December 12, 2010

Rahul does not know Marxism: Karat


Posted online: Fri Sep 17 2010, 15:25 hrs

Patna : CPI(M) today hit back at Rahul Gandhi for dubbing Marxism a 'dead ideology', saying the Congress general secretary does not know history.

"Rahul does not know the history of Marxism. He should know that Karl Marx, the main protagonist of the Communist movement, was born in the 19th century and not the 20th century," Karat said at a public meeting here.

"In any case, Gandhi does not have the political understanding that the first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi had," he said.

Attacking the Left Front government in West Bengal, Rahul had yesterday said it was "blinded by a dead ideology, which has failed worldwide, including in Cuba".

Karat also said the Left movement was there to stay till the issues of peasants, workers and class struggle existed.

Prakash Karat accuses UPA govt of patronising Mamata Banerjee and Maoists

PTI / Friday, September 17, 2010 18:46 IST

PATNA: The CPI(M) today accused the UPA government of patronising Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the Maoists to oust the Left Front government from power in the 2011 West Bengal assembly elections in the state.

"The Centre is patronising the TC supremo and the Maoists to oust the over three decade old Left Front government from power in next year's assembly elections," CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told a public meeting in Patna.

He alleged that the UPA government was abetting Banerjee 'using Maoists' to kill 170 CPI(M) workers in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia in the state.

Thousands of CPI(M) workers had also been forced to leave home by armed Maoists apparently to ensure that the Trinamool Congress-led alliance won the assembly elections, the CPI(M) leader claimed.

He questioned the Centre's handling of the Maoist problem while drawing attention to the Lalgarh rally by the Trinamool Congress chief where a number of central ministers were also present.

Claiming that the killing of grassroot CPI(M) workers had increased in the state since 2008, he alleged that the Centre was a mute spectator to it.

He alleged that even secessionist forces like the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and Kamatapuris were allowed to be roped in by Banerjee in her bid for power.

Karat, however, said Left workers had launched action to retrieve lost ground in three naxal-infested districts bordering Jharkhand.

Warning the Maoists, he said they would soon be driven out from Lalgarh by his workers and not because central forces were deployed there. "Lalgarh me Maobadi nahin rah payenge."

He defended the Left front government and cited the implementation of land reforms, panchayati raj, scientific education in madarsas, prevalence of communal amity as its landmark achievements.

No riots took place in West Bengal during the anti-Sikh riots in late 1984 and post-Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya in 1992, Karat said. The CPI(M) leader said the fight against reactionary and communal forces would suffer a blow if the Left forces were to be weakened in the country.

Pradesh Congress meet turns stormy over faux pas

06:09 PM,Sep 17,2010

Kolkata, Sep 17 (PTI): A West Bengal Pradesh Congress meeting to empower party president Sonia Gandhi to appoint WBPCC functionaries turned stormy today following a faux pas by senior party leader Virendra Katariya that former PCC chief Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi was "not in our midst". Katariya, who is PRO for the PCC elections, was giving a summing-up speech at the meeting when he made a reference to Dasmunshi and said, "woh hamarey darmiyan nahi hai (he is not in our midst)."

The remark drew immediate protest from Dasmunshi's wife Deepa, an MP from Raiganj, who said such a comment was insensitive towards a senior leader like her husband. Some senior state Congress leaders in the audience, also stood up in protest and demanded that Katariya withdraw his comment. A visibly-embarrassed Katariya quickly apologised. With a section of Congressmen continuing the protest, WBPCC chief Manas Bhuina ended the meeting abruptly by singing the national anthem. Dasmunshi was Information and Broadcasting Minister when he suffered a stroke on October 13, 2008 and has remained bedridden since.

He should read Nehru's writings: Md. Salim

TNN, Sep 17, 2010, 12.51am IST

KOLKATA: CPI(M) is not reading too much into Rahul Gandhi's denial of Trinamool's links with Maoists. CPI(M) central committee member Mohammad Salim said that links between Maoists and Trinamool have been exposed time and again.

"He hasn't said that there is no link between Maoists and Trinamool. He has only denied any direct link between the two. But the Jnaneswari Express carnage and Umakanta Mahato have proved the links," Salim said.

During his three-day trip to Bengal, Rahul Gandhi had commented that Marxism was a "dead" ideology.

"His father had said Kolkata was a dying city. Now, he is talking about dead ideology. He should remember that there is a difference between the situation in China, Cuba and West Bengal. We are running a state government here in a federal structure, while those two are sovereign countries. Here he can go and have dinner at a public place. In Kashmir, the government is run by their ally. Can he go around Dal Lake?" Salim said.

Salim said that Rahul should read his great-grandfather's writings. "He is from the Nehru family. He should read what Nehru's views on socialism were. We are happy that he has talked about Subhas Chandra Bose. Congress didn't allow him to work despite being elected president. They don't even mention him. But, if he has to talk about Subhas Chandra Bose, then his socialism, five-year plans also have to be spoken about. Rahul should decide whether he is a Nehruvian, Gandhian or a Manmohanic," Salim said.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal promotes eco-tourism

Sukna (West Bengal), Sep. 17: The officials of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in Sukna near West Bengal’s Siliguri District have involved the local villagers in protecting the wildlife and the bio-diversity of the sanctuary.

Divisional Forest Officer of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Tapas Das said that eco- tourism would enable the villagers to make themselves economically stable.

“See what we are doing here is we are trying to conserve the bio-diversity and protect the wildlife by way of this kind of eco-tourism. We are trying to make the villagers economically sustainable,” said Das.

“They can earn something from this, and as a result what happens they get interested and they protect the wildlife as far as the bio-diversity of the national park and the sanctuaries,” he added.

Villagers have been enrolled to participate in the project as guides and local girls will display their talent by presenting dance and vocal music for tourists.

The area is replete with wild life such as spotted deer; elephants, bisons, birds and butterflies which could be a great tourist attraction.

