August 27, 2010

CPI(M) Calls for Strenghtening of Struggles and Movements

By B Prasant
IN its recent two-day meeting at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan in Kolkata, held over June 26-27, 2010 the Bengal CPI (M) probed the recent political events, spoke about organisational matters, and issued a call for augmentation of struggles and movements across the state – for uplift of the poverty-ridden, for progress, for development, and for strengthening grass-roots’ level democracy.

The Bengal unit of the CPI(M) never minced words to conclude also, especially while reviewing the results obtained in the civic polls, that the most salient feature of the tasks ahead would comprise refurbishing a wide and deep mass contact with the people, especially with and amidst the poor and the downtrodden, something that has always been a hallmark feature of the Party organisation’s political initiative.

A total of 34 members of the state committee took part in the discussion. Biman Basu, secretary, Bengal unit of the CPI(M) spoke on certain important political-organisational issues. His conclusions were brief but strikingly relevant. He said that the political campaign-movement that had preceded the succeeding elections that took place in Bengal, for the Lok Sabha, for the panchayats and for the urban and semi-urban civic bodies, never quite penetrated the consciousness of the masses enough, and would thereby affect adversely, along with other factors, the task of building and rebuilding mass contact in ever wider circles.

Biman Basu also pointed out appropriately enough in the backdrop of the Bengal political scene, that the intimacy of relations with the poor that had always marked the Communist Party’s political-organisational activities was found to be absent in places, vital and important. Yet, the results of the polls presented a variegated statistical aggregate.

In places where the Party had lost ground in the Lok Sabha, and the panchayats, the picture was favourable when looking at the civic poll results. The vote share of the Left Front showed an uneven curve across the state, even within a civic body, ward-based. The CPI(M) Polit Bureau member had two succinct points to make by way of conclusion. First, the Party must forge ahead with renewed confidence by accelerating organisational initiative, and playing thereby a conscious historical role in the interest of the masses. Second, equally important in the circumstances that prevail, the unity and integrity of the Bengal Left Front must be further enhanced and widened.

Chief minister and Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also, like Biman Basu, noted the distance created between the Party and the poor people. He, however, believed that this is not the general picture, as prevailing in Bengal at this point in time. Yet, Buddhadeb too thought, that the chief political task that lies ahead in the days to come, must comprise of rebuilding the bridges with the poor. There must not be development sans struggle and movements based on the class basis, and yet, one has also to recall that the struggles and movements assume larger dimensions as developmental programmes are implemented. One must learn and learn well from events and circumstances, draw the correct lessons, exercise prudence, and then forge ahead.

Buddhadeb explicated the priority sectors of the state Left Front government. He informed the meeting that the government prioritises the following:

Homestead land for the khet mazdoors, and for the rural and urban poor

Buying up land, distributing them amongst the kisans, and thereby advancing the movement for land reforms

Implementing employment-generating schemes in the urban conurbations

Quickening the pace of patta distribution in the forest areas

Pacing up the process of providing members of the SC and ST with appropriate certification

Carrying on briskly the work of including names in the list of OBC minorities, and accelerating the work of certification

Filling up vacancies in the posts of school teachers

Implementing the scheme of social security of the unorganised workers

Speeding up the process of providing ration cards to those who were in the BPL category

The state committee identified the following tasks:
A wide people’s struggle must be built up against the rising prices of essential commodities as well of petroleum products

A stream of continuous struggle must be organised in every district against the attempts being made at creating anarchy, lawlessness, and terror

Campaign-movements to be organised against the union government’s stand on the question of the Bhopal tragedy, and on the issue of nuclear civil liability

A struggle must be built up for the filling up of the myriad of vacancies in the various departments of the union government while keeping alive and to the fore the struggle against privatisation and disinvestment

Movements must be built up in support of implementation of the declared industrial projects

Movements to be built up in favour of making permanent all those workers-employees who have worked for ten years or more as casual workers

Movements to be started for revision of the BPL list and for issuance of fresh ration cards

Movements to be initiated for the quick issuance of certificates for SC, ST, and OBC populace

Struggle must be organised for the reaffirmation of the democratic rights of all people of Bankura, Purulia, and Midnapore west, and for the sake of safeguarding of democracy

