(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 05, 2009
AS the Lok Sabha elections approach, the opposition is panic struck. The rank of the panic struck includes reactionary forces here and abroad. Thus, the Left Front is at the receiving end of a wide array of conspiracies, some foolishly, overtly executed, and these are but few. The water runs dangerously deep in most instances of the orchestrated, concentrated, planned, scheming moves against the Left Front and the CPI(M).
Shall we begin with the obvious? Numerous groups of men and women are on the move across the villages and towns, the hamlets and the urban centres in Bengal even as you read this. They include women in widows’ weeds, young boys, and girls, with a gang of toughs hanging back.
The groups approach the households during the noon hour when the menfolk have gone out to earn their livelihood. They get hold of the women. They tell them horror stories of ‘atrocities perpetrated on us at Nandigram.’ Sometimes, the locale is a Singur hamlet. The refrain is the same. “Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has a yen for land. He will take away your agricultural plot and your homestead land. Buddhadeb represents the philosophy of the CPI(M) to ‘rob the poor.’ Beware of him, and of them. Chance comes to you every five years only. Take a plunge, and vote for change.”
Mostly, these ploys backfire. Curious women ask them of the details and for these bearers of the untruth the devil lies in the details. They cannot name the villages they inhabit. They will not give out their names, even names of their family members. They are then turned out, politely by the householders. The toughs slither closer, and utter whispered threats, and then they disappear in the waiting car or auto-rickshaw.
That was the obvious. The conspiracy is professionally organised elsewhere. The target is the minority communities, or particularly Muslim minority community, the largest of them in Bengal. Old men yet tell us with more than a touch of pride how most of the pioneering dozen of the founders’ brigade of the CPI had been Muslims! They recall the political-ideological-organisational contributions of such comrades as Kakababu (Muzaffar Ahmad), Abdul Halim, Abdullah Rasul, and Shahidullah in Bengal.
We find the imam of the Bada Masjid, Shahi Imam of Bengal, who is the Mufti-e Azam, as well as the chief Mufti and Quazi of the state government of Bengal, issueing a press release dated March 21, 2009, on his official letter pad. In that release, he falsely berates the present state administration for its ‘anti-Muslim’ frame of mind, and calls upon all ‘sane citizens,’ to ‘go ahead and make a change,’ while casting their votes. We find this not merely a perversion of facts but a dangerous communal approach that is also grossly inflammatory in character. Most Muslims would ignore the appeal. Nevertheless, the intent, or rather the severe malignancy of the exercise is sure to make happy and rock with pure pleasure, Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee and others of her ilk, who knows, perhaps also the chieftains of their newly-courted ally, the Pradesh Congress, and their patrons, here and abroad.
After all, even as a Bengali-speaking ambassador of the US to India steps in, set to ‘begin the beguine’ for the imperialists from Delhi, the man on the spot of the USA in Kolkata has chosen the cosy, air-conditioned, five-star confines of a central Kolkata hotel to meet more-than-once a chosen few Muslim leaders who are both familiar and comfortable with the idioms of fundamentalism and of anti-Communism. The agenda, we can assume, is not either religion or peace.
The Left Front has stepped up its election campaign. Smaller meetings are stressed on — neighbourhood meetings, smaller gatherings at rural haats and urban bazaars etc where discussions are opened to the masses on the issues of the day, the candidates march along the routes within their constituencies, always stopping by for a bit of political adda, and a glass or two of cool water, maybe an earthen pot or three of black tea. Bigger rallies are held fewer in number, with preference gradually being allocated to intimate, personal, one-to-one, house-to-house contact with the masses.
Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on election tour across a vast stretch of north Bengal between March 28 and 31was clear in pointing out that the opposition in Bengal worked to organise, hearten, and applaud divisiveness of every kind including territorial separatism. It is the CPI(M) and the Left, Buddhadeb told the various gatherings he addressed, which is ready to go in for sacrifices of every kind to ensure that Bengal remains integrated and a united entity.
The Trinamulis and the scions of Pradesh Congress were eager and willing to witness the prosperity and political flowering of such dangerous political devices as the call for ‘greater’ Coochbehar, for a separate ‘Gorkhaland,’ and for a ‘free’ state of Kamptapur, for a separate western Bengal centering around Lalgarh.
The separatist ‘Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’ (GJM) was ready to encroach upon the dooars and the terai with impunity for the sake of building up a separate Gorkhali entity that was conceptually and behaviourally a wrong notion from the first to the last of the premises they fatuously advanced. ‘We,’ said Buddhadeb ‘have told the dooars adivasi organisations that had become very angry at the GJM’s move, that you should maintain calm and be of orderly conduct, for otherwise, the purpose of the GJM would have been served.’ We are aware of the problems that the adivasis face and whether it was the dearth of Hindi-medium school or the issue of closed and sick tea gardens, the Left Front government would look into them for a fruitful but amicable solution.’
