People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 04, 2008
22ND STATE CONFERENCE OF CPI(M) BENGAL UNIT
DOCUMENT ON LF GOVT
CENTRAL committee member of the Party Nirupam Sen placed before the conference the document on Left Front government, panchayats, municipalities, and tasks. The document identifies the following tasks:
The work of administrative reform must be accelerated by bringing in accountability, transparency, swiftness, and efficiency.
The work of rural development must be tackled and completed by keeping intact the class outlook and class direction, by creating mass initiative, and by making the Gram Unnayan Samities activated, and by prioritising the creation of man-days under REGA.
Looking towards agricultural development, the seed farms must be modernised, laboratories for soil testing must be set up at the block and district-level, IT-based advisory camps made operational, agricultural production increased, and crop diversification put in place.
The market for agricultural produce must be expanded and modernised, and systems of preservation and marketing for such produce established.
The administrative initiative for putting in place the social security plans for the agri-workers and the rural poor must be further speeded up.
Mass of the people must be involved on the issue of land acquisition for industrialisation, the issues of compensation to land losers, providing them with training, their economic rehabilitation must be clearly profiled before the people, and an attempt continued to bring about political consensus locally on these questions.
The total literacy movement and the total health movement must be further augmented; importance must be attached to standards of education and work education; members of the SCs STs, Minorities, and women must be included in the drive in a conscious planned manner; effective steps must be taken to stem school drop-outs.
Self-help groups must be strengthened further; scope for institutional loan must be opened up; importance must be attached to the marketing of goods these groups produce.
The interests of the urban poor, workers, basti dwellers must be given priority in the developmental drive of the urban local bodies, and the development agencies; Importance must be given to such tasks as water supply, sewerage and drainage, environment, expansion of self-help groups, health of mother-and-child etc; ward committees must be made more representational and democratic in their participation in these urban initiatives.
A strong social movement must be built on the issues of expansion of women’s education, dowry system, gender discrimination, child marriage, superstition, unscientific thoughts and practices, and backward thinking; a political-social initiative is emergent parallel to the state government’s initiative to make a big success of human development.
In the spirited but organised discussion that took place on the documents placed, various issues came up. These included among others:
A stronger and more united Party imbued with a political-ideological outlook at all levels of functioning
Fight against imperialism
Fight against communal forces
Fight against the anti-people policies of the UPA government
For a united Party
For a wider popular base of the mass fronts
Party education camps at the state-level
Development from a class point of view
A clear and consolidated policy of land acquisition, rehabilitation, and compensation
Mass rallies against anti-CPI (M) conspiracies
Industrial development with a pro-poor outlook
Promotion of agricultural diversification and marketing
Setting up of cottage and small-scale industries
Promotion of agri-based industries
Inculcating amongst the people a scientific outlook
More coordination between the Party and the LF government
Struggle against liberalisation to be further strengthened
Wider implementation of the pro-people policies of the Left Front government
Increase in width and depth of mass contact
Organising the unorganised
Finalising the BPL list
Emphasising a correlated growth of the total literacy, total health, and self-help movements
Empowering the self-help groups with marketing faculties
Politicising the vast numbers, men and women, engaged in the self-help groups
Struggle against the remnants of superstition
Fight against separatism, communalism, and fundamentalism to be stepped up
Struggle against bureaucratism
Prevention of river-bank erosion, and rehabilitation of the affected
Toning up the functioning of the ward committees and the gram sansads
Looking to the rapid development of backward areas / regions / zones / especially rural
Responding to the discussion held on the document on the Left Front government, panchayats, municipalities, and tasks, adopted subsequently and unanimously, Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said that the work of pro-people and pro-poor development would continue apace and the people would have the final say on ‘whether the Communist Party is on the right track or not in tackling developmental imperatives.’ The Party must go deeper amongst the people and tell them about the outlook that the Party has developed on generation of employment through strengthening of the agricultural base and then going for industrialisation.