Movements must be built up to ensure that the persons rendered homeless and driven away from hearth must be rehabilitated and be able to lead a life of peace and normalcy

A mass initiative must be unleashed from amongst all sections of the democratic masses for peace, order, and a democratic ambience -- in the villages as in the urban stretches

Planned drive must be taken in the rural areas to enhance employment, and much in a similar vain, a drive is needed in the urban areas on behalf of the Party and the mass organisations to emote an effective role

The Party and the Left Front must take part in a massive way centering on the demands from the central and the state government, the different mass organisations of the workers, peasants, students, youth, women, teachers, employees must organise independent programmes and movements in conjunction with the other Left mass organisations

Movements must be built up under the aegis of the mass organisations for the successful implementation of the state government’s development programmes

The state committee has focussed attention on the following organisational matters:

Activities of the Party workers at every level must be increased

Mass organisations must be made more active

Party workers must be educated

Popular lectures and political education camps must be organised

Mass organisations must build up a network of teaching of the children of the poor, of the working class, and of the peasants

A specific plan is to be drafted and implemented in the field of mass literacy

Organisational measures must be put in place to engage deep and wide mass contact, individually and family-based

Regular meetings must be organised in the localities, neighbourhoods, urban areas, and working class belts

The Party must move resolutely forward and transform the antithetical circumstances the people face.


'The Meaning of So-Called  “Change” is Anarchy'

The Left Front government in West Bengal has achieved the distinction of continuing for 33 years at a stretch. It has started the journey of 34th year on June 21, 2010. In an interview to Ganashakti, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has highlighted some issues in the context of present situation in the state. Below we give excerpts of the interview:

On the recent defeats in polls

The Left Front has gained majority support for consecutive seven terms from 1977. The results of last Lok Sabha elections was an exception. Same trends have been noticed in other elections thereafter. After the Lok Sabha elections, we have reviewed the results. We have identified the areas in government’s planning and actions where there are mistakes. For example, we are now alert on the question of land acquisition. We will protect the fertile lands while non fertile lands would be used for industrialisation. In this case too, we have to be much more sincere on compensation and rehabilitation. If the poor people feel ignored in any area of government and panchayat activities, we have to correct those mistakes. We have to be more sincere about the development of minorities.

We have also identified problems in the organisation of Party. There have been instances of undesirable activities which have dented Party’s image. We have decided to rectify quickly.

Is there a problem in the relationship with the peasantry?

The Left Front was born through continuous peasant movement along with the movements of workers, employees, teachers, students, youth, women. Left Front has progressed through land struggle and struggle for sharecroppers’ rights. The peasantry was deprived in the Congress regime. They were given due honour during the Left Front period. Around 11 lakh acres of land was distributed to the poor and marginal farmers through land reforms. More than 15 lakh sharecroppers were recorded. Overwhelming sections of the peasantry support the Left. One aspect of the Singur and Nandigram episode was our target for industrialisation and generation of employment. But a section of the peasantry and the general people did not accept our stand. To them transfer of land for industries became major concern while they did not comprehend the alternatives. We have now become more careful. The policies for acquisition of land for industries and rehabilitation must be made more realistic, so that the peasantry and the people in general accept that and participate voluntarily.
 On the continuous obstruction by opposition parties

It is true that the organised obstruction to resist governmental projects has increased after the last Lok Sabha elections, for example, in Nayachar petrochemicals project, in power project in Katwa, expansion of national highway etc. Despite this, we have progressed during this period. The agricultural production has increased. More than Rs 7000 crore have been invested in industries in the last one year. Clusters for small industries have been constructed. The number of schools and colleges has increased while new universities have been started. Very soon work of Sidho-Kanu University will start.

It would have been correct for the opposition parties to support the government in developmental activities. However, they have continuously put obstacles. Whatever be the situation, we will forge ahead with our programme. We cannot remain idle.

One  of the the priorities Left Front government

The priorities can be best summarised as follows: to take the success of states’ agriculture to a new high banking on the success of the land reforms in the state; to fasten up the pace of the process of industrialisation in the state; to advance in the field of human resource development through advancing the success in education, health and related areas. Our topmost emphasis is on the socio-economic development of backward sections, including schedule castes, schedule tribes and minorities.

