July 28, 2013

Save Democracy in West Bengal

Save Democracy Campaign

The Polit Bureau in its meeting held on July 20, 2013 has called for a countrywide campaign to “Save Democracy and to Defeat the Violence and Terror in West Bengal”, on August 7.

The panchayat election campaign and the polling have been marked by large-scale booth capturing, false voting, blockade of villages and violent attacks on the Left Front and opposition candidates and their polling agents.

Even before the polling, around 6000 Left Front candidates were prevented from filing nominations. After that, in many places, CPI(M) and Left Front candidates and supporters were stopped and attacked while campaigning. Till July 20, 19 CPI(M) and Left Front members and supporters have been killed.

More than 2500 booths were fully or partially captured and the polling rigged in the nine districts where poling has taken place in the first three phases.

This attack and rigging of elections is reminiscent of the 1972 rigged assembly elections. What is being witnessed in West Bengal is a brazen and outright attack on democracy and democratic rights.

The Polit Bureau has decided that all state units of the Party should observe August 7 by taking this issue to the people through holding of protest dharnas, meetings and processions.

On August 7 protest day and subsequently, meetings will be organised in the state capitals/major centres during the rest of the month of August.

Jul. 20, 2013 

Bengal Panchayat Elections Rigged

 Friday, July 26, 2013

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement: 

Rigged Panchayat Elections in West Bengal

The three-tier panchayat elections in West Bengal which have just concluded, has led to an unprecedented situation. The entire election has been marred by widespread attacks, intimidation and rigging. Thousands of candidates were prevented from filing nominations. In many places opposition candidates were prevented from conducting their election campaign among the people; the polling process was vitiated by widespread rigging, prevention of people casting their votes and violence against opposition candidates, their polling agents and supporters.

The run-up to the panchayat election saw determined efforts by the Trinamool Congress government to subvert the polling process itself. It required the State Election Commission going to the High Court and eventually the Supreme Court to get a decision to have a five-phase polling (against the wishes of the state government) and the direction to deploy central police forces along with the state police.

Despite these verdicts, the TMC government did everything to undermine these decisions. The Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself declared that central police forces need not be deployed. Shockingly, ministers in the government publicly threatened the State Election Commissioner and warned her of dire consequences. Defying the court order, the central police forces were not deployed at the polling stations with a few exceptions.

In the run-up to the elections, there were widespread attacks on the Left Front and the opposition. Around six thousand CPI(M) and Left Front candidates were physically prevented from filing their nominations. This led to a situation wherein for the Zilla Parishads in Hooghly, out of the total of 50 seats, the Left Front could not file candidates in 10 seats. In 6191 seats in the three-tier panchayats, TMC candidates were declared elected unopposed.

During the campaign, TMC ministers and leaders made the most provocative speeches inciting violence against all opponents. No action was taken against them. All through the campaign Left Front and Congress candidates were attacked, their campaigners including women beaten up and injured.

During the polling which began on July 11 and concluded on July 25 what was witnessed was a state-sponsored rigging of the elections by the TMC. In all the districts put together, a total of 4470 booths were completely or partially captured. For instance, in Burdwan district 909 booths, 750 in West Midnapur, 429 in South 24 Parganas and 400 booths in Coochbehar were captured. (See Annexure I).

In many booths, polling agents of the CPI(M) and the Left Front were driven out after which stamping of ballot papers took place. In fact all opponents of the ruling party faced a similar situation in many areas. In many areas from the morning itself people were not allowed to leave their homes in the villages to go to the polling booths to vote. Hundreds of Left Front supporters and workers of other opposition parties were injured in attacks when they attempted to go for polling. Many of them have suffered serious injuries and have been hospitalized. Even some candidates to the three tier Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samiti and Gram Panchayat were not allowed to vote in many places. Even two Members of Parliament, Mahendra Roy in Jalpaiguri district and Nripen Roy in Coochbehar district were prevented from voting.

The state police which was stationed at the polling booths refused to intervene when attacks took place of workers and voters of the Left Front. In many instances, the police lathicharged or arrested those who were resisting the attacks or asserted their right to vote. In a planned manner, the central police forces were not deployed in many of the hypersensitive and sensitive booths.