The 22nd conference, said Buddhadeb, would fix our path of development. In making headway, the Party Programme must be strictly adhered to, as should be the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism as sources of inspiration as well as guidance. Since there existed no model in front of the CPI (M) in Bengal to follow as far as pro-people developmental needs were concerned, Buddhadeb said, ‘we must chart our own path while looking incisively at experimentations going on elsewhere as in Latin America. Lessons must be learnt not only from the developmental acceleration of China, and Vietnam, but also from the debacle of the former Soviet Union.
Dwelling on the restricting framework of a virtually unitary rather than the declared federal character of the Indian Constitution, and noting the complexities that continued to handicap the growth of a viable centre-state relationship, Buddhadeb pointed out with stress that alternative must be found to chalk out the course of pro-people development and generation of employment.
Buddhadeb reiterated the need to further strengthen and widen the agrarian base of Bengal but said that population pressure on plots of land had made a large tract of agricultural land not quite viable to create new employment. Then there was the change of mentality of the sons and daughters of the kisan families who once having entered the corridors of education, would be reluctant to follow the traditional profession and calling.
At the macro level, it might seem that taking over less than 1 per cent of land as it was being done at present for industrial purposes was not a big thing. Then again, the micro-level outlook would tell us that to the kisan his plot of land, however unviable economically, was all that he treasured, indeed, has been treasuring over years and decades -- even centuries, and would be reluctant to part with it.
‘This is where the importance of deeper mass contact is felt,’ said Buddhadeb. In the face of the deepening gloom marking the all-India agricultural scenario – peasants continue to commit suicide out of sheer desperation – Bengal must stress on agri-based industries, poultry, livestock breeding, agri-horticulture, floriculture, sericulture, food processing, and pisciculture as the alternative means of rural development in an employment-intensive manner.
Big industries could not be ignored in the task of rapid, pro-people, employment-intensive development, said Buddhadeb who pointed out that so many industrial proposals were forthcoming to Bengal of late, the Left Front government often found its hands too full to tackle the streaming in of capital. In setting up industries, it was important, said Buddhadeb to keep firmly in mind the tasks of rehabilitation and compensation to be paid to the land losers who were often but not always kisans.
‘We have to keep in mind the existence in the agricultural plots, being or to be taken over, the existence of share-croppers, khet mazdoor, and migrant labour as well,’ said Buddhadeb. A large number of the land-losers must be allowed to participate directly or otherwise in the process of industrialisation, said the Bengal chief minister, and here he spoke of downstream, associated, and ancillary industry that would grow around the mother units. Industrial clusters will be set up in the districts.
Nevertheless, rehabilitation / compensation were never the only way out. There must be ceaseless political campaign on the issue of industrialisation. A change in the mentality of the peasants was certainly in order. The principle issue was what they would gain when they would lose their patches of land. The main thrust would not be relying on the Ford Foundation model of ‘trickle down effect,’ but on direct and indirect employment and economic growth for the mass of the people.
Buddhadeb made it clear that Singur and Nandigram were not the same type of developmental issues before the people. There was problem with the character of the landmass at Singur that the entrepreneurs had chosen. The Party workers had toiled their hearts out to convince the peasants about the need for the automotive factory to come up. The mistake in the case of Nandigram was just this that the Party was not able to argue convincingly enough in favour of pro-people industrial endeavours.
The lessons of Nandigram must be incorporated in the developmental programmes in the days to come. Nandigram was also an exceptional case in view of the sweep of land acquisition at Rajarhat, Siliguri, Raghunathpur, and Reginagar for industrialisation and / or urbanisation. ‘We have to move with discretion and must take the people along.’ Buddhadeb also spoke of incorporating the Party workers in the tasks of mass health, mass education, and mass literacy programmes in a bigger and more organised way. There was need to politically organise the lakhs of men and women, especially women, connected with the self-help groups, and with panchayat functioning. The running of the rural and urban local bodies must be done with a sharp class outlook. Buddhadeb concluded by exhorting upon the Party workers to look to the needs of the minorities for whom the state government initiated appropriate tailor-made developmental measures for these sections of the people.