Villagers say they are happy with the initiative of including them in uplifting their economic status as well as promoting their culture and tradition.

“All the tourists who will visit, we will be able to interact with them and have a direct interaction with them. They will understand our culture and tradition. We want to promote our culture and tradition through this. And with the eco-tourism our culture and tradition will be able to move forward,” said Karan Thapa, a forest villager.

Some other exotic animals seen in the sanctuary are Royal Bengal Tiger, Himalayan black bear, rare mountain goat (Serow), porcupines and snakes. by Tarak Sarkar(ANI)

Leftist peasants forums meet Buddhadeb on drought issue

09:09 PM, Sep 15, 2010
Kolkata, Sep 15 (PTI): West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was today urged to approach the Centre to declare the 11-drought affected districts as a 'national disaster'."A six-point charter of demands have been placed before the CM in the interest of farmers in 11 affected districts in the state," president of CPI(M) peasants' forum Pashimbanga Pradeshik Krishaksabha Madan Ghosh said.

The chief minister was also urged to waive crop loans for the khariff season, besides extending loans to farmers for the next crop at 4 per cent interest.Regretting that the state government had received only Rs 170 crore against an allocation of Rs 1400 crore from the Centre under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the forum demanded that the Centre release the remainder immediately.It also urged the state government to create more water bodies through panchayat departments in the affected districts, besides supplying the farmers with better quality seeds.The chief minister also elaborated on steps taken by the state government to overcome the drought situation, Ghosh said.

WBIDC to hand over land to ITC for production base


The West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) would hand over 18 acres later this month to the cigarettes-to-hotel conglomerate ITC to set up an integrated food factory in the state.

'We will hand over 18 acres to ITC on September 25. The cost of land per acre was in tune of Rs.20 lakh,' Subrata Gupta, managing director, WBIDC, told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar organised by Ficci.

During the annual general meeting of ITC in July, chairman Y.C. Deveshwar told reporters that the company had not been able to get land to set up production base (factory) in the state for long.

The land is at Panchla village in Howrah on National Highway 6, 35 km from Kolkata. The unit is planned to manufacture snacks like Bingo.

'Maoist'-TMC Goons Kill Five More CPI(M) Supporters

From Special Correspondent (INN)

West Medinipur, September 13, 2010: The ruthless 'Maoist'-Trinamul killers have struck yet again in West Medinipur district killing five poor agricultural labourers belonging to dalit Dome community in the early hours of today. Around 30 of these barbarians crossed over from the jungles bordering Orissa state into Nichu Patina village in Nayagram block in Jhargram sub-division of the district and brutally killed four brothers in one family and another person at around 2 a.m. These killings occurred in the midst of growing people's resistance in the district against 'Maoist' depredations that has resulted in many villages being liberated from the clutches of these goons during the past few weeks. The killings also mark the beginning of the two-day bandh call given by these killers against so-called terror of the CPI(M) from today.

The crime of Amrit Agwan (46 yrs), or the four brothers Rahim Agwan (43), Samaresh Agwan (38), Sapan Agwan (35), and Prasanta Agwan (27), all poor dalit agricultural labourers, to invite such brutal end has been the fact that they are supporters and workers of the CPI(M). The killers knocked down the doors of the victims homes and barged inside. Even as the terrified women folk and children, among whom included the 83 year old mother of the four brothers, watched in horror, the killers chopped off the limbs of the brothers. They then cold-bloodedly shot the four with 9 mm pistols from close range resulting in instantaneous deaths. The 84 year old mother was also injured while trying to protect her sons. The murder of Amrit Agwan was also equally brutal. The five dead bodies were taken by the police to the Jhargram divisional hospital where post-mortem was conducted. The bodies have been kept there at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, people in the adjoining villages of Patina, took out processions condemning these killings. Hundreds of people in Tukuria and Sikarpur villages marched giving slogans against 'Maoist-TMC' barbarism. Six of these villagers returning from the processions to their homes were waylaid by Trinamool goons and beaten up resulting in injuries.

It is clear that the cowardly goons of this anarchic combine are letting loose their terror on the most downtrodden sections of people in newer areas in the fond hope of weakening the CPI(M). These ignorant beasts do not seem to be learning from the drubbing they have received from these sections in the so-called liberated areas, which they had to abandon. The patience of the common people in these areas as far as tolerating the mindless violence is concerned, is indeed running thin. And, many more would willingly take the place of these martyrs and carry on the struggle for peace.

Mamata using Maoists for party benefit: Karat

Express news service

Posted online: Sun Sep 12 2010, 03:34 hrs

Chandigarh : CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Saturday accused Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee of using the Maoists for her party's benefit prior to the West Bengal Assembly elections scheduled for next year. He said that the Maoist violence in Bengal was targeted at CPM workers and more than 270 of them have been killed.

Addressing a press conference, Karat said that keeping in view the increasing violence by the Maoists, the central government had sent paramilitary forces to the affected areas, but Banerjee demanded that the joint operations be stopped. Instead she held a rally in Lalgarh with the Maoists last month.

"How can the Prime Minister tolerate such a thing? The Centre should specify what is the government's policy on the issue. Our people are campaigning against the Maoists. From tomorrow, we are starting a programme wherein leaders of our party would be going to different parts of the country to inform people about the situation in Bengal," said Karat.

Talking about the court verdict on the Ayodhya title suit to be pronounced later this month by the Allahabad High Court, Karat said that all sections should accept the verdict, whatever it may be. He said that this would be the only solution to the problem.

Karat also touched upon the issue of rotting foodgrain in godowns. "The Supreme Court's direction for distribution of foodgrain free of cost to the people should be complied with. At least in drought-hit areas like Bihar and Orissa, these must be distributed. The judiciary should not encroach on the sphere of the executive. However, in this case the spirit of the judgment should be appreciated. It is an issue pertaining to failure of the Public Distribution System. The families below poverty line should be helped," he said.

