People's Democracy

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


No. 05

February 04, 2007

Bengal Stands By The Affected People Of Nandigram


B Prasant


STATEWIDE marches and rallies marked the people’s protest against the dastardly attack on the kisans at Nandigram at east Midnapore by the combined goons of the Trinamul Congress, SUCI, Naxalites, and religious fundamentalists throughout the month of January. A massive fund collection drive was taken up from the foothills of the Himalayas to the sea coast at the Sunderbans, to assist the affected people of Nandigram. 


CPI(M) workers and supporters have been assaulted and Party offices burnt. Thousands of CPI(M) workers and sympathisers are in relief camps having been forcefully ejected from their hearth and home. A large amount of fund was mobilised throughout January 17 via mass collection. Ten thousand rupees were collected from the Entally locale in central-east Kolkata alone as groups of CPI(M) workers went around with Biman Basu, state secretary of the Party in the van. On the occasion, several lakh leaflets published by the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) and stating the myth versus reality at Nandigram were distributed across Bengal. 




Biman Basu spoke on the day in two places in impromptu meetings where he explained in brief what happened at Nandigram. Biman Basu pointed out that the entire train of vicious attacks started with the spread of a well-calculated rumour that large tracts of land were about to be taken over and in an indiscriminate fashion sans compensation for an industrial project. Biman Basu noted that the Left Front and the Left Front government stood for industrialisation based on the agricultural success of Bengal. The programme flowed from the election manifesto of the Bengal Left Front for the 2006 assembly polls.


The rumour-mongers were no friends of kisans, said Biman Basu, and he went on to add that the resistance was nothing but a determined opposition to the sweep of pro-people industrialisation being essayed by the Bengal LF government. The CPI(M) leader said those who were going on a path of violence to defeat the process of industrialisation would be relegated to the dustbin of history.


More than 50,000 people attended three rallies held on the day at Chandipore at Nandigram, Kapas Area at Mahisadal, and at Radhaballavpur at Tamluk — all in the district of Midnapore east. Addressing the two succeeding rallies at Mahisadal and Tamluk, Benoy Konar, a member of the central committee of the CPI(M) said that all on a sudden, a few groups of rank opportunistic elements had started to pose as kisan sympathisers and they had been hard at work towards making the mass of the people confused. The self-same people had stood in stiff opposition in the past against the land reforms movement, operation barga, and the increase of wages for the khet mazdoors.


Benoy Konar drew the attention of the rallyists that the Bengal opposition had changed tactics after being beaten back at Singur by the people. Now they would go in for covert action including acts of sabotage. Rumours are resorted to, and communal harmony sought to be disrupted, playing a dangerous game of anarchy. Terror is created with impunity. The anarchists also try to put Left unity under pressure, albeit without much success however.




Benoy Konar said that the CPI(M) and the Left Front workers must go deep amidst the people and with great patience explain that industrialisation would keep the agricultural success intact while more and more would be generated through the setting up of factories. It would also serve the interests of the kisans by providing additionality of employment components. With shrinking land parcels, agriculture is no longer the panacea for economic growth as it used to have been.


With 66 per cent of the populace dependent on agriculture, the pressure on land was approaching the absolute limit. Quoting statistical evidence, Benoy Konar said that while a two-acre double-crop land could sustain the livelihood of just one man per year, an industrial unit set up on that same two-acre ploy would provide gainful employment to at least 40-50 people. 


Benoy Konar also punctured the principal line of argument of the anarchists that agricultural land must never be used for any other purposes, as per the ‘will of the kisans.’ Konar pointed out how in both the two Midnapores and Hooghly hundreds of large-sized cold storages had been set up — and on agricultural land handed over for the purpose by the kisan themselves. 


Attacking another argument of the anarchists that factories should set up on fallow land in their entirety, Benoy Konar noted that since the fallow land amounted to 0.7 per cent of the land mass in Bengal, any industrial activity would perforce need agricultural land to be set in motion.


State secretariat member of the Bengal CPI(M) Dipak Dasgupta said at the Chandipore rally that the Bengal opposition, including elements of religious fundamentalism, were out to create confusion amongst the people. A look at the transformation that Haldia has undergone would convince the people of the future that waits them once industrialisation rolls on. Dipak Dasgupta accused Congress leader P R Dasmunshi of double-speak in that he would speak against industrialisation in Bengal and argue for industrialisation when up in Delhi.


Other CPI(M) leaders who addressed the rallies were Mohd Selim, Laxman Seth, Nirmal Jana, Prasanta Pradhan, Satyagopal Mishra, Kanu Sahu, Ashok Guria, Pranab Das, and Bidyut Guchhait.