April 25, 2009

Memo Given to the Election Commission on the Situation in Darjeeling

April 25, 2009
Shri Navin B. Chawla
Chief Election Commissioner
Election Commission of India
Nirvachan Sadan
Ashoka Road,
New Delhi
Dear Shri Navin Chawla,

I was recently in Darjeeling to address an election meeting of the CPI(M) candidate on April 21, 2009. Such a meeting could be held after some years due to the fact that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha spearheading the movement for a separate `Gorkhaland' had created an atmosphere of fear and terror threatening any one opposing them of grave consequences if they held any political rallies in the hills.

I wish to complement the CEC also for creating an atmosphere which has permitted the possibility of holding such meetings.

You will recall that I had met you and your colleague Shri Quraishi on April 7, 2009 and handed over a memorandum requesting the CEC to take certain measures to ensure a free and fair election in these hills. I had also submitted a CD recording an inflammatory speech of Shri Bimal Gurung.

During the course of my visit, various sections of the people had brought to my notice many instances of terror that may prevent the conduct of a free and fair election. I am summarising some of the major suggestions that I had received.

I would be grateful if the EC could give a serious consideration to the following.

1.The EC must immediately launch a more intense campaign with wider reach to assure the people that their votes would remain secret. This is imperative to dispel fears that the voters could be identified subsequently and harassed/attacked etc.

2.CRPF should be deployed as early as possible in the hill areas and flag marches undertaken to restore voters' confidence
3.The Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) camp at Gorubathan must be immediately dismantled and proceedings drawn up as per the law of the land against all the personnel involved in the camp, as trainers, trainees and administrative. Please ensure that no civilians are allowed to wear/use Army fatigues.

4.The CRPF should be maintained beyond the date of the election, April 30, 2009, to prevent post-poll violence that we apprehend, and to keep pre-poll peace that the people desire.

While complementing the EC for the conduct of election so far, I am sure that these suggestions would be seriously consider to further improve the conduct of free and fair elections.

With regards,
Yours sincerely

(Sitaram Yechury)
Copy to:
1)Shri S. Y. Quraishi, Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India, New Delhi
2)Shri V. S. Sampath, Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India, New Delhi


KOLKATA: Qutub-ud din Ansari is known in India and indeed around a great part of the world as the terrorised face of the Gujarat carnage as the sena ran riot, killing, molesting, maiming, all over the state, especially in areas inhabited in numbers by the minorities.

An ostagar from the Bapunagar colony in Ahmadabad, Qutub-ud din had been cornered by a possé of armed goons and he asked them with folded hands and conjoined palms, tears streaming down his frightened eyes, to spare his life for he had a family to feed. The arrival of the police (a rarity) spared the young man of a horrible death by being burnt alive. His photo made international headlines and was one more blow to the ‘this-is-a-natural-reaction’ calm façade of the Gujarat chief minister.

For a brief period of time, later, Qutub-ud din spent months in Kolkata to get over his trauma along with his family members as his face, having been headlined and focussed upon countless times, has made him a potential target for his enemies and there were plenty of those where he came from.

Young Qutub-ud din would have been terribly surprised, even not-a-little-angry, at seeing that photo of his being used by Mamata Banerjee’s chiefs on Trinamuli election hoardings with the catch line ‘an example of CPI (M) terror on people.’ Disraeli, 19th century British prime minister, exasperated with manipulated figures, had once come up with an aphorism that has become a classic of sorts, that there were three kinds of lies: ‘lies-damned lies-and-statistics.’ We could well add the Trinamuli head honcho’s name, as a fourth example, and nobody should protest if she / he is in a healthy frame of mind.

Especially so, when one looks at another poster the Trinamulis have put up all over Kolkata and Bengal. It shows a cover image from the daily Ganashakti (6 February 2007) with Abu Hossein Mullick’s house was set on fire by the Trinamulis at Khejuri – those were the stormy times for the people of Nandigram - as Abu sits desolate before the ruins. Shamelessly, the Trinamulis have used the same Ganashakti photo and underlined it with the profanely lying and somewhat pointlessly obscene caption of ‘nakedness at Nandigram.’

We have nothing to comment on the cultural fastidiousness or the lack there of, of didi’s goons. They could have at least paid Ganashakti the royalty necessary and sought permission before running the photo in the distorted manner, the loathsome ‘art’ of which is so well versed in them. We rest our case.


LALGARH: Comrade Gopinath Murmu finally died, most painfully, whispering through chapped lips for water that he could not given because of the ‘Maoist’ diktat that none of the wounded at the Nadadia village would be allowed to be taken out from the hutment where they were pushed into, nor would any kind of medical assistance be administered. Comrade Gopinath had been shot along with nine others earlier by a hit squad of the ‘Maoists’ of the wounded two had already died on the spot as reported.

Abani Bhuinya the GP member of Ramgarh abutting Lalgarh survives but for how long nobody knows. He was sneaked out this morning (24 April) to a nearby health centre where he told us the inhuman way the ‘Maoists’ with their Trinamuli ‘local guides’ used blunt weapons first to beat and break the bones of the arms and legs of the CPI (M) workers they had kidnapped and only then they would shoot those whom they considered strong enough to survive the beatings.

Abani told us, pain written all over his elderly face, that he was beaten up, shot – and yet he has survived until at least until as we file this report. His is a critical condition with arterial as well as bone damage all over his body. A raj of criminal rage ranges across Lalgarh and the fear-fuelled anger of the ‘Maoists’ increases as the CPI (M), following state secretary Biman Basu’s express direction, responds to aggression with vast mass assemblages and marches -- all over Midnapore west.

