People's Democracy

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


No. 15

April 11, 2004

Bengal: Left Front Campaign Gathers Momentum

B Prasant


HAVING had the advantage over the opposition, comprising the BJP, the Trinamul Congress, the Pradesh Congress, and the SUCI, of both declaring the list of candidates and working to a set pattern as far as election campaign is concerned, the Bengal Left Front has presently begun holding mass rallies interspersed with very many smaller group meetings, supplemented by house-to-house campaign.  Addressing the mass rallies are senior Left Front and CPI(M) leaders – Jyoti Basu, Biman Basu, Anil Biswas, and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.


The rallies whether held in the cool of the Darjeeling district or in the arid heat of the Bankura and Purulia, draw large crowds who sit patiently listening to the speeches.  They appreciate the sharp critique of the BJP-led union government, and applaud the achievements of the Left Front government that has been in office for 27 years now.




The Barrackpore constituency sprawls over a large part of the industrial belt of the north 24 Parganas district. It also comprises a series of interlocked rural stretches.  The Left Front candidate here is the sitting CPI(M) member of the parliament, Taritbaran Topdar.  He has won the seat five times from this constituency as CPI(M) candidate.


The Vidhan Sabha constituencies that make up the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency are Amdanga, Bijpore, Naihati, Bhatpara, Jagaddal, Noapara, and Titagurh.  In the overwhelming majority, the local representatives, whether MLAs, or members of urban local bodies, or Panchayat members, belong to the Left Front and the CPI(M).  The workers, the kisans, the members of the middle class, employees, especially the teaching community, here, as elsewhere in Bengal, stand solidly behind the Left Front.


His style of campaigns represents the pattern set by the Bengal Left Front and the CPI(M) of intense house-to-house campaign work.  Central rallies are held and it is the state-level leaders of the Left Front who address them.  Topdar has a distinct advantage over his rivals in that he has the habit, and of a regular nature, to start moving around his constituency every day from the morning till quite late into the evening, that sometimes stretches well into the night: standing by the people of the constituency in rain or shine.


A retired head teacher of a reputed local school, Topdar is quite popular in the locales that go to make up the Lok Sabha constituencies.  Nearly all the people to whom we spoke of late were appreciative of Topdar’s efficacy as an MP and the fact that he could be approached easily, mostly at the offices of the CPI(M) at the various social fora where he has remained active for many years.


The people of the area are sharply conscious of the manner in which the economic policies of the successive Congress and the BJP governments in Delhi, one worse than the other, have ruined the economy of the Barrackpore industrial zones with factories getting closed and locked-out.  The Gouripore jute mill is one of the larger production units closed down by the management.


Active in the Lok Sabha, two of Topdar’s projects were negated by the BJP-led union government.  First, he had put together a packaged proposal for the revival of the National Textile Cotton mills and the package was worth Rs 2,040 crore.  Second, he had also put forward a proposal for the taking over of fifteen cotton mills.


Thousands of workers and members of their families are made to suffer ignominy of poverty because of the crass anti-people outlook of the BJP-led NDA government.  The people we spoke to had little doubt in their hearts and minds that sending Topdar for another term as an MP would be good for the constituency and for the strengthening of the Left presence in the Parliament.


Opposing him as the Trinamul Congress candidate is a history-sheeter called Arjun Singh who is the prime accused in the Bikas Basu murder case.  Bikas was the husband of Manju Basu who is the Trinamul Congress MLA of Noapara.  Singh is presently out on bail.  He has also been involved in selling off the machineries of the closed down Meghna jute mill.  The local people also suspect him as the brain behind the dastardly murders of CPI(M) workers, Comrades Ratan Aich and Bikash Dutta.  We saw Singh moving around the Noapara area in a jeep convoy with dozen-odd toughs in the vanguard.  The slogans they shouted bordered on the unprintable.  Singh himself despairs of success although he blustered about his “certainty of wining the seat this time around” to us.  It is widely believed that Taritbaran Topdar shall retain the Barrackpore seat by a margin of at least 1.25 lakh of votes.