People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
SPEAKS TO GANASHAKTI
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.
THE MEASURES OF SUCCESS
THE SIXTH LEFT FRONT
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
REMUNERATIVE PRICES FOR
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.
THE INVOLVEMENT OF CORPORATE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 PRIVATE SECTOR:
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.
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
TU MOVEMENTS AND
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
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.
AND IT EDUCATION:
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
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 LAW-AND-ORDER SITUATION:
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.
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
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
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.
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:
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.