of 100 days work has also given an entirely new dimension to the NREGA work in west Bengal. The minimum wage under the NREGA has also been increased by the West Bengal government. Recently West Bengal has been awarded one of the four first prizes of Rs 1.50 crores for good performance of PRIs , its Panchayet system once again has been regarded as one of the best mechanisms of the country.

According to sources in Panchayet and Rural Development department, Government of West Bengal, more than 41lakh bank or post office accounts have been opened so far. Out of which, 13 lakh 18 thousand 174 has been joint accounts. The minister in charge of Rural development and Panchayets Bankim Ghosh has said that emphasis has been given to open joint accounts under NREGA. Extra emphasis had been given on rain water harvesting horticulture and allied activities. Emphasis has also been given to do work under the NREGA in the 4612 backward villages of the state. Mentionable that West Bengal has also been the first state in the entire country when it comes to identify its backward villages and to plan accordingly.

According to Central Government statistics till the month of February this year ,a total of 9175528 household has been issued job cards till the latest reporting month out of which 3258257 are from schedule caste background, 962560 from ST background, and 4954711 coming from others background. Here it can be mentioned that the work under the NREGA in the state had been started in phases and the latest addition being the Howrah district. In the month of February 2009 itself a total of 934237 people were working under the NREGA in different districts of West Bengal. The Total number of cumulative person days generated under NREGA in West Bengal has been 576.46846 (lakh days) out of which 220.74443(lakh days) has been for schedule castes 90.041599(lakh days) for ST, 142.32229(lakh days) are for women and the rest 265.68244(lakh days) for people belonging to other castes. Out of this a total of 235385 families working in NREGA have also been benefitted due to land reforms in the state and 24970 have been disabled persons who have got work under NREGA in the different districts of west Bengal. Mentionable that due to Panchayet elections in West Bengal work suffered to some extent in NREGA due to the NREGA guidelines and the election regulation. In the Trinamool controlled Zilla Parishads also work has suffered to a greater extent due to non cooperation by those Zilla Parishad. Also due to the agitation in the Darjeeling district. By the GJM and the subsequent ban on NREGA work by the GJM has also hampered the work in that district. In portions of West Medinipore i.e. in Lalgarh and the Maoist insurgency prone areas work on NREGA has suffered due to demand of money by the Maoists. In the September –October month also work suffered due to the opposition fuelled unrest in parts of West Medinipore and Bankura and Purulia.
However after the common people resisted to these evil designs, now work again is on full swing in these areas. West Bengal is also faring well in number of Gramsabha held in each villages and the State government recently has also announced a policy decision in this regard and has declared that the state government will not release own funds of the gram Panchayets until and unless the gram sabha’s are held regularly in the village Panchayets of the state. In the year 2008 -2009 a total of 1337 complaints were lodged and more than 77 percent of the complaints have been disposed of already in other cases investigations has been taken up by proper authorities.


LALGARH: There was no ocean of clouds in the sky. The heat was broiling. The ambience was waiting anxiously for another of the secretive assaults by the ‘Maoists.’ Then the tide changed. A padayatra of several thousands CPI (M) workers and local villagers emerged from the forests into Lalgarh, plenty of Red Flags fluttering and afloat in the hot khamsin-like wind swirls, slogans reverberating across the Sal, Mahua, Arjun, and Simul trees in full, multi-hued bloom – summer has been here. Leading the marchers was Dr Pulin Baskey, CPI (M) candidate from the Jhargram parliamentary seat. The march winded its way through villages like Belatikari, Nepura, Dharampur, Chemtiara, Bamal, Jirapara, and Gohmi.

Dr Pulin went from house-to-house on his campaign trail. He moved freely around Lalgarh east and west, the ‘Maoist’-affected stretches, upto Saradamani. Everywhere he was welcomed with fresh flowers and garlands. The people were eager to talk to him and tell him about the ‘Maoist’ atrocities that had also stultified development work in the Kantageria-Lalgarh-Ramgarh area. Each of the stopovers that Dr Pulin made was within a maximum of one kilometre of known ‘Maoist’ shelters that the loyal Trinamuli toughs provide – out of political compulsion or fear is still a point of debate.

The CPI (M) candidate addressed an impromptu rally at the ST Chowk that was attended by several thousands of the local populace. For the first time, we could see that the wall of fear was crumbling down and the people were no longer cowering when coming out into the open. The padayatra was at least three km long and had other, smaller meetings that the CPI (M) leadership of the area addressed, among them Anuj Pandey and Joydeb Giri.

Dr Pulin then proceeded to the place in Belatikari where CPI (M) leader Chandi Karan had been assaulted by the ‘Maoist-Trinamuli’ combination a few weeks back. We were quite astonished as we witnessed people pour out of the hutments and mill around the CPI (M) leadership – the enthusiasm was quite infectious and certainly affected us as well as the few known Trinamulis of the locale who had ventured out to see what the hurrahs were all about.

Then the padayatra entered the deepest of the dense stretches of the jangal mahal, slogans ringing out all the while, where the pitched-and-tarred metalled road was a strip of winding steel glistening harsh amidst the soft lush of greens, browns, and the bright Red of the march.

The people at a final rally held at Gohmi by the side of the deep aquamarine stream where quiet flows the Kangsabati river, told the CPI (M) leaders how the ‘Maoists’ had visited the area deep into the night, last night, asking the villagers not to join the padayatra or else. They defied the death threat -- and the cracks have started to appear in the façade of fear that these left sectarians and their Trinamuli cronies seek to drape over the Lalgarh area. The election is but a couple of days away.

Puruliya is far ahead of Prince's own Amethi-Raebareli

KOLKATA(INN): Congress leader Mr. Rahul Gandhi has criticised the Left Front government for lack of development in West Bengal during his election campaign in the State. He has said that the situation in Puruliya is even worse than Kalahandi. The prince of Congress himself is an M.P. from Amethi in Sultanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. The Amethi and the Raebareli constituencies by virtue of traditionally being the constituencies of Gandhi family have got an undue favour from the central Government. Yet, the data says that these constituencies are closer to Kalahandi vis-a-vis underdevelopment instead of Puruliya, as Rahul Gandhi would have us believe. In certain aspects, they are even worse than Kalahandi.

If we look at the index of economic and social development, Puruliya is way ahead of Raebareli and Amethi. These indices are constructed by national sample survey, ‘Bharat Nirman’ project, department of rural development etc. Indices regarding health, education, infrastructure are taken from household and facility survey-3 of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Even from the constituency level data given in the website of Indicus Analytics, it is clear that Mr. Rahul Gandhi, or his team of political advisors, has not done minimum ‘homework’ before speaking in public.
If we consider the proportion of population below poverty line, during 2008 in Puruliya constituency it was 20% population whereas that was 44% in Amethi,58% in Raebareli and 59% in Kalahandi. In puruliya, the proportion of the BPL population is reduced by 4% during last 4 years, whereas it has gone up in Kalahandi and Raebareli. The annual average household income has been Rs. 83 thousand in Puruliya as compared to Rs.51 thousand in Amethi, 47 thousand in Raebareli and 49 thousand in Kalahandi. Average annual Per capita consumption expenditure has been Rs. 13 thousand in Puruliya as compared to Rs. 6.2 thousand and Rs. 7.8 thousand in Amethi and Raebareli respectively which are lower than even Kalahandi (Rs. 10.7 thousand).