Elsewhere at the Press Club of Kolkata, Chhatradhar Mahato, the ‘Maoist’-backed ‘resistance’ committee’s ‘spokesperson’ attributed Gopinath’s and other’s deaths to ‘addiction to alcohol: there were few takers for his likely fairy tale of the grisly kind.

Deep into the night of Thursday, almost at daybreak of Friday (24 April), we learnt that two more CPI (M) comrades have been martyred by the Maoists—this time at Supurdi village at Balarampur. The ‘Maoists’ were accompanied by Trinamulis of local origin and misdemeanours. This time the occasion was a happy Chhau dance festival in which a large number of villagers had congregated. The dance troupes performed throughout the night. Men, women, children kept coming and going, some from far flung places, other from nearby villages clusters.

As the night sky became lighter in tone as the horizon saw the violet ring of feint first light the announcement of the day break, two CPI (M) workers comrade Baikuntho Mahato, Balarampur zonal committee member of the CPI (M), and comrade Bibhuti Sing Sardar (who himself leads a popular Chhau dance troupe) left the fair.

They were intercepted at a lonely place by a group of ten heavily armed ‘Maoists.’ The assassins opened fire from their automatic weapons at almost point blank range. The CPI (M) workers fell-- riddled with at least twenty bullet wounds each. With their martyrdom, the ‘Maoists’ had killed five CPI (M) workers in 72 hours’ time in the western part of Bengal.
Five CPI(M) Men Killed in Maoist Rampage in West Bengal

April 21, 20092 CPI(M) members were killed by Maoists in SalboniHambir Mandi and Shaktipada Sen were killed after being dragged out of their houses.
April 22, 2009Gopinath Murmu beaten to death in Saluka village, Lalgarh P.S
April 23, 20092 CPI(M) activists Bibhuti Singh Sardar and Baikuntho Mahato were killed by Maoists in Supurdlh Village in Balarampur, Purulia District.


LALGARH: A massive rally was organised at the call of the CPI (M) right in the troubled heart of Lalgarh and more than 20 thousand people were in courageous attendance. The ‘Maoist’ den is but a few kilometres across the border into Jharkhand. More 50% of the rallyists were women, and most came with their children tagging cheerfully along.

The rally, militant in nature, was filled with fluttering Red Flags of various sizes. The sound of kettle drums and the shouting of slogans added to the militancy as well as colour to the assemblage. The entire jangal mahal was made aware of the rally as the loudspeakers carried the voices of the CPI (M) who fearlessly addressed the rally – many have threats against them from the ‘Maoist’-Trinamuli-Jharkhandi criminals- deep into every corner of this part of Midnapore west.

Speakers at the rally included professor Dipak sarkar who heads the Midnapore west unit of the CPI (M) as the secretary, and CPI (M) leaders Satyen Maity and Anuj Pandey (who presided). It is significant that the CPI (M) could appear in strength in both the hill areas of Darjeeling and the laterite zone of the extreme west of Midnapore on the same day.


The aftermath of the Lalgarh rally was not without unpleasantness borne of criminal acts. At Salboni within a stone’s throw distance of Lalgarh, the ‘Maoists’ struck with a murderous intent. The place was the tiny hamlet of Nadadia and it falls within the Debgram GP. Two dozen heavily-armed men, faces covered, attacked the village, sought out CPI (M) workers’ hutments.

The raiders then proceeded to beat to a pulp with gun-butts three CPI (M) workers: they were comrades Shakti Sen, Hambir Mandi, and Ranjit Singh, poor kisans all. Comrade Hambir and Shakti died on the spot, and the ‘Maoists’ made off with their bodies. Ranjit was rescued and he has been admitted to a local hospital in extreme critical conditions with gashing wounds on his head.

The ‘Maoists’ also took forcibly away two licensed single-barrelled guns of Mihir Sen and Deben Hembram. In protest against the ‘Maoist’ depredations, rallies are held all over Midnapore today (22 April). The bodies are yet to be recovered.


DARJEELING:This morning (22 April), the reactions and response that we received from the hill city, were overwhelmingly in favour of the CPI (M) rally in general rally and the address by CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, Sitaram Yechury, in particular.

Representatives of every hill community—the Tamangs, the Gurungs, the Lamas, the Thapas, the Mokhtans, the Bhattarais, the Pathaks, and the Chhetris et al—i.e., cutting across castes as well as social groups-- spoke paeans of praise in favour of the basic tenor of the CPI (M) rally.


The CPI (M) rally called for unity of the people of the hills, the plains, and of the hills and the plains. The political content of Sitaram’s address where he emphasised the position of the CPI (M) and the Left as friends and comrades of the hill communities in and out of the parliament struck a sympathetic chord, as they told us, among the minds of the hill people.

The talk about the Left fighting in and out of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the overall and not sectarian development of the hill areas kept being recalled repeatedly, even after the rally was over, as we were told, and its effects remaining yet powerful among the hill peoples in general.


On the other hand, the separatist GJMM and its cohorts have been made angry at the way the CPI (M) could make its way back and in force to the hill townships of Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong, in particular, and they are infuriated at the onrush of popular, indeed mass, support for the CPI (M), once again in the hills after a gap.

The scathing attack that Sitaram launched during his address at the opportunism and dangerous brinkmanship of the divisive kind of the BJP also blended well with the consensus in the hills, among people of such far flung areas as Chungtung, Hrishihaat, Kaujali, Jhenpey, Pemeti, Balachanr, Gokh, Bijonbari, Poolbazaar, Aatpara, and Teendharia.

Elsewhere, Biman Basu, CPI (M) Bengal secretary, and chairman Bengal Left Front told the media that the Left Front called upon the Election Commission to ensure that voting remained free and fair in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong. Biman also complained that at least half-a-dozen letters written by him to the ECI on the situation developing in the hill sub-divisions had gone unresponded to and it seemed nothing would be done by the ECI to remedy and set right the recent state of tension there.