Despite the orders of the State Election Commission and the High Court directive motorcycle gangs were not stopped and were allowed to move freely to terrorise the opposition and the voters. Even on the day of polling these gangs threatened people from going to polling booths.

The violence during the election campaign and during the polling has led to the deaths of 24 CPI(M) workers and supporters. (See Annexure II).

At no time has such a brazen attack and perversion of the democratic process of elections taken place in West Bengal or in the entire country.

The results of such a rigged election can only be a distorted one. 

Annexure – I 

Booths Captured

No. of Booths

Paschim Medinipur




Purba Medinipur


North 24 Parganas

South 24 Parganas








Uttar Dinajpur

Dakshin Dinajpur


N.B.: Over and above the figure of captured booths mentioned in the list, a good number of booths were partially captured. 
In some cases, voters were not allowed to enter the booth or after two/three hours of polling the Left parties’ polling agents were driven out from the polling station and TMC people stamped on the ballot paper indiscriminately. 
In certain centres, after complaints were lodged with the State Election Commission or District Panchayat Election Officer, police intervention took place and polling resumed at the polling Centre.

Annexure – II

       List of Left Front Workers Killed Between June 3 and July 25, 2013
Golam Mostafa
Subhas Mondal (55)
Dakshin 24 Pargana
Dilip Sarkar
Madan Saren (48)
Kalimuddin Sarkar
Bhaskar Majumder (53)
Debsaran Ghosh (44)
Amar Ghosh  (44)
Ramjiban Khamri (65)
Paschim Medinipur
Akbar Ali (23)
Ankhiranjan Mondal
Uttar 24 Pgs.
Siatul Sardar (37)
Md Eklakh
Naosad Sekh (33)
Sk. Hasmat (40)
Motherbox Malllick
Uttar 24 Pgs.
Khabiruddin Sekh
Ashim Bagdi (25)
Jamir Sekh (40)
Kafiulla Sekh (45)
Billal Mondal (35)
Fatik Sekh  (36)
Humaun Mir (32)
Ajiz Ahmed (60)
Uttar Dinajpur

McCarthyism, Mamata style

By Badri Raina

Recent events seem to suggest that the patron saint of paranoia has passed on the baton to the West Bengal Chief Minister

My alma mater, Wisconsin, is much in the news, sadly for some unlovely reasons; and some equally unlovely events at home remind me of one Joseph McCarthy who used to be a Senator from Wisconsin during 1950-1954, a period which has gone down in American history as the “Second Red Scare”.

The first red scare is associated with the years just after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 when the cry went up on the American mainland that “the Russians are coming”. Much of that has been captured memorably by Robert K. Murray in his book Red Scare: A Study in Hysteria, 1919-1920, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1955.

But returning to the second scare: it seemed to some American right-wingers that there was a Communist in every closet on American soil, rather a tribute to the influence that Bolshevism had achieved on both the European and American continents during the period between the First and Second World Wars. A no-holds-barred campaign was unleashed to ferret out these commies from all sorts of nooks and crannies. And the method adopted was of making accusations of disloyalty or treason without proper regard for evidence, a procedure led vociferously by Joseph McCarthy, whence the term McCarthyism.

The witch-hunt led to thousands of individuals, among them Charlie Chaplin, Bertolt Brecht, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Paul Robeson, Paul Sweezy and many other outstanding intellectuals and creative artists, being hauled up before governmental or private industry panels; the most infamous of these being “The House Un-American Activities Committee”. And most of those summoned found themselves answering accusation by insinuation, innuendo, third party rumour and so forth, with no evidence of actionable criminality. And never mind what Harry Truman had said on record: “In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have.”

Recent events in West Bengal seem to suggest that good old McCarthy may have passed on the baton to our own Mamata Di. In disregard of Harry Truman, not to speak of the Indian Constitution, there is evidence now to believe that the holding of an opinion unflattering to the power-that-be in West Bengal in and by itself constitutes criminality, deserving of an “off with his head” form of justice on the instant.

