People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 01

January 03, 2010

BENGAL SOLIDARITY MEETING IN CHENNAI

 

'Change' for Better or Worse?

C P Krishnan

 

CONDEMNING the ongoing murderous violence of the Trinamool and 'Maoists' against CPI(M) and Left parties cadre in West Bengal and expressing solidarity with the democratic sections of that state who are resisting these forces of anarchy, hundreds of people assembled at Kerala Samaj, Chennai, at the call of the North and South Chennai district committees of the CPI(M) on December 17, 2009. Surya Kanta Mishra, Party central committee member and minister for health and family welfare, government of West Bengal, was the main speaker in the meeting.

 

The meeting was presided over by S K Mahendran, MLA and among the speakers included G Ramakrishnan, central committee member of CPI(M), A Soundararajan, state secretariat member of the Party, T K Shanmugam and Beema Rao, state committee members of the Party.

 

Addressing the packed gathering, Surya Kant Misra thanked the Tamilnadu state committee of the Party for organising this meeting not only to condemn the violence of TMC and Maoists but also to express solidarity with the democratic forces resisting such violence. He underlined that this is not the first time that such violence has been let loose on the Left and democratic forces in Bengal. In 1967, the first United Front government was formed in the state with CPI(M) emerging as a big force with 40-plus MLAs.  That government was dismissed using Article 356 of the Constitution. Within two years elections were held again by which time CPI(M) doubled its strength in the state assembly. Even this government was once again dismissed within a year, in 1970, and in the elections held in 1971 CPI(M) won more than 110 seats in the state assembly. From 1972 onwards, semi-fascist terror was unleashed by the then Congress rulers, which lasted for nearly four years and in which around 1400 CPI(M) cadres were brutally killed; 20,000 people were driven out of their homes; 300 offices of the Left trade unions were forcibly occupied by the Congress goons; 70,000 false cases were registered against thousands of Party cadres. The 9th Party Congress, held at Madurai in Tamilnadu in 1972, sent a warning to the whole nation that what was happening then in West Bengal would not stop there and it would not be against the CPI(M) and the Left parties' cadres alone. It would spread to the whole nation and against all the democratic forces if left unchecked. This warning came true within the next three years as Emergency was proclaimed in the country by the Congress government in 1975. Lakhs of people were arrested; the freedom of press was banned; the democratic voices were stifled. Even the songs of a famous singer like Kishore Kumar were banned to be aired on All India Radio. Violence was let loose throughout the country. The elected MLAs of the CPI(M) boycotted the assembly throughout the session to register their protest against the indiscriminate rigging of the elections. After the lifting of Emergency, in the subsequent elections held in 1977, the Left Front came to power with a clear two-thirds majority.

 

“A question is posed to us”, said Misra, “that why this magnitude of violence is unleashed on the Left cadres even after the continuous 32 year rule of the Left in the state. During the seventh tenure of Left Front government alone, 344 Party cadres were killed. In the year 2009 alone 159 cadres were done to death, out of which 120 comrades were killed after the 15th Lok Sabha elections”, he said.

 

Misra elaborated further that “the Left Front government has been voted to power consecutively for seven times and has been in power for the past 32 years uninterruptedly due to the support of the people. In 2004, 61 Left MPs were elected, of which a major portion was from West Bengal. This was the highest ever number of Left MPs in independent India. The Congress Party depended on the Left parties and the CPI(M) for survival of its government at the centre. But the CPI(M) and the Left parties were vociferously opposing the neo-liberal policies of the Congress-led UPA government at the centre. The CPI(M) was firmly opposing the imperialist hegemony, particularly the India-US nuclear deal which was very much detrimental to the interest of the people. That is the reason why concerted attacks have been unleashed on the Left parties and particularly the CPI(M)”, said Misra. He asserted that CPI(M) came into existence neither for running state governments nor for making its members/leaders MLAs or ministers. It participates in the parliamentary democratic system as it has deep roots among the people of India and shall continue to do so. But the aim of the Party is to usher in a People’s Democratic Revolution and to establish a People’s Democratic Front government.

