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.
LF UNITY – A POLITICAL FORMATION
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.’
LF APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE
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.
UNTRUTH ABOUT PURULIA
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.
LESSONS FROM THE RURAL POLLS
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.