First there was Taniya Bharadwaj who was instantly branded a Maoist for asking a fairly innocuous question of the fairy queen on a TV channel, then the poor professor from Jadavpur University, Ambikesh Mahapatra, who was arrested for circulating a cartoon determined on the instant to be dangerously subversive of Mamata Di, and now a poor farmer, Shiladitya Choudhury, again, ah, a Maoist, or else why would he ask a question about the rising price of fertilizer, and his inability to obtain rice at Rs.2 a kg, as per policy. So off he goes too to the slammer, and no bail yet either.

How “liberators” turn “oppressors” I was told in confidence by an erstwhile staunch supporter of Mamata Banerjee, the giant killer who it seems is sadly unaccountable to any democratic or legal norm.

It will be remembered that before the last Assembly elections in West Bengal, when Mamata Banerjee was often accused of collusion with the Maoists, it was her riposte that there were no Maoists in Jangalmahal, and that the mischief was entirely owing to the cadres of the CPI(M). Now that the latter is out of power, it makes good political sense to reconstruct the enemy as the Maoist, since everybody knows how dangerous and outlawed they are.

Mamata’s McCarthyist paranoia now seems to extend its reach. She has charged that judgements from courts are “purchased”, that Commissions are useless and wasteful (just when the West Bengal Human Rights Commission has ordered her to compensate Professor Mahapatra and his neighbour, Subrata Sengupta, for the unlawful excesses vented on them, and asked for departmental action to be initiated against two police officers in the matter), and that civil society groups are a nuisance without accountability.

These accusations seem to take in institutions dear to the urban middle class’s heart, and it will be interesting to see whether those that sought “poribortan” for West Bengal had precisely this sort of package in mind. Indeed, there is speculation that where it took the Bengali electorate some three decades to be disillusioned with the Left Front, three years may bring them to reconsider the choices they must make.

Given the assertiveness of Indian democracy, it would seem that McCarthyism of any sort must have a small shelf life, regardless of who its patrons are — a lesson that the Left seems assiduously to want to learn during its exile from power.

(Prof. Badri Raina is a Delhi-based writer.)

July 23, 2013

Tata group not to leave West Bengal, says Cyrus Mistry

KOLKATA: Chairman of Tata Sons Cyrus Mistry today said that the group has no intention to leave West Bengal.

"Tatas have never left West Bengal. We will never leave West Bengal as a group," Mistry told shareholders at the AGM of Tata Global Beverages.

Mistry, who chaired the meeting for the first time after becoming the Chairman of Tata Sons last year, succeeding Ratan Tata, declined to make any comment on the Supreme Court's recent observations on Singur.

"The matter is sub-judice and we do not want to discuss at this stage," Mistry told reporters after the meeting.

The apex court had said that the Tata Motors should make its stand clear on its leasehold rights over the Singur land in the wake of the changed scenario as the company had already moved its Nano car plant out of West Bengal to Gujarat.

Tata group not to leave West Bengal, says Cyrus Mistry

Violence, malpractices mar third phase rural polls in West Bengal

KOLKATA: Three persons were killed and the body of nother was found during the third phase of the five-phased panchayat polls in West Bengal on Friday even as allegations of wide-spread electoral malpractices including rigging and booth capturing were made against the ruling Trinamool Congress by major political parties in the Opposition.

One of the victims died when he succumbed to injuries sustained when security forces fired during a clash with local people in the Joynagar area of South 24 Parganas district.

The incident occurred even as there were reports from various places in that district as well as Howrah and North 24 Parganas — the other two districts that went to the polls — that the Central security forces were not put to effective use to prevent violence and electoral malpractices.

“The Centre has been generous to provide security forces to the State. It is for us, the State government to deploy them,” Governor M K Narayanan told journalists in New Delhi, adding that the forces should be deployed not only to ensure the safety and security of voters but to instil confidence among the people. A man, stated to be a supporter of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was killed after being attacked by bombs allegedly by the Trinamool Congress activists in Bodia village in the Amdanga block of the State’s North 24 Parganas district some time after polling began.

A Trinamool Congress supporter was shot dead near a polling booth in the Lakshmikantapur area of the State’s South 24 Parganas district. The police are trying to ascertain the cause of the death of a youth whose body was found in the Ghutia Sharif area of the district and check whether he was another victim of poll-related violence. Officials of the State Election Commission refused to attribute the deaths to a failure in the election machinery. Such a question could have risen had they occurred inside polling premises.