DARJEELING: Addressing a mass rally held at the Chowkbazaar at Darjeeling Township in the late morning hours of 21 April, Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of the CPI (M) called for a New India that could only be ushered in by the Third Front when it formed a government in Delhi.

The Darjeeling rally was politically important because the CPI (M) and the Left Front had not been able to organise rally this big earlier thanks to the armed and dangerous intransigence of the separatist Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM, as these separatists prefer t call themselves).

Sitaram began by saying that another India existed within the fields of the present India. The India within was populated by the kisans, the workers, the middle classes, the lower middle classes, and the teeming millions of unemployed youth. The outer shell of the country comprised the multi-national corporations, the burgeoning finance capital, and the speculators.

The anti-people and anti-poor policies followed assiduously by the successive NDA and UPA régimes have seen Indian poor become poorer, and the rich, richer manifold. The time has come to make policy changes up in Delhi. The Third Front is the alternative to both these big bourgeois compositions. The Third Front stood for education, health, shelter, and employment for all, and for an independent foreign policy.


The disparity in terms of wealth has reached the extent that a rich person is willing have his residence set up at a cost of thousands of crores of Rupees. On the other hand, 78% of the population have to make do with a daily income of less than Rs 20. Every day one thousand children die because of lack of health care facilities. Several crores of women who are carrying suffer from anaemia. Sitaram asked the rally whether they would be willing and continue to be witness to this national profile after 60 years of political independence.

Dwelling on the world economic depression, Sitaram said that every day one crore of people were thrown out of work, and the figure may soon reach five crore-a-day. In India, the number of kisans taking their own lives in the grinding poverty they were not willing to suffer from any longer grows bigger every day. Recently in Gujarat, 71 bidi workers had committed suicide. In Tamilnadu, workers are forced to sell off their kidneys.

Sitaram pointed out that if one looked at the political scene, the BJP- and Congress-led alliances were unravelling from Bengal to Tamilnadu. The Third Front emerges stronger every day, every week. People will set up a government of the Third front by making Left unity stronger than ever.

Turning to the question of prime ministership, the speaker said that nobody knew who would finally be anointed the PM before and in the run up to the 2004 polls. The choice is decided only after the popular mandate is received. Could this happen, when a name is declared beforehand as the PM, and the people choose not to elect him at all! Sitaram reminded the rally that the present PM was not in the fray this time around. ‘We have not put a particular person as the projected PM because we have deep respect for the people’s verdict and for the Indian Constitution.’

However much ‘match fixing’ the Congress and the BJP go in for in terms of capturing the Delhi masnad, the electorate of India is poised to create new history by voting the Third Front to office. Sitaram asked the rally to vote for the Left Front to solidify the people’s unity and to defeat the separatists. He accused the BJP of misdirecting the emotional outlook of the hill people by taking up the cause of the GJMM. The people of Bengal would not allow the conspiracy to divide up Bengal again to succeed, Sitaram Yechury concluded.


By B Prasant
Keshpur where we report was, we recall, the area that the Trinamuli chief had called the ‘Seshpur’ or the ‘end of the road’ for CPI (M). That was back in the early part of the new century. At present, nearly all the GPs of the area are run by the CPI (M) and the Left Front. Much water has flowed down the murmuring Haldi River since then.

Recently, 20 April to be specific, the evening of that date to be precise, a gang of armed raiders carrying automatic weapons descended on Keshpur and the aim was clearly to revive the jagiri and jaidaat they once had had in the area, looting, molesting women, killing CPI (M) workers, generally causing mayhem to become the order of the day.

The train of events started late in the day as the sun leaned to the west at the end of a day of swelter and sweat (the temperature reaching upto and beyong 45 deg C in the shade. The first indication was the whoop of the raiders as they shot their way into the fields at the end of which stands Keshpur. The raiders were divided into two groups. One group of 20 came in single file firing all the while, covering the second group that tried to sneak around into the village cluster using a side route.

The villagers, who had been bloodied during the earlier fray between 1999 and 2003, came out fearlessly wielding sickles, staves, and plain old lathis of slightly fearsome proportions. The villagers numbered at least 1000. Mass mobilisation started quickly thereafter and at the end one saw more than five thousand men and women come streaming out bare-handed to defend home-and-hearth, from Kendapara, Baramesa, Panichhara, and Kusumdahari village segments.

The second group of raiders found themselves between the devil and the deep sea for the first group comprising mostly of ‘Maoists’ would not allow the second group consisting largely of Trinamulis turn their back. Members of the second group hurried into the first thatched house they could find.

In the meanwhile, the first group had been put on the run despite dozens of villagers receiving pellet and bullet wounds, and the fleeing ‘Maoists’ fired wildly, hitting repeatedly the hutments where their comrades-at-armed-dacoity, hitting indeed their brethren goons more than a score of times.

When the raiders had been chased off into Midnapore west’s border with the neighbouring state of Jharkhand, the villagers returned triumphant to find three of the Trinamulis groaning from wounds in the house where they had taken shelter albeit in vein.

It was then that the villagers found among the wounded—none of the wounded are in serious condition—Budha Mahato the terror of the early 200s who stands guilty in the history sheet as a cold-blooded professional killer, having murdered three, and had kidnapped for ransom a dozen-odd persons. Along with him lay down cowering two other professional sharp-shooters named Bhakti Dala Bera and Sambhu Biswas. The fourth sharp-shooter Tarapada, a ‘Maoist’ who led the second group made good his escape in the excited mêlée that followed around the ‘captive’ killers.

