People's Democracy

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


No. 37

September 12, 2010

                        Yet another Successful

                        Left-led Strike in Bengal

                        B Prasant


THE 24-hour industrial strike that took the shape, character, and more importantly, size of a general strike was another successful working people’s action throughout Bengal on 7 September. 


From the tea gardens in north Bengal amongst the chia kaman mazdoor, along the dooars and terai, down the Ganges amongst the bidi mazdoors, right over onto the west to the khadan (mining, chiefly coal) area of the rocky hinterland of the swift-moving Damodar river, across to the east in the heartland of industrial south Bengal crossing Nadia, the two 24 Parganas, and Howrah plus the factory-dotted suburbia of the sprawling Kolkata metropolitan area covering the fast-urbanising eastern by-pass area up to Dumdum airport, up in to the agricultural belt (chiefly sprawling potato patches ranging around the silent sentinels of the air-conditioned, concrete-and-fibre glass-cold storage facilities, onto our beloved forestry area of the red clay earth zone, down again to the dock-and-port area of east Midnapore, there was a hum of activities – of the striking workers taking to the streets, roads, gullies, by-passes, village meadows, alleyways, and the docks, the airports, and the river traffic points of departure and arrival of barges. 


Why were the strikes such an enormous success in Bengal, consecutively one after the other? Why the success was exclusively achieved whenever the Left had called for such an action, with issues deeply touching the lives and livelihoods of billions of people, especially the poor and the downtrodden?  The answer lies in the three-step exercise in thought and action.


First, the issues around which the emergent need for the working class action is to be woven are carefully sifted around and then finally fixed and decided upon by the national leadership of the TU organisations and the powerful ranks of the workers’-employees’ federations.


Once the issues are firmed up, the highly extensive and intensive campaign work starts.  There are smaller rallies, local level approaches to households, and factory level meetings, indoor and outdoor, hundreds of thousands of them in the space-and-time of two-to-three months.


Then follows the campaign work on a larger scale with the TUs and Left political parties, with the CPI(M) to the fore, organising bigger rallies going up from the towns, district HQs, and finally onto the Shahid Minar maidan or the Indoor Stadium in Kolkata, depending chiefly on the adversity or otherwise of the weather.  All throughout this period, the Ganashakti runs a daily column on the need for the general strike to be a success detailing out every possibly response that the people might well like of us in a corporate ambience where any working class action is regarded as an action non grata.


On the day-night in the case of a 24-hour strike, the streets, the bylanes and the gullies, the fields and the mines, the docks and the tea gardens are active with marches, smaller rallies, street-corner, factory gate meetings, and the Red flag is aflutter very visibly across the state.  This year, especial attention was given to the month of fasting (ramaz’an) of the minority community -- and the shops-and-establishments of every kind were seen to open and function as normal in the minority populated areas and zones, so that no inconvenience was to be created anywhere for anyone. 


Thus when the CITU leadership congratulated at the end of the day the people and the toiling masses for making the 7 September strike action a glorious success, they were iterating the deep and wide base that the people have built up over the decades in their hearts-and-minds for the CPI(M) and the CITU as the vanguard weapons of struggle, of campaign, of movements.  Expectedly, nothing untoward, nothing unpleasant has occurred as we file this report despite attempts to the contrary.