More than 70 percent voters have exercised their franchise by the evening in the three districts and the officials said that the figure was expected to rise later in the evening as final reports pour in, they said. Supporters of the CPI(M) descended on the major roads in the districts and tried to put up a blockade in protests against the manner in which elections were held. At certain places, Trinamool Congress supporters attacked them. “The State government has unleashed a war on the State Election Commission and on the democratic right of the people to participate in the polls,” Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra said.



The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement on July 18.

THE Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) expresses its deep sorrow at the death of Comrade Samar Mukherjee, a most exceptional, outstanding and dedicated leader of the communist movement in India. A valiant freedom fighter, able parliamentarian and leader of the trade union movement, Samarda passed away at the age of 100 in Kolkata today. He was the oldest living member of the CPI(M), having joined the Party in 1940. He dedicated his entire life as a communist to the cause of the working class and to the exploited people of India. He was a member of the Central Committee of the Party from 1966 and was elected to the Polit Bureau in 1978 and continued in that capacity till he was elected as the Chairman of the Party’s Central Control  Commission at the 14th Congress of the Party in 1992. At the time of his death he was a Special Invitee to the Central Committee.

Samar Mukherjee began his political activities as a young student and joined the freedom struggle. He was deeply inspired by Marxist ideology and the work of the Party. Immediately after he got his membership in 1940, he became a fulltime worker of the Party. He was one of the founders of the communist movement in Howrah district. In 1942 he became the organising secretary of Howrahdistrict of the undivided Communist Party. He became a member of the West Bengal state council of the Party in 1953. It was under his leadership that the movement for the rights of refugees from the erstwhile East Bengal was built up in Bengal which played a significant role in expanding the influence of the communist party.

Com. Samar Mukherjee played an outstanding role as a leading communist parliamentarian. In 1957 he was elected as an MLA from the North Howrah constituency. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Howrah constituency for three consecutive terms from 1971 onwards. He was also elected to the Rajya Sabha for two terms. As the leader of the CPI(M) group in parliament, he most effectively put across the Party’s line on all major issues, raising the voice of the working people and their struggles. He won the admiration of leaders cutting across Party lines because of his unambiguous commitment to the cause of the exploited masses.

Com. Samar Mukherjee led the CITU as its general secretary from 1983 to 1991, having earlier served as its working committee member from the inception of the CITU. He had played a leading role in the historic railway workers strike in 1974. Following the emergency he fought against the attacks on workers.

He made a multidimensional contribution as Party organiser, as writer, as trade unionist and as a parliamentarian.

Rarely have we seen such an individual who sacrificed all personal interests, living a spartan life in a Party commune in the service of the Party. He was affable, easily accessible and loved by the people.

The Polit Bureau pays its respectful homage to his memory.

Large-scale Plunder of Votes in Panchayat Elections


Rape of Democracy, alleges Left Front

FREE run of armed ruling party gangs, large-scale booth capturing, forcible false votes, blockade of villages, violent attacks on opposition candidates and their polling agents, active connivance of state police with miscreants. West Bengal panchayat elections, after first two phases of polling, can easily be summed up as an “unprecedented plunder of votes”.

In the first phase, voting took place in West Midnapur, Bankura and Purulia on July 11.

In continuation of the terrorisation, which was going on before the election, TMC gangs roamed freely in the villages in these three districts, threatening voters not to come out of their houses, particularly in Bankura and West Midnapore. In West Midnapore, booth capturing was rampant in Pingla, Dantan, Gopiballavpur, Shalboni, Nayagram, Chandrakona, Debra, Ghatal, Keshpur, Garbeta.  In many areas, the booth capturing started after 1 pm.  For example, 79 booths were captured in Ghatal and more than 50 in Debra. In Gopiballavpur, more than 30 booths were captured out of 98. TMC miscreants chased away CPI(M) polling agents from most of these booths and the polling officials were forced to keep silence under threat. In Pingla, CPI(M) leaders were attacked with sharp weapons and many were injured.