The whole episode, said Professor Dipak Sarkar, state committee member of the Bengal CPI (M) who heads the Midnapore west district unit, was throwback to 30 April 2001 when under the joint leadership of the then People’s War Group (PWG) and the Rajani Dolui-Mohd Rafiq-led Trinamul Congress, to capture Keshpur but, as we chimed in, an important difference. This time, the raiders were put on the run helter-skelter, and unlike in other instances, the “Maoists’ would not carry even the walking wounded of their chums in the Trinamul Congress.

Didi must have been very, very disappointed at the entire faux pas. Keshpur cannot, would not sympathise with her. We second to that. In the meanwhile, the police have arrested the raiders left behind. The records of these worthies are fearsomely impressive as far as heinous crimes are concerned. The present episode is over. The villagers remain alert for any future recurrence.


KOLKATA: The Bengal unit of the CPI (M) has expressed its worries over the developments of a divisive and sabotaging nature taking place in Darjeeling under the direct guidance and leadership of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM). It has written two letters to the Chief Election Commissioner in this regard. Below we quote the relevant portions of the two letters dated 19 and 20 April 2009.

“(…) we draw your attention to the serious situation prevailing in the three hill-subdivision Assembly segments of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong under the 4-Darjeeling PC, conditions that would surely prevent free-and-fair polling on 30 April 2009.

We may say that the Gorkha Jana Mukti morcha (GJMM) and its electoral partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hell-bent on not allowing any electioneering and/or political campaigning by our Party in particular. Indeed, you may kindly note that the process of election itself is being distorted by these two political parties (i.e., GJMM and BJP) to the detriment of democracy, peace, amity, and solidarity.

The GJMM is engaged seriously at all levels to target the religious and linguistic minorities. The GJMM has several times forced the minorities to take part in processions that the GJMM has organised. The threat hangs ominously in the air that nobody would be allowed to vote against the GJMM-supported BJP candidate from the 4-Darjeeling PC, especially in the hill sub-divisions.

The GJMM has most recently asked the two organisations that they run viz., Hotel Workers’ association, and Taxi Drivers’ association to boycott all supporters of the CPI (M) candidate and they have forced the issue that no hotel rooms and no vehicles would be made available to any supporters of the CPI (M) candidate, thus crippling our election campaign considerably and in a most undemocratic manner which is also in contravention of the Constitutional proviso.

The GJMM as part of its threat technique has publicly pronounced that since they would know who voted for whom, they would initiate appropriate measure against those who do not vote for the BJP candidate.

The GJMM has kept ready a trained ‘police force’ that they call the Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) at the ready at Gorubathan in the hill area and these trained men and women, supervised by ex-Army instructors are to be deployed in the polls, the GJMM has publicly declared, 15 per booth, and the apparent aim is to terrorise the voters into polling for the BJP candidate. They have also declared that no CPI (M) agent would be allowed to do his/her duty at the polling stations.

Even more serious, the election personnel of Darjeeling are tutored to work in favour of the BJP candidate, and mock training is being provided to the election personnel by the GJMM workers so that the official and other personnel persuade the voters to vote only for the BJP candidate. This is just a mockery of democracy.

In the same vein, the AROs including the SDO Siliguri himself is engaged in filing false and fictitious FIRs against CPI (M) workers. They also brief the media saying that the CPI (M) is the greatest violator of the Mode Code while flooding the different Police Stations with bogus complaints against the CPI (M) without checking the veracity.

In view of the above, we demand the following steps should be immediately initiated.

A. Para-military forces should be deployed right now and flag marches organised so that the voters regain confidence.

B. Polling personnel should be deployed from both the hill and the plains area. Employees from the plains too must be deployed as polling supervisors, and close circuit camera should watch out for malpractices within booths during polling.

C. Sector officers should carry hidden video recorders while each booth should be manned by CRPF personnel.

D. The GLP training camps at Gorubathan should be dismantled and legal action if any deemed necessary taken against the organisers of the camps.

E. The present system of decentralised counting should be rigorously adhered to instead of the proposed centralised counting at Darjeeling.

In its second letter, the Bengal CPI (M) wrote:

“It has come to our knowledge that more than 400 members of the Gorkha land Personnel (GLP) have been identified as carrying out arms training at Gorubathan near the border with Bhutan. They are trained by former Army instructors, and they wear olive green camouflage fatigues like the Indian Army.

These GLP personnel have been seen threatening voters to support the BJP candidate when the time comes for exercising their franchise. They have also been engaged in tearing own flags, banners, and festoons of the CPI (M) in the three hill sub-divisions.

In view of this, we demand:

A. CRPF should be deployed as early as possible in the hill areas and flag marches undertaken to restore voters’ confidence
B. The GLP camp at Gorubathan must be immediately dismantled and proceedings drawn up as per the law of the land against all the personnel involved in the camp, as trainers, trainees, and administrative. Please ensure that no civilians are allowed to wear/use Army fatigues.
C. The CRPF should be maintained beyond the date of the election, 30 April 2009, to prevent post-poll violence that we apprehend, and to keep pre-poll peace that the people desire.
D. Other measures as appropriate for a free, fair, and peaceful polling in the three hill sub-divisions should be initiated and as early as possible. (….).”

The response of any kind from the office of the CEC/CEO is yet awaited as we file this report.


KOLKATA: As in the past, political parties are requested as a routine to be present when allotments of time of addresses by them on the AIR and the Doordarshan are drawn by lots. The office of the CEO took a sudden decision recently to change the date of this pre-scheduled meeting at the behest of ‘two political parties’ neither of which belonged to the Left Front.