A district-wise study by Choudhary and Gupta (EPW, 2009) which is based on NSSO consumption survey of 2004-5 tells us that average per month per capita consumption expenditure in rural areas has been Rs. 304 in Kalahandi and Rs. 461 in Puruliya district, but for Raebareli district this was only Rs. 385. In urban areas per month per head expenditures have been Rs. 846, Rs.741 and Rs. 699 in Puruliya, Kalahandi and Raebareli respectively. According to this study the percentage of poor population in rural areas has been 70.5% in Kalahandi, 54.4% in Raebareli and 31.2% in Puruliya. The percentage of poor population in urban areas has been 60.3% in Kalahandi, 40.5% in Raebareli and 36.9% in Puruliya district. Therefore, it is clear that the poverty situation is much worse in Raebareli district than Puruliya and the former is comperatively closer to Kalahandi and not the later. However, indicators in Sultanpur district are much better, where part of the Amethi constituency is located.

According to the constituency-wise indicus data, the proportion of urban population is highest in Puruliya among Kalahandi, Amethi, Raebareli and Puruliya. The proportion of households having electricity is also heighest in Puruliya among these four constituencies during 2008. In Amethi, the work participation rate is only 34% and that in Raebareli only 36% as compared to 47% in Kalahandi and 45% in Puruliya. Work participation rate among women in Amethi is only 24% and that in Raebareli is only 26% as compared to 40% and 37% in Kalahandi and Puruliya respectively. Primary sector employment (i.e. agriculture and allied) is lowest in Puruliya during 2008 among these four constituencies. The infant mortality rate is 46 per thousand live births in Puruliya, whereas that is 83 in Amethi, 79 in Raebareli and 94 in Kalahandi. Under 5 years mortality rate is 89 per thousand in Puruliya as compared to 160 in Amethi, 156 in Raebareli and 178 in Kalahandi. Vis-a-vis immunization, Raebareli-Amethi are in medieval age - 84% children in Puruliya are fully immunized whereas only 16% children in Amethi and Raebareli are fully immunized. This percentage have come down during 2008 than 2004 for Amethi and Raebareli and it is even much lower than the Kalahandi (41%) constituency.

The district-wise DLHS-3 data for 2007-08 shows that 27.5% households have electricity connection in Puruliya as compared to 18.3% in Kalahandi and 23.1% in Raebareli. 17.1% people live in pucca hoses in Puruliya as compared to only 1.9% in Kalahandi and 16.7% in Raebareli district. 11.3% people have access to safe piped drinking water in Puruliya district as compared to only 3% people in Kalahandi, 2.7% in Sultanpur and 9.1% in Raebareli district. 40% of total deliveries takes place as institutional delivery in Puruliya district, whereas only 27.3% in Kalahandi, only 24.3% in Raebareli and 36.6% are institutional deliveries in Kalahandi, Raebareli and Sultanpur districts respectively. In Puruliya district 84.3% children are fully immunized, whereas only 43.2% in Kalahandi, 33.1% in Raebareli and 45% children in Sultanpur district are fully immunized. Despite the presence of many remote places and substantial proportion of tribal population in Puruliya, Puruliya is far ahead of Amethi-Raebareli in respect of health service delivery.

April 28, 2009


BY Dr. Asim Kumar Dasgupta

On the eve of the forthcoming parliamentary elections on 5th April, 2009 the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on behalf of the Congress Party packaged baseless lies as a “report card” against the Left Front Government in West Bengal. On the 6th of April 2009, the State Left Front Chairman and Secretary of CPI(M) State Committee Biman Basu refuted the so called facts and canards in detail. However, I am once again putting together a comprehensive rejoinder to the numerous false charges in their write-up.

Slander 1: There has been no development in education during the tenure of the Left Front Government. The percentage of drop-outs in West Bengal is 82.7% which is way above the national average, and the quality of school education in the state is very bad, etc.

Real Fact: During the tenure of the Left Front Government special priority has been given to spread access, quality and continuity in education starting from the primary level upwards. This effort is not only limited in admitting children to schools, but emphasis is also given to involving women self-help groups in mid-day meal scheme in all schools and reduce the tendency to drop out. Simultaneously attention is given to activities of school-wise mother-teacher committees, village-based education committees and school inspectors to improve the quality of education. As a result according to the latest information from NUEPA (2007), the drop-out rate in primary schools of West Bengal has gone down to 8.56% which is in fact less than the national average of 9.36%. From the same source, we learn that at the junior high school level also this rate has gone further down to 7.34%. According to the last available state-wise information published by NCERT (2005), the students of West Bengal are at the top in the nation in overall qualitative evaluation of all the subjects after the completion of fifth standard in school.

The Congress “Report” is falsely critical of the education system under Left rule; and also in effect insults the honourable teachers and the students of West Bengal while real facts are showing diametrically opposite scenario.

Slander 2: The Left Front Government has failed to provide safe drinking water to the inhabitants of the state. Using information from the National Family-wise Health Survey (2005-06) it states that while safe drinking water is provided to 84.2% and 78.4% families in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra respectively, while in West Bengal only 27.9% families have access to safe drinking water.

Real Fact: The sample survey which has been referred to in this “Report” uses a very small sample for West Bengal. While the number of total families in West Bengal is around 2.29 Crore (1.34 Crore in rural area and 0.45 Crore in urban areas), this survey takes a sample size of 5992 families, which is a meager 0.03% of the total. In sharp contrast, according to the survey conducted by the State Government in which complete information from 1.34 Crore families in 40000 villages and around 0.40 Crore families in urban areas was collected, 90.5% rural families and 96.8% urban families have access to safe drinking water. Therefore here too the actual position is are just the opposite of what has been projected in the “Report.”

However, the Left Front Government feels that there is still some more scope for improvement and targets have already been fixed to make safe drinking water available to 100% families in urban and rural areas of the state. Simultaneously steps have been taken to supervise and maintain all water projects through panchayats and municipal corporations.

Slander 3: In the area of public health nothing much has been done during the Left Front rule because the average Body Mass Index of women in West Bengal is less than the national average in comparison and so on.

Real Fact: Information on women’s health is taken from the National Family-wise Sample Survey which has a serious statistical problem of very small sample size, as mentioned earlier. According to the latest round of this survey (2005-06), as far as BMI is concerned 51.8% women in this country have normal BMI while in West Bengal this ratio stands at 49.6%. What this so called “Report” forgets to mention is that the same source of information reveals data lower than West Bengal in some other major and more affluent and developed states like Maharashtra (49.3%), Karnataka (49.2%) and Gujarat (47.0%). Moreover, according to the latest report of FAO (2008) special mention has been made of India in the area of food insecurity and problems of women’s health; and more specific and serious concerns are expressed regarding some other states like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Orissa and Maharashtra. We feel instead of singling out a particular state by using this problem to make vulgar political points it is much more desirable to find a humane acceptable way towards solution to this problem through discussions with all the states in the country.

The progress of public healthcare in a state is ideally measured by looking at how rapidly a reduction in overall mortality rate and child mortality rate has been achieved and what has been the role of the state government in that reduction. The point to be noted here is that while only 40% patients get the opportunity to be treated in a government hospital nationally, in West Bengal 73% of the total patients get treatment in government hospitals. In the Left Front era this welfare role of the state government has been institutionalized and re-enforced; and the endeavour to provide decentralized preventive healthcare and treatment through panchayats and municipal corporations adds more strength to this emphasis, particularly on the basis of expansion of healthcare by employing more health workers. As a result of all these the latest published data of the central government (Source: SRS survey, 2007) show that mortality rate per thousand has gone down from 10.9 in 1980 to 6.3 now, which is much lower than national average of 7.4. Incidentally among the major states West Bengal has the lowest mortality rate and Kerala stands just after West Bengal at 6.4. Child mortality rate per thousand has also gone down from 91 in 1980 to 37 currently, which is lower than the national average (57) and fourth among the major states after Kerala (14), Tamil Nadu (36) and Maharashtra (37). Here one outstanding fact is that the child mortality rate decreased to even below 10 in Kolkata and the 41 adjacent municipal areas due to the involvement of the municipal corporations in the decentralized healthcare system. Moreover, this rate is even lower than the child mortality rate in municipal areas of Kerala.