In Bankura, there was no semblance of fair elections in 11 out of 46 seats in Zila Parishad (District Council). Thousands of people were denied their voting rights in Indas, Taldangra, Bishnupur, Joypur, Kotulpur, Mejia and Saltora. Booths were captured, particularly after 12 pm. However, in southern parts of the district, mainly tribal areas, people came out in numbers to vote.

In Purulia, there were sporadic incidents of violence. In a major attack, CPI(M) activists were injured in Barabazar. However, people came to vote in this district despite fearful atmosphere.

In the second phase, on July 15, the attacks were more violent, more unconcealed and more widespread. Voting took place in Burdwan, East Midnapore and Hooghly districts in that phase. Large numbers of seats in these three districts were already snatched away by the ruling party as Left Front candidates were not allowed to file nominations or were forced to withdraw in the face of brutal terror. In the rest of the seats, TMC gangs wrecked havoc by widespread booth capturing, never witnessed in the state for decades.

In Burdwan, TMC brought gangs from outside the district. They infiltrated in the district in the last two days before polling from the neighboring districts. TMC started a full-fledged attack on booths in almost all areas in the district from the morning. In Jamuria, Sheikh Hasmat, the husband of a CPI(M) candidate, Monowara Bibi, was killed in a bomb attack at Madhudanga gram panchayat. Enraged villagers chased the miscreants and one of them, was beaten to death. Even after this incident, numerous booths around this area were captured by TMC.

In Rayna, widespread attack took place. Many booths were captured. CPI(M) district council candidate Suprava Karfa was arrested when she complained about rigging. TMC gangs captured many booths in Galsi, Aushgram, Kalna, Khandaghosh, Mangalkote, Ketugram. At the end of the day, 890 booths were fully or partially rigged and captured in Burdwan district alone.

In another incident, symbolic of what happened throughout the district, ballot papers were snatched from the hands of Chayarani Tah, mother of murdered CPI(M) leader and ex-MLA Pradip Tah in a booth in Burdwan Sadar. A TMC activist snatched the ballot and stamped it within the booth. This person is an accused in the murder case.

Wherever the villagers tried to resist, the state police came in support of the miscreants of the ruling party. In many places, villagers were arrested.

In East Midnapore, elections turned into sham in many areas. In Nandigram, no other political parties are allowed to function for the last two years. In some of the seats, ruling party faced challenges from independent candidates. TMC activists gheraoed booths and obstructed voters from reaching in many areas. In some areas, the independents, mostly TMC rebels, suffered the attacks. In Sonachura, in Nandigram, the vote boxes and tables were brought outside the booth and polling took place in open. This was done to prevent any voter from casting votes against TMC.  CPI(M) and Left Front agents were chased out of polling booths in Egra, Ramnagar, Patashpur, Khejuri, Panshkura, Moyna. In Kanthi, home to father-son MP duo of TMC, villagers were attacked so that they do not go to polling booths. Nearly 450 booths were captured in this district. Central forces were kept idle and TMC gangs roamed freely. Hundreads of booths witnessed looting of votes, openly.

In Hooghly, already 362 booths saw no voting at all. TMC ‘won’ in all three tiers there ‘without contest’. In Dhanekhali, Polba, Tarakeswhar, Arambagh, Haripal, TMC armed gangs created terror with the help of police. They stormed booths, beat up CPI(M) polling agents, and stamped ballots in one after another booth. In Arambagh alone, 136 booths were totally under ruling party control. In Salepur in the same subdivision women came out of their homes and clashed with miscreants after CPI(M) polling agent was forcefully kidnapped. CPI(M) candidates were attacked in many areas. In Uttarpara, CPI(M) candidate in panchayat samiti Shuvra Chatterjee was attacked and she suffered head injury. Piyush Dhar, another candidate in Debanandapur was grievously attacked. In Nabagram area, a bike borne gang went from booth to booth and chased away people. 

In the second phase nearly 1500 booths were captured in the three districts.