The Bengal LF leadership wrote to the CEO’s office protesting this vehemently and finally, the meeting as rescheduled was chosen by the officials to be postponed. This is a clear example of the pattern of behaviour of the officialdom as the polls approach.

Complaints have also been received from districts like Raigunj up in north Bengal where the EC officials, suo motu, has started to wipe graffiti off from walls of houses from the owners of which the CPI (M) had had prior voluntary permission procured in writing.

Also, in cases where the CPI (M) is in the process of wiping out graffiti at the behest of the EC, the officialdom would turn their face away as the space would be promptly utilized for wall writing by the Pradesh Congress and the Trinamul Congress.

Strong letters have been written by Biman Basu, secretary, Bengal CPI (M) to the CEC protesting all these and many other acts of commission and omission, and calling for appropriate remedial action, although to little avail, as we file this report.


KHEJURI: Trinamuli hooligans, about 50 in number, all armed with countrymade guns, swords, and knives, pounced on the stage from where the fisheries minister of the LF government, Kironmoy Nanda leader of the Socialist Party was to address a rally on the evening of 19 April. The venue was the Nonapara village at Nichaksaba area at Khejuri II GP. In the lead was the Sabhadhipati of the Midnapore east himself, one Ranjit Mondal, and a GP member of the locality, Debashis Das.

Led by Mondal and Das, the drunken goons had earlier issued threats to the people of the area, the GPs of which are now with the Trinamulis, as are the Panchayat Samities, not to go near the rally to be spoken to by Kironmoy. The hoods even cut down trees and attempted to barricade out Kironmoy. Then they suddenly realised that people were streaming in despite whatever evil deeds the Trinamulis had done, to their worst, and that the speaker himself was well on his way to the rally grounds.

Infuriated, the thoroughly desperate hooligans jumped up on the dais, and broke it completely apart with well-aimed blows from shovels, spades, and large hammers. Then they proceeded to tear down and desecrate the Red Flag, finally putting the entire stage to leaping flames by pouring petrol and lighting up matchsticks.

While the local CPI (M) leadership, out of considerations of safety, prevailed upon a completely exasperated Kironmoy from proceeding farther, the LF itself held not one but two succeeding rallies at the same grounds one in the evening the other late into the night, daring the Trinamuli goons to come forth if their courage or lack of it permitted them to do so. CPI (M) leader of the district and LF convenor of the Contai Lok Sabha seat Nirmal Jana has told us that protest rallies and marches are being held today 20 April throughout Khejuri and that such protestations shall be held all over Contai on 21 April.

Elsewhere, an arms cache was recovered by the police at Kendemari at Nandigram I called a ‘liberated zone’ by the ‘Maoists’ and their Trinamuli underlings. Sheikh Bacchu who is a history-sheeter and is a covert Maoist activist was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle arms into Khejuri, Kendemari and beyond.

The cache included one Italian Biretta 9mm pistol, one Italian Valtro 9mm pistol, plus one US Army-issue lightweight Smith & Wesson 9mm (Polymer Frame) pistol as well as several countrymade revolvers plus hundreds of cartridges, some packed into magazines, some carried loose in pre-sealed polythene bags.

One shudders to think what would have happened to how many innocents had not the miscreant with his deadly cache been apprehended. One recalls that just in the wake of the declaration of results of the 2008 Panchayat polls, two CPI (M) workers were killed at Kendemari at the hand of ‘Maoists’ and Trinamulis.

:A land mine burst with a deafening sound at Balarampur area in the district of Purulia seriously injuring two CPI (M) workers. The land mine was of the form of an improvised explosive device (IUD) packed with steel balls and nails that explode out with deadly effect once somebody steps on the spring-loaded trip wire.

The CPI (M) workers on their way back from fields when they tripped up the trigger and faced the wrath of the explosion. Eyewitnesses told us that the entire area had been plastered with ‘Maoist’ posters, which called, as is the wont of the people of that ilk, to boycott the polls, or else…. The two kisans injured in the blast are Samaj Mondal and Madan Mondal.

They were rescued by a rather unlikely person in the shape of an owner of an illegal distillery of the area who was courageous enough to step around the several other trip wires stretched nearby and pull away the heavily bleeding men. Admitted to hospital nearby, the doctors give the two injured but a slim chance of survival. Nevertheless, we believe that they are tough kisans, and true sons of the soil, and that they shall pull through.

Bombs, guns found at congress leader’s house

MALDA: Within 24 hours of the blast, the Police stumbled upon a large cache of fire arms and bombs, plus bomb-making materials from the houses of a clutch of Congress leaders in Maldah district. Acting on a tip-off, the Police raided the house of Sheikh Siraj, a Pradesh Congress muscleman, at Jadupur under Kaliachak PS.

They found two large-calibre ‘pipe guns’ (that fire the banned .319 calibre ammunition) and a large quantity of deadly ‘socket bombs’ that have the capacity to kill dozens each. Siraj and his two ‘worthy’ sons also history sheeters and Pradesh Congress loyalists were taken into custody.

Interrogating Siraj the Police found another useful lead. Acting on it, they raided the house of Azahar Ali, a Pradesh Congress leader and a strongman of the area of Bamangram at Kaliachak, who was then, caught making IUDs and bombs. More than a 100 bombs and IUDs were recovered as were 20-odd socket bombs. There is no doubt that these weapons of killing were prepared by the Pradesh Congress stalwarts for the forthcoming phases of the Lok Sabha elections in Bengal.


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.


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.


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.


KOLKATA,14th APRIL: General Secretary of the CPI (M) Prakash Karat firmly nailed the lies about a bi-partisan contest in the 2009 elections to the Indian parliament. The UPA was unravelling. The NDA was missing its partners. Only the Third Front was growing in strength. There was another imperative. The strength of the non-BJP, non-Congress forces could never be judged until the election results were declared.