If one takes all this information together the real picture becomes clear that West Bengal has come up at the top level in the country in public healthcare, but this kind of an intellectually and politically honest and principled approach would have highlighted the successes of the Left Front Government. As a result, the authors of this report and their allies would have been in a politically uncomfortable situation; and that is precisely why they created a huge gap between the reality and their slander to utilize this pack of lies politically.

Slander 4: During the Left Front Government’s tenure poverty and hunger have become significant in West Bengal. Murshidabad is the poorest district in the country and so on.

Real Fact: Information provided by the Planning Commission is the most acceptable source for comparing state-wise figures for population below the poverty line in our country. According to those statistics, during Congress rule in West Bengal in 1973-74 the percentage of population below poverty line was 63.43%, which was much higher than the national average of 54.88%. This was the intensity of poverty in the state during Congress rule. In contrast, during Left Front tenure using land reform as the basis and implementing alternative policies the percentage of population below poverty line rapidly decreased. The same Planning Commission’s latest information reveals that in the year 2004-05 this figure has come down to 20.6% which is less than national average of 21.6% unlike the Congress-ruled era in the State. Therefore, the scenario has transformed in favour of common people compared to the dismal situation during Congress government.

After knowing this what do the authors of this slander do and where can they find some faults? They incoherently quote from an article written by Dreze and Deaton (EPW, 14th February, 2009) and say that the percentage of population without adequate food intake is 11.7% which is higher than national average of 2.5%. The architects of this slanderous report either tried to exploit this article or they could not find the time to read it fully, or else they have deliberately hidden the facts. Page 45 of this article clearly mentions that these ratios were derived from a survey whose questionnaire was changed in between to a more controversial and questionable one. In the changed methodology the surveyors were instructed to write down the answers by asking questions based on completely psychological perceptions instead of asking objective and scientific questions. This methodology resulted in varied and unexplainable sets of answers from different states, and hence the authors cautioned that using this set of information may give rise to suspicious results for a state-wise comparison. Without reading this, or may be by hiding this, the authors of the Congress Report utilized this unreliable information.

That is not all. The authors forgot that the last National Sample Survey on state-wise information of food intake was published in that very year of 2004-05 based on solid objective and material information(61st round). That survey clearly spells out that in rural West Bengal per capita calorie intake is 2070 which is not only more than the national average of 2047 but also it is higher than Maharashtra (1933), Gujarat (1929), Karnataka (1845) and Tamil Nadu (1842).

West Bengal government undertook a survey in each village of each district which shows that at present the percentage of population not getting adequate food is only 3.59%. If the urban data is added to this then this ratio will go below 2.5% for the entire West Bengal. Therefore once again real facts and slander propagated as facts are absolutely different even in the matter of food intake.

The Congress report states that Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) has conducted a survey which shows that 56% of Murshidabad district’s population lives in abject poverty and this district is the poorest district in the country. We don’t know about any such survey conducted by ISI, but according to the family and district-wise survey conducted by the state government the population living in abject poverty in Murshidabad is 4.3% (not 56% as mentioned in Congress Report), and as far as this ratio is concerned Murshidabad is better than some of the districts in West Bengal itself.

However, the main reason for economic hardship of the common people of Murshidabad is the erosion of soil in the banks of the Ganga-Padma river. Since this erosion takes place along the international border the state government repeatedly petitioned the central government to treat the problem of erosion in the banks of Ganga-Padma as a crucial national level issue and the central government take adequate responsibility to solve this problem. In spite of this, the central government under both the Congress rule and the NDA rule (of which Trinamool Congress was a constituent) did not pay any attention to this legitimate demand of the people of Murshidabad. So, the majority (around Rs. 400 Crore) of the total money spent (Rs. 717.89 Crore) on preventing this erosion from 1977-78 to 2008-09 was done by the Left Front Government of West Bengal on its own.


KOLKATA,27th APRIL: The wondrous desiderata of the questions of an anxious fourth estate at the ‘full bench’ media conference of the Bengal Left Front – all partners were represented – was the reason[s] why there was such accord of ground reality down to the booth level in the Left Front in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, whereas such unison was at least marginally absent in the Panchayat elections of 2008.

All the Left Front leaders with LF chairman Biman Basu in the van gave a strong response to this repeated query from the media representatives at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan in the late morning of 27 April. Biman asserted that primarily the unity of the Left Front must be distinguished clearly from the ‘alliance’ of the Trinamul Congress and the Congress. The LF unity was based on class struggle and mass movements.

The Trinamulis have allowed change of hands as far as electoral partners were concerned for the fourth time now from 1998. The anomaly is that the lone Trinamul Lok Sabha MP’s seat is with the NDA as is that of its Rajya Sabha representative. The ‘unity’ with the Congress is as ephemeral as the promises scattered left and right, of the Trinamuli leadership. Any slip up in the Lok Sabha elections and the Trinamulis would be sure to slip back to NDA and BJP. There was no principle involved at any stage of the unity/disunity – it was all opportunism with a capital ‘O.’

Biman Basu narrated the seven-point unified appeal of the LF to the people. Biman said that the LF appeals to the people to make LF candidates victorious in all 42 Lok Sabha seats:

1.To ensure that a Third Front-led government is installed in Delhi
2.To augment self-reliant economy, independent foreign policy, and to set up a model federal structure
3.To defeat the Trinamul Congress which represents anarchism, terror, and disorder and is backed by forces of reaction both here and abroad, and their allies including Congress, as well as the communal forces that the BJP represents
4.To maintain an ambience of peace, democracy, and communal harmony
5.To ensure that there is a consolidated and integrated development of agriculture, industry, services, and that social justice prevails in every realm
6.To keep alive the Left alternative economic policy to counter the present economic crisis
7.To ensure that Bengal remains one and united

Biman also fielded questions on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s briefest of brief stopover at a central locality in Purulia Township and his bitter comparison of Kalahandi with the entire district of Purulia that reeked of untruth all the way.

The following statistics are relevant in support of the CPI (M) leader’s contention that comparison between Kalahandi and Purulia was odious, untrue, and motivated. Leave apart, Kalahandi, Purulia is indeed more advanced than Raeberili-Amethi, the carefully-cultivated and nurtured backyard of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Indicators (%) Raeberili -Amethi /Purulia

People BPL 54/ 31
Urban population 07/ 11
Family with electricity 14/ 29
Landline telephone 6/ 6
Per capita expenditure Rs 385/-/ Rs 46/-
Work participation 34 /45
Work participation women 24/ 37
Literacy 62/ 63
Vaccinated children 16/ 84
Neo-natal death 83 (per 1000)/ 46 (per 1000)
Fatality below five years 160 (per 1000) /89 (per 1000)

Source: Government of India, various publications including the National Sample Survey, and the latest Household and Facilities Survey vol. III, passim.

Thus, as Biman put it, Raeberili -Amethi is perhaps more like Kalahandi and not Purulia, although there are lots of fresh developmental works needed in the Bengal district of the rain-shadowed laterite zone that, however, could not be taken up because of the successive union government’s intransigence.

Veteran Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh feely admitted that during the last Panchayat elections there was disunity amongst the Left Front in 9,400-odd of a total of 64,000-odd rural constituencies at three levels of Panchayat, Panchayat samity, and Zillah Parishad. Senior RSP leader Debabrata Bandyopadhyay chimed in to confess that the largest number of seat dis-arrangements was at the behest of his party vis-à-vis the CPI (M), about 7500. Such differences no longer exited, now more than ever.

Both these leaders and the Bengal CPI secretary Manjukumar Majumdar declared that the effort this time would be to send as many candidates of the Left Front as possible to Delhi to form the core of the Third Front that grew in strength with the political participation of the Left although the formation included many regional parties as well.

