May 31, 2009

West Bengal to go ahead with chemical hub project

Kolkata, May 29: With the opposition Trinamool Congress, now part of the central government, having said it would oppose the Nayachar chemical hub project, West Bengal’s ruling Left Front government Friday said it had not received any notice yet from the central government to scrap it.

“The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had given us the green signal to set up the Nayachar project. And so far, we have not received anything from their end which says ‘no’ to the chemical hub proposal,” state Industry Minister Nirupam Sen told reporters here.

He said the West Bengal government is hopeful of implementing the project, located in East Midnapore district, despite the Trinamool Congress’ attempts to thwart it."So long there is Central approval for the chemical hub project at Nayachar, we will go ahead with it. We have no information that the project will be cancelled,"Sen said.“We will go ahead with it for as long as the approval [for the project] is there. Later, if there is a change then we will have to see,” he said emerging from a Communist Party of India(Marxist) State Secretariat meeting.

Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has said she will fight the chemical project tooth and nail.

Senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and party’s central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty said the union government had sanctioned a similar petrochemical hub project in three states, including West Bengal and Gujarat.

“It’s a project which is supposed to be implemented by both the centre and state government. Now it’s time to see whether the union government prevents us from implementing it in West Bengal or gives us the nod to continue.

“If the centre stops our Nayachar project, they should ban all three pending proposals of petrochemical industries that will come up in the country,” Chakraborty said.

“But we think West Bengal has got all the required approvals except the environmental clearance,” he said.

Landslides disrupt toy train service in West Bengal

Siliguri, May 28: Landslides in West Bengal have disrupted the movement of the world famous toy train, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.The famous Darjeeling toy train runs between Siliguri and Darjeeling. 

The train stopped operation from Tuesday as heavy rains and severe landslides washed away a huge portion of the railway track. A huge pile of debris has accumulated on the tracks, halting the operation of the toy train.

"In 80 km route from Siliguri junction to Darjeeling, we have got landslides at 41 spots and total amount of muds and boulders is about 3500 cubic metres. We also have tree fallen on tracks at 16 spots. Out of the 16 spots, two spots are very heavy because very big tree trunk has fallen on track. We have got one location near Ghum where a portion of our track is washed away in between two buildings," said Subrata Nath, director, Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR).

The DHR is trying hard to resume the journey at the earliest, but the service is expected to resume not earlier than seven to ten days."We are trying our best to resume the services between new Jalpaiguri, Siliguri to Kerseong by Saturday. That will cover around 50 km of our track. So around 60 km, we will be able to make operational by this Saturday. And for the other one it may take another seven to ten days," added Nath.

The DHR toy train was started in 1896 by the then British Lieutenant Governor Ashley Eden, offering riders an opportunity to enjoy the majestic beauty of nature along the Darjeeling hills. 

At the beginning, this railway was named as the Darjeeling steam Tramway Co. Later when India gained independence in 1947, the railway was named as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).DHR was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO on December 5 at their 23rd session. 

Darjeeling landslide toll reaches 27

Siliguri,28 th May: With the recovery of three more bodies, the toll in the landslides in West Bengal's hill district of Darjeeling due to Cyclone Aila has risen to 27, police said on Thursday.

"We have recovered three bodies from the debris at Rangiabong under Jorbungalow police station area this (Thursday) morning. One of the bodies has been identified as Pramila Rai, 68," a senior official of the Jorbungalow police station said. He said the teams of Natural Disaster Management Authority have started rescue operations in the cyclone-hit areas.

Meanwhile, State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen reached Darjeeling Thursday morning to hold meetings with the district administration. He is likely to visit the landslide-affected zones and will also survey the situation there. "Search operations are on in some areas as at least four people are still missing from the Darjeeling district after the cyclonic storm," the police officer said.

According to district administration sources, 14 bodies were found in areas under Darjeeling Sadar police station, six in Jorbanglow police station area and seven in Kurseong sub-division.More than 500 houses were damaged due to torrential rain that started Monday, when Cyclone Aila hit West Bengal and continued on Tuesday.

