May 3, 2009


3 May 2009, 0522 hrs IST,
Caesar Mandal & Prithvijit Mitra, TNN

NANDIGRAM: Till a few months ago, they were the saviours and heroes to the people of this region, who fought against CPM and police. But today, having moved into the power corridors after rural polls, they are the most hated people in Nandigram, alienated from the masses at the same place where 14 people fell to bullets on March 14, 2007.
Reason? These Trinamool Congress leaders are today busy usurping power, paying little attention to development activities. Swadesh Das and Swadesh Adhikari were in the forefront of the movement against land acquisition for 11 months. They were part of the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) action squad, warding off waves of attacks by CPM cadres. Today, they are afraid of entering the area following resistance from their own followers.
During the Nandigram movement, they had become household names in Sonachura, Adhikaripara, Gokulnagar and other villages along Talpati canal bordering CPM-dominated Khejuri. Camping there for months and fighting bullets with bullets, they became heroes. But now, a year and a half after the November 2007 CPM assault and less than a year after the panchayat polls, the likes of Das and Adhikari have become aliens in the land they once lorded over.
Since Trinamool’s victory in the rural polls, the leaders have been difficult to access. They confined themselves to the power corridors and forgot the dusty lanes. There are even charges of corruption against some of them. There is such resentment against the leaders for letting the people down that the two Swadeshs now avoid the villages for fear of reprisals. “Let’s not talk about Swadesh here. After Trinamool’s panchayat election victory, their presence is rare in these parts. A year has pas-sed, but there’s been no development work. Tube wells are yet to be repaired.
We have to walk over a kilometre to get water,” said private tutor Khokon Adhikari. Das is now in charge of the public works department of Nandigram-I panchayat samiti and Adhikari is known as a close comrade of leaders like Sheikh Sufian and Abu Taher. Tapasi Das, who had been hit by a tear gas shell during the police firing on March 14, 2007, is yet to get any compensation. “Days after the injury, I received Rs 30,000 from Kerala Congress. That was all. The government hasn’t provided any compensation. Nor have the Trinamool leaders organized any financial aid,” said Tapasi, who still limps.
Kanan, Khokon’s mother, uses the analogy of government relief. “When 10 barracks of flattened rice are despatched, only three reached the affected people. The case is similar here. Money disappears as it trickles down,” she said. Former BUPC leader Abdul Samad (now with Sidiqullah’s People’s Democratic Conference) says his comrades-in-arms, who had become Trinamool leaders, were behaving just like CPM earlier did.

Left saved India from getting 'ruined': Sharad Yadav

3 May 2009, 0238 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: Adding to the uncertainty over post-poll alliances, NDA ally JD(U) on Saturday warmed up to Left parties praising their role in not allowing the UPA government to open up certain key sectors of the economy and said the country would have been "ruined" but for the communist parties.
"If the Left parties were not there, the country would have been ruined," JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said at a press conference here on Saturday. Taking strong exception to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attacking the Left Front government in West Bengal for "committing many mistakes", Yadav said the communists played an important role in preventing the UPA governmnent from opening up the insurance and banking sectors.
"The only thing Singh has done during his five years in office is the Indo-US nuclear deal," Yadav said as he accused the UPA government of being responsible for sky-rocketing prices, growing unemployment and a spate of suicide by farmers. Asked why he was suddenly leaning towards the Left, Yadav said, "What I wanted to convey is that the Prime Minister's attack on Left parties is not proper." Seeking to convey that NDA would not require any post-poll support from the Left, the NDA convenor claimed the BJP-led alliance would come to power with a thumping majority.
The bonhomie between JD(U) and the Left was reflected when senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury drove to Yadav's residence here on March 15 for an hour-long meeting. Yadav and Yechury had jointly participated in the student and youth movements after the Emergency in 1970s. Yechury had even campaigned for Yadav when he contested the Jabalpur Lok Sabha seat soon after the Emergency.
On Saturday, Yadav also capped any speculation about Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as the NDA's possible PM candidate. "There is no vacancy (in the prime ministerial post). NDA has decided that L K Advani is its candidate," he said. Yadav's remarks come against the backdrop of statements by a number of BJP leaders that Modi could be the party's prime ministerial candidate in the next general elections.

India's unity be at stake if BJP comes to power: Buddhadeb

Krishnagar (PTI): The unity of India would be at stake if BJP returns to power at the Centre as they want only Hindus to stay in the country, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya said here today."India is the home to second largest number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia. What would be the fate of these people if BJP comes to power at the Centre," Bhattacharjee said at a poll rally.
He backed the position of Third Front in this context during the ongoing general elections."Leaders like Sarad Pawar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Naveen Patnaik want to join Third Front. The people have lost faith on Congress as they have deprived the poor during the UPA rule," Bhattacharjee, a CPI-M politburo member, said.
On the question of the Nuclear Deal with the US, Chief Minister said, "Congress has misled people by giving false statements"."The deal amounts to selling the country to the US. No country has been benefited by allying with the US," he said.At this juncture, he said people should form a government at the Centre that would stress on independent foreign policy and help the poor people. PTI

Repoll in Darjeeling, Jhargram

KOLKATA: Repolling has been ordered in six booths in West Bengal — two booths each in Darjeeling and Bishnupur and one each in Salboni and Jhargram. The repoll on Sunday is being conducted following complaints of irregularities lodged by various political parties, West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Debashis Sen said.

