People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2001
Left Front Releases Election Manifesto
THE challenge of the 21st century can be met on a viable footing by bringing back to office a Left Front government in Bengal. Such a government would strengthen an alternative path of economic progress and ensure the enhancement of an environment of peace and political stability.
This was the crux of the argument put forward by the Election Manifesto of the Left Front for the coming assembly polls. The manifesto was released to the press at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan by Left Front leader and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, Biman Basu.
The manifesto, while stripping the mask off of the face of the ruinous policy of liberalisation and privatisation, speaks about the baneful effects of such policies on states like West Bengal.
Adequate emphasis is laid on the manner in which the divisive politics of communalism and internecine hatred is being assiduously supported by the "powers-that-be" in Delhi. The fact of the enhanced tempo of machinations and conspiracies against the Bengal Left Front government by the forces of right reaction is highlighted in some detail.
In particular, the manifesto notes with disquiet how the opportunistic Trinamul Congress-BJP combination in Bengal has been out to destabilise the political situation in the state so as to grab office in a "now-or-never" kind of desperate bid.
The manifesto takes due note of the progress that could be registered by Bengal under the democratic governance of the Left Front over the past four decades, and also recalls the contributions made by the Left at the national level in seeking to reorient the dynamics of relationship between the union government and the state governments.
The manifesto lays out the state of Bengals charter of demands from the union government. Chief among the demands are: ploughing back 33 per cent of the union taxes and levies to the state (the present rate is 29 per cent); to implement the consignment tax as agreed during a chief ministers conference; release of funds for checking the erosion of the banks of the twin rivers Pudma and the Ganges; allocation of assistance for improvement of the Kolkata port; release of more funds under the mega city and other large-scale projects; and an early payment of the amount claimed by the LF government from the BJP-run union government towards relief and rehabilitation work in the districts affected by devastating floods last year.
A 38-point programme has been adopted in the manifesto to meet the challenge of the new century. The programme, spread over five years, includes: completing the residual work in the realm of redistributive land reforms; utilising cooperative societies towards procurement of agricultural produce crops at remunerative prices from kisans; bringing under irrigation a minimum of agricultural land; creation of rural employment through use of bio-technology and information technology; providing additional emphasis to pisciculture and animal resources development; bringing up the downstream industries of the Haldia petro-chemical complex in a rapid and coordinated manner; diversification of jute industry and development of leather and chemical industry; ensuring further growth of the village and small-scale industries and creating a stable marketing outlet; tourism industry to be attached additional importance; and a comprehensive development of the state by developing the industrial, agricultural, and infrastructural sectors in a pro-people manner: this will also ensure growth of jobs at a much faster rate than at present.
The LF Election Manifesto speaks of making primary education free and compulsory within the next five years. An engineering college will come up in each district in that time frame. Madrasa education will be made modern and job-oriented. Primary health-care would be made decentralised. The onward march towards a healthy and pro-people culture will continue apace. Folk-cultural heritage of Bengal will be rigorously preserved.
The ongoing infrastructural work in the sectors of roadways, power generation and distribution, potable water, and environment will be carried out further apace.
Administrative decentralisation will be accompanied by getting rid of bureaucratic procrastination and instilling of work culture at every level. The administration will be made more transparent and more accountable while increasing its scope for pro-people endeavors.
The Left Front Election Manifesto was signed by Jyoti Basu, Sailen Dasgupta, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Anil Biswas (CPI-M); Ashok Ghosh (Forward Bloc); Debabrata Bandyopadhyay (RSP); Manjukumar Majumdar (CPI); Kironmoy Nanda (SP); Prabodh Sinha (DSP); Mihir Byne (RCPI); Pratim Chatterjee ( MFB); and Sunil Chaudhuri (BBC). (INN)