Nearly 100 landslides took place across Darjeeling and its adjoining areas inconveniencing thousands of residents living in the hilly region. Cyclone Aila created havoc across West Bengal Monday, claiming a total of 87 lives by Thursday. 

Riverbank Developers, IHG to set up hotel in Batanagar

MUMBAI:Riverbank Developers has signed on Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to run the proposed hotel and serviced apartment facility at its Batanagar township project in West Bengal. As part of the initial 15 year deal between Riverbank and IHG, the hotel at Batanagar will be branded under the Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand and will have 200 rooms and 75 apartments.

Bata India plans to fast track the completion of Batanagar Township project worth Rs 1300 crore. The township project being developed on 262 acre is promoted by Riverbank Developers, a 50:50 JV between Bata India and Calcutta Metropolitan Group. While the Phase I of the project is slated to be completed in 2011, the whole township is expected to be completed by 2013.

Relief material airdropped in cyclone-hit areas of West Bengal

Barrckpore Air Base (Kolkata), May 28: Helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out relief operation sorties in the cyclone hit areas of North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts in West Bengal.

The IAF helicopters dropped relief materials in the areas like Hingalganj, Sandeshkhali of North 24 Parganas district and in Basanti, Gosaba of South 24 Parganas district which is quite close to the India-Bangladesh border.

“We are planning to drop close to 20 tons of load which includes bread, chira (beaten rice) and water for the people who are marooned in the North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts,” said Wing Commander Tapan Srivastava of Air Force Station, Barrackpore.Meanwhile, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she would urge the Central Government to provide more help.

“This is not a time of politics, but I believe this is a time to help the people. I will ask the Central Government to give more relief,” said Banerjee. Cyclone Aila that originated over the Bay of Bengal on Monday caused havoc in many parts of West Bengal and Bangladesh.

The resultant thunderstorm, tidal waves and flooding forced half a million people to abandon their homes in Medinipur, Sundarbans (located in South 24 Parganas), North 24 Parganas and Hooghly districts.

Millions of people in India and Bangladesh who have been temporarily displaced are in desperate need of water, food and adequate shelter after the cyclone hit the region. It is estimated that cyclone Aila killed at least 210 people and injured over 6,400 in India and Bangladesh.

While hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated to cyclone shelters, schools, colleges and other buildings, the high winds and floods destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, ravaged crops, killed livestock and damaged roads and bridges.

According to the Bangladesh Government, almost four million people have been affected by the cyclone Aila, with at least 100 dead and hundreds more still missing. While in West Bengal, authorities say that nearly 2.3 million people have been affected. 

Cyclone Aila swallows Sunderbans tigers

KOLKATA, 27th May: It's not just residents of Kolkata who bore the brunt of Cyclone Aila. Forest wardens fear that as the cyclone tore through the Sunderbans flooding the mangrove forests, it may have killed more than a dozen of the highly endangered Bengal tigers.

As the human toll from Monday's cyclone rose to 64, beat officers and range officials in the Sunderbans feared hundreds of herbivores and at least a dozen tigers might have been swept away by the giant waves that lashed the forests. While a tiger had sneaked into the Jamespur village wading through the flood waters and was tranquillised early on Tuesday morning, 20 crocodiles and two spotted deer were found dead. The full extent of the damage will be known only after an assessment by forest teams.
As per the last census, the Sunderbans had 265 tigers. Pintu Mirdha of Jamespur got the shock of his life when he spotted a male tiger crouching in his waterlogged cowshed. Mirdha managed to shut the cowshed door and informed the forest department. But forest guards had to wait for the water to recede to get close to the animal. Neighbours were asked to evacuate as the animal paced up and down the locked cowshed. At around 1pm, when the water level went down during low tide, the male tiger was tranquillised.
"It swam into the village that was left flooded after the cyclone. Since most villagers weren't present at the submerged huts, no one noticed the animal," said Subrata Mukherjee, field director, Sunderban Tiger Reserve.
"A storm like this has never hit the Sunderbans in the last three decades. Going by the extent of damage to the villages, the state of the forest could be terrible. Forests remained under eight feet of water till late Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after Aila hit, it had gone up to 20 feet," said Mrinal Chattopadhyay of the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers. "Even if tigers manage to swim to higher grounds, deer and wild boars must have been swept away," he said. Wardens fear that even if tigers survived the giant waves, the lack of prey will certainly kill them.
But some forest officials were cautious. "We shall study the damage once the water level goes down," said Subhendu Bandopadhyay, divisional forest officer, South 24-Parganas. Beat wardens, however, said no assessment would be possible until the waters recede and that could take weeks. By that time many of the carcasses would have disintegrated to nothing.