The state administration virtually kept aside the central para military forces. They were not deployed in booths. Most of the central security forces were stationed in the block office. Some of them went to main roads but not in the villages. The state government was opposing the deployment of central forces from the very beginning. Central forces were sent to the state under the direction of the Supreme Court. However, they were forced to remain inactive. In the second phase central forces were not deployed in 88 per cent of booths.

Biman Basu, Left Front chairman, expressed anguish in the manner voting right of the people was snatched. He told presspersons, “Our worst apprehensions came true. The chief minister herself continually threatened election commission and the opposition. Ministers openly threatened that the opposition parties would not be allowed to operate freely. Those terror tactics were implemented in the first phase. It accentuated in the second phase. Thousands of people were not allowed to vote. Booths were captured. Security forces were forced to remain idle. This is a rape of democracy.”

WEST BENGAL Party Account is fully transparent

Biman Basu Dares Any Probe into Baseless Insinuation

KOLKATA: BIMAN Basu, secretary, West Bengal state committee of the CPI(M) has strongly refuted any wrongdoing in the affairs of collection and maintaining the Party fund and condemned the baseless and wild insinuation by a section of media and Trinamul Congress. A report in Ananda Bazar Patrika suggested that the CPI(M) state committee’s bank account is run by individual leaders. They also mentioned some figures in this account. They tried to collect ‘comments’ from Trinamul leaders and tried to construct a story that all is not well with the CPI(M)’s account.

Biman Basu, in a press conference, categorically refuted any misconduct and detailed the sources of income and how it was maintained.

He said, in our Party Constitution’s Article no 1o, it is clearly written that every Party member must pay a monthly levy as laid down by the Central Committee. Those whose incomes are of annual or of seasonal character have to pay their levy at the beginning of the season or at the beginning of every quarter on the same percentage basis. If a member fails to deposit his levy within three months after it is due, then his name is to be liable to be even removed from the Party rolls. Like any Communist Party, the main source of the CPI(M)’s income is the levy collected from the Party members. There are fixed rates of levies according to income level. For example, the lowest rate is 25 paisa per month upto an income of Rs 300. And the highest is 5 percent of his income per month if it is above Rs 8000.  The CPI(M) has 3,14, 457 Party members in West Bengal. The levies are distributed among different levels of committees. Those Party members who are directly attached to the units under the state committee give their levies to state centre. Their levy amount turns to be nearly 45 lakhs.

Basu said, apart from the normal levies, Party members who are elected as members of parliament, state assembly or any other elected post deposit their salary to Party. Even the large portions of pension of retired elected representatives are deposited in Party fund. This can only be possible in a Left party. No other parties can even imagine this practice. Apart from all these, Party calls for special funds from time to time, in which one-day or half-day wages are collected. This is the principal method of Party’s income. The whole process is crystal clear, transparent and meticulously maintained.

About the insinuation perpetrated by a section of media and the ruling party in West Bengal about the “Bank Account”, Biman Basu said, this account was opened by a resolution of Party’s state committee and was given to the bank on the letterhead of the state committee. It was first decided that the account would be run in the name of Sailen Dasgupta, the then Party state secretary and Biman Basu. After the death of Sailen Dasgupta in 2010, the name of Nirupam Sen was added. This decision was also communicated to the bank on the formal letterhead of the Party. All formalities have been maintained during the transactions. However, we did not know that the bank was treating it as ‘personal account.’ As soon as we were informed, we requested the bank to transfer it as a state committee account. There was no secrecy, nothing under the table. It was an open transaction with the said bank.

Basu said, the details of this account are audited. According to rules, we send annual audit report to Party Central Committee and through them, the Income Tax authorities and the Election Commission gets those reports. The Election Commission has praised us many times for maintaining accounts in a correct manner.

Basu said, there is nothing in our Party account and this bank account which is shrouded in secrecy. We are ready for investigation by any agencies, brought from any part of the world. There was absolutely no reason to raise this issue except trying to mislead a section of people during panchayat elections. Trinamul Congress and its chief minister had failed to run the administration in the state. They are just trying to divert attention from this.

To another question, Basu said, the amount of money is perfectly consistent with the levies and special funds that we had mentioned.

Interestingly, the Ananda Bazar Patrika has shied away to publish the details of Biman Basu’s arguments and downplayed the whole thing after two days.