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.
GAME-PLAN OF VIOLENCE
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.
‘TRUTH’ AND ‘HONESTY’
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.