People's Democracy

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


No. 4

February 01, 2009



B Prasant

IN its three-day state conference at Burdwan township in the district of Burdwan, Bengal’s rice bowl, the Bengal unit of the AIKS called for agricultural growth at a faster pace. It also heralded a call for industrial growth. Both agenda looked at increased figures of per capita employment as part of the pro-poor developmental perspective of the CPI(M), the Left Front and the Bengal Left Front government.

The open rally was a ‘mere’ assemblage of six lakh, as the district membership of the AIKS itself exceeds 25 lakh. Only the leadership level cadres were rallied on the occasion. The reason why is to be found in that ever elusive thing in Burdwan – open, uncultivated space. The final choice fell on a broad swathe of a kilometre-long sandhead on the shores of the now quiescent but otherwise torrential river Damodar, an area of hard-packed gravel that could accommodate but five-odd lakh of people. The all-India AIKS leadership present was overwhelmed at the response – that was the outcome of strong political drive for, and relentless organisational dedication to the cause of social change.

Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in his simple but evocative speech said that a challenge faced Bengal. The challenge comprise making the state come to the very fore of the country’s states in terms of development of agriculture, industry, education, and health. He was full of praises for the Bengal AIKS for the role it had emoted right from the days of the nation’s freedom struggle to stand by the side of and lead the kisans, the humble tiller of the earth, organising them into a weapon of social change.

The concluding part of the speech of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau member basically dwelt on the land reforms movement and the role of the AIKS in assisting the two United Front governments of the late 1960s and then of the Left Front government from 1977 in the process of redistributing land. The lone statistic he mentioned was this, telling as it was in its impact: more than 84 per cent of the agricultural land of Bengal belonged to poor and marginal farmers. The state also leads the list in production of rice paddy, vegetables, and jute.

AIKS general secretary K Varadharajan detailed the horrific picture of the condition of the kisan and of the agrarian scene at the national plane. He reminded the massive assemblage that the AIKS had called on successive central governments not to go in for a policy of liberalisation – but the advice was just put on the back burner. The AIKS leader informed that until date, no less than 1.75 lakh desperate kisans, thrashing about in the pangs of abject poverty had preferred either to swallow pesticides or to hang themselves. Was the central government moved by this? No, has been the answer until today, said Varadharajan. The causes of the mass suicide were market oriented agricultural policies, lack of good procurement prices, dearth of viable loans, and the credit entrapment by the sahukars and the mahajans among others.

Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) Nirupam Sen who dwelt on the imperatives of pro-employment industrialisation, and veteran AIKS leader Benoy Konar who spoke feelingly on the ‘two nations existing within one nation, the rich and the poor segments,’ also addressed the gathering.

In the wake of the delegate session where there were 525 delegates and observers out of a total of several crore of AIKS membership, a new leadership was elected. Madan Ghosh is the president, Tarun Roy is the secretary, and Achintya Roy is the treasurer of the Bengal unit of the All-India Kisan Sabha.