Very many of the political parties outside of the two main bourgeois formations, in government in states yet not officially declared constituents of the Third Front, would then firm the ground on which the Third Front stood. Prakash Karat was in address to an impressively arrayed corps of the Kolkata media at the Press Club that stands right amidst the green of the summer maidan on a pleasant breezy afternoon of 14 April.

The CPI (M) Polit Bureau member said that the Third Front was as far from the ‘illusion’ that the corporate media would describe it as possible. The contest would be a three-cornered fight in most seats, indeed in the bulk of the constituencies. Of the UPA partners, most were in contest against the Congress bar the DMK.

The Third Front is made up of ten political parties and they have come to a political understanding regarding the Lok Sabha polls. Following the elections, more parries would join in, a common minimum programme drawn up, and the prospect of forming a government at the centre would all the time become more and more of a realistic proposition. The Third Front emphasises four principles, viz., pro-people economic policy, secularism, independent foreign policy, and strengthening of the federal structure.

On the understanding at the present juncture, the speaker pointed out citing Jaya Jayalalitha’s recent statement that the regional parties would much prefer to form state government on their own, of their own without tailing the two big political formations, the BJP and the Congress. Regional parries already have excellent record of accomplishment in running state governments in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, and Orissa besides in the three Left-led states. There was no doubt that such regional parties, coming together, would be able to run a government at the centre, and with pro-people efficiency.

On being repeatedly probed for the name of the prospective prime ministerial candidate of the Third Front once it would win the polls, Prakash Karat said that such a question could only be raise and mitigated once the leaders of the Third Front sat together post poll. Prakash Karat also said that the Left had had good relations with the regional parries earlier as well as in 1996, and the principal aim of the Congress and the BJP had been, and still is, to destabilise such alliances. Prakash Karat also pointed out that the question whether the left would be able emote the correct role, come a Third Front government would be far more important than the numerical strength of the Left in the new parliament.

Dismissing any political understanding post poll with the Congress, Prakash Karat said that the presence of the Third Front was also politically antithetical to the communal forces as the BJP-RSS combine. The moving away of the BJD from BJP in Orissa has isolated the communal forces there in that state. An alliance with Left participation was fighting the Congress and the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. Kerala witnesses the usual fight out between the LDF and the UDF with the communal forces losing ground.

On Kerala, Prakash karat said that there was no alliance between the LDF and Madani-led PDP, the latter being engaged in supporting the LDF on its own initiative. Madani has been acquitted of all charged slapped earlier on him in the Coimbatore case. The Congress and the UDF keeps in close touch with the real terrorist organisation with the innocuous name and style of the NDF.

Dismissing as useless the ‘debate’ on who is a strong prime minister and who is not, Prakash Karat said that the more important thing to remember was that the strict stance of the Left in and out of parliament on the so-called reforms had saved the nation from the disastrous after-effects of the great depression spreading across large parts of the world. The Congress was unable, thanks to the left opposition, to expose the sectors of the economy vital to the nation and the people like the pension funds and insurance as well as banking fully to the forays of international finance capital.

Nailing the so-called ‘clean’ Singh governance, the CPI (M) leader pointed to the missile deal with Israel even as the investigation into the earlier Barak missile deal was not complete, the telecom scandal involving upgradation of the cell phone network to 3G, and the instance of bribery in the parliament for purpose of winning the confidence motion. All this will be featured in the election campaign of the Left and of the Third Front, the CPI (M) general secretary assured. He pointed out that there was also need to increase international political pressure on Pakistan so that it was willing to take effective steps against terrorism.

Describing the upcoming Bengal polls as a tough fight, Prakash Karat said that the Left Front would win a decisive electoral triumph, he had no doubt. Nandigram or any other single issue would not come up as an issue of importance in the Bengal polls. The vote will be conducted based on all-India issues in the main. Prakash Karat condemned the move of the BJP to run its candidate from Darjeeling with help from the separatist GJM.


KOLKATA, 14th APRIL: Once a Third Front government comes into office in Delhi, and the prospects for this to happen were getting more and more illumined with the passage of every week, the days of imperialist forays in India would be severely numbered. The same would apply for the forces of religious fundamentalism of every kind. This was said by Prakash Karat, CPI (M) general secretary at the rally organised at Kolkata’s Mahajati Sadan by the Shahid Yadgaar Samity on the occasion of the Jalianwalabagh Day in the late afternoon.

Prakash Karat also said that the new governance once it assumed office would cancel the three ‘deals’ the Singh government had worked out with the US. These were the defence deal, the nuclear deal, and the deal on following the US dictates in running the Indian economy.

Launching an attack on the Hindu fundamentalist and communal forces as represented politically by the BJP-RSS combine, Prakash Karat said that L K Advani had recently written letters asking support to 1000 sadhus and sants from the list prepared by the RSS. In the letter, the BJP leader had assured the religious persons that he would form a committee comprising their ranks once a BJP-led government assumed office in Delhi. At the same time, the BJP-RSS axis has kept up its assaulting forays on minority communities of every kind. The Congress has always compromised with this force of violent communalism.

The Rajinder Sachar committee despite its weaknesses has exposed the conditions of the Muslims in India. The Left had called upon the UPA government to draw up a sub-plan for the minority communities in the 11th planning period and had also demanded that the UPA government set aside 15% budgetary allocation for the minority communities. The same demand has been raised by the Bengal chief minister before the central government. The central government has expressed its inability to comply with the requisition. The self-same Congress now sheds crocodile’s tears for the minorities as the elections approach.