Karat demanded withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from urban areas in Srinagar as well as those areas where the situation was returning to normal. He informed that a delegation of the party met the Prime Minister on this issue. He said that a political solution was required to solve the problems in Srinagar.

Who am I, really?

TNN, Sep 12, 2010, 12.00am IST

Fifteen-year-old Nayana Dasgupta is caught in an identity crisis and can't figure out whether she is a Bengali or Kannadiga!

I am what people call a Probaashee Baangali, or a Bengali settled anywhere away from West Bengal. In such a situation, one has to face many contradictions. On one hand, one has to adapt to the culture of the place you live in and at the same time, retain your ties to West Bengal. To worsen my state (funny I should use that particular word!), I was born in Bangalore and have lived here all my life. So, I have the task of enriching my Bengali culture as well as having to appreciate the culture down South.

So far, I have been able to balance both cultures and I may state without any hesitation that I like, rather love being a Bengali as well as a Bangalorean. But, on the path to maintaining equilibrium, one scale sometimes seems to weigh a little more than the other.

For example, I am very fluent in my mother tongue, Bengali. But I am officially illiterate in that language as I can neither read nor write it. On the other hand, I have learnt Kannada in school for four years (and have done pretty well in my tests!). I can read and write Kannada, thanks to my teacher, but am not as fluent. My friends and I, however, converse in Kannada sometimes and I too contribute generously in these conversations, with a few grammatical errors, of course!

My relatives in Kolkata are not exactly distraught about me not being able to read or write in Bengali, but ask me, "I assume you are learning Bengali as well?", to which I sheepishly smile and my parents say, "She has a lot of studying to do — you know, the pressure!" An enthusiastic uncle also sent me several Bengali textbooks from Kolkata. Slowly, he too realised that it was of no use. No one asks me the question any more.

As a result, I compensate for my incompetence in my mother tongue by learning Rabindra Sangeet with my aunt's 55-year-old harmonium. And to add feathers to my half-Kannadiga status, I can say that I love bisi bele bath more than any 'Baangali' khichudi and I prefer buttermilk over mishti doi.

One of my classmates has lived in several districts of West Bengal and is well-informed about Bengali culture despite being a Kannadiga. One of her favourite series of books is Feluda, whereas I quite enjoy reading Malgudi Days. She likes rice payesh (a well-known Bengali sweet) and I like nothing but sheemayer paayesh. Though my choice sounds more Bengali, her choice is more liked among Bengalis. She too is often surprised as to how my preferences differ from the average Bengali — for an ideal Bengali exists no more. Therefore, we have concluded that I should have been a Kannadiga by birth. I too often consider that this would have been a wiser decision by the Almighty. Things would have been much less complicated.

For example, once, when I had been to Kolkata for a cousin's wedding and was complaining that Bangalore was a much better city to live in, my mother gave me a stern lecture and the finality in her tone made my heart sink. She simply said, "This is your culture and your own state. You just have to accept it." I remember that I just looked up at the high ceiling of the room and inwardly wailed out a cry of frustration. I wondered wildly,

" Who am I? Where am I from?" The question still haunts me.

While I just can't stop liking kosambi, idli, rava idli, dosa, I just can't leave shorshe bata maach or shukto!

However, I have been somewhat able to manage the situation, since Bangalore is now Bengalooru. No finer name could have been given to this city — Bengal - ooru!

And, if none of these tricks work, I'll just say I'm a Bengali and talk in Hindi to strike a balance!

'TMC has rainbow alliance with Maoists':said Biman Basu

India Blooms News Service

Kolkata, (IBNS Sept 11) Trinamool Congress (TMC), the main opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, has a ‘rainbow alliance’ with Maoists since 2007, said Biman Basu, state secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M).

“The TMC, since 2007 in particular, started a nefarious game plan forming a rainbow alliance combining right wing forces with the left sectarian so-called ‘Maoists’ to beat back CPI (M) and the Left as well as the Left Front government. These ugly forces concentrated their attacks in the democratic rights of the people and democracy to create anarchy, lawlessness, and terror-stricken situation,” Bose said here.

“TMC the main opposition in the Bengal Assembly have started a nefarious game plan attacking democratic initiatives of the CPI (M) and the Left front parties. Since the Lok Sabha elections, these anti-democratic forces killed 279 CPI (M) and Left leader and workers. These martyrs are mostly poor agricultural workers, daily wage earners, and many of them are from the tribal community,” he said.

Alleging that Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s TMC has the patronage of the corporate media barons, Bose said the party is continuing its ugly campaign based on ‘sheer lies’ and ‘slander’ in the state as well as in the rest of the country.

“Serious violent activities are perpetrated by the right reactionaries and ‘left’ sectarian so-called ‘Maoists,’ along with TMC in different parts of Bengal. In certain areas, these undemocratic activities are unleashed by the Indian national Congress (INC). Now it seems that the TMC and the INC want to move jointly together,” Bose said.

Saying the Left Front government of West Bengal stands for democracy & development, Bose stated ‘democratic’ people of Bengal, under the leadership of the CPI (M) and the Left Front, are continuing a serious campaign-movement against the anti-democratic violent activities of TMC and CPI (Maoist) joint forces, and Congress.

“With the assistance of UPA-2 government, TMC as a part of the central government, takes the advantage of all anti-democratic forces and continues their slanderous campaign against the achievements of the Bengal Left Front government.”

“Since the people of Bengal are fighting against the exploitative system, campaigning against the treaties with the US, which may jeopardise the sovereignty of India, and fighting for the workers’-peasants’ interests and for the interest of the democratic people, the reactionary forces of all hues are bent upon attacking the Communists and Left forces for their own class interests,” Bose added.

Eid celebrated in West Bengal

2010-09-11 18:40:00

West Bengal joined the rest of India in celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr with prayers and exchange of greetings Saturday.

The biggest Eid congregation was held on the sprawling Red Road in central Kolkata, where over 42,000 devotees took part in prayers.