We have emphasised in distribution of homestead lands in rural and urban areas. Emphasis has been given on employment generation.

On Maoist terror

One of the major problems in the Jangal Mahal area is the terror and annihilation campaign unleashed by the 'Maoists'. We are fighting them both politically and administratively. But the complexity of the situation is that the main opposition party and some organisations are encouraging them either directly or indirectly. We treat this problem as a political problem.

Of course, the problem has an all-India perspective. 'Maoists' are active in seven to eight states. As they have chosen poorer areas as their terrain, it is necessary to initiate socio-economic measures to isolate them. It is also necessary to face them politically apart from activating the police and administration. It is a long term fight and there is no easy solution.

On the so-called slogan of “change

What is the real meaning of so-called slogan of “change”? Whatever has been done by us, would be changed retrogressively? Will the lands which have come in the hands of the peasants be returned back to landlords? Will the investments for industries be returned? Will the decentralisation of power through panchayats and urban local bodies be dismantled? The people of West Bengal have marched forward in the last 33 years. What are the alternative policies of the opposition? Anarchy can not bring any real, meaningful change. We want to march towards the light, not retard back into darkness.

Thirty Three Years of Bengal Left Front Govt Commemorated

By B Prasant

A QUIET determination marked the rally held under the aegis of the Bengal Left Front at the indoor stadium in downtown Kolkata during the afternoon of June 21, 2010. A pledge was assured from the rally that the development of the state would continue apace and the forces of anarchy would be resisted. The top leadership of the Left Front addressed the rally.

The Left Front chairman Biman Basu said that the path carved out by the Left Front in Bengal especially from 1977 was hardly strewn with flowers. It had been a tough struggle and until now more than 2500 Left workers had to lay down their lives.

Drawing attention to the present conspiracies being woven against the Bengal Left Front, the speaker said that past US representatives in India had mentioned in their writings how funds were made available to the anti-Left forces from abroad. This was in addition to the role played by the Indian ruling classes in terms of money and muscle.

The present attempt at breaking up the concerted Left Front drive to uplift the poor and to speed up the process of economic development of Bengal was part of that old game plan. The speaker dwelt on the various developmental aspects of the policies of the Left Front government. He also said that the Left Front would amend its ways wherever it has strayed, and shall sharpen the struggle against imperialism, capitalism, and reactionary forces.

Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said that Left politics to the fore in Bengal as elsewhere meant the ongoing brightening prospects of the masses of the people, especially the poor. The Bengal Left Front government has worked to the best of its abilities for the poor and the backward sections of the masses.

The Left Front government has no other interests to look to except for those of the toiling people. If in organising its tasks and in implementing them, any deviations and errors had taken place, the Left Front government would put in appropriate corrective measures and forge ahead in the days to come. The speaker mentioned the increasing imperialist intervention in India of late and spoke of the communal menace.

The speaker called for a wide struggle to be built up against such moves. The CPI(M) leader noted the achievements of the Left Front government and spoke of future programmes of pro-people development. He called for a struggle against all counter-democratic elements and their political outfits.

CPI leader Swapan Bannerjee, veteran Forward Block leader Ashok Ghosh, RSP leader Kshiti Goswami along with leaders from RCPI (Mihir Baine), BBC (Umesh Chowdhury), MFB (Pratim Chatterjee), DSP (Ratan Majumdar) and WBSP (Kironmoy Nanda) spoke in the meeting which was presided over by Left Front chairman Biman Basu. At the start of the programme, one-minute silence was observed in the memory of the 2586 martyrs of the Left Front who have sacrificed their lives to protect the Left Front in the state from reactionary forces.

A cultural programme was also held by the artistes of IPTA at the start of the programme. Huge cut-outs of the two late architects of forging the Left unity in the state – an unique example before the country for the last 33 years – Comrades Jyoti Basu and Pramode Dasgupta, the first chairman of the Left Front in the state, hung from the two sides of the stadium along with numerous graphical banners highlighting the achievements and ideology which forms the basis of the exemplary Left unity in the state.

The 33 years of the Bengal Left Front government was commemorated in big rallies across Bengal. The size of the gathering would be enough to convince a political observer to note that the Left Front has not seen its mass base corroded in the fields of struggle. Leaders of the Left Front constituents were present in all the rallies.

