Kolkata, Aug 31 (IANS): After a series of electoral losses, West Bengal’s ruling Left Front Monday sought to enthuse its cadres by organising a huge rally in the city to mark 50 years of a mass movement against food shortages.Held six weeks after Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee-led main opposition Trinamool Congress mobilised lakhs of people in its annual Martyrs’ Day rally, the ruling combine’s show of strength - with claims of nearly 600,000 in attendance - choked traffic in large parts of the city.
The Trinamool’s spectacular performances in the polls to rural and civic bodies, the Lok Sabha and in the assembly by-elections, have cast doubts on whether the ruling Left Front can stretch its marathon stint in power beyond the 2011 state assembly polls.
On top of that, Banerjee’s almost daily announcements of new trains and other railway projects and political statements aimed at weaning away the front’s base have also put the ruling coalition under pressure.
In a written message to the rally, ailing Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu urged the Left workers to go to the people and regain the confidence of those who have turned against the state government.
“Work for the people. We should not lose faith in the people, even those of our former supporters who have gone against us. We must not think of them as our enemies. We have to bring these people back to our fold,” the nonagenarian Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader said in the missive read out by Left Front chairman Biman Bose.
Cautioning the people that canards were being spread dime a dozen against the front, Basu asked the gathering to take a pledge for making a turnaround in the combine’s fortunes. CPI(M) politburo member and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee appealed to all sections of the people - particularly the youths and students - to thwart the designs of the evil forces.
Bhattacharjee said the Trinamool was killing CPI(M) workers in East Midnapore district, while the Maoists are doing the same in West Midnapore. “The opposition is all smiles. They are enjoying. They feel that the Maoists are doing what they wanted to do in West Midnapore,” he said.
Terming the ‘atrocities’ committed by the Trinamool on CPI(M) cadres in East Midnapore’s Nandigram as fascist, he said: “The Trinamool and the Maoists want to terrorise people. We won’t allow them to go forward. We will march ahead.”
A condolence resolution adopted at the rally claimed that uncountable number of Left workers and supporters had been murdered by “anti-socials” backed by opposition parties like the Congress, the Trinamool and the Maoists since 2006 assembly polls.
“Everyday, our workers are being attacked and killed. Efforts are on to create lawlessness in the state and bring back the landlord classes into power. Through violence, reactionary forces are trying to break poor people’s unity,” said the resolution.
The Left Front leaders also paid homage to those who fell to police firing during the Food Movement which was launched in 1959 when the state was suffering from acute food shortage.The movement reached its peak Aug 31, 1959, when a large number of processions converged into a huge rally in the central part of the city leading to a severe police baton charge.
The Leftists have claimed that 80 people died in police atrocities on that day, but other political parties dispute the figure. The Food Movement was one of the many agitations organised by the Leftists through the 1950s and 1960s to mobilise the masses leading to the installation of two United Front governments in 1967 and 1969 and finally the uninterrupted rule of the Left Front since 1977.