People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 18, 2006
Hyderabad Celebrates LF Victories
In West Bengal And Kerala
CPI(M) Leaders Call For Alternative Through People’s Struggles
M Venugopala Rao
(From left) Manik Sarkar, V S Achutanandan, Yechury, Buddhadeb, Prakash Karat and B V Raghavulu
THE resounding victory of the CPI(M) and the Left in West Bengal and Kerala in the recent elections to the legislative assemblies was celebrated in Hyderabad in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and inspiration.
Addressing a public meeting in Hyderabad on the June 8 organised to celebrate the victory, in connection with the three-day meeting of the central committee of the CPI(M), chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadev Bhattacharya explained the background that led to the seventh consecutive victory of the Left Front in the state with three-fourths majority in the legislative assembly and pointed out that the LF could secure support of more than 50 per cent of the electorate after many years. Referring to the queries raised by the foreign and Indian media, as to how the Left Front in West Bengal could secure support of the people for thirty years continuously, defying the anti-incumbency factor, Buddhadev Bhattacharya said that he explained to them that there was anti-incumbency factor in West Bengal too, on the problems of unemployment, poverty, lack of electricity to some of the villages, roads not being maintained properly, etc. However, the LF could secure support of the people because of implementation of land reforms which had changed the political correlation of class forces in West Bengal. Citing the past experience of powerful peasant movements since the late sixties and formation of united front governments and their toppling by the central government, Buddhadev Bhatta-charya pointed out that the first Left Front government formed in 1977 had given pattas officially to the beneficiaries. Twenty seven per cent of cultivable land in West Bengal belongs to the poor and marginal farmers. Land and panchayats belong to the poor people. As a result, production of rice, vegetables, fish, etc., increased tremendously, taking the state to the first place in the country and the results benefited the poor people. Because of this, we could overcome the anti-incumbency factor, he said. Buddhadev was sure that the people would support the LF in future also.
Explaining the priorities of his government, Buddhadev pointed out that “we concentrate our entire programme on giving some relief to improve the quality of life of the people living below the poverty line. Poverty in West Bengal has come down to 22 per cent.” Out of 38,000 villages, 4600 villages are identified as areas where the poorest of the poor live. Concentrating on those villages, ministers and officers reach out to them physically and see that the programmes intended for their development is implemented effectively. This is the top most task before our government, Buddhadev said. The second priority is consolidation of the gains in agriculture. The production of 170 lakh tonnes of foodgrains in West Bengal is the highest in the country. For the benefit of the people living below the poverty line, 17 lakh tonnes of foodgrains are procured under the public distribution system. This is when the country is facing a bad situation, with reduction in agricultural production and the government of India importing foodgrains, Buddha-dev explained. With a production of 11.6 million tonnes of vegetables, West Bengal stands in the first place in the country. Its production in fisheries has reached 1.4 million tonnes. We have to move to agro-processing, Buddhadev said.
After seeing downslide in industrial sector, the situation is changing for the better under the LF government, getting domestic and foreign direct investment especially in manufacturing in small and medium industries which give millions of jobs, he explained. However, foreign investment in retail trade is not allowed, he said. We cannot ignore the 21st century industries of IT and biotechnology. Earlier, people used to criticise that IT was not developing in the state, Buddhadev said and announced that IT in Kolkata is growing at a fast pace than in Hyderabad and Bangalore. The government is assessing successes and failures in all important areas. There are 68,000 primary schools in West Bengal and the government gives salaries to all teachers in schools, text books to students free of cost and mid-day meal in every school. However, he noted that quality of teaching has to be improved and centres of excellence in higher education have to be established. The government is catering to the health care of 70 per cent of the population in the state, with 90 per cent of the rural people going to government hospitals. He said there is scope for improvement in health care services. West Bengal has enough electricity and the surplus is being sold to other states. The government is trying to improve urbanisation, power, etc. There is tremendous enthusiasm among the people. They want us to improve our performance, he said. Referring to the glorious Telangana armed struggle, Buddhadev said inspiration was drawn from it. He paid homage to the stalwarts of the Communist movement in Andhra Pradesh, Comrades P Sundarayya, M Basava-punnaiah, L B Gangadhara Rao, M Hanumantha Rao and Nanduri Prasada Rao.