People's Democracy on West Bengal Municipal Elections

People's Democracy Editorial

June 06, 2010

IN the results of the elections to the 81 municipal bodies across the state of West Bengal held on May 30, 2010, the Left Front has won in only 18 municipalities. The Trinamul Congress has won 26, the Congress 7, the anti-Left alliance 4, while 23 are hung, 3 have resulted in a tie. In whose favour these would be resolved will only be known in the future.

In the finest traditions of democratic practice, the Left Front led by the CPI(M) has accepted the people’s verdict. The Left Front in West Bengal has declared that it shall make a proper assessment and review of these results to draw correct lessons for the future.

There has been a massive media hype that these elections are a `semi-final’ for the so-called `final’ assembly elections in May, 2011. The politically conscious electorate in Bengal is discerning in the sense that it treats every election on the basis of its objective. The Lok Sabha elections were to determine the government at the centre. The elections to the state assembly are to determine the government in the state. Likewise, the municipal and panchayat elections have their own objectives. Each election is, therefore, a different ballgame.
The Trinamul Congress has mounted a shrill campaign for the dismissal of the duly-elected state government and the holding of early elections. This is not only patently undemocratic but completely irrational. The total number of people eligible to vote in these municipal elections was 85,33,000 out of a total electorate in the state of 5,24,32,000, ie, only 17 per cent of the total electorate. This makes up for less than 40 seats in an assembly of 294. The rest of the 83 per cent constitutes the rural Bengal electorate or more than 250 assembly seats, which has predominantly determined the character of the government in the state in the past. Hence, it will be fallacious to conclude that the results of these municipal elections are a reflection of the state’s electorate as a whole.

Nevertheless, it is a reflection of urban Bengal. To that extent, the Left Front is committed to undertake a serious introspection of these results. During the Lok Sabha polls in 2009, which saw a serious erosion in the Left vote, the Left Front had a lead in 525 of the 1766 municipal wards in the state or 29.73 per cent. In these elections, the Left Front has won 603 out of 1791 municipal wards or 33.67 per cent. Hence, the situation now shows, at best, a marginal improvement in the performance of the Left Front.
Clearly, therefore, the setback suffered in the Lok Sabha elections has not been reversed but the downslide appears to have been partially arrested.

In the 2005 elections to the municipal bodies, the Left Front had won an unprecedented victory bagging 50 out of the 81 municipal bodies. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, however, it had led in only 19. In these elections, it has won in only 18. However, as noted earlier, the leadership of 26 municipal bodies will only be decided later. The main reverses to the Left Front have come from Kolkata and its adjoining urban areas. North 24 Parganas district has 21 municipal bodies while Hooghly district has 12. In 2005, the Left Front had won 26 of these 33 municipalities. This time Left Front has won only in 4 with a tie in 2 municipalities. This is a serious matter that needs to be properly reviewed in order to draw the correct lessons and apply the needed correctives. The CPI(M) and the Left Front are committed to undertake this task in right earnest.


Bengal CPI (M) Shall Review Civic Poll Results

BENGAL CPI (M) shall go into the details of the electoral reversal it faced in the civic polls 2010, despite the fact that there has been a slight if not perceptible improvement in the vote share and seats won this time compared to the Lok Sabha elections of the past year. The Bengal CPI (M) and the Bengal Left Front have felicitated the people for their participation in the elections and have also humbly accepted the popular electoral verdict.

Biman Basu, Bengal CPI (M) secretary briefed the media at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan on June 2, 2010. Biman Basu who also heads the Bengal Left Front as its chairman, noted that the Left Front ‘has not done well in the elections, whereas the principal opposition, the Trinamul Congress has performed well,’ causing the CPI (M) and the Left Front to conduct a review of the results towards fixing the tasks ahead.

It would be found out if there had been any error in the performance of day-to-day contact with the masses. It would also be looked at from the point of view of the conduct of the campaign-movement, with special note of the fact whether the campaign ‘had passed over the heads of the masses in the process.’

The CPI (M) and the LF have done marginally if not significantly better than in the past Lok Sabha polls. The performance was less than that of the CPI (M) and the LF in the 2005 municipal elections. The following are the brief details of the election result. The complete statistical picture would be available shortly.

