People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 26, 2007
Maharashtra Celebrates 30 Years Of
Left Front Rule In West Bengal
P R Krishnan
Dr Surjyakanta Mishra addressing the meeting in Mumbai
THE month of July 2007 saw a big campaign organised by the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee to celebrate 30 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal. Braving the monsoons, 11 large public meetings were held in 10 districts of the state, and each of these meetings was addressed by a galaxy of CPI(M) central committee members from West Bengal.
Central committee member Mohd Salim, MP, addressed three meetings in Aurangabad, Ahmednagar and Pune districts. Central secretariat member Nilotpal Basu, ex-MP, addressed five public meetings in Kolhapur, Beed, Parbhani and Nanded districts. Central secretariat member Hannan Mollah, MP, addressed two meetings in Thane and Nashik districts, which are the two strongest districts of the Party in Maharashtra. And West Bengal minister for Health, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, Dr Surjyakant Mishra, addressed the last public meeting in the state capital Mumbai.
The speeches of all these leaders dwelt upon several aspects of the glorious experience of struggle of the West Bengal left movement, the achievements and tasks before the Left Front government and this inspired their audiences. Nearly 10,000 people attended all the above meetings, in some of which leaders of other Left parties like the CPI and PWP also participated. The meetings generally received excellent media publicity.
Recently, after the Nandigram incidents, the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee had immediately published a special booklet outlining the glorious 30-year record of the Left Front government in West Bengal and setting out the need for rapid industrialisation in that state. Last year, after the magnificent Left victories in West Bengal and Kerala, the Party state committee had published another booklet hailing these victories. Both these booklets had been sold amongst the people by Party activists in a big way throughout the state.
THERE is no magic that we play nor do we exhibit mesmerism. Neither do we mislead the people nor exaggerate our achievements. We only render service in the cause of the people. That is the only reason why the Left Front government is in power continuously in West Bengal during the last 30 years. And we are going to be voted to power again and again,” said Dr Surjyakant Mishra, the Health Minister of West Bengal in Mumbai. Dr Mishra was the main speaker at a public meeting organised by the CPI(M) in Mumbai to celebrate 30 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal. Dr Mishra in his hour long speech dealt with the numerous measures implemented by the Left Front government for the upliftment of the people of West Bengal during its 30 years tenure when Jyoti Basu was the chief minister for 24 years and thereafter under the leadership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.
The venue for the celebration meeting held on August 2, was the Patkar Hall near Churchgate railway terminus in south Mumbai. CPI(M) state secretariat member K L Bajaj chaired the function. The meeting was also attended by CPI(M) state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale, CPI(M) Mumbai committee secretary Mahendra Singh, CPI state secretariat member Narayan Ghagare and CPI Mumbai council secretary Prakash Reddy. Dr Surjyakant Mishra was accorded a rousing reception on his arrival and he was profusely garlanded by different organisations such as CITU, DYFI, AIDWA and SFI besides CPI(M) units and CPI.
Surjyakant Mishra in his speech pointed out that despite the CPI(M) and other united front constituents having secured a clear majority in the assembly election held in 1967, we made the then Bangla Congress leader Ajoy Mukherjee the chief minister at that time. But that ministry was not allowed to last its tenure.
However in the election which followed the dismissal of the Ajoy Mukherjee ministry, the United Front again secured majority and the government was formed in the year 1969. But that ministry also came to be dismissed by the Indira Gandhi government at the centre, just as the Nehru government dismissed the first elected communist government of EMS Namboodiripad in 1959. From 1972, the Siddharth Shankar Ray government which came to power through rigged elections, let loose a reign of terror. That semi-fascist raj killed more than 1200 CPI(M) cadres and functionaries in the state. The Congress hoodlums with full police backing ransacked and destroyed 300 CPI(M) offices. The terror let loose was such that nearly 20,000 CPI(M) members had to go underground and many were forced to flee West Bengal. The Congressmen and their hirelings, hand in hand with the Naxalites, were not allowing the CPI(M) cadres and their families to live in their homes. Later, the Congress in the state had the blessing of the Emergency as well.