May 28, 2009


SILIGURI,26th MAY: It is raining fiercely in Darjeeling district even as we file this report.  There is darkness at noon -- brought about by low scudding clouds that open up and down comes the rain pour-- rain in the shape of large fearsome drops and the bare skin stings.  Trees falling left and right on the difficult terrain of the circuitous and climbing Pankhabari Road make the earth assume a shape much like the landscape of a war-torn futuristic outline. 


People continue to run helter-skelter to save themselves form the hail of falling stones and large chunks of mud.  Roads to and from Siliguri and Darjeeling town are impassable.  The town itself has no electricity and no running water.  Even the hardy hill people find it a tough going. 

We suppose only the very adventurous and the ‘informative’ reporters are out of bed.  The entire tourist brigade up in the hills, without even basic amenities for 72 hours now, is in bad shape as the temperature drops suddenly, surreptitiously.  Bundled up, everybody looks piteous.

Sad as figures of those dead and injured come out of the office of the district and sub-divisional administration.  Eleven have been swept to their demise in the fierce natural fury.  A child Hrishika Subba aged but three, died when the jhora of falling stones hit her.  There is more than a dozen of the hill people recorded as ‘missing,’ and only the worst is presumed about their fate.


The district administration met at Siliguri amidst the calamity and chalked out a disaster management plan.  Urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya and Siliguri Mayor Nurul Islam amongst others were present.  One learns that all rivers are in spate especially the fast-flowing wide-mouthed the Mahananda and the Balason.

The administration has kept on the standby, nearly three lakh pieces of dhoti-sari-lungi, as well as a great quantity of tarpaulin and thick plastic sheets plus poles.  Elsewhere, north Dinajpore, Maldaha, Jalpaiguri, and Coochbehar, the latter two bordering a rain-swept Assam, recorded upto 150 mm of rain, which has poured down never-ending, as the skies seemed to open up.  

More than a lakh of people are affected in these districts alone.  Most have been rendered homeless.  Power supply is infrequent as is the furnishing of potable water.  The river Teesta has continued to erode and erase both her banks as the flow increases and the twist in her turbulence reaches the limit. 


All over the state close to a hundred people, men, women, and children, have died in the rage of the cyclonic storm.  The Bengal Left Front government has tackled relief work on a war footing.  Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee visited several places in the affected parts of south 24 Parganas, spoke to the people, and looked to the relief and rehabilitation efforts.  The Trinamul Sabhadhipati of the district boycotted the meeting Buddhadeb took, bringing political affiliation above humane considerations, not unexpectedly perhaps.  Finance minister Asim Dasgupta on visiting Tamluk has spot-sanctioned Re one core 80 lakh for storm-swept Midnapore east.  

More than 100 relief camps have been set up across the calamity-hit districts.  More are in the making.  The relief camps house nearly half-a-lakh of people.  The relief efforts go on with redoubled speed but much remains to be done, yet.  The full picture of the damage will only emerge when the rains have ceased and the wind has dropped off.  Meteorologists predict a weakening of the storm as the week drags by for the stricken people. 

May 27, 2009



West Bengal cyclone death toll mounts to 82

Heavy rain triggers landslips in Darjeeling; Aila weakens into depression and causes downpour

KOLKATA,26th May: The city and some districts, devastated by cyclone Aila on Monday, are yet to come to terms with the reality, even as the death toll shot up to 82. Fresh areas in the north were reeling under the impact of the cyclone’s after-effects on Tuesday. More than 2.2 million people have been affected.

