(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 26, 2009
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury has called upon the people of the hills to come forward for a peaceful solution of Darjeeling problem. “The proper development of the hill areas can only be fruitful through highest possible regional autonomy within the state of West Bengal”, he said while addressing a packed meeting at Chakbazar in Darjeeling town.
As has been reported in these columns, CPI(M) activists are not being allowed to conduct election campaign in the hills freely. The separatist Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading the movement for a separate ‘Gorkhaland’, has created an atmosphere of fear in the hills. They have threatened that anyone opposing them would be thrown out of Darjeeling.
A large number of people defied this fatwa on April 21, 2009 to join the meeting in Chakbazar, at the heart of the town. Yechury in his speech said the communists were all along in the forefront of the struggle of the hill people. Not only in economic struggle, the Left parties were also most vocal in achieving the recognition of Nepali language and the development of the distinct identity of the hill people. Whatever situation comes, CPI(M) will continue to be the true friend of the hill people.
Referring to the separate Gorkhaland demand, Yechury said that smaller states are not solution for lack of development. He cited the example of Jharkhand and said though it was formed in the name of the tribals, they have become the most oppressed sections there. He criticised the BJP for playing with the sentiments of the hill people and said that BJP has no clear vision about the future of Darjeeling. ‘They have taken a hypocritical stand’, he observed and questioned the false debate about the so-called ‘future PM’ and said that this has to be decided after the polls, not before it. ‘Selecting a PM who may get defeated in the polls will be ridiculous’, he said.
Earlier, Yechury campaigned in support of the Left Front candidates for Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Lok Sabha constituencies. Speaking at a rally at Chalshabazaar of Jalpaiguri district, on April 20, Yechury said successive union governments have not implemented any pro-people policies, which have resulted in our country being divided into two different countries (suffering India and shining India) co-existing within one India. On the one hand, there are the farmers, workers, middle class and the working population and the vast amount of unemployed and on the other side of the divide are the multinational companies, the big monopolistic capitalists and speculators.
In India assets of 100 crore Indians equal 100 richest persons of the country. When the toiling people are being repressed under the system, the riches of the privileged few are sparkling. On the one hand, the super rich are constructing new residences worth more than Rs 4000 crore and on the other hand 78 per cent of the Indians’ daily consumption amounts to less than Rs 20 per day. He further added that it is due to the anti-people policies of the successive Congress and BJP-led union governments that in India poor are becoming poorer while the rich are accumulating more wealth. This can be changed only with the installation of a government which would pursue alternative economic policies.
Yechury observed that the Congress and BJP are both losing their alliance partners in many states of the country starting from Bengal to Tamil Nadu. On the other hand the cohesive unity of the Left in West Bengal is the guiding force of the Third front.
A day after the holding of CPI(M) rally in Darjeeling, the reactions and response that we received from the hill city were overwhelmingly in favour of the CPI(M) meeting in general and the address by Sitaram Yechury in particular.
Representatives of every hill community – the Tamangs, the Gurungs, the Lamas, the Thapas, the Mokhtans, the Bhattarais, the Pathaks, and the Chhetris et al – i.e., cutting across castes as well as social groups- spoke paeans of praise in favour of the basic tenor of the CPI(M) rally.
The CPI(M) rally called for unity of the people of the hills, the plains. The political content of Yechury’s address where he emphasised the position of the CPI(M) and the Left as friends and comrades of the hill communities in and out of the parliament struck a sympathetic chord, as they told us, among the minds of the hill people.
GJM IN A BIND
On the other hand, the separatist GJM and its cohorts have been made angry at the way the CPI(M) could make its way back, and in force, to the hill townships of Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong, and they are infuriated at the onrush of popular, indeed mass, support for the CPI(M), once again in the hills after a gap.
The scathing attack that Sitaram Yechury launched during his address at the opportunism and dangerous brinkmanship of the divisive kind of the BJP also blended well with the consensus in the hills, among people of such far flung areas as Chungtung, Hrishihaat, Kaujali, Jhenpey, Pemeti, Balachanr, Gokh, Bijonbari, Poolbazaar, Aatpara, and Teendharia.
Elsewhere, Biman Basu, CPI(M) Bengal secretary, and chairman Bengal Left Front told the media that the Left Front called upon the Election Commission to ensure that voting remained free and fair in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong. Biman also complained that at least half-a-dozen letters written by him to the ECI on the situation developing in the hill sub-divisions had gone unresponded to and it seemed nothing would be done by the ECI to remedy and set right the recent state of tension there.