V S ACHUTANANDAN
Chief minister of Kerala V S Achuthanandan said that the hard work of the party over the last few years started bearing fruits and the electoral victories of the Left in West Bengal and Kerala have a bearing on the political situation in the country, presenting a historic opportunity to both the states to strengthen the movement in other parts of the country. The role and strength of the Left is going to change the political scenario. He announced that the party is committed to fight communal and fascist forces. Referring to the support of the Left to the UPA government, Achuthanandan pointed out that its leaders, especially the Congress leaders are not appreciating the support properly and taking it for granted. They engage in mindless pursuit of anti-people neo-liberal policies, which are hurting all sections of the people including the working class and ruining the peasants, he said. Achuthanandan made it clear that the CPI(M) cannot but take an uncompromising stand against these policies and pro-imperialist stand of the government. He said the struggles of the party in Andhra Pradesh against the neo-liberal policies and its role in building such resistance against all odds, brutal police repression and hostile media propaganda, are widely appreciated and highly encouraging to other states, including Kerala.
The present victory in Kerala was possible because of our struggles. The new government will try to protect the people against neo-liberal policies. We will make efforts to live up to the expectations of the people. Though there is acute fiscal crisis in Kerala, it is not going to prevent us from improving the welfare of the people, Achuthanandan said. The LDF government has decided to write off all debts of the peasants who had committed suicide. The police cases registered against the tribal volunteers in connection with their struggles for land rights would be withdrawn and possession certificates to all deserving tribal cultivators will be given, he said. Welfare measures which are due for more than one year are cleared. For the victory of the LDF in Kerala, women were responsible, Achuthanandan said and pointed out that atrocities against them were resented. The new government had ordered to book culprits of sex racket and related crimes. Achuthanandan said inspiring memories of comrades P Sundarayya and M Basavapunnaiah would help us to achieve all these goals.
Chief minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar pointed out that the impact of victories of the Left in West Bengal and Kerala is not confined to those states alone. Largely, the Left democratic and secular minded people as a whole feel that this is their victory. National bourgeois political parties are losing their ground and their base is gradually getting eroded because of their anti-people policies that are detrimental to the interests of the country, he said. Broadly, the Left, democratic and secular forces are against imperialism, especially the US imperialism.The people of the country are eagerly waiting to see that the Left comes forward to organise the people of the country in a big way to provide proper alternative which will ultimately take care of the problems of the working class, peasants, middle class, SCs, STs, minorities and largely the people living below the poverty line, Manik Sarkar said. Because of the victories in West Bengal and Kerala, a favourable situation is created in the country. This situation has to be utilised in a proper manner by the Left, especially by the CPI(M). The people are expressing enthusiasm and faith in the Left forces, especially in the CPI(M). The Left forces have to play a very positive role in organising the people to wage ceaseless struggles to achieve their Left forces have to play a very positive role in organising the people to wage ceaseless struggles to achieve their demands. A proper alternative or third alternative, too, can emerge in this process, Manik Sarkar explained. Once Andhra Pradesh used to be a strong bastion of the Communist movement in India. The glorious Telangana struggle ignited peasant movements in the country. Initiatives being taken by the CPI(M) to wage movements on the issues of the peasants, working class and middle class, taking a resolute and positive step for the progress of the Left movement, would help development of the movement in Andhra Pradesh, too, Manik Sarkar said and hoped that AP also will not lag behind in this endeavour.