Security during this round of polls process would be provided by the district administration. The first phase of polling in the State on April 30 was marred by a landmine explosion at Kushboni near Jhargram which killed two polling personnel and the driver of their jeep.

Chief Secretary A.M. Chakraborty said that efforts were on to extend assistance to the family of the jeep-driver also. The family of the slain poll personnel would get a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each.

Rahul's call for change an insult to people of WB: Yechuri

Kolkata, May 03: The CPI(M), a key constituent of the ruling Left Front in West Bengal, on Sunday termed as "insult" the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's call for a "change" in the state, which is ruled by the communists for nearly 31 years. "The Congress is saying that the Left Front had done nothing for the state in 31 years. Then why are the people voting it. Are they fools that they cannot choose any other party? This is an insult to the people," CPI(M) politburo member Sitaram Yechuri said at a seminar here.
Recalling that about 25 years ago, Rajiv Gandhi had describeds Kolkata as a 'dying city', Yechuri said, "the people did not take kindly to it and had continued voting for the Left. If this same insulting statement continues, the Left will remain in power for another 25 years." Yechuri, also a Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal accused the Congress of lacking an alternative development plan for the state.
"For last three days that I'm campaigning in the state, I have not heard of any alternative development plan from them. There is only negative criticism," he said. The AICC member Rahul Gandhi during a recent rally, had appealed people to "vote for change" in the state as the communist government was not receptive to the needs of the poor.
Yechuri said that rapid industrialisation was the only way to consolidate the benefits of successful implementation of the land reform movement and decentralisation through panchayati raj in West Bengal.
"In Singur, 12,000 families took compensation for about 1,000 acre of acquired land which means 12 persons were surviving on an acre of land. What is the reality? Obviously many of such families were engaged in low-end livelihoods. To improve the quality of life of such persons, there is no alternative to rapid industrialisation," he added.

Biman Basu counters Congress tirade against LF Govt.

Kolkata (PTI): The CPI(M) today took a swipe at the Congress top brass for accusing the Left Front government in West Bengal of "neglecting the poor", saying it was part of a 'motivated' campaign to mislead people for electoral gains.

Instead of finding fault with the communists, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi should look at the track record of their government at the Centre in working for the poor, Left Front chairman Biman Basu said here.

"In a country like ours, 27 crore women are anaemic and another 23 crore people are victims of malnutrition, 40 per cent of children upto the age of three have no right weight and 77 per cent of the population cannot spend over Rs 20 a day. How can Sonia Gandhi push India forward without removing these maladies?" Mr. Basu charged.

"Perhaps she is not interested in removing poverty and malnutrition among the poor, though she is speaking loudly of aam admi," Mr. Basu, who is the state secretary of the CPI (M) told PTI in an interview.

On Rahul Gandhi's comments that the communists have forgotten the poor, he said he only mouthed what others had taught him, but there were 12.5 lakh villages in the country and it was not possible for somebody to comment on the condition obtaining there without actualy visiting them.

The CPI(M) leader repeated his earlier assertion that the condition of Purulia district in Bengal was better than Kalahandi in Orissa or even Amethi.

Statue of Jesus Christ attacked in Kalimpong

Indian Catholic

NEW DELHI: A group of BJP led miscreants attacked the statue of Jesus Christ installed in the historical place of Pedong, and damaged it severely on April 25 in Kalimpong, West Bengal. According to a Evangelical Fellowship of India correspondent, Rev. Susanta Patra reported that some groups damaged the statue of crucifixion installed recently on a ‘Cross Hill’ belonging to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
It was reported that the miscreants try to take the 5 foot tall statue of Christ off the cross, breaking the statue badly. Speaking to EFI, parish priest, Father Peter Lingdamo said. “The police were very concerned and they came to inspect the incident soon after they were informed. We are positive that police protection will be provided should the need arises” The church did not file a police complaint. Pedong is predominantly a Christian area and such incident as reported was rare. Pray that calm will return to the area and for fruitful ministries in the area.

Advani silent on Mamata during poll campaign in West Bengal

Kolkata (PTI): Perhaps keeping an eye on the post-poll equation, BJP's prime ministerial candidate L K Advani on Wednesday refrained from using harsh words against former ally Trinamool Congress' alliance with Congress and said it is upto TC to decide whether it wanted to rejoin NDA or stay with its new partner.