Verses from the Quran were read and explained to the masses before Nakhoda Mosque Imam Fazlur Rahman conducted the prayers.

People greeted and embraced one another, visited relatives and friends on the occasion.

Heavy security arrangements were made across the city and all districts of the state to prevent any breach of peace.

'We have deployed more policemen this year, especially in areas where the major Eid congregations take place like Red Road, Park Circus and Belgachia. A large number of policemen in plainclothes have also been deployed,' said city Police Commissioner Gautam Chakraborty.

September 22, 2010

Rahul misinformed, says West Bengal Minister

KOLKATA: Reacting to the comments of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi on the West Bengal government's ‘utilisation' of funds given by the Centre under the Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes, Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said the Congress leader had been given incorrect information.
“Political statements should be countered politically but at an administrative level, I can say that the picture is the opposite of what is being portrayed,” Dr. Dasgupta told journalists.

Pointing out that the State was awaiting the release of Rs. 1,400 crore, which was its due from the Centre on the rural employment guarantee schemes, he said the people were suffering. “It is no case for petty politics.”

“Shortage of funds”

The truth was that the State was facing shortage of funds and some pancahayat bodies and zilla parishads has had to raise loans for Rs. 25 crore just to meet payment obligations to the rural folk, some of whom are in acute distress due to the drought which has hit 11 districts.

In the wake of the drought, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had written a letter on the pending payments to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Following this, Rs. 170 crore was released.


CPIM) Central Committee member Mohd. Salim on Monday dismissed as “irresponsible” AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi's remarks at a rally here about the siphoning off of Central funds, including those for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) in West Bengal. Mr. Gandhi should instead focus on why the parallel scheme guaranteeing employment in urban areas had not been formulated, he said.

Mr. Salim said a complete audit of the funds released under the MNREGS was conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India as well as by third parties such as NGOs.
As a parliamentarian and senior leader of the Congress, Mr. Gandhi should have read the CAG reports and consulted the concerned Minister before making “such irresponsible statements,” Mr. Salim said.

“The State government has not been able to implement the scheme because the Centre has not been able to release funds. Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee himself admitted recently that there had been delays in the allotment of MNREGS funds,” Mr. Salim said.

Mr. Gandhi should instead focus on why there had been no progress in the introduction of a similar scheme guaranteeing employment to the unemployed in urban areas, Mr. Salim said.

Mr. Salim was also critical of Mr. Gandhi's remarks predicting the demise of Communism in the State comparing it to the fall of the Soviet Union.

The rank and file of the Congress was depleting in West Bengal under the influence of the Trinamool Congress. This should be of greater concern to the party, he said.

THE HINDU, Published: September 7, 2010 


KOLKATA, 7th Sept. (INN): The 24-hour industrial strike that took the shape, character, and more importantly size of a general strike was another successful working people’s action throughout Bengal on 7 September.



From the tea gardens in north Bengal (for once after a while, the GJM-GNLF call for non-participation in the Left-called strike was ignored courageously by the largest bulk of the chia kaman mazdoor, along the dooars and terai, down the Ganges amongst the bidi mazdoors, right over onto the west to the khadan (mining, chiefly coal) area of the rocky hinterland of the swift-moving Damodar river, across to the east in the heartland of industrial south Bengal crossing Nadia, the two 24 Parganas, and Howrah plus the factory-dotted suburbia of the sprawling Kolkata metropolitan area covering the fast-urbanising eastern by-pass area up to Dumdum airport, up in to the agricultural belt (chiefly sprawling potato patches ranging around the silent sentinels of the air-conditioned, concrete-and-fibre glass-cold storage facilities, onto our beloved forestry area of the red clay earth zone, down again to the dock-and-port area of east Midnapore, there was a hum of activities – of the striking workers taking to the streets, roads, gullies, by-passes, village meadows, alleyways, and the docks, the airports, and the river traffic points of departure and arrival of barges.

Why were the strikes such an enormous success in Bengal, in seriatim, one after the other? Why the success was exclusively achieved whenever the Left had called for such an action, with issues deeply touching the lives and livelihoods of billions of people, especially the poor and the downtrodden? The answer calls for a three-step exercise in thought and action.


The lessons that we ourselves learnt especially during a short stint in the 190s, of an intense decade worth of working, time-to-time, in one of the powerful state units of what is surely the most fearlessly militant and popular TU in the country-- the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

First, the issues concerning the pièce de résistance around which the emergent need for the working class action is to be woven are carefully sifted around and then finally fixed and decided upon by the national leadership of the TU organisations and the powerful ranks of the workers’-employees’ federations.

Once the issues are firmed up, the highly extensive and intensive, that is the beauty of a dialectical approach, as Lenin had shown during the initial, hesitant, yet bloody years of the past century in what was yet then Tsar-ruled, Cheka-terrorised, imperial Russia, campaign work starts. There are smaller rallies, local level approaches to households, and factory level meetings, indoor and outdoor, hundreds of thousands of them in the space-and-time of two-to-three months.


Then follows the campaign work on a larger, macro, if you like, scale with the TUs and left political parties, with the CPI (M) to the fore, organise bigger rallies going up from the district town, district HQs, and finally onto the Shahid Minar maidan or the Indoor Stadium in Kolkata, depending chiefly on the adversity or otherwise of the weather. All throughout these months, the Ganashakti runs a daily column on the need for the general strike to be a success detailing out every possibly response that the people might well like of us in a corporate ambience where any working class action is regarded as an action non grata.

On the day-night in the case of a 24-hour strike, the streets, the bylanes and the gullies, the fields and the mines, the docks and the tea gardens are active with marches, smaller rallies, street-corner, factory gate meetings, and the Red flag is aflutter very visibly across the state. This year, especial attention was given to the month of fasting (ramaz’an) of the minority community-- and the shops-and-establishments of every kind were seen to open and function as normal in the minority populated areas and zones, so that no inconvenience was to be created anywhere for anyone.