In 2009, during the Lok Sabha polls, the LF had won 525 municipal wards with a vote share of 29.73 per cent. This year it won 603 wards with a vote share of 33.67 per cent. In municipalities like Jamuria in Burdwan, or Englishbazar in Maldah the vote share has increased as it has done at Kalna in Burdwan despite losing the latter to the principal opposition outfit.

Biman Basu assured the media that there could be no question of advancing the dates for the 2011 assembly polls based on the civic poll results as a mere 17 per cent of the electorate of Bengal had exercised their franchise this time around. The Left Front would have no role to play in the ‘hung’ municipal boards.

The following results were obtained in the civic polls 2010.

Total 81 civic bodies

Left Front 16

Trinamul Congress 25

Pradesh Congress 07

‘Hung’ 31

Kolkata – 141 wards
Wardwise results

Left Front 33

Trinamul Congress 95

Pradesh Congress 10

BJP 03

Bidhannagar (Salt Lake) – 25

Wardwise results

Left Front 09

Trinamul Congress 16


Buddhadeb Calls for Defeating the Unholy Alliance


By B Prasant

THE civic polls being held for 81 self-governing institutions in the cities and townships spread across Bengal are a political battle, as are all elections. The enemy of the people are standing by to wreak havoc and let slip the dogs of war. The masses must come forward to rip apart the gathering darkness of the storm cloud on the political scene in Bengal, re-elect the CPI(M) and the Left Front by big, emphatic margins, and ensure that the process of development and democratisation continue apace.

Thus said Bengal chief minister and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, while he was addressing a very crowded media conference at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan at noon on 16 May.

There is a twin process of industrialisation and urbanisation in Bengal under Left Front governance. The process needs to be made faster. There is a continuing attempt to maintain a balance between urban and rural, between the townships and the cities, between the cities and the metropolis.
The Left Front has been engaged in this task from back in 1978 when much earlier to the concerned Constitutional proviso coming into force, the civic bodies and the Panchayats had been made into viable self-governing institutions. The Left Front is the founder of the implementational concept of local institutions and this has been a unique achievement in the country.

The Left Front has included such elements in the civic bodies like timely elections, citizens rights ensured, voting age brought down to 18 years, reservations set in place, putting in place the mayor-in-council, borough committees, and making them operative, along with the latest addition of a citizens’ charter in each municipality.

Critical of the Congress, Buddhadeb pointed out that the successive Congress-run central governments deprived the state of funds due. The Trinamul board at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) sat on its hands and spent funds on non-essential items of expense. The Left-run board of the KMC have been seen to go all out with pro-people development programme implemented in a balanced manner. He also pointed out that the union government gives back but 32 per cent of the tax it collects from the states. The demand of elevating this amount to at least 50 per cent has been ignored by the Congress-run central governments in succession. The state finance commission has been engaged in allowing 50 per cent of the plan budget to be spent at the local level.

Noting that it was always difficult to comment on the intransigent ways of the Trinamul Congress and its partners in the right and to the extreme Left, Buddhadeb pointed to the rainbow alliance with political fuel from forces of reaction abroad and said they must be defeated and defeated comprehensively. It was dangerous of the Trinamul Congress to speak of an impending communal violence to precede the civic polls.

The outfit is dangerous to the point that they would see a violent scenario overtaking the municipal elections – ‘violence, threats, and lies,’ comprise the slogan-mongering of the Trinamul Congress. Buddhadeb pooh-poohed the claim of the Trinamul Congress that there were no ‘Maoists’ in Bengal.

On the other hand he asserted that the outfit was engaged in preparing the ground for the left sectarians in Bengal In passing he also pointed to the internecine killings that had started to take place at Nandigram and surrounding areas amongst the assassins of the Trinamul Congress itself, and called upon everybody to maintain amity, through discussions when necessary.

Buddhadeb commented in this context that two recent developments were of an alarming nature. The RSS spokesperson has called upon to ensure that the Trinamuli leader becomes the Bengal chief minister. Secondly, clutches of people from the BJP have joined the Trinamul Congress but they have not given up their RSS memberships. The left sectarians had long back exposed their preference to see the Trinamuli chieftain as the next chief minister of Bengal.

