People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 07

February 14, 2010

MAMMOTH RALLY IN KOLKATA SHOWS DETERMINATION

 

Fight Back is On

B Prasant

 

IT was yet another Sunday of Red flags in Kolkata. Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Kolkata streets and merged in Brigade Parade Ground on February 7, 2010 at the call of the Left Front, with determined spirit of fighting back the forces of anarchy and terror.

This mammoth rally came in the backdrop of more than two hundred of the tested and tried valiants of the CPI(M) and the Bengal Left Front being butchered over the past year, and the body count never stops growing.  Thousands yet live in terror, in makeshift sheds of light polythene, in the unusually long and bitter Bengal cold.  Leaders are being specifically targeted. 

The slogan rang out, loud-and-clear, from the masses of the people that a new phase of the struggle – of protest and of resistance – has commenced in Bengal.  The rally also focused on price rise, employment, against anarchy and defending democracy in the state. The CPI(M) and other Left parties conducted an intensive campaign on these issues across the state for over a month.

The rally was not a show of strength, but a show of courage and commitment to the Left movement. People from Lalgarh, Shalboni, Ranibandh, Balarampur, areas most affected by Maoist violence, attended the rally in numbers and many of them were actually the family members of the martyrs. Well-known faces of the jangal mahal  greeted us with the clenched fist salute, thin arms quivering with rage – and a sway of happiness - as they mingled friendly with the massive people presence.

Debraj Manna of Dharampur in West Midnapore , was a first timer in such a rally in Brigade. Debraj,23, narrowly escaped the attack of Maoists while his father and a brother were killed. The mammoth gathering strengthened his confidence as he uttered his most cherished dream, “We will return to our home in Lalgarh again”. Launcho Mandi, whose wife and four year old daughter were burnt alive by Trinamool Congress goons in Dhaniakhali in Hooghly joined the rally with a heavy heart.

Manifestly, it was a rally of the younger generation. Thousands of students and youth led the processions that rushed towards the ground; their spirit was evident through vigorous slogans, Che flags etc. SFI, in the recent period, won overwhelmingly in college students’ union elections battling severe attacks.

People came from afar in endless, orderly streams across Bengal and then along the roads, streets, lanes, and by-lanes of Kolkata.  Busy professionals mingled with the workers, students with the kisans, youth with the khet mazdoors. We saw a doctor, literally run out, hastily tucking in her stethoscope into a large handbag, out of a eastern Kolkata medical institution on the CIT Road and catch up with her comrades-at-arms of the branch that she leads, and then she mixed seamlessly, happily  into the slogan-shouting river of humanity.

Chief minister and CPI(M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, addressing the rally, said that there was an impending danger in West Bengal. ‘What is coming as attacks on the Left were actually attacks on rights of the poor and the toiling masses. The Left front has emerged through fifty years of struggle and the poor have been empowered and their self esteem has been held high during the tenure of the Left Front government. The grand alliance, ranging from ultra right to ultra left, against the Left was trying to snatch the rights of the toiling people. The foreign forces who don’t want to see a strong Left in India is also helping them”, he said.

Bhattacharya further said, “West Bengal has advanced a lot. Now, some forces are trying to thwart every step towards development. They are taking recourse to murder, separatism, and even spreading communal poison.”

He reminded the packed gathering that covered every millimetre of the maidan, and beyond, that the time had come to build up resistance to the unholy efforts going on towards creation of social and political anarchy in Bengal, to bring back the days of the jackal of the seventies. “Come what may, we will not surrender”, asserted Bhattacharya and said, “We are accepting the challenge of defeating the danger”.

Left Front chairman and CPI(M) state secretary Biman Basu, in his address, sharply criticised the UPA government and said that their pro-MNC , pro-rich policies had led to rising prices and increasing burden on the poor. The central government has failed to take any measure against hoarding and black marketeering. He called for isolating the forces of anarchy.

Md Amin warned the centre that the working class would be compelled to go for all India general strike if the centre refused to mend its way.

Left Front leaders, including Ashok Ghosh (Forward Block), Kshiti Goswami (RSP), Manjukumar Majumder (CPI) called for bigger and united struggle against the anti-people policies of the centre and anti-democratic actions of the opposition forces in the state. CPI(M) Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury and Nirupam Sen were present at the rally.

Though he was not physically present, the rally reverberated with the memories and ideals of Comrade Jyoti Basu. A big cut-out of his, in a saluting posture, was placed beside the stage. Books and magazines on the departed leader were bestsellers.