General secretary of the CPI(M), Prakash Karat, said the victories achieved by the party and the Left in West Bengal and Kerala have brought to central focus the Left platform and policies before the people of the country. In the two states, during the election campaign and in election manifestoes, programmes based on the party’s understanding were put forward before the people and on what should be the Left and democratic path and alternative programme. There is overwhelming support to the Left in these two states, he said. Narrating the background of formation of the UF governments in West Bengal in 1967 and in 1969 and the Communist government in Kerala in 1957 and their undemocratic toppling and dismissal, Prakash Karat pointed out that the ruling classes could not tolerate such governments. The situation had changed later with the formation of the LF government in West Bengal in 1977 , which is going to complete 30 years in power on June 21. In Kerala, too, full-term governments of the LDF could not continue. With the latest victory of the LDF, with two-thirds majority, the people of Kerala have conveyed the message that they wanted an enduring government, Prakash Karat explained. Now with the solid support given by the people in both the states, the governments can in a sustained fashion implement policies which can pose analternative to the policies of bourgeois political parties at the centre and in the states, he said. In Tripura, the Left government has been elected for three terms. It shows that when the Left comes to power with its policies, it is on the basis of the strength of the Left movement. Land reforms implemented by the Left governments have brought about change in life of the people living on agriculture, and benefitted majority of the people. This is the message from these elections. People saw the difference between the policies of the Left and of capitalist-landlord parties. The struggles and movements launched by the CPI(M) and the Left parties have brought solid and enduring support. All over the country, the victories of the Left enthused the people. The people in the country are looking up to the Left for alternative policies and path. Policies of the governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura should be taken to the people all over the country. There is a force in the country led by the CPI(M) and the Left to provide alternative to the 50-year bourgeois-landlord rule which resulted in growing poverty, inequality, unemployment, and allowing foreign imperialists to penetrate the county, subordinating to the interests of the capitalists and monopolies. We must be able to bring forward the struggle. The message from the three Left-run states is that the people are confident that we can mobilise and organise them and see that struggles of the working class are carried forward, Prakash Karat said.
Two years back, Lok sabha elections had brought about a big change and the communal and divisive forces, which divert the attention of the people and divide them on communal lines, suffered defeats. The victories of the Left in 2006 show that the people want change, not just change of PM or CM, but change in policies. This is the message given by the victories of the Left in the two elections, Prakash Karat said. The CPI(M) and the Left will work together to take forward what is achieved in West Bengal and Kerala. The CPI(M) and the Left came out as the only consistent fighter in defence of secular and alternative pro-people policies and against communalism, Prakash Karat asserted. The UPA government must be conveyed that it must have new orientation, not continuation of policies of the past and current economic policies, but policies which benefit vast masses of the people, Prakash Karat said. Reminding that Andhra Pradesh was one of the traditional bastions of the Communist movement, Prakash Karat said in future a powerful Communist movement would emerge in the state also.
Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member and MP, said the electoral victories in West Bengal and Kerala have great significance in the sense that they have made it clear that the CPI(M) and the Left are creating an alternative path. Rebutting the malicious propaganda of the enemies of the Communists, he reiterated that Socialism is the future. The developments of the last two years have proved that without the support of the CPI(M) and the Left, no government would survive at the centre. Noting that the new economic policies of the ruling classes are for the profits of the capitalists, both Indian and foreign, Sitaram Yechury explained that the Left parties are making efforts to see that these policies are changed to increase the benefits to the people. The CPI(M) has an important role to play in this juncture to change the objective of the economic reforms in that direction, Sitaram said. Referring to the posers being made whether the CPI(M) is pro- or anti-reform, he made it clear that “if the reforms are anti-people we are against them and if the reforms are pro-people we are for them”.