Heavy and incessant rain in Darjeeling triggered landslips, which claimed nine lives. At least six people are reported missing. The highway connecting the hills to the rest of the State was blocked at several places.

“Cyclone Aila has weakened into a depression,” said G.C. Debnath, director, weather section, Regional Meteorological Centre. “It caused very heavy rainfall in north Bengal on Tuesday.”

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has apprised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the situation.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who is in Darjeeling, was in constant touch with Mr. Bhattacharjee. He visited three areas worst hit by the landslips and met the injured who were admitted to the district hospital. He appreciated the locals for their help in clearing the roads of debris.

While Kolkata limped back to normal, vast areas of the districts hit by the cyclonic storm on Monday were under water that gushed in through breaches in the embankments.

Army and Border Security Force personnel are assisting in rescue operations in Darjeeling and North and South 24 Parganas districts. Two MI-17 helicopters of the Air Force are airdropping relief materials and carrying out evacuations in inaccessible areas in South and North 24 Parganas.

More than 41,000 people, who have lost their homes, have been put up in 109 relief camps. Around 61,000 houses have been destroyed and 1.32 lakh partially damaged, Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said here.

Certain areas, including Patharpratima in South 24 Parganas district, remain inaccessible.

The Chief Minister visited some of the worst-hit areas in the district. So did Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee later in the afternoon.

Mr. Bhattacharjee spoke to a section of those sheltered in the relief camps in the Nimpith area. Rescue and relief operations were being undertaken on a war-footing, he said. Attempts were being made to restore power and drinking water was also being supplied in pouches.

Ms. Banerjee suggested that a master plan be drawn up for flood and erosion control. She criticised the State government for not opening adequate relief camps.

Kolkata, much to the relief of its residents, woke up to clear skies in the morning. Though traffic was back on the roads, several stretches continue to remain blocked by uprooted trees.

Buddhadeb visits cyclone relief camps

KOLKATA, May 26: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday visited cyclone relief camps in Nimpith in South 24 Parganas, the area worst hit by `Cyclone Alia’.

Bhattacharjee talked to people who have taken shelter in the relief camp.

About 24000 people have been rendered homeless in South 24 Parganas district.

The cyclone-affected victims have been provided with dry food.

The district administration has set up about 100 relief camps across the disaster zone and launched relief and rescue operations at the block level.

In the Sunderbans Delta zone, large areas, including several villages, within the Kakdwip Sub-Division have been inundated and thousands have been forced to quit home and hearth and leave for relief camps.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that West Bengal capital Kolkata is limping back to normal a day after `Cyclone Aila’ brushed past it at a distance of 50 km.

At least 35 people have been killed across the state, 15 of them in Kolkata and Howrah and 20 others in South Bengal districts. Over 1500 trees lie uprooted across the main thoroughfares in the city, several electric poles have keeled over, electricity, water supply and cable connections have been disrupted in several pockets across the metropolis. The storm which started around 1.30 p.m. Monday and lasted till 8.30 p.m., with a couple of hours lull around 3 p.m., rendered Kolkata immobile.  Roads were blocked, public transport collapsed, all to and fro flights were cancelled and even the dependable metro crashed.


KOLKATA,25th MAY: Bengal Left Front has called for a massive statewide collection of funds and relief materials from 28 May to 3 June 2009 for the relief and rehabilitation of the hundreds of thousands of people of Bengal, especially south Bengal, in the aftermath of the cyclonic storm and typhoon Ayela.


The storm struck the coastline of Bengal after suddenly making a left turn even as everyone including meteorologists thought that it had taken a right turn as such storms usually do to invade coastal Bangladesh.  This effectively prevented evacuation of people from areas that were subsequently affected.


As we file this report, we have received news of 40 dead including three in the city itself as uprooted trees and electricity and other service poles keeled over, killing people, and destroying houses.  Large area had to have electricity shut off for fear of electrocution.  Snapping of cable lines meant the Bengal left Front government could not utilise the TV channels to issue warnings and other relevant information to the coastal districts in particular.