The Panchayat level disunity, the CPI leader pointed out, left behind lessons that were being put aright during the present Lok Sabha polls with the LF enjoying a rock-solid unity. Ashok Ghosh said that unity in a Left formation was part of dialectics. Did not each Party, too, has had differences in line, was the sprightly 85-year-old’s rhetorical query.

Continuing in a self-critical vein Biman said that the rural polls saw the LF gather 52.76% votes and the two Congresses, Pradesh and Trinamul 14.3% and 24.60% respectively. Yet, the LF lost out on two ZPs. Biman also emphasized that the bi-party rule or even alternate rule by one of the two bourgeois formations was over. The Third Front is about to step into office in Delhi. The LF aims to send out 42 MPs to Delhi to strengthen the Left presence in the Lok Sabha.

April 26, 2009


KOLKATA, April 25: As we have said recently, the Trinamul Congress is really, getting desperate. It despairs of political survival as the Lok Sabha elections draw inexorably closer in Bengal. Otherwise, how does one explain the hoarding that says ‘I am the late Ajit Panja, MP, from Kolkata, speaking from heaven: please vote for the AITC candidate because Mohd Selim has not utilised his MP LAD funds and the funds have gone back to Delhi.’
That is only the tip of the iceberg. All over the Kolkata North segment, posters without carrying the by-line of any political party keeps saying much the same thing with, as in cheap musical scores, carrying the distortions, and using more and more unparliamentary language. Communal angles are utilised too mentioning how Muslims have benefited in Hindu dominated areas and the other way round, treading thus on dangerous grounds. As Mohd Selim himself put it today 25 April at a press briefing at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, arbitrary figures are quoted by the Trinamulis while accusing Selim of non-utilisation of MP LAD funds. Sometimes it is Rs 8.58 crore, then again, elsewhere on another hoarding it is Rs 7.79 crore as funds not used.During his tenure as an MP, Selim has recommended 423 pieces of developmental work and the cost is Rs 10.71 crore. 35% of the schemes relate to the development of educational institutions, especially girls’ schools and hostels. Another 28% is concerned with development of slums and uplift of the poorest of the poor.
The Trinamulis should know that under the guidelines for MP LAD funds it is clearly written that such funds are neither lapsable nor returnable with the previous MP’s unused amount devolving on the new MP. Would the Trinamulis care to listen or even try to appreciate the words of central government guidelines? No, they would not for, they have no time left on their hands after cooking up all kinds of savage mish-mash of defamation and calumnious propaganda, even as the gloom-and-doom of the Lok Sabha elections in Bengal forecloses on their leader and her ranks.

April 25, 2009

Memo Given to the Election Commission on the Situation in Darjeeling

April 25, 2009
Shri Navin B. Chawla
Chief Election Commissioner
Election Commission of India
Nirvachan Sadan
Ashoka Road,
New Delhi
Dear Shri Navin Chawla,

I was recently in Darjeeling to address an election meeting of the CPI(M) candidate on April 21, 2009. Such a meeting could be held after some years due to the fact that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha spearheading the movement for a separate `Gorkhaland' had created an atmosphere of fear and terror threatening any one opposing them of grave consequences if they held any political rallies in the hills.

I wish to complement the CEC also for creating an atmosphere which has permitted the possibility of holding such meetings.

You will recall that I had met you and your colleague Shri Quraishi on April 7, 2009 and handed over a memorandum requesting the CEC to take certain measures to ensure a free and fair election in these hills. I had also submitted a CD recording an inflammatory speech of Shri Bimal Gurung.

During the course of my visit, various sections of the people had brought to my notice many instances of terror that may prevent the conduct of a free and fair election. I am summarising some of the major suggestions that I had received.

I would be grateful if the EC could give a serious consideration to the following.

1.The EC must immediately launch a more intense campaign with wider reach to assure the people that their votes would remain secret. This is imperative to dispel fears that the voters could be identified subsequently and harassed/attacked etc.

2.CRPF should be deployed as early as possible in the hill areas and flag marches undertaken to restore voters' confidence
3.The Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) camp at Gorubathan must be immediately dismantled and proceedings drawn up as per the law of the land against all the personnel involved in the camp, as trainers, trainees and administrative. Please ensure that no civilians are allowed to wear/use Army fatigues.

4.The CRPF should be maintained beyond the date of the election, April 30, 2009, to prevent post-poll violence that we apprehend, and to keep pre-poll peace that the people desire.

While complementing the EC for the conduct of election so far, I am sure that these suggestions would be seriously consider to further improve the conduct of free and fair elections.

With regards,
Yours sincerely

(Sitaram Yechury)
Copy to:
1)Shri S. Y. Quraishi, Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India, New Delhi
2)Shri V. S. Sampath, Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India, New Delhi


KOLKATA: Qutub-ud din Ansari is known in India and indeed around a great part of the world as the terrorised face of the Gujarat carnage as the sena ran riot, killing, molesting, maiming, all over the state, especially in areas inhabited in numbers by the minorities.

An ostagar from the Bapunagar colony in Ahmadabad, Qutub-ud din had been cornered by a possé of armed goons and he asked them with folded hands and conjoined palms, tears streaming down his frightened eyes, to spare his life for he had a family to feed. The arrival of the police (a rarity) spared the young man of a horrible death by being burnt alive. His photo made international headlines and was one more blow to the ‘this-is-a-natural-reaction’ calm façade of the Gujarat chief minister.

For a brief period of time, later, Qutub-ud din spent months in Kolkata to get over his trauma along with his family members as his face, having been headlined and focussed upon countless times, has made him a potential target for his enemies and there were plenty of those where he came from.

Young Qutub-ud din would have been terribly surprised, even not-a-little-angry, at seeing that photo of his being used by Mamata Banerjee’s chiefs on Trinamuli election hoardings with the catch line ‘an example of CPI (M) terror on people.’ Disraeli, 19th century British prime minister, exasperated with manipulated figures, had once come up with an aphorism that has become a classic of sorts, that there were three kinds of lies: ‘lies-damned lies-and-statistics.’ We could well add the Trinamuli head honcho’s name, as a fourth example, and nobody should protest if she / he is in a healthy frame of mind.

Especially so, when one looks at another poster the Trinamulis have put up all over Kolkata and Bengal. It shows a cover image from the daily Ganashakti (6 February 2007) with Abu Hossein Mullick’s house was set on fire by the Trinamulis at Khejuri – those were the stormy times for the people of Nandigram - as Abu sits desolate before the ruins. Shamelessly, the Trinamulis have used the same Ganashakti photo and underlined it with the profanely lying and somewhat pointlessly obscene caption of ‘nakedness at Nandigram.’

We have nothing to comment on the cultural fastidiousness or the lack there of, of didi’s goons. They could have at least paid Ganashakti the royalty necessary and sought permission before running the photo in the distorted manner, the loathsome ‘art’ of which is so well versed in them. We rest our case.


LALGARH: Comrade Gopinath Murmu finally died, most painfully, whispering through chapped lips for water that he could not given because of the ‘Maoist’ diktat that none of the wounded at the Nadadia village would be allowed to be taken out from the hutment where they were pushed into, nor would any kind of medical assistance be administered. Comrade Gopinath had been shot along with nine others earlier by a hit squad of the ‘Maoists’ of the wounded two had already died on the spot as reported.

Abani Bhuinya the GP member of Ramgarh abutting Lalgarh survives but for how long nobody knows. He was sneaked out this morning (24 April) to a nearby health centre where he told us the inhuman way the ‘Maoists’ with their Trinamuli ‘local guides’ used blunt weapons first to beat and break the bones of the arms and legs of the CPI (M) workers they had kidnapped and only then they would shoot those whom they considered strong enough to survive the beatings.