The CPI(M) and the LF stood for unity of the plains people and the hills people in all their colourful existence. Buddhadeb appealed once again to the GJM leaders not to go in for separatism for that would not solve whatever anguish they nourished in the hearts-and-minds, and whatever was the sort of deprivation they might nurture.
‘We are ready to provide the hill area with more administrative and financial powers for developmental purposes, but who would stand to gain if you go in for separatism? Has the carving away of Jharkhand from Bihar been of any help to the people of either of the two neighbouring states?’ he asked.
Buddhadeb asked the Pradesh Congress leaders to come clean of their stand on the issue of a separate hill district. The Congress speaks in one tone in the terai and dooars and in quire another in the hills. This was duplicity and the victims are the common people, especially the poor who become more and more confused and angry at being played as ducks-and-drakes.
Recalling the 1970s when the violent Naxalite movement swept Bengal and the 1980s when the Gorkhaland movement under the counter-progressive stewardship of the GNLF, shed the blood of the poor and the bourgeois parties had silently provided succour and encouragement to the politics of destruction, Buddhadeb asserted that those days would not be allowed to come back and haunt the state again. In the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the electorate must vote for peace, for amity, for progress, for development.
Elsewhere in Darjeeling the CPI(M) candidate for the seat Jibesh Sarkar was heckled by the GJM hoodlums but nonetheless, he also received a cheerful welcome from the masses of the hill station, and his campaign up in the hills was such a success that the Bengal CPI(M) would extend electioneering in such important hill towns as Kurseong, and Kalimpong shortly, urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharyya, a long-time Party activist of Siliguri and Darjeeling assured us.
A reality now, more than ever, the third front with the Left in the lead shall direct the shape of the Lok Sabha that shall be formed after the Lok sabha election. This was Biman Basu, state secretary, Bengal CPI(M) at the massive convention of Left student-youth held in Kolkata at a packed indoor stadium on March 28, the anti-unemployment day.
Biman Basu said in clear tones that both the bourgeois alliances, one led by the Congress and the other by the religious fundamentalist BJP, were breaking apart in front of their own eyes, and they stand helpless. The third front gains strength continuously and is spreading its political wings across a larger and ever larger footprint across India.
Explaining that it had been the Left students-youth organisations that had commenced observing the anti-unemployment day from way back in 1973, the speaker said that the young generation of the Left had also played an exemplary role in the struggle against quasi-fascism and lumpen terror that bled Bengal during the 1970s. The relevance of March 28 shall continue until an end was wrought of exploitation, deprivation, and the ruling classes control over the means of production.
Extending his arguments into analysing the massive economic recession that has slowed down production and has resulted in millions of people losing their jobs, especially in the developed capitalist world, the Bengal Left Front chairman said that more than a hundred million young men and women stand to lose employment in India itself over the next year or so. By 2020, the rate of unemployment itself shall reach 30 per cent in the sub-continent.
Even as we speak today, said the senior CPI(M) leader, India has lost 1.5 million jobs in the organised sector alone. Five lakh people connected with the once-lucrative ornaments trade are today without a viable means of livelihood. The sunrise Info-Tech industry and the BPO sector are set to see job losses running into lakhs in the coming period, adding to the burden of joblessness.
The country groans under misery because of the fatuous way the ruling classes have clung to the capitalist path and ‘globalisation.’ The Left has cautioned the people during the earlier Lok Sabha polls against the expected facet of the Congress policy of towing the economic policy of the NDA régime, and that proved disastrously true for the nation, especially for the toiling masses.
Biman also mentioned the unholy alliances that had come together in Bengal against the CPI(M) and the Left Front. As he put, the masses shall bid good night to the forces of darkness whose surreptitious alliance was forged not in the broad day light but in the darkness of the night. Biman was also thoroughly critical of the way the opposition had suddenly started to shed what were clearly tears of sham and falsity for the adivasis.
The opposition was also playing the communal card as dangerously as the young stalwart of the BJP was doing with impunity at the national level —and getting away with it. Biman called upon the youth to be politically active in dealing a blow to the hopes and evil ambitions of the opposition in the Lok Sabha polls all over Bengal. A win in Bengal for the CPI(M) and the Left would improve the prospects that much more for the Left-led third front. Student and youth leaders, too, addressed the vast gathering.