People's Democracy

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


No. 07

February 18, 2007

Industrial Development Will Benefit The Rural Poor: Buddhadeb


Buddhadeb addressing a huge rally at Khejuri in Nandigram


B Prasant


THE industrial policy of the Bengal Left Front government is meant to accelerate development of the state – the rural poor in particular – and it will benefit from the rapid strides made in the realm of industrialisation. Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said this at a massive rally at Khejuri abutting Nandigram, recently.


The area has been wracked by violence unleashed by the armed goons and professional killers in the pay of the Trinamul Congress and its lackeys. The CPI(M) workers have been killed, thousands made homeless, and even relief camps were attacked. The rural people have held their calm; they could not be provoked into any irresponsible actions. Of late, CPI(M) offices have again been torched. Police personnel were attacked resulting in one death and dozens of serious injuries.


Speaking to over one lakh of people who were present at the rally called by the CPI(M) at Khejuri – the venue was a big field off the Hedia town – Buddhadeb began by noting the basic difference of approach towards development between the Left Front and the opposition. The Left Front spoke about accelerating development, agricultural and industrial; the opposition spoke in terms of anarchic actions to impede the path of progress.


Assuring the people that agricultural development would never be sacrificed at the altar of industrial growth, Buddhadeb said that the sweep of land movement in the late 1960s transferred land to the kisans and the political back of the Congress and its working partners was effectively broken. The Bengal Left Front government formalised the kisans’ rights through ‘operation barga’ and award of the pattas.


The Panchayat system belonged to the rural poor, providing them with political empowerment to supplement their changed economic status. Agriculture grew at an astounding pace, pushing up the purchasing power of the rural masses, and creating a large and expanding niche rural market, ready to absorb industrial including consumer goods.


Agriculture, explained the CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, was handicapped by the pressure being brought onto it by the increasing population. The jots and jirats were no longer profitable enough to sustain families for generations. If this was the push factor, pointed out Buddhadeb, the pull factor was orchestrated by the spread of education, especially technical education in Bengal.


A plethora of educational opportunities, and the low-level income generated by the fields of cultivation would encourage the new generation, expectedly, to look elsewhere for employment. The avenues of their choice were certainly industry, urban growth, and the widening service sector. ‘Would we turn our faces away from the will of the young and force them to remain cultivators, once and for all,’ asked Buddhadeb.


Pointing at Haldia as a flagship example of economic turnaround, Buddhadeb narrated briefly, how a fishing village grew to house more than a hundred large factories and employ 40,000 people. Would Nandigram, this side of the murmuring Haldi River, remain in the backwater of economy? The people would have to be taken into confidence and it must be explained to them with fortitude as well as patience that things could only look up for all of them once the process of the setting up of the chemical hub was in motion.


Switching his arguments locationally between the fact of Singur emerging as an industrial hub and Nandigram where a chemical hub would come up, Buddhadeb nonetheless assured the rally that nothing would be done at Nandigram transgressing will of the people. The state shall never go back on the inevitability of the need for industrialisation. However, it would never do so by making people, unwilling to participate in the path to progress, miserable and left with a feeling of doom and gloom.


Sternly criticising the opposition for the anarchic stance it had chosen to take, Buddhadeb said that the desperate efforts at sabotage and spreading of gross misinformation would not be able to put a stop to progress, pro-people, especially pro-poor progress. Bengal will advance and the advancement of the state will mean the advancement of the economic condition of the mass of the people. The developmental work would go on, concluded Buddhadeb, with the wide and intense participation of the people themselves. The people shall have the last word.


Other speakers at the rally were CPI(M) leaders Dipak Dasgupta, Dipak Sarkar, Laxman Seth and others.