Abani told us, pain written all over his elderly face, that he was beaten up, shot – and yet he has survived until at least until as we file this report. His is a critical condition with arterial as well as bone damage all over his body. A raj of criminal rage ranges across Lalgarh and the fear-fuelled anger of the ‘Maoists’ increases as the CPI (M), following state secretary Biman Basu’s express direction, responds to aggression with vast mass assemblages and marches -- all over Midnapore west.

Elsewhere at the Press Club of Kolkata, Chhatradhar Mahato, the ‘Maoist’-backed ‘resistance’ committee’s ‘spokesperson’ attributed Gopinath’s and other’s deaths to ‘addiction to alcohol: there were few takers for his likely fairy tale of the grisly kind.

Deep into the night of Thursday, almost at daybreak of Friday (24 April), we learnt that two more CPI (M) comrades have been martyred by the Maoists—this time at Supurdi village at Balarampur. The ‘Maoists’ were accompanied by Trinamulis of local origin and misdemeanours. This time the occasion was a happy Chhau dance festival in which a large number of villagers had congregated. The dance troupes performed throughout the night. Men, women, children kept coming and going, some from far flung places, other from nearby villages clusters.

As the night sky became lighter in tone as the horizon saw the violet ring of feint first light the announcement of the day break, two CPI (M) workers comrade Baikuntho Mahato, Balarampur zonal committee member of the CPI (M), and comrade Bibhuti Sing Sardar (who himself leads a popular Chhau dance troupe) left the fair.

They were intercepted at a lonely place by a group of ten heavily armed ‘Maoists.’ The assassins opened fire from their automatic weapons at almost point blank range. The CPI (M) workers fell-- riddled with at least twenty bullet wounds each. With their martyrdom, the ‘Maoists’ had killed five CPI (M) workers in 72 hours’ time in the western part of Bengal.
Five CPI(M) Men Killed in Maoist Rampage in West Bengal

April 21, 20092 CPI(M) members were killed by Maoists in SalboniHambir Mandi and Shaktipada Sen were killed after being dragged out of their houses.
April 22, 2009Gopinath Murmu beaten to death in Saluka village, Lalgarh P.S
April 23, 20092 CPI(M) activists Bibhuti Singh Sardar and Baikuntho Mahato were killed by Maoists in Supurdlh Village in Balarampur, Purulia District.


LALGARH: A massive rally was organised at the call of the CPI (M) right in the troubled heart of Lalgarh and more than 20 thousand people were in courageous attendance. The ‘Maoist’ den is but a few kilometres across the border into Jharkhand. More 50% of the rallyists were women, and most came with their children tagging cheerfully along.

The rally, militant in nature, was filled with fluttering Red Flags of various sizes. The sound of kettle drums and the shouting of slogans added to the militancy as well as colour to the assemblage. The entire jangal mahal was made aware of the rally as the loudspeakers carried the voices of the CPI (M) who fearlessly addressed the rally – many have threats against them from the ‘Maoist’-Trinamuli-Jharkhandi criminals- deep into every corner of this part of Midnapore west.

Speakers at the rally included professor Dipak sarkar who heads the Midnapore west unit of the CPI (M) as the secretary, and CPI (M) leaders Satyen Maity and Anuj Pandey (who presided). It is significant that the CPI (M) could appear in strength in both the hill areas of Darjeeling and the laterite zone of the extreme west of Midnapore on the same day.


The aftermath of the Lalgarh rally was not without unpleasantness borne of criminal acts. At Salboni within a stone’s throw distance of Lalgarh, the ‘Maoists’ struck with a murderous intent. The place was the tiny hamlet of Nadadia and it falls within the Debgram GP. Two dozen heavily-armed men, faces covered, attacked the village, sought out CPI (M) workers’ hutments.

The raiders then proceeded to beat to a pulp with gun-butts three CPI (M) workers: they were comrades Shakti Sen, Hambir Mandi, and Ranjit Singh, poor kisans all. Comrade Hambir and Shakti died on the spot, and the ‘Maoists’ made off with their bodies. Ranjit was rescued and he has been admitted to a local hospital in extreme critical conditions with gashing wounds on his head.

The ‘Maoists’ also took forcibly away two licensed single-barrelled guns of Mihir Sen and Deben Hembram. In protest against the ‘Maoist’ depredations, rallies are held all over Midnapore today (22 April). The bodies are yet to be recovered.


DARJEELING:This morning (22 April), the reactions and response that we received from the hill city, were overwhelmingly in favour of the CPI (M) rally in general rally and the address by CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, Sitaram Yechury, in particular.

Representatives of every hill community—the Tamangs, the Gurungs, the Lamas, the Thapas, the Mokhtans, the Bhattarais, the Pathaks, and the Chhetris et al—i.e., cutting across castes as well as social groups-- spoke paeans of praise in favour of the basic tenor of the CPI (M) rally.


The CPI (M) rally called for unity of the people of the hills, the plains, and of the hills and the plains. The political content of Sitaram’s address where he emphasised the position of the CPI (M) and the Left as friends and comrades of the hill communities in and out of the parliament struck a sympathetic chord, as they told us, among the minds of the hill people.

The talk about the Left fighting in and out of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the overall and not sectarian development of the hill areas kept being recalled repeatedly, even after the rally was over, as we were told, and its effects remaining yet powerful among the hill peoples in general.


On the other hand, the separatist GJMM and its cohorts have been made angry at the way the CPI (M) could make its way back and in force to the hill townships of Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong, in particular, and they are infuriated at the onrush of popular, indeed mass, support for the CPI (M), once again in the hills after a gap.

The scathing attack that Sitaram launched during his address at the opportunism and dangerous brinkmanship of the divisive kind of the BJP also blended well with the consensus in the hills, among people of such far flung areas as Chungtung, Hrishihaat, Kaujali, Jhenpey, Pemeti, Balachanr, Gokh, Bijonbari, Poolbazaar, Aatpara, and Teendharia.

Elsewhere, Biman Basu, CPI (M) Bengal secretary, and chairman Bengal Left Front told the media that the Left Front called upon the Election Commission to ensure that voting remained free and fair in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong. Biman also complained that at least half-a-dozen letters written by him to the ECI on the situation developing in the hill sub-divisions had gone unresponded to and it seemed nothing would be done by the ECI to remedy and set right the recent state of tension there.


DARJEELING: Addressing a mass rally held at the Chowkbazaar at Darjeeling Township in the late morning hours of 21 April, Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of the CPI (M) called for a New India that could only be ushered in by the Third Front when it formed a government in Delhi.

The Darjeeling rally was politically important because the CPI (M) and the Left Front had not been able to organise rally this big earlier thanks to the armed and dangerous intransigence of the separatist Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM, as these separatists prefer t call themselves).

Sitaram began by saying that another India existed within the fields of the present India. The India within was populated by the kisans, the workers, the middle classes, the lower middle classes, and the teeming millions of unemployed youth. The outer shell of the country comprised the multi-national corporations, the burgeoning finance capital, and the speculators.

The anti-people and anti-poor policies followed assiduously by the successive NDA and UPA régimes have seen Indian poor become poorer, and the rich, richer manifold. The time has come to make policy changes up in Delhi. The Third Front is the alternative to both these big bourgeois compositions. The Third Front stood for education, health, shelter, and employment for all, and for an independent foreign policy.


The disparity in terms of wealth has reached the extent that a rich person is willing have his residence set up at a cost of thousands of crores of Rupees. On the other hand, 78% of the population have to make do with a daily income of less than Rs 20. Every day one thousand children die because of lack of health care facilities. Several crores of women who are carrying suffer from anaemia. Sitaram asked the rally whether they would be willing and continue to be witness to this national profile after 60 years of political independence.