Thus when the CITU leadership congratulated at the end of the day the people and the toiling masses for making the 7 September strike action a glorious success, they were iterating the deep and wide base that the people have built up over the decades in their hearts-and-minds for the CPI (M) and the CITU as the vanguard weapons of struggle, of campaign, of movements. Expectedly, nothing untoward, nothing unpleasant has occurred as we file this report despite attempts to the contrary. (B. PRASANT)



KOLKATA, 6th Sept. (B. Prasant): We ventured out on a hot-and-humid afternoon on 6 September to have a listen to the ‘young’ man from 10 Janpath, whom the Naxalites – we mean one their many splinters and fractions existing within the splinter, the mind boggles- have chosen to describe in this metropolis as the ‘prince-in-waiting,’ we are sorry but we do not see any sarcasm going around here, rather a trembling confession that the left deviationists always scrabble around for and find, in the political debris, for comfort-- and then we found mud being slung at us. There was that in the form of rhetoric from the dais too, and thankfully, we were timing, for exactly 9.5 minutes. The place of occurrence was a sparsely covered patch of the Shahid Minar maidan.

The other, real, rather than rhetorical, parts of mother earth, wet from a recent splash, that came bounding at us, covering the better part of the ancient body corporal, in a thick lay of dark grey, were hurled by irate Congressmen who had earlier been instructed to ‘step up to the dais,’ and the accusing finger guided them to where we the men and women from media sat slightly atremble, tightly packed. Earlier to that, the media have been heard to remark how empty some of the’ frontal’ areas of the meeting ground were – committing thereby a near-fatal mistake in a Congress gathering.

As we were saying, we were constantly reminded by the present Shahid Minar ‘rally,’ of the desolate meeting addressed by the late Rajiv Gandhi at the Park Circus maidan late in the 1980s where, too, policepersons gave a tough fight to the actual audience and participants in terms of sheer numbers. The present ‘rally’ was not expected to be an aberration, and it was not.

What was said in those eager nine minutes-and-a-bit, deserve a semblance at least of a rejoinder. We shall ignore for the present, the ‘young’ person’s call, in an emotion-laden voice, about maintaining the ‘izzat’ of the Bengal Pradesh Congress even while going about a ‘mili-juli’ co-existence with the senior political partner here. We are sure a whoop of derisive laughter arose in the air at the Kalighat residence of the chieftain of the previously mentioned ‘senior partner.’

Then the lies started to pour out. There was a faux pas in the beginning though. It was said that ‘there now exist two forms of India,’ one for the poor the other inhabited by the rich – how true. Let us put in a small if discomforting refrain to that, if we can. For example, we can point to actual figures and say that close to 80% of the population is not able to spend Rs 20 per man-day for the very basic needs of living out even a poverty-ridden life as the super rich luxuriate in the comfort of tax havens within the dictates of the finance department.

The speaker would not bring out the glaring fact about the very parliament he is a member of, where there are 306 crorepatis, and that, of these super-rich, there are 141 Congress MPs. Dare we recall whose names feature on that list and whose do not? In the meanwhile, the tax concessions to the rich amount to Rs five lakh crore per financial year and increasing. The Left demand for Rs 450 crore worth of food subsidies is ignored

The speaker accused the Left Front government for leaving about ‘unutilised’ NREGA funds. Would the ‘young’ Congress leader kindly elaborate why, while even after repeated reminders, the union government is not willing to release Rs 1400 crore scheduled and earmarked for Bengal for that particular employment scheme itself?

There was a saving grace of a kind elsewhere at a ‘closed door’ meeting that the speaker took of the various segments of the Pradesh Congress in their office on the CIT Road, and one which we chose rightly not to attend although all the cameras of all the major TV channels and news crews, print and audio-visual, would troop in, and were covering the gory details ‘live.’

At that meeting, the speaker is supposed to have said-- we don’t give credence to the TV cameras of the corporate media, there could well have been a maligning voice-over or dubbing/remixing, who knows-- that he would like to come to Bengal so many times in the future to unfold, that ‘aap pareshan ho jayengey.’ We would reserve our comments on this especial bit of internal affairs of the Congress, Pradesh and otherwise.(INN)

September 9, 2010

Maoists open fire at CPI (M) worker

KOLKATA, 5th Sept., 2010: Even as Maoists shot at another person, who is  a worker of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), near Lalgarh in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district, Manoj Mahato, the secretary of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee was remanded to 14 days in judicial custody on Sunday.

“Bidyut Pandey was shot at by a group of four persons, suspected to be Maoists, near his home at his village, Bhairabkundu, near Lalgarh,” Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma told media.

Manoj Mahato was produced in the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, which remanded him to judicial custody.

There were reports that Bidyut Pandey was a relative of Anuj Pandey, a local leader of the CPI (M). Only late last week did Anuj Pandey lead a rally of party supporters and workers returning to their homes which they had left under the Maoist onslaught.

Mahanayak Uttam Kumar museum, gallery in Tollygunge

TNN, Sep 4, 2010, 01.05am IST

KOLKATA: More than 50% of his celluloid films are lost forever, but it is only now 30 years after his death that the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has decided to set up an archive on Uttam Kumar. There are also plans to set up a permanent gallery on the matinee idol.

On Thursday, minister of state for information and cultural affairs Soumendranath Bera, said that a decision has been taken to set up an exclusive vault to archive films, photographs and writings on Uttam Kumar at the Chalachchitra Shatabarshiki Bhawan in Tollygunge.

According to Partha Raha, curator of the Bhawan, still photographs on the matinee idol have been procured since 1948, many posters of his films as well as a number of booklets containing articles on Uttam Kumar and his films have also been collected. These have discussions, reviews and analyses of his films.

"At the moment, we have procured 13 celluloid prints of Uttam Kumar's films. In addition, we also have two films from the Satyajit Ray archive Nayak and Chiriakhana in which Uttam Kumar played the lead role," Raha said.