Mr. Advani, who addressed three election meetings in West Bengal during the day, remained silent on Trinamool Congress although state BJP leaders criticised TC chief Mamata Banerjee for joining hands with the Congress. Earlier, speaking to reporters at the N S C Bose International airport here, Mr. Advani said TC has to decide whether it wanted to rejoin the NDA or stay with the Congress.

"Mamata has to decide whether she wants to join the NDA or stay with the Congress. It was she who decided to leave the NDA and have a tie-up with the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal," he said. "But one thing is sure, that the BJP is as anti-CPI(M) as the Trinamool Congress," he said.
Stating that the NDA was a pre-poll alliance, he dubbed the UPA as "opportunist". Mr. Advani said despite Biju Janata Dal walking out of NDA, Om Prakash Chautala's INLD, Ajit Singh's Lok Dal and Asom Gana Parishad have joined the alliance.


MURSHIDABAD,2nd MAY: The last Lok Sabha elections of 2004 saw 54 of the 61 Left MPs win their seats by defeating Congress candidates. Yet, to keep away from office the communal BJP, the Left chose to provide support to the Congress-led UPA government from outside based on a Common Minimum Programme. Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of the CPI (M) said this on 2 May at Beldanga in Murshidabad.

Critical of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had said earlier that the left had put up a Third Front to facilitate the chances of the BJP, Sitaram Yechury said that it had always been the left that had consistently fought the BJP-RSS combine throughout the country. That the Left supported the UPA government is a strong proof of the left’s secular credentials.

Sitaram Yechury said that the Left has pressurised the UPA government into declaring as a policy the 100 days’ work project. The Left had also compelled the UPA government to pass a legislation securing the rights of the adivasis. The Congress had not taken these steps for the 50 years they had been in the union government. This is an example of the kind of political perspective the Congress possesses.

In fact, the Congress has never initiated any steps that would benefit the masses, the poorest of the poor. The amount of pro-people measures that the Congress would undertake during the time the UPA was in office was solely due to pressure from the Left. The Congress subsequently entered into a nuclear treaty with the US despite the Left having warned against such steps. By toying with the sovereignty of the nation the Congress had affronted the masse who would surely reject Congress through the electoral process throughout the country.


DARJEELING,2nd May: As we have reported elsewhere, the elections in the hill areas of Darjeeling were rendered into a political sham on poll day, 30 April 2009. It had rained, indeed poured heavily throughout the morning and into the early afternoon.

Yet, it was found by late morning that a massive percentage of polling had been done in an astonishingly short period of time. This could only be done if buttons on the EVMs are pushed in a continuum without a break. The whole process reeks of a political sham.

The issue also raises several important questions:

1.What were the elections officials doing when this farce of a poll was taking place? Why they would not speak out, far less than file a written complaint about what was taking place, which was nothing but a breach of the Model Code for elections.

2.What happened to the five companies of paramilitary troopers who were assigned for duty in the hills? What prevented them from being present around the hill polling booths?

3.A strong demand was made to the ECI to ban and disband the Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) – and it was found it was the GLP itself that was engaged in conducting the polls in the hiulls. In fact, they were in charge and in a harshly threatening mood all the time.

4.Throughout the polls despite complaints, the process of wiping away of the name and style of West Bengal Government and substituting it for ‘Gorkhaland Government’ was allowed to continue -- and the protests were in vain. The ECI could have also taken suo motu action from reports and photographs published in various news papers and magazines.

Finally and surprisingly, despite complaints, the ECI would not order re-poll in a single booth in the hill areas, opting instead for re-poll in two booths in the plains.


BANGAON(NORTH 24 PARGANAS), 2nd May: Manik Sarkar, Tripura chief minister and a Polit Bureau member of the CPI (M) has been touring along various districts of Bengal during the phased elections taking place. Addressing two big rallies at Bongaon and Basirhat in support of the Left Front –nominated candidates, Manik sarkar said that with three phases of the elections over, the prospect for a Third Front government in Delhi was becoming brighter every day. This has made the Congress and the BJP confused, afraid, and directionless.

Manik Sarkar said that the UPA government would not react in any way to the galloping price-rise, and that it would not bother to listen to the sane advice of the left that the public distribution system in the country should be strengthened. Had the Congress done so, the price rise would not have followed in the size and sweep that it did. By brining in 14 to 18 articles of common consumption within the rationing system and ensuring their constancy of supply would have cost the central government but Rs 20 thousand crore – but the anti-people Congress government was not willing to listen, lacking the proper political will.

On the other hand, the rich had stashed away more than Rs 74 lakh in Swiss banks to evade taxes. Simply by recovering that fund, the rationing system could have been refurbished and strengthened several times over. The people would not, then, have remained without the benefits of subsidies in essential commodities. The hoarders and the black marketers would have been let disappointed.

The price rise itself could well have been effectively stemmed. Both the Congress and the BJP stand by the side of the hoarders and the racketeers from a class point of view. The crocodile tears are only kept for the time when elections are announced. When the electoral process is finished, the old class values return to torment the poor. Manik sarkar also criticised the communal brand of politics of the BJP.