Dwelling on the world economic depression, Sitaram said that every day one crore of people were thrown out of work, and the figure may soon reach five crore-a-day. In India, the number of kisans taking their own lives in the grinding poverty they were not willing to suffer from any longer grows bigger every day. Recently in Gujarat, 71 bidi workers had committed suicide. In Tamilnadu, workers are forced to sell off their kidneys.

Sitaram pointed out that if one looked at the political scene, the BJP- and Congress-led alliances were unravelling from Bengal to Tamilnadu. The Third Front emerges stronger every day, every week. People will set up a government of the Third front by making Left unity stronger than ever.

Turning to the question of prime ministership, the speaker said that nobody knew who would finally be anointed the PM before and in the run up to the 2004 polls. The choice is decided only after the popular mandate is received. Could this happen, when a name is declared beforehand as the PM, and the people choose not to elect him at all! Sitaram reminded the rally that the present PM was not in the fray this time around. ‘We have not put a particular person as the projected PM because we have deep respect for the people’s verdict and for the Indian Constitution.’

However much ‘match fixing’ the Congress and the BJP go in for in terms of capturing the Delhi masnad, the electorate of India is poised to create new history by voting the Third Front to office. Sitaram asked the rally to vote for the Left Front to solidify the people’s unity and to defeat the separatists. He accused the BJP of misdirecting the emotional outlook of the hill people by taking up the cause of the GJMM. The people of Bengal would not allow the conspiracy to divide up Bengal again to succeed, Sitaram Yechury concluded.


By B Prasant
Keshpur where we report was, we recall, the area that the Trinamuli chief had called the ‘Seshpur’ or the ‘end of the road’ for CPI (M). That was back in the early part of the new century. At present, nearly all the GPs of the area are run by the CPI (M) and the Left Front. Much water has flowed down the murmuring Haldi River since then.

Recently, 20 April to be specific, the evening of that date to be precise, a gang of armed raiders carrying automatic weapons descended on Keshpur and the aim was clearly to revive the jagiri and jaidaat they once had had in the area, looting, molesting women, killing CPI (M) workers, generally causing mayhem to become the order of the day.

The train of events started late in the day as the sun leaned to the west at the end of a day of swelter and sweat (the temperature reaching upto and beyong 45 deg C in the shade. The first indication was the whoop of the raiders as they shot their way into the fields at the end of which stands Keshpur. The raiders were divided into two groups. One group of 20 came in single file firing all the while, covering the second group that tried to sneak around into the village cluster using a side route.

The villagers, who had been bloodied during the earlier fray between 1999 and 2003, came out fearlessly wielding sickles, staves, and plain old lathis of slightly fearsome proportions. The villagers numbered at least 1000. Mass mobilisation started quickly thereafter and at the end one saw more than five thousand men and women come streaming out bare-handed to defend home-and-hearth, from Kendapara, Baramesa, Panichhara, and Kusumdahari village segments.

The second group of raiders found themselves between the devil and the deep sea for the first group comprising mostly of ‘Maoists’ would not allow the second group consisting largely of Trinamulis turn their back. Members of the second group hurried into the first thatched house they could find.

In the meanwhile, the first group had been put on the run despite dozens of villagers receiving pellet and bullet wounds, and the fleeing ‘Maoists’ fired wildly, hitting repeatedly the hutments where their comrades-at-armed-dacoity, hitting indeed their brethren goons more than a score of times.

When the raiders had been chased off into Midnapore west’s border with the neighbouring state of Jharkhand, the villagers returned triumphant to find three of the Trinamulis groaning from wounds in the house where they had taken shelter albeit in vein.

It was then that the villagers found among the wounded—none of the wounded are in serious condition—Budha Mahato the terror of the early 200s who stands guilty in the history sheet as a cold-blooded professional killer, having murdered three, and had kidnapped for ransom a dozen-odd persons. Along with him lay down cowering two other professional sharp-shooters named Bhakti Dala Bera and Sambhu Biswas. The fourth sharp-shooter Tarapada, a ‘Maoist’ who led the second group made good his escape in the excited mêlée that followed around the ‘captive’ killers.

The whole episode, said Professor Dipak Sarkar, state committee member of the Bengal CPI (M) who heads the Midnapore west district unit, was throwback to 30 April 2001 when under the joint leadership of the then People’s War Group (PWG) and the Rajani Dolui-Mohd Rafiq-led Trinamul Congress, to capture Keshpur but, as we chimed in, an important difference. This time, the raiders were put on the run helter-skelter, and unlike in other instances, the “Maoists’ would not carry even the walking wounded of their chums in the Trinamul Congress.

Didi must have been very, very disappointed at the entire faux pas. Keshpur cannot, would not sympathise with her. We second to that. In the meanwhile, the police have arrested the raiders left behind. The records of these worthies are fearsomely impressive as far as heinous crimes are concerned. The present episode is over. The villagers remain alert for any future recurrence.


KOLKATA: The Bengal unit of the CPI (M) has expressed its worries over the developments of a divisive and sabotaging nature taking place in Darjeeling under the direct guidance and leadership of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM). It has written two letters to the Chief Election Commissioner in this regard. Below we quote the relevant portions of the two letters dated 19 and 20 April 2009.

“(…) we draw your attention to the serious situation prevailing in the three hill-subdivision Assembly segments of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong under the 4-Darjeeling PC, conditions that would surely prevent free-and-fair polling on 30 April 2009.

We may say that the Gorkha Jana Mukti morcha (GJMM) and its electoral partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hell-bent on not allowing any electioneering and/or political campaigning by our Party in particular. Indeed, you may kindly note that the process of election itself is being distorted by these two political parties (i.e., GJMM and BJP) to the detriment of democracy, peace, amity, and solidarity.

The GJMM is engaged seriously at all levels to target the religious and linguistic minorities. The GJMM has several times forced the minorities to take part in processions that the GJMM has organised. The threat hangs ominously in the air that nobody would be allowed to vote against the GJMM-supported BJP candidate from the 4-Darjeeling PC, especially in the hill sub-divisions.

The GJMM has most recently asked the two organisations that they run viz., Hotel Workers’ association, and Taxi Drivers’ association to boycott all supporters of the CPI (M) candidate and they have forced the issue that no hotel rooms and no vehicles would be made available to any supporters of the CPI (M) candidate, thus crippling our election campaign considerably and in a most undemocratic manner which is also in contravention of the Constitutional proviso.

The GJMM as part of its threat technique has publicly pronounced that since they would know who voted for whom, they would initiate appropriate measure against those who do not vote for the BJP candidate.

The GJMM has kept ready a trained ‘police force’ that they call the Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) at the ready at Gorubathan in the hill area and these trained men and women, supervised by ex-Army instructors are to be deployed in the polls, the GJMM has publicly declared, 15 per booth, and the apparent aim is to terrorise the voters into polling for the BJP candidate. They have also declared that no CPI (M) agent would be allowed to do his/her duty at the polling stations.

Even more serious, the election personnel of Darjeeling are tutored to work in favour of the BJP candidate, and mock training is being provided to the election personnel by the GJMM workers so that the official and other personnel persuade the voters to vote only for the BJP candidate. This is just a mockery of democracy.

In the same vein, the AROs including the SDO Siliguri himself is engaged in filing false and fictitious FIRs against CPI (M) workers. They also brief the media saying that the CPI (M) is the greatest violator of the Mode Code while flooding the different Police Stations with bogus complaints against the CPI (M) without checking the veracity.

In view of the above, we demand the following steps should be immediately initiated.

A. Para-military forces should be deployed right now and flag marches organised so that the voters regain confidence.

B. Polling personnel should be deployed from both the hill and the plains area. Employees from the plains too must be deployed as polling supervisors, and close circuit camera should watch out for malpractices within booths during polling.