In Left-led states, the state governments have set up plans for the minorities to the extent it is possible given the financial handicap within which these governments have perforce to function. There could not be an overall development of the minorities in India if the central government chose to ignore the issue with a callous outlook.

Prakash Karat said that there was continuous infiltration of imperialism into every sphere of the nation, be it economy, culture, and society as a whole. For this, both the NDA and the UPA central governments are responsible. The people fought the imperialist forces 62 years ago. Even after gaining political independence, the struggle against imperialism continued. A wide unity of the masses must be built up and the imperialist forces fought off, concluded Prakash Karat who also released a CD of election campaign material. Present at the rally also were state secretary of the CPI (M) Biman Basu and the two Left Front-nominated CPI (M) candidates from Kolkata, north and south, Mohd Salim and Rabin Deb. All the speakers recalled the Jalianwalabagh massacre and said that the struggle that followed provided an element of strength in the anti-imperialist fight in India.


By B. Prasant

KOLKATA,14th April: A few statistics quoted would be good enough for the present ranks of ‘psephologists’ in the pay of the corporate media, print, as well as audio-visual, to go slightly berserk, if their collected memory remains intact after the impact.

In 2004, the ABP group, the Bartaman, and the Pratidin dailies plus news channels of the same mould of political orientation, had predicted a ‘severe decline in popularity and thus certain defeat for CPI (M) candidates’ in the following seats, each of which, incidentally, the Party candidate won with very impressive margins.

The constituencies are Krishnagar, Jadavpur, Nabadwip, Jalpaiguri, North-west Kolkata, Basirhat, Asansol, and Hooghly. In each case, the CPI (M) candidate scored electoral triumphs with bigger margins than those in the earlier Lok Sabha polls.

We recall in this connection how prior to the 2006 Assembly polls, the Trinamul supremo had, basing her knowledge on the ‘facts’ supplied by the corporate media, predicted with confidence that her outfit would win ‘99%’ of the 294 assembly constituencies. She ended up with 29. Earlier to that, during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, her predictions of ‘winning’ had gone more horribly awry with the Trinamul-BJP combine having to be satisfied with just one seat.

As an aside, we may also bring to mind the sky-high praise the Trinamuli chief had for the Election Commission of India for free and fair polls in the 2006 Assembly elections. Following the winning of 235 seats by the Left Front, she quickly changed tack, and blamed everything on ‘high-tech, computerised’ rigging. The corporate media were quick enough in their undying loyalty to their political leaning, to take up the chant as well as the refrain.

Not content with the lessons that the people have taught them, the bourgeois political outfits, their left sectarian partners, and their minders in the corporate media are into the same game during the present polls even as the LF candidates’ campaign surge ahead with clear signals of increasing popularity.


LALGARH,12th APRIL: In a show of people’s solidarity, and of unity of the poor, the Left-led villagers of hamlets strewn around Lalgarh and the Sijua area contained and chased away a massive armed aggression by the invaders of the various ‘Maoist’ splinters, with the Trinamuli hooligans bringing up the rear. We saw how the villagers withstood a barrage of gunfire, and then came out in their thousands flying the Red Flag held proudly aloft and simply chased away the invading goons before they could reload their weapons.

Lathis prevailed over guns right in front of out very eyes. The ‘Maoists’ had earlier been engaged, in the guise of the so-called ‘people’s committee’ in the onerous task of forcing ‘subscriptions’ of upto Re one lakh from the local traders and businesspersons, including middling farmers. They had also been seeking to taunt the local people into joining their ranks by blackguarding and ridiculing the names of the Left Front and the CPI (M). The villagers were gradually becoming very, very angry at these ploys.

The ‘Maoists’ had in mind in fact an ‘occupation’ of the villages bordering on Lalgarh including Madhupur, Memul, and Godamouli in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls. The villagers of the area initially protested the initial bouts of incursion. When the shooting started, there was an initial hesitation and confusion amongst their ranks. Soon, led by CPI (M) workers, the villagers rose as one and shouting slogans and waving the Red Flag started the chase, braving bullets.

The counter-charge was something the ‘Maoists’ and their band of armed Trinamuli underlings had not quite expected. They fired in panic, indeed emptied their guns, their aim getting awry in the mêlée, and then ingloriously ran away, the dastardly cowards, when finding that with a righteous roar, the villagers were almost on them, and there was little time to re-equip their deadly weapons with fresh ammunitions. The chase however could not last long enough for, the assassins fled across the border into their safe abode of the Jharkhand state.


However, the killing of CPI (M) workers continued unabated elsewhere. With the murder of comrade Asim Mondal (45) of the jangal mahal of Belpahari in Midnapore west, the total number of CPI (M) workers martyred at the hands of the of ‘Maoist’ and Trinamuli assassins now total 58. Back on 18 March, two CPI (M) workers, comrade Durga Deshawali and comrade Santosh Mahato were murdered by the same gang of murderers in the same rural zone.

Comrade Asim was quite a popular figure of the area. He would interact with a large circle of people of the villages. Anyone and everyone could approach comrade Asim for help and guidance. He was in close touch with the poorer sections of the people of the area, in particular. This was greatly resented by the ‘Maoists’ and the Trinamulis. Comrade Asim also played a crucial role in winning back after a gap of 25 years the local Binpur-2 Gram Panchayat during the rural polls held earlier. The opposition were in a bind when they thought that the Binpur win might be repeated in this segment of the Jhargram Lok Sabha constituency, in the parliamentary elections. Hence, they chose to attack and kill comrade Asim.

