April 25, 2009


KOLKATA,12th APRIL: Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was in address to a gathering of the intellectual crème de la crème of Kolkata and Bengal on the morning of 12 April at the packed Sisir Manch downtown metropolis. The rally saw participation by persons of littérature, painters, theatre-and-drama personalities, poets, novelists, columnists, artistes of every form, as well as vocal and instrumental maestros. Noted poet Krishna Dhar presided.

The CPI (M) looks forward to formation of Left-led ‘Third Front’ governance at the centre, said Buddhadeb in clear tenor, mincing neither word nor emotion. The government must be one that the Left with their comprehensive agenda of pro-poor development, secularism, democratic sensibilities, and their strong and declared preference for the maintenance of the integrity and sovereignty of the nation. The Third Front is filled with reality and stands as a viable alternative to the two principal bourgeois formations led by the authoritarian Congress and the religious fundamentalist and divisive BJP.

Buddhadeb pointed out that the constituents and potential partners of the Third Front were in fact in governance in very many Indian states. The Congress is witness to desertion by its allies and friends even after sticking to office for five years. The weaknesses of the Congress governance were noticeable and did not escape the sight and sentiment of its legion of allies.

The Congress would not do much for the poor—it was more interested in fashioning a compliant alliance with the forces of US imperialism on the nuclear ‘deal.’ Food production goes down, kisans commit suicide at ever higher, frightening statistics, rate – a total of over 1.8 lakh of the sons of the soil have taken their own lives by their own hand because of the simple avoidable situation whereby procurement prices were not available to any viable proportions. The farmers continue to choose death over starvation and disintegration of families in large parts of India – the Left-led states being exceptions of relief for the peasants.

In a situation where the Congress is in no position to even repeat what was a poor performance during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls – where it had won but 145 seats – even the so-called political backyard of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh has slipped out of its hands in a major way. The Congress is a poor third in most states now more than ever in terms of popularity – electoral and otherwise.

One reason why the popularity of the Congress is on the rapid slide of waning can be explained by the Dr Arjun Sengupta report where it is said that the daily wage of 705 of the people the country is less than Rs 20. At the other end of the spectrum is the existence of four of the richest ten persons of the world. This glaring contradiction has virtually wiped off the image the Congress seeks to build up before the people, as the Lok Sabha polls approach. No wonder then the Congress finds itself friendless, alone, isolated, and on the decline.

On the other hand, stand the menace called the BJP-RSS combine. They have started to propagate as if terrorism is synonymous with Islam, which of course suits their Hindu fundamentalism. This combine stands against the secular fabric of the nation itself. Subsequently the Malegaon explosion has proved the connection between the BJP-RSS brand of Hindu fundamentalism and terrorism. BJP, too, stands witness to desertion of ranks of its allies. The BJD in Orissa is an important recent example in this regard. The BJP must not be allowed to crawl itself to office, for if they do, the nation itself will be under great danger.

Buddhadeb continued say that in 2004, the left had taken the risk of supporting the Congress from the outside to prevent the BJP from coming to office. This time, the Left calls for the Third Front based not on personalities but principles and policies. The Third front looks forward to pro-people outlook and policies. The Left looks to pro-poor developmental programmes, strengthening of the rationing system, and increase of plan allocation in such basic subjects as health and education.

The centre-state relationship must be retooled to provide more power, political and financial, to the states. There should be comprehensive ambience of democracy and secularism. An independent foreign policy should be put in place. These policies would only fructify if the Third front government that would come to office at the end of the Lok Sabha elections, were led by the Left. For this purpose, said Buddhadeb, a larger number of Left Front MPs must be elected from all over the country especially from the three Left-ruled states of Kerala, Tripura, and Bengal.

In Bengal, the opposition is out to confuse the outlook of the poor and the adivasis. Forces of separatism have started to encourage divisive elements in Bengal, in the hill areas and in the western districts of the state. The Left Front is not weak-kneed to these dangerous developments. It depends more on the power of the people that on that of arms and violence. Buddhadeb also told the gathering that the Left Front believed in a form of cultural pluralism. The different cultural centres of Bengal like the Natya Academy and the Bangla Academy are run by the Left Front government with this perspective firmly in place.

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