It was imperative, concluded Buddhadeb, for the masses of the people especially the young to come forward, take part in the democratic process and ensure a big victory of the Left Front in the upcoming civic polls. The people have already realised the Left stood for progress, for development for amity and for democracy. In responding to queries Buddhadeb said, among other things that only the state government could bring forward the date of elections for the Vidhan Sabha polls.

Developmental Works of Kolkata Municipal Corporation

By B Prasant

IN a free-ranging interview, Bikash Bhattacharyya, noted legal authority and the serving mayor of the vast metro of Kolkata spoke to People's Democracy on the developmental works that had been undertaken during the tenure of the Left Front board between 2005 and 2010. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) goes to gather the people’s verdict on 30 May. Excerpts follow.

Improving water supply, noted Bikash, ‘has been a major focus of the LF-run board over the past half-a-decade.’ The efforts have yielded results. The piped water supply of potable water has been vastly augmented via commissioning of water treatment plants, booster pumping stations, reservoirs, and what he called ‘headworks’ that included covered, underground reservoirs, sinking a big number of tubewells, and revamping the distribution system itself.

Giving examples, the mayor pointed to the commissioning of a 260 MGD water treatment plant at Palta, water-treatment plant and pumping station at Watgunge and Gardenreach, replacement of vital electrical installations at the big pumping station at Auckland Square near the La Martinier’s school at the very heart of the metro, and laying of no less than 200 km of big dia pipes across and around Kolkata – a massive project.


Water-logging has been made much of in the corporate media while ranting and raving against the Left-run KMC board. Kolkata as we know has a saucer-like shape and the main drainage to the east of the city has sadly given away to urbanisation with the horizon-touching stretches of shallow water bodies disappearing.

The principal sewer networks were laid in the colonial period and it consists of a century-old brick sewer of 180 km or more. What causes water logging, other than heavy rainfall?

Bikash informed us of the following causes:

Reduction of hydraulic capacity of the sewerage system due to silting

Poor and collapsing sewer lines

Destruction of wetlands that we noted above

Old and creaking pumping machines

Silting up of the ‘outfall’ canals around the metro

The Left-run KMC has undertaken over the past five years a series of measures through upgradation of the sewerage and drainage systems with gradual replacement of the brick stricture with fibre-based gigantic sized tubes – a costly and time-consuming operation. We cannot stop water from being logged, but we could ensure that the accumulated aqua disappeared rapidly enough was how the mayor would put it. The measures taken include clearing the lines, boosting the pumping stations, and re-excavation of the drainage canals.


This is a bane for any metropolis. The Left-led board has tackled this issue in a uniquely pro-people way. The capacity to collect waste has been increased by nearly 70 per cent and 65 per cent of all households stand covered with more in the pipeline, so to speak. The resources and machines used for waste management have been increased manifold. New disposal sites have been set up with facilities for conversion of waste into useful material. Waste is used for landfill with an environmental-friendly outlook.


The mayor pointed out how 30 per cent of the metro populace still lived in bustees (there are officially 5500 such ‘colonies’) and, thanks to the pro-rich bias of the successive union governments bent on depriving the states of their due share of finance, 22 per cent of the metro population yet languish beneath the poverty line if we are to go by the 2001 census figures.

The mayor emphasised on the fact of realisation of the KMC that unless the poor underwent uplift and rehabilitation, the city itself could never flourish as a viable urban centre with a vast hinterland. While the direct pro-poor expenditure back in 2004-2005 stood at Rs 56.16 crore, the present figure is a thumping Rs 138.18 crore.

The expenditure on providing basic services to the bustees has virtually increased a hundredfold. The water infrastructure development mean that bustees now have more in the way of piped water supply, better sewerage/drainage systems to access, better and improved lighting system, and better and longer metalled roads for the people to travel on.

The additional water supply lines measure 47,270 metres, the sewerage, 417,901 km, and roads, a whopping 857,083 km. There are now 113,854 modern latrines, and the ‘old’ hexagonal latrines are being converted to modern toilet facilities. A total of 24,829 lamp posts lit up the bustees.
Community halls have been set ‘up and running,’ the internal pathways of nearly all the bustees have been made into paved ones, whilst on the social side, thousands of mohalla-level communities have been set up to provide gainful employment through self-help and small-scale, plus job-linked training programmes. A BPL list has been published and is again been updated, along with a plan for minority development plan for the metro.