One of the four vaults at Chalachitra Shatabarshiki Bhawan, dedicated to Uttam Kumar, is also being named after the actor.

There are also plans to create a permanent photo gallery on the actor at the Bhawan. "This should be ready by December," Raha said. According to the minister, film scholars keen on research on Uttam Kumar will also benefit hugely from this archiving being taken up by the government.

According to film scholar Sanjay Mukhopadhyay, most of Uttam Kumar's celluloid prints are either damaged beyond repair or completely lost. "A proper film archive means a celluloid archive, and the technical expertise required for restoration of damaged celluloid prints is hardly available in our country. It remains to be seen how the state government goes about preparing the archive," Mukhopadhyay said.

Police arrested Maoist-outfit PSBJC leader Manoj Mahato

Kolkata, 4th Sept. 2010: Paschim Medinipur district police arrested the general secretary of the Maoist-backed so-called Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), Manoj Mahato.

Addressing journalists at the district police headquarters at Midnapore town on Saturday, Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma said that Mr. Mahato and another suspected Maoist, Naba Kumar Mahato, were arrested following a day-long combing operation in the Goaltore-Lalgarh-Kotwali region launched on Friday morning.

“The arrest of Manoj Mahato is a big success for us. His name is mentioned in seven first information reports and we have information that he was involved in 15 other cases of sedition, murder and violation of prohibitory order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC). He will be produced in court on Sunday,” Mr. Verma said.

A 9 mm pistol and six rounds of cartridges were also reportedly recovered from him.

Naba Kumar Mahato was allegedly involved in two murder cases committed in 2006 and 2009, according to Mr. Verma.

“We had been saying from the very beginning that the PSBJC is in no way different from the Maoists and the arrest of Manoj Mahato justifies our stand.

“We hope that other absconding senior PSBJC leaders and Maoist squad members operating in the region will be caught soon,” he said.

Manoj Mahato, the nephew of arrested PSBJC convener Chhatradhar Mahato, was recently made the secretary of the outfit, after the encounter death of the former secretary, Sidhu Soren, in Goaltore on July 26.

Potato prices may dip as Bengal plans stock cut

By Sutanuka Ghosal & Madhvi Sally, ET Bureau

3rd Sept, 2010, 12.24AM IST

KOLKATA & CHANDIGARH: Potato prices may drop as the West Bengal government is all set to offload 1 million tonne (mt) in the market by next week to rapidly cut excess stocks. Output in India’s second largest potato growing state doubled this year to touch almost 10 mt. But branded snack companies such as ITC and Pepsi will see no dip in raw material costs as the prices of the specialised varieties they buy remain steady.

Talking to ET, Mr Mortaza Hossain, West Bengal’s minister of agricultural marketing, said: “We have decided to offload the potato that we had asked consumer cooperatives under the West Bengal State Consumers Cooperative Federation (Confed) to procure. The offloading will begin from next week. We are currently working on the model that we will use to offload these potatoes.”

West Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta said: “These potatoes will be sold in two phases. The first phase will kick off from September 9 and will continue till the first week of October. In the first phase, we will offload 5 lakh tonne. Of this 5 lakh tonne, 1 lakh tonne will be sold through public distribution system at a price lower than the market price by Re 1 per kg. The rest 4 lakh tonne will be sold through a tendering process.” The second phase will begin after the Pujas and will continue till the first week of December. “The modalities of selling potatoes in the second phase has not yet been decided,” he added.

Confed had procured 1 mt from farmers at Rs 3.50 per kg. Prices in retail markets are currently ruling at Rs 5-12 a kg. Prices of varieties used in snacks such as Chipsona, Atlantic and Lady Rosetta are ruling at Rs 8-9 a kg, said Nischint Bhatia, executive vice-president at PepsiCo India.

Potato is India’s top vegetable crop, with an annual output of 35 mt that contributes the lion’s share to the total annual vegetable production of 100 million tonne. Table potato prices are politically sensitive for the government that monitors them closely as it is an Indian household favourite across incomes.

“A sentiment dip for a short term may happen. In the long term, prices will remain stable before the new crop hits the market from Punjab, West Bengal and Bihar,” said Sachid Madan, director at Technico Agri Sciences, a subsidiary of the cigarettes-to-hotel major ITC Limited. “Prices are bound to increase by Rs 2-3 in October-November when new processing variety crop comes from South and Central India.

However, with Punjab crop coming in from November, end prices will touch Rs 8-9 a kg,” he said.

The company procures close to 1.5 lakh tonne potato annually. In the previous year, processing varieties prices had touched at Rs 16 a kg.

In Bengal, consumers at the retail end get two kinds of potatoes — Chandramukhi and Jyoti. In the wholesale market, Chandramukhi potatoes are available at Rs 600-625 per quintal whereas Jyoti is available at Rs 500 per quintal. The retail consumer gets Jyoti potatoes at Rs 6 a kg whereas the Chandramukhi variety is available at Rs 8-9 per kg.

Sowing has already begun in Una district of Himachal Pradesh and Hoshiarpur district of Punjab where Pukhraj and Chandramukhi varieties are being planted. Across India, sowing will begin after paddy is harvested in October. “The Una and Hoshiarpur crop will come into the market by November and we expect prices to fall with a huge stock in the country,” said Naininder Singh Dhillon, an expert in potato marketing and farming in Punjab.

On Thursday, the MCX September contract was ruling at Rs 425.70, October at Rs 453.10 and March 2011 at Rs 468.10.

Famous actor Dilip Roy passes away

KOLKATA, 3rd Sept. 2010: Well-known Bengali actor and director Dilip Roy died here on Thursday after a prolonged battle with cancer, sources from his family said.

Mr. Roy (79) was a bachelor and is survived by three adopted sons. His first break came in Parivar, and he appeared in 44 films in a career spanning over two decades.

