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.
VAST AMBIT OF SUCCESS
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.