REPLY TO DISCUSSION ON
Responding to the political-organisational report(that was subsequently adopted unanimously with nine amendments / additions),Biman Basu said that in view of the intensification of the attack from the ranks of the enemies, the Party must be made more united on the twin principles of inner-Party democracy and democratic centralism. The enemies were engaged in weakening our class base while seeking to sow the seeds of dissensions among the LF constituents. ‘We must gain from and not giveaway any space to our enemies, come the rural polls of 2008, making inroads into the areas and locales that the enemy still controlled. This has to be done by deepening and widening our contact with the people with an intensity of approach, political and ideological.
In the task of Party building, great emphasis must be placed on honesty, transparency, and pro-people functioning. The Party comrades must not only be honest, they must also appear to be honest before the mass of the people. Stressing the important role a Party worker could assume in the task of human development, Biman Basu said that those who were dedicated to the task of changing the society must also be engaged in the equally important task of making modern men and women. The Party must fight against superstition and all kinds of atavistic thoughts and obscurantist belief systems.
The assignment of helping the backward sections of the society move up in the developmental scale was a task that was politically vital, and the assignment must not be performed as a process of sympathy-borne endeavour. The communists must intervene wherever necessary for strengthening democratic values and ethics. ‘All communists are (and should be) good and great humanists although not all humanists are communists,’ said Biman Basu, drawing instances from the history of Bengal during the 19th century when a renaissance was going on.
Stressing on the innate importance of Party education in a Communist Party, Biman Basu said that in the days to come, more education camps must be held at the districts, and in the mass fronts. The Party, he said, was not a Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan-centred phenomenon but was based on an army of dedicated cadres spread all over Bengal who were politically educated, organisationally skilled, and ideologically equipped. In the development of the Party, there should be a welcome coordination between quality and quantity. He also spoke on the task of building up the newer generation of younger leadership, and called for the organisation of the vast army of unorganised workers across Bengal. Through such endeavours concluded Biman Basu, the Party would grow, the kisan-mazdoor unity would be augmented, and the mass base of the Party widened and deepened.
The 22nd state conference of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) unanimously passed 27 resolutions, and these were:
On remembering martyrs
Strengthening the struggle against imperialism
For an independent foreign policy, and an independent nuclear policy
In support of democratic struggles going in neighbouring countries
Against fundamentalism and terrorism
To keep alive the struggle against communalism
Against price rise and attempts to disrupt the rationing system
Against attempts to create disorder and anarchy in the state
On restructuring of the centre-state relations
For the development of agriculture and industries in the state
On mass literacy- mass health- mass science-self-help groups
On supporting the struggle of the unorganised workers
On the overall development of the minority communities
In demand of an early inclusion of the DGHC in the sixth schedule
Against the activities of the Maoists and the KLO
17.In the centenary of the sacrifice and martyrdom of Khudiram Bose
18.On global warming
19.Against unemployment, for generation of employment
20.On the role of the media, Left movement and healthy culture
21.On ensuring a massive win at the forthcoming panchayat polls
22.In demand of measures against river-bank erosion, and rehabilitation of the affected
23.In demand of a proper role of the union government on the development of the tea industry and looking to the interests of the tea plantation workers
24.In demand of equal rights and equal dignity of women
25.On the development of north Bengal
26.On the centenary year of the litterateur Manik Bandyopadhyay
27.On the Burrabazar fire
The state conference elected an 88-member state committee (there are 12 new members), and made eight former state committee members special invited guests in the committee. Biman Basu has been re elected as the state secretary. The conference also elected a 175-strong delegation for the 19th Party Congress of the CPI(M) to be held at Coimbatore. A five-member control commission was elected. The conference ended with a rousing mass rendering of the Bengali version if the Internationale.
The credential report showed that of the delegates present, 44 were workers, 25 khet mazdoors, 82 poor peasants, 114 middle peasants, 28 rich peasants, 22 landlords, 2 small capitalists, 437 from the middle class, and 23 small traders. There were 82 women delegates.
The two oldest members at the conference were Samar Mukherjee (of 94 years two months) and Jyoti Basu (of 93 years seven months).