C. Sector officers should carry hidden video recorders while each booth should be manned by CRPF personnel.

D. The GLP training camps at Gorubathan should be dismantled and legal action if any deemed necessary taken against the organisers of the camps.

E. The present system of decentralised counting should be rigorously adhered to instead of the proposed centralised counting at Darjeeling.

In its second letter, the Bengal CPI (M) wrote:

“It has come to our knowledge that more than 400 members of the Gorkha land Personnel (GLP) have been identified as carrying out arms training at Gorubathan near the border with Bhutan. They are trained by former Army instructors, and they wear olive green camouflage fatigues like the Indian Army.

These GLP personnel have been seen threatening voters to support the BJP candidate when the time comes for exercising their franchise. They have also been engaged in tearing own flags, banners, and festoons of the CPI (M) in the three hill sub-divisions.

In view of this, we demand:

A. CRPF should be deployed as early as possible in the hill areas and flag marches undertaken to restore voters’ confidence
B. The GLP camp at Gorubathan must be immediately dismantled and proceedings drawn up as per the law of the land against all the personnel involved in the camp, as trainers, trainees, and administrative. Please ensure that no civilians are allowed to wear/use Army fatigues.
C. The CRPF should be maintained beyond the date of the election, 30 April 2009, to prevent post-poll violence that we apprehend, and to keep pre-poll peace that the people desire.
D. Other measures as appropriate for a free, fair, and peaceful polling in the three hill sub-divisions should be initiated and as early as possible. (….).”

The response of any kind from the office of the CEC/CEO is yet awaited as we file this report.


KOLKATA: As in the past, political parties are requested as a routine to be present when allotments of time of addresses by them on the AIR and the Doordarshan are drawn by lots. The office of the CEO took a sudden decision recently to change the date of this pre-scheduled meeting at the behest of ‘two political parties’ neither of which belonged to the Left Front.

The Bengal LF leadership wrote to the CEO’s office protesting this vehemently and finally, the meeting as rescheduled was chosen by the officials to be postponed. This is a clear example of the pattern of behaviour of the officialdom as the polls approach.

Complaints have also been received from districts like Raigunj up in north Bengal where the EC officials, suo motu, has started to wipe graffiti off from walls of houses from the owners of which the CPI (M) had had prior voluntary permission procured in writing.

Also, in cases where the CPI (M) is in the process of wiping out graffiti at the behest of the EC, the officialdom would turn their face away as the space would be promptly utilized for wall writing by the Pradesh Congress and the Trinamul Congress.

Strong letters have been written by Biman Basu, secretary, Bengal CPI (M) to the CEC protesting all these and many other acts of commission and omission, and calling for appropriate remedial action, although to little avail, as we file this report.


KHEJURI: Trinamuli hooligans, about 50 in number, all armed with countrymade guns, swords, and knives, pounced on the stage from where the fisheries minister of the LF government, Kironmoy Nanda leader of the Socialist Party was to address a rally on the evening of 19 April. The venue was the Nonapara village at Nichaksaba area at Khejuri II GP. In the lead was the Sabhadhipati of the Midnapore east himself, one Ranjit Mondal, and a GP member of the locality, Debashis Das.

Led by Mondal and Das, the drunken goons had earlier issued threats to the people of the area, the GPs of which are now with the Trinamulis, as are the Panchayat Samities, not to go near the rally to be spoken to by Kironmoy. The hoods even cut down trees and attempted to barricade out Kironmoy. Then they suddenly realised that people were streaming in despite whatever evil deeds the Trinamulis had done, to their worst, and that the speaker himself was well on his way to the rally grounds.

Infuriated, the thoroughly desperate hooligans jumped up on the dais, and broke it completely apart with well-aimed blows from shovels, spades, and large hammers. Then they proceeded to tear down and desecrate the Red Flag, finally putting the entire stage to leaping flames by pouring petrol and lighting up matchsticks.

While the local CPI (M) leadership, out of considerations of safety, prevailed upon a completely exasperated Kironmoy from proceeding farther, the LF itself held not one but two succeeding rallies at the same grounds one in the evening the other late into the night, daring the Trinamuli goons to come forth if their courage or lack of it permitted them to do so. CPI (M) leader of the district and LF convenor of the Contai Lok Sabha seat Nirmal Jana has told us that protest rallies and marches are being held today 20 April throughout Khejuri and that such protestations shall be held all over Contai on 21 April.

Elsewhere, an arms cache was recovered by the police at Kendemari at Nandigram I called a ‘liberated zone’ by the ‘Maoists’ and their Trinamuli underlings. Sheikh Bacchu who is a history-sheeter and is a covert Maoist activist was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle arms into Khejuri, Kendemari and beyond.

The cache included one Italian Biretta 9mm pistol, one Italian Valtro 9mm pistol, plus one US Army-issue lightweight Smith & Wesson 9mm (Polymer Frame) pistol as well as several countrymade revolvers plus hundreds of cartridges, some packed into magazines, some carried loose in pre-sealed polythene bags.

One shudders to think what would have happened to how many innocents had not the miscreant with his deadly cache been apprehended. One recalls that just in the wake of the declaration of results of the 2008 Panchayat polls, two CPI (M) workers were killed at Kendemari at the hand of ‘Maoists’ and Trinamulis.

:A land mine burst with a deafening sound at Balarampur area in the district of Purulia seriously injuring two CPI (M) workers. The land mine was of the form of an improvised explosive device (IUD) packed with steel balls and nails that explode out with deadly effect once somebody steps on the spring-loaded trip wire.

The CPI (M) workers on their way back from fields when they tripped up the trigger and faced the wrath of the explosion. Eyewitnesses told us that the entire area had been plastered with ‘Maoist’ posters, which called, as is the wont of the people of that ilk, to boycott the polls, or else…. The two kisans injured in the blast are Samaj Mondal and Madan Mondal.

They were rescued by a rather unlikely person in the shape of an owner of an illegal distillery of the area who was courageous enough to step around the several other trip wires stretched nearby and pull away the heavily bleeding men. Admitted to hospital nearby, the doctors give the two injured but a slim chance of survival. Nevertheless, we believe that they are tough kisans, and true sons of the soil, and that they shall pull through.

Bombs, guns found at congress leader’s house

MALDA: Within 24 hours of the blast, the Police stumbled upon a large cache of fire arms and bombs, plus bomb-making materials from the houses of a clutch of Congress leaders in Maldah district. Acting on a tip-off, the Police raided the house of Sheikh Siraj, a Pradesh Congress muscleman, at Jadupur under Kaliachak PS.

They found two large-calibre ‘pipe guns’ (that fire the banned .319 calibre ammunition) and a large quantity of deadly ‘socket bombs’ that have the capacity to kill dozens each. Siraj and his two ‘worthy’ sons also history sheeters and Pradesh Congress loyalists were taken into custody.

Interrogating Siraj the Police found another useful lead. Acting on it, they raided the house of Azahar Ali, a Pradesh Congress leader and a strongman of the area of Bamangram at Kaliachak, who was then, caught making IUDs and bombs. More than a 100 bombs and IUDs were recovered as were 20-odd socket bombs. There is no doubt that these weapons of killing were prepared by the Pradesh Congress stalwarts for the forthcoming phases of the Lok Sabha elections in Bengal.


KOLKATA,16th APRIL: Queried repeatedly by the media at a briefing that Biman Basu, senior CPI (M) leader addressed late in the evening of 16 April at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, on the prospects of the Third Front, the speaker quoted his favourite Bengali colloquial saying that it would be seen after the Lok Sabha elections as to ‘koto dhaney koto chaal,’ or the reality of the political situation that would obtain post-poll.