Though the prime minister and the union finance minister are praising the reforms, claiming that the growth rate is 8 per cent, Sitaram pointed out that as a result of the severe crisis in agriculture, suicides and starvation deaths are increasing. In West Bengal, the growth rate is 11 to 12 per cent. The difference between the national situation and the situation in West Bengal is that there is crisis in agriculture in the country, while economic development is taking place in West Bengal as a result of the development of agriculture and growth of economic power of the people dependent on that, he explained. Sitaram said we have to pose the question as to why what is possible in West Bengal is not possible in the country. To bring about changes in the country’s politics, we have to take the message to the people and the need for implementation of land reforms in the country also. The strength of the Left parties should be increased, he said. Sitaram Yechury reminded that when the prime minister, referring to the tour of Buddhadev Bhattacharya to Singapore and Malaysia, asked all the chief ministers to follow suit, he told Manmohan Singh that the PM also should do what Buddhadev is doing in West Bengal and then the country would develop. Referring to the observation of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, that the rural employment guarantee scheme was there in her party’s manifesto, Sitaram reminded that land reforms have been there in that party’s manifesto since 1952, but they were implemented as a result of the pressure exerted by the Left parties. Rebutting the election-eve allegations that there were differences among the CPI(M) leaders, Sitaram reiterated that they are all in one platform and that there are no differences among them on the policy of the party and understanding.
Though the CPI(M) insisted that the PM should announce that foreign direct investment, which enhances production forces in the country, upgrades technology and increases employment opportunities, only is welcome and that we oppose FDI in retail trade, Manmohan Singh did not agree to it, Sitaram said. While Mumbai and Delhi airports are being privatised, the CPI(M) insisted that Kolkata airport should be modernised, not privatised, Sitaram said. Only modernisation of Kolkata airport is taking place.
The future of the Left will depend on strengthening and taking forward people’s movements. It is important for emergence of a new alternative, Sitaram said. In the given political situation, the Left is trying to bring pressure on the UPA government to implement the common minimum programme. The Left is trying for a political alternative. Where there are no such conditions, we had seen to it that division in the votes of secular forces did not strengthen the communal forces, he said. Through pressure and movements of the people, the Left parties have a task to see to it that the UPA government acts in the interests of the people. With the electoral victories, the responsibility of the CPI(M) increased. The people are looking at the Left alternative. The main reason for this development is our movements. Sitaram was emphatic that the old glory of the Communist movement in Andhra Pradesh would re-emerge and asked the people to support people’s movements of the Left to create a new India.
B V Raghavulu, state secretary and Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M), who presided over the meeting, complimented the people of West Bengal and Kerala for ensuring the seventh consecutive victory of the LF in West Bengal - a record in the parliamentary history of the world - and the resounding victory of the LDF in Kerala with increased strength. He also reminded that the Left parties in Tripura scored a massive victory in the recent panchayat elections and others were washed away. Being a sensitive border state, Tripura is facing the threat of terrorists and the people of that state are sacrificing their lives for protecting the unity of the country, Raghavulu said. The CPI(M) in the state is trying to regain the level of its movement in Andhra Pradesh to be on par with West Bengal and Kerala, Raghavulu said and announced that, with the inspiration and encouragement given by the victories of the Left in those two states, the Left movement would be taken forward in the state also. Explaining the uncompromising struggles being conducted by the CPI(M) in Andhra Pradesh against the anti-people policies of the Congress government and on the problems of the people, Raghavulu criticised the government for its policy of repression of the people’s struggles and foisting cases on the leaders of the CPI(M) leading the struggles. He reiterated that jails and bullets cannot stop these struggles and that the CPI(M) is prepared to go ahead with the struggles and sacrifices, as was done in West Bengal and Kerala.
As a result of the agreements with the World Bank and its conditionalities, there is every likelihood of imposing additional burdens on the people of the state during the next three years. Raghavulu announced that the CPI(M) would fight against these policies by mobilising the people. He made it clear that the CPI(M) is not a friend of either the Congress or the Telugu Desam party. It is on the side of the people. There is no question of compromising on the policies of the party to join hands with the Congress or the TDP, he said. In the ensuing panchayat elections in the state, both the Congress and the TDP are seeking adjustment with the CPI(M) and the Left parties. Raghavulu announced that in every zilla parishad and Mandal parishad, the CPI(M) must have representation to fight for the people and that adjustment will be there with those parties which help it in that direction. P S N Murthy, secretary of the Hyderabad city committee of the CPI(M), welcomed the leaders and S Narasimha Reddy, city secretariat member, moved the vote of thanks.