Comrade Asim worked in a shoe-making shop at the Bhulaveda crossing. He was in the shop, and it was six in the evening of 10 March. He was engaged in small talk with a small group of clients when two men got off from a motorbike, approached him, took out two nine mm pistols—and shot him in the head and chest five times before ‘walking’ their vehicle for a distance, then firing off the engine and roaring away towards the thick dense thickets of the Dangarbihar jangal mahal. The clients stood shell-shocked as comrade Asim fell to the ground, heavily bleeding, and died in front of their grieving eyes.

Biman Basu, state secretary of the CPI (M) has condemned this cowardly hit-and-run attack by the ‘Maoists’ and has called for an early arrest of the culprits. Comrade Asim leaves behind his wife, a son, and a very young daughter. Several large processions were taken out in the Bhulaveda area by the CPI (M) as well as at Hadda, Silda, and Belpahari villages, while another set of marchers walked bravely along the Lalgarh-Sijua area, a ‘Maoist’ stronghold off-and-on, condemning the murder of comrade Asim and calling for a complete isolation of the killers from the people.

In between, the ‘Maoists’ have given a call for a ‘total ban’ on the entry of the police and of state administration officials for the Lok Sabha polls in the Lalgarh-Sijua area. They have declared their preference for the conduct of the polls by the members of the foreign-sponsored group of self-proclaimed ‘social activists’ who call them selves Sushil Samaj or ‘civil society.’

On the other hand, the Trinamulis have called for the ‘immediate removal’ from their posts of the state LF government’s chief secretary, the home secretary, the director general of police, and of the inspector general of police in charge of law-and-order. The chief electoral officer of Bengal has asserted that polling would be done as per regulations and the Model Code of the Election Commission of India would be followed, as in the past.


KOLKATA,12th APRIL: Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was in address to a gathering of the intellectual crème de la crème of Kolkata and Bengal on the morning of 12 April at the packed Sisir Manch downtown metropolis. The rally saw participation by persons of littérature, painters, theatre-and-drama personalities, poets, novelists, columnists, artistes of every form, as well as vocal and instrumental maestros. Noted poet Krishna Dhar presided.

The CPI (M) looks forward to formation of Left-led ‘Third Front’ governance at the centre, said Buddhadeb in clear tenor, mincing neither word nor emotion. The government must be one that the Left with their comprehensive agenda of pro-poor development, secularism, democratic sensibilities, and their strong and declared preference for the maintenance of the integrity and sovereignty of the nation. The Third Front is filled with reality and stands as a viable alternative to the two principal bourgeois formations led by the authoritarian Congress and the religious fundamentalist and divisive BJP.

Buddhadeb pointed out that the constituents and potential partners of the Third Front were in fact in governance in very many Indian states. The Congress is witness to desertion by its allies and friends even after sticking to office for five years. The weaknesses of the Congress governance were noticeable and did not escape the sight and sentiment of its legion of allies.

The Congress would not do much for the poor—it was more interested in fashioning a compliant alliance with the forces of US imperialism on the nuclear ‘deal.’ Food production goes down, kisans commit suicide at ever higher, frightening statistics, rate – a total of over 1.8 lakh of the sons of the soil have taken their own lives by their own hand because of the simple avoidable situation whereby procurement prices were not available to any viable proportions. The farmers continue to choose death over starvation and disintegration of families in large parts of India – the Left-led states being exceptions of relief for the peasants.

In a situation where the Congress is in no position to even repeat what was a poor performance during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls – where it had won but 145 seats – even the so-called political backyard of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh has slipped out of its hands in a major way. The Congress is a poor third in most states now more than ever in terms of popularity – electoral and otherwise.

One reason why the popularity of the Congress is on the rapid slide of waning can be explained by the Dr Arjun Sengupta report where it is said that the daily wage of 705 of the people the country is less than Rs 20. At the other end of the spectrum is the existence of four of the richest ten persons of the world. This glaring contradiction has virtually wiped off the image the Congress seeks to build up before the people, as the Lok Sabha polls approach. No wonder then the Congress finds itself friendless, alone, isolated, and on the decline.

On the other hand, stand the menace called the BJP-RSS combine. They have started to propagate as if terrorism is synonymous with Islam, which of course suits their Hindu fundamentalism. This combine stands against the secular fabric of the nation itself. Subsequently the Malegaon explosion has proved the connection between the BJP-RSS brand of Hindu fundamentalism and terrorism. BJP, too, stands witness to desertion of ranks of its allies. The BJD in Orissa is an important recent example in this regard. The BJP must not be allowed to crawl itself to office, for if they do, the nation itself will be under great danger.

Buddhadeb continued say that in 2004, the left had taken the risk of supporting the Congress from the outside to prevent the BJP from coming to office. This time, the Left calls for the Third Front based not on personalities but principles and policies. The Third front looks forward to pro-people outlook and policies. The Left looks to pro-poor developmental programmes, strengthening of the rationing system, and increase of plan allocation in such basic subjects as health and education.

The centre-state relationship must be retooled to provide more power, political and financial, to the states. There should be comprehensive ambience of democracy and secularism. An independent foreign policy should be put in place. These policies would only fructify if the Third front government that would come to office at the end of the Lok Sabha elections, were led by the Left. For this purpose, said Buddhadeb, a larger number of Left Front MPs must be elected from all over the country especially from the three Left-ruled states of Kerala, Tripura, and Bengal.

In Bengal, the opposition is out to confuse the outlook of the poor and the adivasis. Forces of separatism have started to encourage divisive elements in Bengal, in the hill areas and in the western districts of the state. The Left Front is not weak-kneed to these dangerous developments. It depends more on the power of the people that on that of arms and violence. Buddhadeb also told the gathering that the Left Front believed in a form of cultural pluralism. The different cultural centres of Bengal like the Natya Academy and the Bangla Academy are run by the Left Front government with this perspective firmly in place.