Other sectors where initiates have been set in place in the metro under the leadership of the Left-run KMC board are:


Disaster management, and

Acquisition of land with compensation/ rehabilitation

The past five years have seen the face of Kolkata change for the better. Much more remains to be done. Yet, to the eternal credit of the CPI(M) and the Left Front, the fact remains that the population overload of Kolkata is not increasing exponentially with more population flowing into the developing small and medium townships across Bengal. We shall look to a better Kolkata every time we look on her was how Bikash Bhattacharyya put it.


Bengal LEFT FRONT Calls for Stepping up of Campaign

THE Bengal Left Front has called upon its workers and supporters to step up campaign among the masses of the people to imprint the essential content of the civic polls – the defeat of the forces of reaction, sectarianism, anarchy, and separatism. In the process, the people must be involved in the struggle for the development of democracy and for peace and amity in Bengal.

This call emerged out of a recent meeting held at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan on May 8 to take stock of the coming polls to 81 civic bodies on May 30. The bodies include both the Bidhannanagar (Salt Lake) municipality and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).

The Bengal LF and the Bengal CPI(M) have allocated great weightage to door-to-door campaign and on neighbourhood-level smaller meetings rather than big rallies. The main issues that the campaign comprises are:

  • The anti-people and anti-poor policies of the Congress-run union government of which the Trinamul Congress is a ministerial constituent

  • The poor state of health of the nation under the present central dispensation

  • The increase in poverty

  • The lack of food security

  • The rise in unemployment

  • The anti-poor thrust of the general and railway budgets of the union government

  • The development of Bengal under the LF governance

  • The need to preserve democracy and allow democratic norms to flourish in the state
The Left Front campaigners have also pointed out that the in the present LF dispensation, the per capita funding of the urban bodies has been upto Rs 1500, a 1500 times increase from the Congress’s halcyon days. Apart from funding, the LF civic bodies have worked for the uplift of the poor, and have ensured balanced development of cities and semi-urban areas. Emphasis has been given to development of small and medium towns. Enormous and planned expenditure is exercised in urban health, water supply, sewerage and drainage, roads, parks and gardens, and lighting. Employment schemes for the urban poor are in place with a budgetary allocation of Rs 250 crore. The metropolis of Kolkata is being given a face-over but without loosing sight of the poor. The fly-overs and the Kalyani expressways have been supplanted in good measure with bustee re-housing and rehabilitation packages for the dispossessed.  

Biman Basu has called for the winning of seats in the civic bodies each with more than 50 per cent votes. An intensive campaign has been going on all over Bengal for the past month and the people have responded with a positive attitude to the campaign.


It has already been made amply clear that at the grassroots’ level the two principal opposition parties have come to an understanding with the scale weighed heavily against the thinning support base of the rudderless outfit called the Pradesh Congress. Subrata Mukherjee has gone over to Didi once again, pasty smile at the ready, or rather, yet once and then once again – making the switch over, magician like, for the fifth time. Would anyone care?

The ‘young’ faces that Rahul Gandhi chose to thrust in, some months back, into the morass of rightist Bengal politics, as the eponymous aam aadmi ka sipahis, have chosen to follow suit for, after all, is not the Trinamul Congress the ‘better’ of the two amir aadmi ka party -- with more in the way of muscle-based electoral prospects?

In ward 55 of the KMC, plumb in downtown Kolkata, where we have lived for ages now, the Trinamul Congress candidate would not hide the fact that his was a life ‘dedicated to ensuring a win for the Pradesh Congress candidate,’ and whose alias is ‘the Bomb’ for his explosive ways in his younger days. (BP)

'Elect Left Front to Continue Urban Development'


By B Prasant

THE Bengal Left Front has appealed to the masses to vote in the Left Front in the May 30 municipal polls to continue urban development, to carry on the democratic flourishing, and to foil conspiratorial moves to disrupt the peaceful, amicable, and democratic ambience of Bengal.