Mr. Roy's directorial ventures include Neelkantha, Debdas, and Amrita Kumbher Sandhaney. He was also cinematographer of the Bengali film Bhalobasa Bhalobasa, besides Oriya films Tu Eka Aama Saha Bharasa, Mamata Ra Dori, and Chaka Bhaunri.

In his later years, Mr. Roy acted in a popular genre of Bengali theatre known as ‘Jatra.' — PTI


By B Prasant

KOLKATA (INN): Before we go at some detail into the CPI(M) and Left Front leaders’ addresses to the absolutely packed-to-overflowing indoor stadium in the heart of the metropolis, on 31 August 2010, let us quote some important if grief-ridden statistics – and dwell on the their political impact.
From 1 September 2009 until now, over 200 CPI (M)leaders-workers-supporters have been brutally done to death in Bengal, at the merciless and hired hands of armed goons in the pay-and-patronage of the left sectarians, the right reactionaries, and their combined gangs of the night. The murder, the latest occurrence, in broad daylight of a school teacher, comrade Dibakar Mahato at Salboni in Midnapore west, in front of students, on 4 September, and the photo run by even the corporate press of the comrade who yet clutched a pen in his right hand, has a million stories to tell.

The figure is politically important because these were not, could never be, part of the deteriorating law-and-order situation in the country, and Bengal is never an island of excellence in a sea of mayhem. On the other hand, the political fall-out, as we are witness to it has been considerable with people unshackling themselves of the chains of fear and trepidation clamped around them and countering very effectively the attack on their daily lives and livelihoods, the jangal mahal in particular, but also elsewhere in the state.
The political import of the martyrs’ columns now vigilant for ever in the towns and villages across what is now a climatologically but not politically arid Bengal, has been that this is the first time ever that so many of our comrades had to embrace martyrdom within the calendar span of a year, since the coming to office of the Bengal Left Front government, riding the crest of a popular surge for change, in the fateful months way back in 1977.

For the record, on 31 August even further back in 1951, the then Dr B C Ray-led Congress state government had bludgeoned to death – bullets, had commented the then top police brass, proved an ‘expensive proposition,’ no less than 80 hungry men, women, children who formed part of the three-lakh-strong ‘march for food’ onto what was then Calcutta, from all over the state. This is the reason why the day is nurtured into the memories of the Communist Party and the left parties as the ‘martyrs’ day,’ for ever afterwards.

The tone of the indoor rally was certainly set by chief minister of Bengal Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who called the Trinamuli outfit and its cohorts—populated by creatures who thrived on lies, untruth, and deception. Buddhadeb was sharply critical of the goings on in the principal opposition party where one leader sat at the top of the heap and others sat at the supremo’s feet, helpless, lacking independent initiative, even a difference of opinion—or be damned for ever.
Quoting the more blatant of the lies with which the chieftain of the opposition went to town recently, splashed duly across the docile and compromised corporate-run print and the airwaves, Buddhadeb pointed to the shameless untruths uttered by that worthy union minister on the fire at the Stephens’ Court, the so-called attempt at communal riots in Kolkata, and the series of railway mishaps, chief amongst them the killing incident of the Gyaneswari Express, and finally, crucially, the tale told with élan that the chief’s convoy was ‘breached’ by a truck for purposed of doing bodily harm to the worthy.

The outfit stands on lies and deception, slanders and untruth – how much longer would the democratic-minded people of Bengal tolerate the ways that they see unfold in an ugly manner before their very eyes, every hour, every day? The CPI (M) and the Left were able to frustrate, taking the masses of the people along, a similar campaign in the seventies in Bengal, and had been then swept to office, decisively. A few simple souls even now would not question the lie campaign going on and the reactionaries as well as their left deviationist allies it is their goodwill that the enemies of the people cashed their political cheques on, hoping to draw political dividends.

The state has had to pay dearly for these calculated if fatal antics of a single individual and her docile columns. There has been no motor car industry in Singur. Nandigram was over run by the right-left combination of the Trinamulis and the self-styled ‘Maoists.’ Normal rhythm of lifer was violently upset in the jangal mahal, and only now that the people have turned to face the enemy rather than continue with the poor quality of life under siege-like conditions. The forces of violence must be stopped in their predatory tracks or they will cause ruination to visit the state.

Buddhadeb was bitterly opposed to the policies of the union government that would cause food shortage to haunt the common person, and which would not hesitate before ensuring that the public distribution system was dismantled brick by brick. The fact that food crops rotted away in union government-run storage facilities and godowns appeared to be little interest to the Singh government. The CPI (M) Polit Bureau member also fogged the union government’s outlook when he said that it would not cooperate with the state on the issue of 100 days’ worth of work under NREGA.

Biman Basu, secretary of the Bengal CPI (M) and chairman of the Bengal Left Front did not mince word when he began his brief if important address by delineating the condition’s prevailing in the country, and the victim of which was the state of Bengal as well. Biman Basu said that there existed a terrible food crisis and crisis of agriculture throughout the country. The price level was changing upwards by leaps. Forward trading ruined commerce. The rationing system has been allowed to break down in incremental, fatal, doses of policy decisions.

In the political realm, the CPI (M) leader pointed to the waves of attacks on the democratic people and on democratic movements and struggles in Bengal. They attempt is to create a maelstrom of confusion amongst the people on the part of the enemies of the people by spreading slanders and lies of every heinous kind. The kisan and the khet-mazdoor, the worker and the employee faced the terror filled nights that brought back the bad dreams of the seventies. The task of the day was to stay vigilant, stay warned, and to keep at bay the armed assaults being perpetrated with the specific political aim of breaking the political back of popular opinion, and the slogan mouthed is ‘either you are with us we shall bash your head in.’ Biman Basu spoke about the need to approach the masses and build up deeper, daily contact with them and to adhere to the class outlook all the while.
Other Left Front leaders who addressed the massive gathering were Ashok Ghosh (FB), Kshiti Goswami (RSP), Swapan banerjee (CPI), Pratim Chatterjee (FB-M), Janmenjoy Ojha (SP), Sunil Chaudhuri Biplabi Bangla Congress), Rampada Samanta (DSP), Subhas Roy (RCPI).


