People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 01, 2001
Massive Rally Reaffirms Popular Support For Left Front
THE weather was oppressive. The low clouds and high humidity had turned the lush green of the Brigade Parade grounds into a huge hot-house by the time the first marchers from the CPI(M)s North 24 Parganas and Kolkata units trooped in.
As the day progressed, the temperature rose. But the processions kept coming. The hard-pressed volunteers of the CPI(M)s Kolkata district unit, their experience notwithstanding, were under increasing pressure to provide drinking water to the mass that had already covered the better part of the grounds by the time it was 12 oclock.
The occasion was, of course, the mass meeting held on March 25, under the aegis of the West Bengal Left Front to condemn the BJP-led union government for the horribly embarrassing exposure of hardened RSS bosses and the sundry gadflies attached to the NDA. This union government is doing its best (or worst) to cover the nation with shame since these worthies were caught, mulling over the choice of foreign currency in which to accept bribes, on vivid film footage. The exposure came through what is called a "sting" operation that was carried out by an Internet company.
By the time Left Front chairman and veteran communist leader Sailen Dasgupta mounted the podium to formally inaugurate the proceedings, the entire stretch of land in the rally ground, the adjacent football pitches, the golf club ground and the concrete of the Chowringhee had become one single mass of humanity. They raised loud slogans against the BJP-led union government, damning the NDAs pro-rich economic policies, the canker-like communalism being spread across the land by RSS pracharaks and swayamsevaks who are misusing the presence of the BJP regime up in Delhi, and the violence unleashed in Bengal by the Trinamul Congress.
The rally was addresses by leaders of the Left Front and by Viswanath Pratap Singh, who was an honoured invitee. V P Singh spoke in his characteristic slow style and attacked the BJP-led NDA government on three counts. First, the NDA has betrayed the electoral verdict by turning on the hand that had fed it, by choosing to bare its fangs on the question of the countrys developmental priorities. The NDA leaders have made their best efforts to ensure that the nation becomes a slave to the wishes of the foreign corporate capital while making sure that suitable kowtows were made to imperialist forces
Second, the BJP-led regime has pushed the nation into the terrible situation where the hearts and minds of the people were attempted to be shaped in the moulds of communal hatred, and an ambience of orchestrated violence was touted up as some form of a religious cult.
Third, by making a series of shameful compromises on vital defence deals, the BJP-led government had lost all pretence to its much-touted swadeshi. It is high time this anti-people regime is asked to quit, and the earlier it goes, the better it would be for the nation to work towards coping with the trauma the utter misrule of this anti-people government would leave behind.
Singh praised the people-oriented developmental efforts of the Bengal Left Front government and assured a cheering audience that, conspiracies and machinations notwithstanding, the peoples verdict will again be in favour of the present state government, not only in Bengal but also in Kerala. A phrase from Singh must have rung in the ears of the multitude as he left the podium to sit on the dais: "Faisala ho chuka hai: Bengal ki zamin par Lal Jhanda hi lehrata rahega" (The verdict has come: it is the Red Flag that will keep flying high on the soil of Bengal.)
CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Jyoti Basu was his usual laconic self as he severely condemned the policies and programmes of the NDA government.
Basu enumerated the achievements of the successive Left Front governments of Bengal operating under severe constraints and extremely adverse circumstances. These circumstances were made still more difficult by the sheer hatred the ruling regimes in Delhi shamelessly displayed for the Left.
Basu also recalled when Bengal was struggling to organise relief for a vast number of people of south Bengal in the wake of the devastating floods last year, at least one minister of the NDA government sought to provide an additional excuse to the BJP regime not to provide assistance to Bengal by calling the natural disaster man-made. Also the then defence minister, presently caught in the cleft-stick of a huge scam, asked for imposing article 356 in Bengal in the run-up to the elections, even as the Bengal government found itself in desperate straits while struggling to control the damage in the worst-hit districts.
Launching a forceful attack on the politics of dishonesty being practiced by the Trinamul Congress leadership, especially the mendacity and perfidy of Ms Mamata Banerjee, Basu cited a number of instances where this lady had gone on a lying spree, backed by a section of the media. Yet, every time, she had had to either fall into a gloomy silence or resort to the braggadocio of the desperate when caught out.
Basu also mentioned the violence unleashed by the same Trinamul Congress leader in a few thanas (police stations) of Midnapore in order to intimidate the electorate and to create an opening for the union government to think in terms of imposing article 356 in Bengal.
Basu also criticised Ms Mamata Banerjees tie-up with separatist elements in order to gain a few inches of political mileage, caring little for the divisive tendencies these outfits continue to foment to bring about a fresh division of the state on the basis of a completely non-viable claim.
He said the Left has chalked an alternative path of pro-people development, and the poor have found the dignity they so richly deserve. Anarchy and demolition of democratic norms can never be an alternative to development. And the people will ensure that a Left Front comes back to office with a bigger majority when the assembly elections are held.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya emphasised the development programmes the Bengal Left Front government has taken up. He noted how, when the time comes to cast the ballot, the choice for the people will remain between violence and anarchy on the one hand and democracy and pro-people development on the other. He said, "We have complete faith in the mass of the people who will ensure that a stronger Left Front emerges in the wake of the polls."
The rally, presided over by Sailen Dasgupta, was also addressed by Nandagopal Bhattacharya (CPI), Debabrata Bandyopadhyaya (RSP), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc), Pratim Chatterjee (FB-M), Mihir Byne (RCPI), Moni Pal (Socialist Party), Prabodh Sinha (Democratic Socialist Party), and Dipak Sen-Roy (Biplabi Bangla Congress).
The brutal killing of Comrade Najibul-Islam Mullah, a CPI(M) worker, at Kharibari (Rajarhat) in North 24 Parganas, cast a pall of sadness over the massive gathering. Mullah was on his way to the rally when he was accosted by a few goons in the pay of Trinamul Congress. He was forced into an abandoned building, where his head was smashed with blunt weapons.
There were other instances, too, in which rallyists coming to Kolkata or going back were set upon by the goons of Trinamul Congress or BJP. This has led to severe injuries to at least a dozen Left Front workers.