People's Democracy

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


No. 14

April 12, 2009


Left Front Surging Ahead in West Bengal

Debasish Chakraborty

THE Left Front is confidently surging ahead in West Bengal. The first phase of polling for 14 constituencies in the state will take place on April 30, 2009.

The major thrust of the Left front campaign is on the possibility of an alternative government at the centre by the Third forces. In fact the developments in this regard for the last one month have surcharged and fuelled an added momentum to the campaign. The Left front activists and sympathisers are visibly enthusiastic in moving forward with the aim of forging such a government. Both Biman Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya have called upon the people of the state to strengthen Left forces in West Bengal to make the alternative government a reality in Delhi.

One of the major planks is, of course, the development of the state. For the last two and a half years, West Bengal has been witness to how every developmental effort has been resisted by the opposition forces. ‘Anarchy or Development: which side you are taking?’ is most commonly seen graffiti on the walls. The debates on Singur and Nandigram, the upcoming petrochemicals project in Nayachar have become the agenda and the Left front cadres were relentlessly explaining the real issues. The Trinamool Congress and its supremo are widely seen as obstacles to employment generation in the state. The overwhelming response from the younger sections is evident.

The initial reports clearly suggest that the Front has largely regained the support in those parts of rural Bengal where it suffered in Panchayat elections last year.

The territorial integrity of the state too has become one of the major issues of the elections. The violent agitation in Darjeeling hills by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha for a separate state has been reinforced by open support from BJP. The party has fielded Jaswant Singh, former Defence minister in the Darjeeling constituency after the Morcha declared support for him. In exchange, BJP has assured active consideration of separate Gorkhaland in their national manifesto. Jaswant  Singh pronounced his support for separate state the moment he arrived in the hills. While BJP is banking upon the anarchic environment in the hills and policies of terrorising adopted by the Morcha, the CPI(M) is fighting back in a determined way. Party activists have braved the attacks and held meetings in various places in the hills.

In western part of the state, the combination of Maoists, different factions of the Jharkhand Party and Trinamool Congress has unleashed terror against CPI(M). In Lalgarh, a predominantly tribal populated area in West Midnapore district, a Maoists-backed , Trinamool-supported organisation is continuing a blockade. They have declared that the police or central security forces would not be allowed to enter the area. In reality, the Maoists are trying to spread their base in the border areas of Jharkhand. Maoists are helping TMC-Congress combine at least in three constituencies namely Jhargram, Purulia and Bankura.  The Maoists have openly acknowledged a ‘united front’ with TMC.

While the Left Front has focused on the national issues, on questions of policies, the entire campaign of the opposition is confined against the Left Front government. If one goes through the manifesto, slogans or speeches of opposition leaders, it would seem as if assembly elections are being taking place in the state. Though one can see few hoardings with photos of both Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee, TMC is silent on their assessment of UPA government and its policies.

The Congress party is in a pitiable condition after surrendering its entire stake for the alliance with TMC. Top ranking Congress leaders are following the shadow of Mamata Banerjee and in many parts of the state, dissents surfaced. The Congress leaders were conspicuous by their absence in meetings in Nadia, Hooghly and some other districts. On the other hand, rebel TMC leader Karim Chowdhury has filed his nomination against Deepa Dashmunshi, wife of Priyaranjan Dashmunshi, in Raigunje.

The Left Front has concentrated on intensive door-to-door campaign, small meetings rather than pompous and loud propaganda. The Left activists are involved in exchange of ideas or ‘dialogues’ instead of usual ‘monologues’. Big public rallies will start from April 16, 2009 after the conclusion of Higher Secondary examinations.