By B Prasant
KOLKATA, 2nd Sept. 2010 (INN): For some time now, like about three months, the left sectarians, heinous criminals who go under the costume of their brand of so-called ‘Maoism,’ have been forced on the backfoot by the mass of the people. The résistance, much absurdly reflected in an expectedly bitter corporate media, comprises, as we were very recent witness to the mass movements in Midnapore west, and indeed elsewhere in the red clay rural belt, three distinct phases.


First, in places like Pidakata and Dharampur, the left sectarians and their somewhat loosely weaved, amorphous, and, Trinamul-financed ‘front’ of armed goons called the PCAPA (‘people’s committee against police atrocities’ is the full nomenclature), are initially with politeness, and then with vigour asked by the rural people, who have had enough of the blood-letting of the poor by the villains, to let them alone.

Second where this is heeded, rare, the mass of the people put up the Red Flag, organise rallies, house-to-house campaign on the truth behind the ‘Maoist’ phenomenon, and then go about the good and great business of bringing rural tranquillity back in place.

In due course, democratic activities resume, shops and stalls open, the tea stall is a vital sign of normalcy, the smoking chullah sending out the signals of the right kind as a massage of comfort to the early morning toilers as they trudge across unploughed fields, lying barren both from disuse and from the pitiless sun pouring heat from the frighteningly, unseasonably, bright blue above. Life resumes its hum and rhythm.


Third, and this is becoming a sickening repetition ad nauseum now more than ever, there are pockets that are situated deep into the dark grey-green foliage of whatever forestry is left behind by the electric chain-saw wielding illegal fellers of trees, ‘Maoists’ featuring prominent among their ranks, we had better note right here and now, in pockets, described by the terrorists and enemies of the people as ‘terrain,’ there are splinter groups of the ‘Maoists,’ and the splintering has been fashioned both vertically and horizontally, a classical example per se of the crumbling of those who mistake crime for rebelliousness, with everyone ‘inside,’ suspecting everyone else, there are ‘desperadoes’ who would not heed the writing on the wall.

Here what the rural masses do is an interesting example of the people’s idea of résistance -- in words and deeds. And, no, we are not talking of counter-violence and/or listening, and reacting to the tired uncredenced, hesitant drumbeats that are heard in the corporate media about ‘armed camps,’ (the Union Home minister would even go so far as to mention the bourgeois-damned ‘c’ word, when he talked about ‘cadres,’ but would not confront the truth).

The rightist supremo, ruthless, hateful, and a violence-baiter, who has by now quite suborned the pathetically keen political arm-weaving of a drowning unit called the Pradesh Congress, may allow the corporate media to run away with lies and half-truths that the reactionaries always adhere to, and the left deviationists thrive on, but the facts speak for themselves. Let us here and now pose a question that begs for an answer, and it is this: ‘how many ‘Maoists’, and for the record armed Trinamulis have been killed, now and ever in the past, except in police actions? Would the proponents of the much-vaunted armed camps theory that they shamelessly go sickeningly ga-ga over, kindly stand up and be counted, even if once? In the circumstances, we confess they had better pay heed to what we saw, and what made us joyous and proud.

The place of occurrence is Dharampur, some miles away into the deep of the jangal mahal. The date is 2 September 2010. The time is day break and into the morning hours of sun and sweat. Readers will no doubt recall what has been reported in these columns in the arid summer of 2009. It was the 15th day of June. For close to three days, the left deviationists surrounded and cut off Dharampur from the rest of the forest sub-division.


Then the killing of the helpless and the innocent started. Initially the Trinamul-identified leading cadres of the CPI (M) were beaten up, hacked away with sharp weapons and then left mangled, bleeding heaps, and in the intensity of agony to die the most horrible death imaginable. The peasants were next. Anybody with links, even the remotest of links to the CPI (M) Kisan Sabha, the SFI, and the DYFI, and the AIDWA were singled out and beaten up – some were to succumb to their injuries for days afterwards, as the cries of help for medical attention went unheeded.
Women were systematically raped and left disfigured, some, unable to withstand the agony, mental and physical, were later to take their own lives. The houses were looted and put to the torch. In the year that followed, close to 270 CPI (M) leaders and cadres were murdered in the contiguous areas of the jangal mahal around Dharampur and Lalgarh, in particular. Villages after villages of the area were made bereft of activities, even of the most basic kind. Kisans left their home-and-hearth-- and took shelter in the district wherever they could, the helpless and innocent fugitive, and the refugee was born again.


Would the corporate media report a line of this, oh, no, and who ran armed camps then, friends, and at under whose patronage-- could this be explained by those same members of the media corps who today doth protest mightily and too much, too soon, about they having been ‘attacked,’ during their recent approach into Pidakata, not far away from Dharampur?

May we venture an educated guess (that may very be the truth as well, however unpleasant it may seem in some quarters) for their recent brand of protestations? They, quite frankly, do miss their fond linkages with the now-fled ‘Maoists.’ They fly into a rage when they see the Red Flag aflutter from fearfully large number of hutments and establishments, and not just in Dharampur, for the welcome scene is repeated along large tracts of the jangal mahal now where the people have torn apart the veil of fear-- and have spoken, loud and clear. Those that are the soil of the earth, those that were driven away from the red clay zone, have now returned. Life is tough. The tea stall chullah, however, smokes again, the aroma of tae and of oven-fresh succulence of soft bread loaves spread, the bright Red Flag alert and a-flutter from the shambled top of what is now effectively a shanty, among many shanties that are in a serious need of a clean up, the housewives nod and agree. Life has picked up its age-old cycle of normalcy in the better part of the forest areas of Midnapore west.