Left Front chairman Biman Basu released the election manifesto of the Front at a press conference in Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan on May 3. Like in the past, he also released a separate manifesto for the election to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

The Left Front manifesto started by sketching in the anti-people scenario set up by the Congress run UPA 2 government of which Trinamul Congress is a partner. The civic polls were placed in the present complex national political situation, financial malfeasance, and economic crisis, where the burden of the amir aadmi was shifted with casual ease onto the groaning shoulders of the aam aadmi.

From bodies that were dying of funds and were run by officer-administrators, the urban local bodies under Left Front had become vibrant local self-governments with 50 per cent of the plan budget being decentralised for plan formulation and plan implementation. The allocation per citizen in the civic bodies stands now at Rs 200 as against less-than a rupee during the Congress regimes. The plan budget of around Rs 4900 crore for the urban local bodies by the LF government has resulted in appropriate improvement of urban facilities, and adequate participation of various citizen bodies over and above the elected commissioners/councillors/ward committees. This was democracy at work at the grassroots’ level, the manifesto underlined.


The Left Front chairman Biman Bose has appealed to the people of Kolkata to re-elect the pro-people Left Front in the coming polls to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation in order to carry on the good work done by the present board. He was speaking to the media on May 3 at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan in the presence of leaders of other LF constituents after releasing a separate election manifesto of the Left Front for the KMC.

Kolkata has been described as a miniature India with people of every description living peacefully together. With years, especially after the tragedies across the border to the east in 1947, 1965, and 1971, the population of the metro has continued to grow at a fast rate. The Left-run boards of the KMC, first elected to office in 1971, have been engaged in looking after the city, the denizens, and the cityscape with intimate care. Interspersed with Left governance has been Congress, and later, much later, the Trinamuli brand of uniquely destructive indulgence to loot and anarchy, with election results often reflecting the class composition of the city.

The metro houses billionaires by the hundreds – but at the heart of the city are the teeming millions of the toiling masses. One out of three citizens of Kolkata lives in bustees (slums). The Left has a set-piece policy for the bustees. It does not do away with them — it makes them habitable with supply of potable drinking water, sewerage and drainage systems and electricity.

Bikash Bhattacharyya, the incumbent mayor of Kolkata, was telling us the other day with a gleam of understandable satisfaction in his voice that not a single bustee remained in the metro now without a steady power supply — the series of lampposts from which shine bright orange light of sodium vapour lamp in the dense of the population of the Linton street area is one piece of evidence that bear Bikash up. Such examples abound as does the instance where pucca buildings were made available to the slum dwellers under the bustee improvement scheme.

Biman Basu said that just as the metro would not stand in the way of shopping arcades, the focus would be on improving the civic amenities of the toiling masses and the working people. The task has been made tougher than usual with the pro-rich slant of the union budget with its disparate tax structure, heavily biased against the poor. The counter-development legacy of the right reactionary-run boards of the KMC in the past has created a burden on the present board. Yet, whereas the previous board – a conglomerate of Pradesh Congress-Trinamul Congress-BJP, could create an asset of but Rs 499 crore, the present LF-led KMC has created an asset worth Rs 1900 crore.

The resent board has been run on a democratic basis. Each step and every decision has seen the participation of the board led by the mayor-in-council. This is in stark contrast to the anarchy that had prevailed during the previous board’s functioning where malfeasance and disorder were the expected norm rather than otherwise. Much has been achieved by the pro-people and pro-poor board the present KMC, and much remains to be done. Biman Basu called upon the electorate to vote in the Left Front with a big majority, defeating the forces of reaction.


Meanwhile, throughout the day, April 28, Pradesh Congress goons were beating the heck out of each other over the puzzlesome query as to who was Didi to dictate terms for seat adjustments.

Interestingly enough, the Pradesh Congress vandals broke into the Pradesh Congress office on CIT Road near the Moulali crossing, wrecked large parts of the well-appointed office, and smashed up cars and mini-vans except that of one particular elderly, ex-college teacher, Pradesh leader.

Didi’s offices were virtually gheraoed by irate Trinamuli lumpens who would not have the ‘ticket’ given to a woman candidate politically close to a Pradesh Congress leader who in turn is a great practitioner of the law of turncoat.