In the affected districts, more than several lakh of people are affected, shelterless, and dependent on the dry food and tarpaulins that the LF government has hastened out to the importunate. The worse of the storm damage was done on 25 and 26 May although we hear from north Bengal that rain has restarted in places like the dooars and the terai and in great earnest.


The Left Front has called upon all of its units and the units of the component political parties to go forth into the midst of the affected people and help the process of rebuilding of their shattered lives.  LF chairman Biman Basu visited several flood-affected areas of Kolkata and the surrounding districts. 


Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee went to Nimpith in south 24 Parganas to take a meeting with the local people to gauge the depth and width of the damage and the measures necessary to relieve the people in their dire stressful conditions.  Finance minister Dr Asim Dasgupta visited both north 24 Parganas and east Midnapore as last reports came in.


The Bengal LF has appealed to the people irrespective of political affiliation to come forward with help for the affected.  It has also urged upon the union government to offer help to the state in its hour of crisis.



KOLKATA:The state committee of the Bengal unit of the CPI (M) sat for a one-day session at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan on 24 May.  Central committee member Benoy Konar presided.  The primary albeit analytical observation of the Bengal CPI (M) on recent developments including the elections, past and forthcoming, plus the emergent tasks ahead was identified by Bengal state secretary and PBM Biman Basu.  PBM and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took part in the discussions that followed.


The state committee was of the opinion that the Congress-led coalition/alliance achieved unexpected success at the all-India level of the Lok Sabha polls garnering 61 seats more than it had done in 2004.  The percentage increase in votes won was less than impressive, up from 26.50 to 28.50.  Congress won 205 seats, with allies the tally reached 262. 


There was a remarkable and welcome decrease in the electoral strength of the BJP and the NDA it leads in terns of seats won and voting percentage.  NDA won 159 seats.  BJP lost 02.90% of votes from 2004.  The combined total of voting percentage of BJP + Congress (at 48.70%) remained below the figure obtained in 2004.


Despite winning with élan, both seats in Tripura inclusive of every Assembly segment there, the Bengal and the Kerala CPI (M) lost 25 seats it had won in 2004.  The CPI (M) won a total of 16 seats but the CPI (M) vote share has lessened but from 05.66% to 05.52%.  The total seats won by the Left this time lessened from 61 the last time around to 24. 


The Bengal unit believes that the electorate did not accept the slogan for the Third Front.  The Third Front won 78 seats with a voting percentage of 21%.  However, none of the three political sides in contention could anticipate the results that came out.  The so-called surveys carried out by the media were a miserable failure in this regard as well.


There is need for deep-rooted surveys and analyses at the all-India and the state level in a wide manner to identify the reasons why such electoral results were obtained.  This will take some time to go through.  Primarily, the Bengal state committee has highlighted two issues in this regard. 


First, despite the exceptions obtaining in several states as far as results were concerned, the nation’s electorate especially the secular part being conscious the terrorist threat in particular, regarded the Congress as the more reliable vehicle for the setting up of a stable government as against a hung parliament and instability. 


The people were also eager to prevent a return to office of the communal BJP and this is a contributory cause why the support of the secular vote behind the Congress platform increased.  It is true that it was the pressure from the Left that saw the passage of legislations like the NREGA, the adivasi and forest rights bill, and other social welfare programmes.  Nonetheless, the electoral benefit was reaped by the Congress as a party.


The Left fought the election in different states in conjunction and in alliance with a number of ‘non-Congress, non-BJP’ political parties.  This was necessary to build up a ‘non-Congress-secular’ electoral alternative at the all-India level.  The people did not accept as a stable, reliable alternative such an alliance that grew up immediately prior to the elections in some states.


The state committee believed that the all-India trend of results played a decisive role in election results obtaining in Bengal.  Yet even if one took that into calculation, there was no denying the importance of resolving the errors of omission and commission in organising the Bengal CPI (M), the Bengal Left Front government, the Panchayats, the municipalities, and the programme of deep mass-contact. 