 

He narrated that since 1977 varied tactics were adopted by the ruling class parties to dislodge the Left Front government from power in West Bengal. Several conspiracies were hatched but nothing could be done due to the support it enjoyed from the people. Therefore this time new tactics have been adopted. The forces ranging from the Right extreme to the Left extreme have joined hands against the CPI(M) and the Left parties in the form of a grand alliance. They use money, media and muscle power against the Left. With these three Ms, joined the 'Maoists', making it four Ms. The 'Maoists' leader, so-called Kishanji, appeared before some television channels with a mask and gave an interview exhorting the people of Bengal to vote for Trinamool Congress and make Mamata Banerjee the next chief minister. “These people who proclaim to boycott elections, want people of West Bengal to elect her as their CM. The nexus between these two forces can be easily understood. Earlier they unleashed terror in Singur, Nandigram and now they unleash violence in Lalgarh. The secret alliance between TMC and the 'Maoists' has now been exposed to the whole world. Their only aim is to capture power in the state by hook or crook. But we are very sure that that these four Ms will be defeated with one M, namely Marxism”, asserted the CPI(M) leader.

 

The Trinamool, along with the Left and Right extremists, has is now chanting the slogan of ‘Change’. “We also want change. The question is whether the change is for better or worse. In the 32 years of the Left Front rule, 84 per cent of the land holding is in the possession of the small and marginal farmers with a land holding of two or less acres of land. When compared to the landholding of the small and marginal farmers of all the non Left-ruled states put together, this is double the size. What change they want? Do they want to reverse this? The SC/ST population of the state constitutes 28 per cent of the total population whereas their land holding constitutes 54 per cent of the total land holding in the state. Is there any parallel to this in our country? This is not our statistics but those released by the union rural development ministry of the central government. Do they want to reverse this and hand over the land back to landlords? Is this the change they advocate?” he questioned.

 

The Left Front rule in West Bengal has ensured distribution of land to the landless; development of the tribal people and dalits; empowerment of women; decentralisation of powers and finance to gram panchayats; democratisation of co-operative sector etc. All these achievements are being sought to be undone by these reactionary forces in favour of big capitalists and landlords. That is why the question whether change is for better or worse is being raised, he said.

 

The CPI(M) leader appealed to the people who voted against the Left parties in the recent elections to consider the present situation. The number of the seats in Lok Sabha for Congress party has increased in the UPA-II government compared to what they had in the previous Lok Sabha even though there is not much increase in the percentage of votes polled. The Left parties which had the highest ever number of MPs in the last Lok Sabha have presently the lowest number of MPs in the last 40 years. He asked the people to consider what has been the impact of this on their lives. The prices of essential commodities are sky-rocketing; there is no food security; there is no job security or guarantee; the universalisation of foodgrains through ration shops has been given a go-bye; the situation in Andhra Pradesh has been mishandled; the central government is kneeling down before US imperialism on the nuclear deal and its implementation; the insurance sector is going to be thrown open for Foreign Direct Investment; the shares of Public Sector Undertakings are going to be sold in the share markets; the adverse New Pension Scheme is being thrust on the working class; the pension funds are thrown open for the private players; the Patents Act is going to be changed affecting the interest of the common man etc.

 

These are some of the changes that are being contemplated by the UPA-II government at the centre. The people must reflect whether these changes are in their interest or against them. As these changes are definitely against the interest of the general public, the Left parties and the CPI(M) are determined to fight against these both inside and outside the parliament. He sought the support of people in this fight.

 

“As the CPI(M) has been a stumbling block to the anti-people polices of the central government, a concerted attack is being waged against the Party. As has been warned by us in 1972, even this attack, if left unchecked, will spread to the rest of India. Let us reach out to the people who have not been with us and who left us in between; let us mobilise the people of India in this fight for democracy. The Left parties are ready to make any sacrifice in this fight. We will continue this fight till the last drop of blood and till our last breath. Our blood will further redden the Red flag. Our heads may be rolled down but we will not bow our head to these inimical forces; Senior leader of the CPI(M), Comrade M Basavapunniah used to say ‘if there is any confusion about whether the stand taken by you is right or wrong, see where Imperialism is and take a stand opposite to that’. Now, Mamatha and 'Maoists' combine are acting as the stooges of Imperialism. Their target of attack is CPI(M) and the Left parties. In this fight against Imperialism, we are happy to note that the Tamilnadu state committee is fully with us in all respects”, so saying Surya Kanta Misra concluded his speech.

This speech enthused the gathering and made them realise the seriousness of the danger and the necessity of a serious fight to save democracy and the Left Front in West Bengal, whatever may the cost be.