The forces that had earlier pooh-poohed the Third Front were now ready with an outlook of soft obeisance towards it, politically speaking. They have realised, as the polls commenced, that their pre-election perception would undergo a change as far as the political circumstances, which would rigorously, inevitably evolve—and the Third Front surely stood to gain and not lose out when the votes would start to be counted.

Turning to Bengal, Biman Basu started off by pointing to the crowded nature of the candidates’ list this time in the North Bengal districts where the first phase of polling would take place on 30 April, e.g., Coochbehar (10 contestants), Alipurduar (8), Jalpaiguri-SC (10), Darjeeling (10), Raigunj (12), Balurghat (8), and Maldah north and Maldah south (9 each).

There was a similarity of this with the situation obtaining in the western Bengal districts that, too, would go in for polls on the same day, like Ghatal (7), Jhargram-ST (8), Midnapore (8), Purulia (14), Bankura (11), and Bishnupur (7). One notes that these are the ‘disturbed districts’ in the sense that in the north, GJM, GNLF (recently resuscitated complete with separatist slogan-mongering), KLO, and KPP are active, supported by both the Trinamulis and the Pradesh Congress.

In the laterite zone, on the other hand, the Trinamulis and their ‘Maoist’ minders have a foul run, killing, kidnapping CPI (M) workers, burning down Party offices, and generally keeping the people thoroughly terrorised especially in the jangal mahal -- and threatening the state LF government with ‘dire consequence’ once the elections see the presence of either government officials or the police concluding para-military forces.


Biman Basu finds a link between the violence that preceded the polls in these areas and the unusually large number of candidates put up. Is it done to confuse the people? Is it a plan to ‘harm’ some of the wild-card, planted candidates and then make a mockery of the poll process?

In the run up to the polls, the LF chairman calls upon all democratic-minded people to foil the game-plan to divide up Bengal once again. The forces of division and violence must be isolated and the democratic norms rigorously adhered to everywhere.

Biman again commented that to the Trinamulis and the Pradesh Congress, the Lok Sabha polls were akin to Assembly elections as far as electioneering and modalities of campaign were concerned. They would not touch the national issues and would only concentrate on harping anti-CPI (M) slogan-mongering whether in their ‘election manifestos’ or their speeches delivered with particularly alarming brand of violence. Biman called upon the people of Bengal to keep up the past traditions and to keep the poll process peaceful, ignoring provocations and even attacks. All attempts at anarchy and disorder must be countered by mass mobilisation.


Biman also launched a scathing attack on the recent and large cut-outs of the Trinamuli chief (the total number of cut-out put up across the state is just over 21,500!) that carry the message that ‘she is the symbol of truth, the icon of honesty.’ Biman merely quoted the Trinamuli ‘manifesto’ that states at one place that eight crore of people in nine districts have to drink arsenic-contaminated water. Even if her contention of arsenic poisoning is taken at face value (that ‘fact’ too is of course a lie), would she say that the rest of the 10 districts are inhabited by a mere 50 lakh people, since the latest census figured put the total population of Bengal at 8.5 crore.

The ‘symbol of truth,’ also makes another horrible faux pas. In the ‘manifesto’ and in her speeches she points out how a LF minister while attending a divisional meeting of officials at Maldah arranged for A luncheon that cost—wait for it – Rs 12,5 crore. How low, we ask, can one go with a puerile hatred for the Communists? There can be no doubt that the electorate of Bengal would provide a fitting reply to such ‘pieces of precious truth’ on behalf of the ‘icon of truthfulness’ when the polling starts over the three phases in Bengal.


KOLKATA,14th APRIL: General Secretary of the CPI (M) Prakash Karat firmly nailed the lies about a bi-partisan contest in the 2009 elections to the Indian parliament. The UPA was unravelling. The NDA was missing its partners. Only the Third Front was growing in strength. There was another imperative. The strength of the non-BJP, non-Congress forces could never be judged until the election results were declared.

Very many of the political parties outside of the two main bourgeois formations, in government in states yet not officially declared constituents of the Third Front, would then firm the ground on which the Third Front stood. Prakash Karat was in address to an impressively arrayed corps of the Kolkata media at the Press Club that stands right amidst the green of the summer maidan on a pleasant breezy afternoon of 14 April.

The CPI (M) Polit Bureau member said that the Third Front was as far from the ‘illusion’ that the corporate media would describe it as possible. The contest would be a three-cornered fight in most seats, indeed in the bulk of the constituencies. Of the UPA partners, most were in contest against the Congress bar the DMK.

The Third Front is made up of ten political parties and they have come to a political understanding regarding the Lok Sabha polls. Following the elections, more parries would join in, a common minimum programme drawn up, and the prospect of forming a government at the centre would all the time become more and more of a realistic proposition. The Third Front emphasises four principles, viz., pro-people economic policy, secularism, independent foreign policy, and strengthening of the federal structure.

On the understanding at the present juncture, the speaker pointed out citing Jaya Jayalalitha’s recent statement that the regional parties would much prefer to form state government on their own, of their own without tailing the two big political formations, the BJP and the Congress. Regional parries already have excellent record of accomplishment in running state governments in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, and Orissa besides in the three Left-led states. There was no doubt that such regional parties, coming together, would be able to run a government at the centre, and with pro-people efficiency.

On being repeatedly probed for the name of the prospective prime ministerial candidate of the Third Front once it would win the polls, Prakash Karat said that such a question could only be raise and mitigated once the leaders of the Third Front sat together post poll. Prakash Karat also said that the Left had had good relations with the regional parries earlier as well as in 1996, and the principal aim of the Congress and the BJP had been, and still is, to destabilise such alliances. Prakash Karat also pointed out that the question whether the left would be able emote the correct role, come a Third Front government would be far more important than the numerical strength of the Left in the new parliament.

Dismissing any political understanding post poll with the Congress, Prakash Karat said that the presence of the Third Front was also politically antithetical to the communal forces as the BJP-RSS combine. The moving away of the BJD from BJP in Orissa has isolated the communal forces there in that state. An alliance with Left participation was fighting the Congress and the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. Kerala witnesses the usual fight out between the LDF and the UDF with the communal forces losing ground.

On Kerala, Prakash karat said that there was no alliance between the LDF and Madani-led PDP, the latter being engaged in supporting the LDF on its own initiative. Madani has been acquitted of all charged slapped earlier on him in the Coimbatore case. The Congress and the UDF keeps in close touch with the real terrorist organisation with the innocuous name and style of the NDF.

Dismissing as useless the ‘debate’ on who is a strong prime minister and who is not, Prakash Karat said that the more important thing to remember was that the strict stance of the Left in and out of parliament on the so-called reforms had saved the nation from the disastrous after-effects of the great depression spreading across large parts of the world. The Congress was unable, thanks to the left opposition, to expose the sectors of the economy vital to the nation and the people like the pension funds and insurance as well as banking fully to the forays of international finance capital.

Nailing the so-called ‘clean’ Singh governance, the CPI (M) leader pointed to the missile deal with Israel even as the investigation into the earlier Barak missile deal was not complete, the telecom scandal involving upgradation of the cell phone network to 3G, and the instance of bribery in the parliament for purpose of winning the confidence motion. All this will be featured in the election campaign of the Left and of the Third Front, the CPI (M) general secretary assured. He pointed out that there was also need to increase international political pressure on Pakistan so that it was willing to take effective steps against terrorism.

Describing the upcoming Bengal polls as a tough fight, Prakash Karat said that the Left Front would win a decisive electoral triumph, he had no doubt. Nandigram or any other single issue would not come up as an issue of importance in the Bengal polls. The vote will be conducted based on all-India issues in the main. Prakash Karat condemned the move of the BJP to run its candidate from Darjeeling with help from the separatist GJM.