By B PRASANT
KOLKATA: Bengal Left Front met on 25 June at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan in Kolkata. Biman Basu, Chairman, led the discussion. Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was present. The meeting conversed in discursive detail the outline of a political campaign across Bengal touching the issues that concerned the mass of the people. The meeting as usual specified the details of the campaign. Biman Basu later briefed the media in some detail.
The LF leadership in attendance at the Front meeting earlier took up the issue of violence committed with impunity on the people by the goons and professional hoods in the pay and protection of the Bengal opposition, especially the Trinamul Congress, the Pradesh Congress, and the self-styled ‘Maoists.’ The attacks and assaults have been an unpleasant if ongoing feature of opposition ‘politics’ from the time of the parliament election. The aggression intensified following the publication of the Lok Sabha results.
Political programmes have already taken place at the initiative of the LF in major cities and townships of Bengal, and this programme has to be made situation specific and with increased and intense mass contact. Biman recalled that the Front meeting after the election results had been announced called for an intensification of people-oriented political campaign work. The bond with the masses must be further improved, the Front had then already decided.
The present meeting dwelled on the mapping out of a precise scenario where the political campaign had the participatory presence of the people themselves, irrespective of their electoral inclination. ‘Common people,’ or ‘sadharan manush,’ were the two important words in the resolve that the experienced Front leadership chose to focus the political highlight on, in the meeting and later at the proscenium of the masses.
COMMON PEOPLE TO THE FORE
The Front chose to stress on such particular programmes touching the sadharan manush in the townships as amongst the hamlets as the rectification of anomalies in the BPL listings; the extended implementation of the NREGA, the work of furnishing of fertilisers (the Front had always particularised bio-fertilisers, one recalls), supply-side qualitative and quantitative improvements in pesticides, higher-yield and pest-resistant seeds-seedlings and so on. The district-specific issue again touching the people are to be identified and implemented appropriately at the level of the district LF.
Taking up the BPL issue the LF leadership felt that the factor of correct identification of people eligible to be brought in the purview of BPL contained lacunae. A section of the impoverished faced problems of livelihoods-- and of lives because of the anomalous situation. Inclusion in the BPL list, Biman pointed out, entailed the cascading benefits of free healthcare as well as of PDS-supplied essential goods of daily consumption at a lower array of prices.
BPL, NREGA ANOMALIES
There was an associated problem to which Biman drew the attention of the media. There remained a plethora of districts in Bengal where the number of counterfeit ration cards proliferated and continued to do so. There are districts where the number of ration cards exceeded the estimated population. A vice versa has prevailed in some other districts. In such staringly anomalous cases as these, the Front’s suggestion to the administration was the cancellation of the ration card and an issuance de novo of such cards to the people. This could be done after the BPL list has been made to stand corrected.
Dwelling on the NREGA, the Left Front thought that weaknesses persisted in the implementation of the programme. Biman would mention ‘various difficulties,’ that would seem to have set the programme back a while. The LF leadership agreed that it must be probed how newer projects could be included in the NREGA programme without flouting or causing anomalies to occur in the concerned central government act. Citing examples, Biman mentioned the task of erecting bunds, earthen or otherwise, in the districts affected by the recent and devastation-causing cyclonic storm.
Bengal must rise above the national average of employment rate of people under this scheme, which is at 60% at the all-India level. The LF leader pointed out that in invoking newer schemes, the evolving situational reality of the Bengal countryside and the principal rural characteristics of the state must be recalled. During the ‘off’ season in the agricultural belts when work is hard to come by for the khet mazdoors and the itinerant farm workers, the NREGA projects could come in very handy for this section of the rural poor. The NREGA could also be used to employ gainfully those of the agri-labour who found it tough going even in the ‘on’ season of sowing, growth, and harvest.
FARM WORK TO BE ACCELERATED
Noting specifically the shortcomings in the supply of farm ‘productive collaterals’ like seeds, pesticides and fertilisers, Biman noted a few precise points in this connection. The senior CPI (M) leader noted that supplies often failed to turn up in good time. In the case of seeds and seedlings, errors of choice have turned up again -- and then once again. Citing instances Biman said that to the astonishment and often dismay of the farmer, the seeds purchased proved to produce crops of a variety different from that anticipated.
The district units of the Left Front have been asked to meet and put on motion a wide-ranging political campaign on all the issues. The campaign-movements will take place in seriatim, at the levels of the blocks, the sub-divisions, and the districts, with each tier of movement climaxing with organisation of deputation to the concomitant levels of state administration. The matters touching the people’s peace and security would be placed before the various levels of the police administration at the same time. Rallies would be organised in a lengthy schedule all over Bengal-- on the developmental and people’s security-related issues, Biman Basu assured the media.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE LATERITE ZONE
Biman also dwelled on the issue of development of the western part of Bengal, an issue that the Front leadership had taken up. Earlier, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee reported on the recent developments taking place at Lalgarh and adjoining blocks of Midnapore west. The report made it clear that with 30, 000-odd people ejected out of home-and-hearth in the jangal mahals by the aggression of the ‘Maoists,’ the façade has been ripped away and the real anti-people face of the marauders exposed in the pitiless light of facts, hard facts. The forcible push forward of the innocent women and children to form human barricades to daunt the security forces has been another example of the barbarity perpetrated by the ‘Maoists’ and their allies, the Trinamul Congress.
LF leadership focussed on the need to speed up development further in the laterite zone of Bengal where most of the poor villages of the state are located. The majority of the Gram Panchayats and the Panchayat Samities of the blocks affected with ‘Maoist’ depredations, e.g., Binpur I and Binpur II, are controlled for some time now by an ally of the ‘Maoists,’ the Jharkhandis. The decentralised plans and programmes were deliberately not implemented in these blocks by the forces of division.
ANTI-PEOPLE JHARKHANDIS, ‘MAOISTS’
Biman mentioned a case that he knew of to exemplify the anti-poor behaviour of the Jharkhandis. At the village of Amlasole, there is an acute water crisis, especially of potable water, come the cruel and unproductive summer months. The need is to dig a large pond where rainwater and sub-soil water will accumulate and filtrate to create a perennial source of water. Since the excavation will endanger the anti-Communist propaganda of both the Bengal opposition and their belligerent cohorts in the big media, the pond never materialised. Finally, it was Dr Pulin Behari Baskey, the present MP and then Zillah Parishad chairman, utilised ZP funds to have the pond dug.
Much in a similar vein, the ‘Maoists’ have indulged in acts of commission including blasting of land mines to destroy both roads and road-making machines. Government offices and tourist bungalows, one recalls in this connection, have been blown up, repeatedly. Road rollers have been set a-fire, and cement mixers have been dragged off into forests and systematically dismantled. Communication network has been torn down for communication is something of which ‘Maoist’ is always afraid. The LF urged upon the state government to add a further and fresh impetus to the ongoing developmental work in the laterite zone of Bengal in particular.(INN)