The Bengal CPI (M) shall identify these lacunae in a specific way and attach more importance to rectification of the political-organisational fault-lines.  The Bengal CPI (M) shall learn the necessary lessons from the verdict cast by the mass of the people of Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections, earnest and eager as the Bengal CPI (M) is to introspect deeply and to look forward to critique and advice from the people.


A large number of comrades have taken a huge risk, and have struggled to the cost of their lives in the run up to and during the elections., and 34 have been martyred by the enemies, bringing up to a total of no less that 353 members of the Bengal CPI (M) who have had to lay down their lives in the line of pro-people struggles and movements.  In an ambience of animosity and attack on the part of the enemies and their running mates, a vast number of the mass of the people have come forward to support the Bengal Left Front with a steeled resolve. 


The people devoted themselves heart-and-soul in a struggle that involved standing face-to-face before the combined enmity and might of the attack being centred on this Left bastion with the active participation of US imperialism’s conspiracy, the use of money and muscle power, and the constant attacking mode of the media.  Their contribution and support will form the edifice on which the struggle in the days ahead would be built up and mobilised.  


It does not carry with the ideological stance of the CPI (M) and the historical experience to ponder about the long-lasting character of the elements that make up the present situation.  Newer sections of the society would be pulled into the main stream of resistance and struggle because of the insistent transfer of the burden of the worldwide economic crisis onto the shoulders of developing nations like India, the surrender of the Indian ruling classes before imperialist pressure-tactics, the consequent price rise, unemployment, closure, and lay off affecting India and her people.  People across the board of political affiliation shall be the victims of the process of economic and social dysfunction.  


In the circumstances that have appeared before the nation, it is the Left and the Left alone that can organise in a broadest platform, all the ‘non-Congress secular’ forces in the country based on a common minimum programme.  The struggle towards this a target must be kept up relentlessly.  The unity of the Left Front must be continued with and further improved in every sense.  One of the primary tasks before the Bengal CPI (M) comprised making the Party units and the supporters and sympathisers of the CPI (M) more and more pro-active.


There may well be attempts made in the days to come to create limitless opposition against the ongoing and continuous attempt by the Left Front government to implement pro-people programmes.  At the same time, the Bengal CPI (M) must stand prepared and ready to face such attempts as might well be made to hold the Bengal LF government responsible for non-performance in implementation of programmes, and create an anarchic situation by creating a series of law-and-order violations.


CPI (M) workers, sympathisers and the mass of the people must initiate attempts step-by-step to build up a most massive movement of the people to defend the democratic situation in Bengal, to guard the integrity and solidarity of the state, and to protect with care the programmes of development.  Lost allies must be brought out of their present position.  Newer allies must be found.  This is possible once the way is cleared for further consolidation of the struggle for defending the democratic rights of the mass of the people.


Political mass contact must be made in a deeper and wider manner.  The relentless flood of misinformation, lies, and slandering against the CPI (M) and the Left, in the corporate media must be nailed.  There should be no attempts to either create aggravation or fall into the trap of provocation.  There is need now more than ever, for patience, toleration, control, and intelligence. 


The people must be reposed trust in and the trust of the people in the CPI (M) must be further enhanced.  The task of deepening mass contact must be augmented through appropriate reorganisation of the ongoing tasks.  Specific measures must be taken to up to increase the believability, trustworthiness, acceptance, and credibility of the CPI (M) amongst the mass of the people.



KOLKATA: Maoists assisted by Trinamuli goons killed comrade Dinesh Mahato at the Kedua village in Balarampur, Purulia in the evening of 23 May.  Comrade Dinesh was a member of the Ghatbera-Kedua local committee of the CPI (M).  Comrade Dinesh (43) leaves behind his two sons, three daughters and his widow.  He earned his keep running a small soldering/welding shop in the locale.