Continuing, Mishra said that it was by braving this goonda raj and emergency that the first Left Front government came to power in 1977. Since then the Left Front has retained power by mustering more votes and more seats in every election held in West Bengal. This has created panic amongst Congressmen and their allies, the Trinamul Congress, BJP, Naxalites and vested interests. In this the bourgeois media has also been playing an anti-Left role throughout. They therefore let loose a propaganda that the Left Front is coming to power by rigging elections and by muscle power. The central government and the election commission therefore thought that by introducing a five-phased election schedule as witnessed in April-May 2006 and by drafting outside police force and polling staff for election work, the Left Front could be defeated. But the results showed even more votes and more seats to the Left Front and this nailed their propaganda.
The Left Front gets higher margins of votes in every election to the assembly as well as to parliament, because we work for the people and have confidence in them. The Left Front has introduced massive land reforms in West Bengal which no Congress or BJP-led government could do in the states where they were or are in power. In the process the Left Front government took over 12 lakh acres of surplus land from feudal lords and distributed it free amongst the landless people. In addition we have protected the tilling rights of sharecroppers. We also introduced massive irrigation programmes apart from making the state self sufficient in electricity. The landless people have not only been given land but they are also provided with water, seeds and bank loans on very low interest. The poor farmers are also provided with agricultural implements. As a result, the farmers work wholeheartedly and the state of West Bengal has become the first in India in agricultural produce. When the Congress was in power, 66 per cent of the people were below poverty line. Now it has come down to 17 per cent. The farmers and agricultural workers in their remote villages buy TV sets for their houses. This shows the benefits the Left Front government could bring to the people, said Mishra.
While the Congress was in power they did not do anything in the matter of industrialisation. Not only that but they also did not allow the Left Front government to develop industries. The Congress government at the Centre held up Haldia project for more than 11 years. The Left Front government has brought industrialisation on its own strength. It is now common knowledge that joblessness is increasing in other states in India but it has been controlled somewhat in West Bengal. This we could achieve by starting more and more industries. We are determined to speed up this process, come what may.
It is to facilitate this industrialisation process that we decided to establish a chemical hub at Nandigram. But the Trinamul Congress with full backing from the Congress, BJP, Naxalites, NGOs and other reactionary forces were violently sabotaging this attempt. It is in that process that the unfortunate police firing took place in Nandigram. As a matter of fact, it was the Central government which gave guidelines for the Nandigram project. It was in accordance with those guidelines we began moving to set up industry there. And yet the same people who wanted the project to come up are now creating obstructions. Our chief minister has therefore declared that we will not proceed with the plan. Even then the Trinamul Congress and others are provoking and instigating the people. Mishra further said that the West Bengal Left Front government is paying Rs 750/- per month as unemployment relief to those workers affected by closures and retrenchments. We have introduced Provident Fund for the unorganised sector workers including agricultural workers which no Congress or BJP government could do in the states where they are in power.
CPI(M) state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale in his speech referred to the conspiracy hatched by the communal forces, the Congress and the vested interests against the Left Front government in West Bengal. But whenever such conspiracies were planned, the people of West Bengal have given befitting replies and shattered their hopes. Now our opponents are rallying behind Mamata Bannerjee and she is getting support of Medha Patkar and her group. But it is very significant that Medha Patkar and her ilk, who led a vicious campaign over the Nandigram firing, do not find the time or the words to condemn the police firing and killing of seven rural poor in the Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh on July 28, 2007. The agricultural workers and peasants in Andhra Pradesh were on a statewide joint agitation for taking over of surplus land and distribution of the same amongst the landless. Dhawale then pointed out that there is no communal disturbance or caste atrocities against Dalits in West Bengal. But the situation in the Congress-NCP ruled state of Maharashtra is different. The Khairlanji Dalit massacre in Bhandara district and the suicides by thousands of farmers in Maharashtra speak volumes.
Others who addressed the meeting were CPI leader Narayan Ghagare, CPI(M) Mumbai Committee secretary Mahendra Singh and CPI(M) Mumbai secretariat member Dr S K Rege. K L Bajaj in his presidential remarks, lauded the work of the Left Front government of West Bengal and said that it was always a source of inspiration to us in Maharashtra.
A book titled “The Revolutionary Life and Work of Com Shamrao and Com Godavari Parulekar”, written by Dr Ashok Dhawale and published by the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee in this Godavari Parulekar Birth Centenary Year, was released on the occasion by Dr Surjyakant Mishra.