People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 21

June 02,2002


Pro-People Development Shall Continue Apace


On the completion of one year of governance of the sixth Bengal Left Front government, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee spoke to Ganashakti on a variety of issues.





We have further consolidated our agrarian successes, and are poised to achieve a fresh take-off stage in the realm of food production.  Diversification of crops has been another signpost of achievement for the sixth LF government.  The upswing in industrial investment is certainly notable especially in the context of the scenario nationwide. 


Agriculture and industry provide the twin plinths resting on which the Bengal economy is being developed further.  We have also started to obtain positive results in education, health and in several other sectors as well. The pro-people development shall continue apace and shall pick up momentum with the years.  Much remains to be done.


We must emphasise that whatever success the sixth LF government could achieve is not to be viewed in isolation.  These are the products of the long march along an untrodden path of the LF government from 1977.  We have always strode forward drawing the correct lessons from the performance of the earlier Left Front governments.  We have never started from zero, so to speak.





Heralding a slogan and getting down to implementing it comprehensively are set apart by dedication and by the factor of time.  The largest bulk of the LF government’s employees are now convinced of the importance of these slogans and are getting round to implementing them. 


Our call for accelerating the various work schedules on the basis of the slogan “Do it Now” certainly has had its impact at every level and very soon we expect to see a more comprehensive swing towards an even better work culture among the working people at all levels.




The price of rice has fallen sharply.  This has also coincided with a bumper production.  The sharp reduction of the prices for the food crops in general has been an all-India phenomenon.  We need to enhance the level of subsidies.  We have initiated discussions with the Reserve Bank of India for negotiating funds.  This will enable us to make bulk purchases of crops from the farmers and at remunerative prices.




We welcome such involvement in specific areas like fruit orchards, floriculture, and herbal plant sectors.  The interests of the farmers shall never be interfered with.  The land plots will not be handed over directly to the corporate business houses.  They must purchase the raw material from the farmers and at remunerative prices.  Four export processing zones are being set up.  Employment is certain to go up.


In the agrarian sector, in general, additional emphasis is long due in the production of wheat, lentils, and oil seeds.  Floriculture and pisciculture must be taken to the level of agro-based industries, as would be animal husbandry and the production of fruits.  Marketing should be further revamped and improved.



The slow growth of industrialisation nationwide at 2 per cent is certainly exceeded by the seven per cent rate the LF government has chalked up in Bengal.  Things, however, continue to be difficult.  The rate of industrialisation has to be accelerated further as far as is possible in the present circumstances of nationwide economic dysfunction.


As far as employment generation is concerned, there were 20-thousand-odd fresh employments made in the plastic industries, and more than 16 thousand men and women have been inducted in the information & technology sector. 


At the same time, one has to recall how the BJP-led union government has chosen to close down 21 engineering units and a quartet of jute mills.  The National Textile Corporation (NTC) mills eke out a marginal existence under the Damocles’ sword of imminent closure.  These have severely embarrassed the LF government.  The closure of big engineering units, in particular, poses a huge problem in this regard.  The Left Front government is on the constant look out for fresh investments.



The alternative route of industrialisation that our government has heavily banked upon has to do with the small-scale industries.  Areas have been chosen for hosiery (near the Kona Expressway in Howrah) and tannery (at Bantala on the Eastern Metropolitan bypass) and we have emphasised on the setting up self-help groups.  Other avenues are being actively pursued. 


The ultimate aim is to generate a process of multi-faceted employment in Bengal.  We are in the process of asking the banks to increase the present credit-investment ratio for the state.



The Left Front government has asked corporate houses, foreign and indigenous, to go in for investments in Bengal.  This is done for the sake of enhancing employment and for generally accelerating economic development.  The plethora of private investment will encourage the environment of industry and commerce in Bengal.  In no circumstances would the interests of the workers-employees, and indeed, of the mass of the people, would be jeopardised.


The BJP-led union government has been consistently engaged in swinging investments away from the public sector undertakings, even from those that continue to be profitable.  This has greatly discomfited us in Bengal.  We stand firmly opposed to this stance of counter-productive norm.




A strong movement against the policy of desperate privatisation of the BJP-led union government will accompany the drive towards industrialisation, and about this, no one should harbour any doubts.  Wide sections of the people are involved in this movement.  United platforms for the movements have been set up.  There is no alternative here.  The movements will continue apace, embracing more and more people in the months and years ahead.


The Left Front government does not go in for the policy of harbouring a secret agenda.  It stands for industrialisation and for economic development of Bengal.  As realists, the Left has gone ahead to implement what we call a minimum programme.  The industrial houses need not stand suspicious of our intentions.  Indeed, the air has cleared up considerably as they have watched the Left in action in Bengal.



The Left Front government has provided increased emphasis on higher education and on IT education.  It has started courses in vocational training and computer education at the level of the schools and the Madrasas as well.  The past couple of years have witnessed the setting up of 38 engineering colleges.  Three hundred schools have benefited from computer education and training programme.  The industrial houses have come forward in providing advise on the syllabi and the curricula.  The LF government would like the private sector to set up engineering colleges in Bengal.



This has been a big danger for the nation itself what with the BJP government in office in Delhi.  The LF government remains watchful and vigilant against communal disharmony.  The people remain vigilant and this is very important.  We must take to the streets and renew our pledge to keep the communal harmony intact in Bengal come what may.



The rate of crime continues to be the lowest in Bengal in the country.  Recently, a few groups of terrorists, some with the direct help of the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, have been engaged to try to disrupt the situation of peace and amity. 


Nine of Bengal’s districts have International Border zones.  Eighteen cases of intransigence of various kinds have occurred until date and 104 people have been apprehended.  Also present in the state are the activists of the KLO and the ULFA in the north, and the People’s War Group, and the MCC in the south of Bengal.  The problems are being tackled politically and at the level of the state administration.



This is another crucial issue.  Neither the National Development Council nor the Inter-state Council is currently in a position to tackle some of the most fundamental problems impinging on the centre-state relations.  This is especially true in the matter of financial relations.  The demand of the states to reduce the interest charged by the union government on loans to the state from 11 per cent to 7 per cent is currently pending with the union government. 


The states are also made to suffer in the matter of small savings.  The centre should also assume responsibility for a part of the financial liability of the states in the matter of the enhanced pay scales of the government employees.  The Bengal LF government is trying to involve all the states in becoming vocal about these and other grievances against the union government.



The sixth Left Front government has identified most if its weaknesses. There is a scope for improvement in areas like education, health, administrative functioning, industrial infrastructure, rural electrification etc.  The state government is engaged in tackling these weaknesses comprehensively and based on specific programmes, which are already drawn up and are being put in place.



The opposition in Bengal is not emoting the role expected of a parliamentary opposition group.  They insist on going in for negative criticism alone, and that too in a manner, which is often not quite in line with expected democratic norms.  Had they been willing to play a more positive role, the LF government would have benefited from it, we are certain.  We do not, yet, see such changes taking place in the mindset of the opposition in Bengal.