Comrade Dinesh was on his way to his shop he was surrounded by three or more miscreants of Maoist and Trinamuli affiliation.  He was then shot repeatedly from a point blank range with sophisticated firearms.  He died on the spot.  The assailants flaunting guns and knives made good their escape on two motorcycles that they had parked nearby as getaway vehicles. 


Earlier in the month comrade Dinesh had led a resistance to the Maoists’ demand of the CPI (M) workers not to vote at all or if they did, to cast their franchise for the opposition candidates everywhere.  It is noteworthy that the CPI (M) and the Left won all the seats in the laterite zone of Bengal in the recent Lok Sabha elections, Birbhum being a lone exception.


Elsewhere far away in south 24 Parganas at Bishnupur, the attempt by Trinamuli goons to kill Nityananda and his brother Parthajit Naskar was foiled by their father comrade Monoranjan Naskar (76) -- at the cost of his own life.  Frustrated at the resistance thrown up by an infirm but determined old man, the hooligans attacked him with large meat-cutting choppers and left him dead, a bloodied mess.  Parthajit, too, was injured when he came to the rescue of his dying father.


At Khara-Balarampur at Nadia near Krishnagar, a school-going young boy was killed in the cruellest manner imaginable for having been associated with the CPI (M).  The young comrade Apurba Ghosh (15) who had just been promoted to class IX in the school he read.  Comrade Apurba was first abducted, had his hands tied behind his back, throttled and finally had a long sharp instrument stabbed into his left ear penetrating his head, a wound that must have cause excruciating pain to the young comrade before he would die.


This is not the first time that school going students have been martyred at the Trinamulis in the aftermath of the polls.  On 19 May, at Bherbheri village at Manabari in Coochbehar, SFI organiser Bibek Burman (17), a student of class XI, was speared to death in the most horrible manner imaginable after being abducted. 


They also attacked women of the area who were all CPI (M) workers, leaving no less than 30 injured.  Earlier still on 8 may, a young lad of ten, Sheikh Babua was blasted to death with a shower of bombs as he played on his roof of the single-storey family house at Baksi in Bagnan, Howrah.

May 26, 2009


The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) expresses deep concern at the loss of life and property caused by Cyclone Aila that lashed Kolkata and some districts of West Bengal on May 25. Scores of people have been killed and more than a lakh rendered homeless.

The Polit Bureau conveys its heartfelt condolences to the families of the bereaved and expresses its sympathies with those who have been affected by the cyclone.

The PB urges upon the Central government to urgently provide all necessary assistance to the state government to help in rescue relief and rehabilitation operations. 

The Polit Bureau appeals to the people to contribute their might to help mobilise resources for the cyclone affected people. Contributions may be made to the West Bengal Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

Cyclone Aila' claims 35 lives in West Bengal, Kolkata limps back to normal

Kolkata, May 25: West Bengal capital Kolkata is limping back to normal a day after 'Cyclone Aila' brushed past it at a distance of 50 km.

The size of the cyclonic system was so large - with a maximum diameter of 250-350 km - that when the core crossed the coast, the city was already reeling from its impact with wind speeds of 120 kmph.

At least 35 people have been killed across the state, 15 of them in Kolkata and Howrah and 20 others in South Bengal districts. Over 1500 trees lie uprooted across the main thoroughfares in the city, several electric poles have keeled over, electricity, water supply and cable connections have been disrupted in several pockets across the metropolis.

Office goers, however, are making efforts to go to work even as the public transport system is crawling back to normalcy.

The main problem is the blocked roads. Uprooted trees are being cut and cleared at a snail's pace by corporation staff who have not responded adequately to the crisis. Only about 75 civic personnel have been at work since yesterday evening with just 26 axes, 30 machetes and just one gas cutter, trying to clear away the over 1000 uprooted trees.

The storm which started around 1.30 p.m. Monday and lasted till 8.30 p.m., with a couple of hours lull around 3 p.m., rendered Kolkata immobile. Roads were blocked, public transport collapsed, all to and fro flights were cancelled and even the dependable metro crashed.

The last cyclone, the Great Calcutta Cyclone, wrecked the city on October 5, 1864. About 60,000 people were killed then.

CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee reviews election debacle

Kolkata,24th May: The Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s West Bengal State Committee that met here over two sessions on Sunday to review the party’s dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections, warned of attempts by its opponents to make the Left Front government dysfunctional by hindering pro-people programmes and by creating anarchy in the State.

The next Assembly elections are due in two years when the CPI(M) along with its Left partners will be up against a Trinamool Congress-led Opposition whose claim that the Left Front “has lost its right to rule” is reaching a crescendo.

The CPI(M)’s State Committee meeting was held less than a week after the party’s Polit Bureau observed that both national and State-specific factors were responsible for the dismal performance of the party.

It had recently underlined the need for a “self-critical” approach by the party’s State Committees, while making a “serious examination” of the reasons behind the electoral reverses.

This was reiterated at the meeting. Among those present were West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and party’s State Committee secretary Biman Bose.

Benoy Konar, a member of the party’s central committee, presided.

The CPI(M) won nine of the 32 seats it had contested in the State — its worst showing since it led the Left Front to power here 32 years ago.

The CPI(M)’s State Committee observed that in no way could the faults that might have existed in the functioning of the party, the Left Front, the State government, the panchayats and municipalities be condoned. There was need to pay greater attention to address the shortcomings and to engage in intensive interactions with the people.

What is necessary is “to win back lost friends and to keep finding new friends,” the CPI(M)’s State Committee said.

People at the national level had not accepted the slogan of a Third Front as an alternative to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party for a stable government at the Centre, the CPI(M)’s State Committee noted.

The meeting marked the beginning of a process of rectifying the shortcomings in the party at the organisational level and trying to determine the lapses in its pre-poll political strategies.

A preliminary scrutiny of the party’s performance in the districts was placed by the CPI(M)’s different district secretaries and taken up for discussion.

The party’s district committees will have further discussions and will be reporting back to the State Committee that meets again in the second week of June for a detailed review of the electoral reverses.

May 23, 2009



KOLKATA: In the haste to toady up to Mamata Banerjee and her MPs, the corporate media have conveniently let slip of the fact that in 1977, then Congress government had exceeded its quinquennial term and was banking on a new draconian Constitutional proviso (i.e., Amendment 46) to see it carry on with depleted numbers. 

The Trinamuli supremo has repeatedly ‘quoted’ members of the fawning Sushil Samaj’ of right-wing, self-proclaimed ‘intellectuals,’ that dates for the Assembly election in Bengal, due in 2011, following the Lok Sabha poll results, would be brought forward using Art 356, ‘an instrument which the Left had used in 1977 to pull down a Congress government,’ a double-lie.

It was the then Congress-supportive CPI that brought the issue up the Assembly in March of 1977 (the CPI–M had rightly chosen to boycott what was an Assembly set up in the ugly aftermath of mass-rigging in 1972).  The CPI legislators pointed out to the Speaker of the anomaly going on and also adjunctly referred to the results of the Lok Sabha elections where the non-Congress opposition had won 38 seats leaving Congress lagging way behind with four.

The 42nd Amendment was to be used principally to allow Congress-run state governments in five other states also to have an extended lease of draconian lives for six years.  The Amendment was hastily passed in both houses of parliament.  The CPI (M) had then pointed out that the defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls had been a popular verdict against all draconian measures inclusive of the counter-democratic and anti-people Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and the 42nd Amendment of the Indian Constitution, and all other such measures designed to build up an authoritarian régime at the centre, leaving the states’ rights severely curtailed.

Following the pressure of the CPI (M) and five other Left parties, the new union government passed in parliament the 43rd Amendment that made the earlier amendment null and void, opening the way out for holding of elections in due time not only in Bengal but in other states as well, states that were due to go for polls.  President’s rule was clamped on in Bengal.  Elections were held.  The rest is history, and the annals of people’s struggle can never be distorted -- for the sake of trifling, opportunistic, and short-term political mileage -- enshrined as the events of the past are forever in the history of the nation’s body politic.