KOLKATA, 7th February, 2010(INN): Numbers are important. Numbers are also a socially-determined paradigm in a situation of struggle. How many thronged the Kolkata maidan on 7 February 2010 is a determinate of the circumstances of the massive, overwhelming response - to the evolving political situation.
Just consider the backdrop, if you please. More than two hundred of the tested and tried valiants of the CPI (M) and the Bengal left Front have been butchered over the past year and the body count never stops growing. Thousands yet live in terror, in makeshift sheds of light polythene, in the unusually long and bitter Bengal cold. Leaders are targeted.
The bourgeois media is alive with an expectancy of, certainly, the very wrong kind. The opposition leader chortles on the TV screen about the ‘imminent’ transference of office in Bengal, and well, maybe elsewhere.
A section of the Bengal bourgeoisie is up-and-about spreading canards about how the spirit of the Party ‘has started to flag.’ Then the brigade rally came. The slogan rang out, loud-and-clear, from the masses of the people that a new phase of the struggle – of protest and of resistance – has commenced.
Well-known faces of the jangal mahal whom we had met before our brief bout of ill-health at the height of the killings at the hands of the ‘Maoists’ and their Trinamuli informers-at-work, greeted us with the clenched fist salute, thin arms quivering with rage – and a sway of happiness - as they mingled friendly with the massive people presence that was the rally of the 7 February.
People came from afar- some in token hundreds, but they came in endless, orderly streams across Bengal and then along the roads, streets, lanes, and by-lanes of Kolkata. Busy professionals mingled with the workers, students with the kisans, youth with the khet mazdoors.
We saw a doctor, literally run out, hastily tucking in a stethoscope into a large handbag, out of a eastern Kolkata medical institution on the CIT Road and catch up with her comrades-at-arms of the branch that she leads, and then she mixed seamlessly, happily into the slogan-shouting river of humanity.
The speeches were important in their political clarity. The message was clear. The masses must realise that the struggle for development and change must be stepped up. No places of complacency now existed in a class-divided society. The enemy of the people was on the move, at the gates, and the ruling classes, with their sponsored political outfits tagging along, were gradually making themselves geared up for a ‘Paribartan,’ (complete political transformation) -- of the wrong kind. The masses look to the vanguard Party of their own to lead the way in the struggle that unfolds across Bengal.
Chief Minister and CPI (M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was sharp in his argumentation against the danger that had both indigenous and foreign origin. The stakes here and abroad backed the ultra left -- and the outfits of the loot-and-scoot variety, like the Trinamul Congress -- with their anarchic bursts of anti-people atrocities.
Buddhadeb also reminded the packed gathering that covered every millimetre of the maidan, and beyond, that the time had come to build up resistance to the unholy efforts going on towards creation of social and political anarchy in Bengal, to bring back the days of the jackal of the seventies.
The Left Front was the consequence and the fruit of the long periods of struggle from the sixties of the last century, said Buddhadeb who went on to point out that it had been the LF and the CPI (M) that had struggled to give back to the masses the dignity they had lost during the oppressive régimes of the past. Buddhadeb spoke about the redistributive land reforms, the recognition of the share-croppers as land-holders, and he talked about the development of the rural sector even in the remotest parts of Bengal
Buddhadeb also spoke about the growth in the industrial sector as well in the infrastructural and services sectors in Bengal. Any Paribartan would now be aimed farther development of the mass of the people and of the poor in particular, for ‘we too want change, for the betterment of lives and livelihoods of the people,’ said the CPI (M) Polit Bureau member.
Buddhadeb denounced strongly the splittists’ acts of omission and commission for the nefarious plan here was the divide the people along lines of region, religion, languages, caste, and creed. The democratic movement must resist these efforts. Buddhadeb concluded with the words that while the CPI (M) and the LF had come far, there was plenty of mileage to cover with the goal of change for the better. The Party and the LF must stand firm in the effort to lead the masses towards that task that lay inexorably ahead.
Biman Basu who presided over this massive gathering of a militant nature had an underlying premise to his short, sharp address. The task was to isolate the forces of anarchy and unite the poor against the noxious attempts to destabilise Bengal.
Recalling the departed Communist leader Jyoti Basu, Bimanda said that a principal demand of the rally had been to protest and resist the efforts of the Congress-led UPA government to shift the economic and financial burden onto the groaning shoulders of the toiling masses. The essential commodities act must be revived and put in place and taken out from its present doldrums as a paper tiger, which the big tycoons might not laugh at it.
The price rise and the failure to control it was a deliberate exercise of the central government to add to the treasure chest of big capital and its lackeys in the venture capital market. Hoarding and racketeering was not looked to, and black marketing was allowed to go unbridled. The recommendation of the Kirit Parikh committee to increase the prices of such essentials as cooking gas and kerosene, plus the cascade of effects it would have on the economy as transport costs would go up with additional fuel surcharge, must be resisted through struggle and the people must take to the streets, throughout the country and not excluding the capital.
Bimanda also spoke at some depth about the economic aspect of the issue of employment or rather the lack of it thanks to the ill-gotten efforts of the central government to abolish and/or keep vacant lakhs of posts in all cadres of service. The youth is particular would see this as a cruel move. Protests were needed, and now, not later for the issue brooked no delay.
The concluding words of Biman Basu comprised a rousing call of a mass struggle against the moves by the forces of reaction and sectarianism to endanger the flow of pro-poor development in Bengal under the LF and the LF government. Also addressing the rally were CPI (M) leader Mohd Amin (who spoke in Hindi laced as usual with Urdu), Ashok Ghosh of the Forward Bloc, Manju Kumar Majumdar of the CPI, Kshiti Goswami of the RSP and by other Left Front leaders. CPI (M) Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury and Nirupam Sen were present at the rally.
By B Prasant