(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 20, 2011
THE Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata has seen large, massive rallies for at least five decades now, held at the call of the Left. However, probably all records were surpassed on 13 February. It was by far the biggest of assemblages.
The rally, popularly termed as the beginning of the election battle, was held after forty days of intensive campaign throughout the state. Hundreds of thousands of orderly processions merged in the rally ground from morning, thereby colouring the whole of Kolkata red in the early spring. All roads leading to Brigade looked like streams of humanity.
By the time it was mid-day, the maidan looked completely filled with million Red flags carried by a million-strong presence, maybe more. Thousands of people came from the affected rural and urban areas of both the jangal mahal and the northern fringes of the state. Women were very well represented indeed in this rally. Over and above the masses of workers and kisans, adivasis, students-youth, and urban and rural middle classes were present in great numbers.
Even before the meeting actually started, the entire downtown area stretching from the Esplanade on to the southern side of the venue had been filled up and that thousands of people had started to slow down as other marchers crowded the way into the maidan. In fact, we may say with under estimation that if over a million was present at the rally, tens of thousands simply could not either make to the maidan in good time or found the bottlenecks too complex to negotiate. No wonder, the general leitmotif of the rally was the expression of a resolute opinion to ensure that an eighth Left Front government would be set up in Bengal come the elections, due in April-May later this year.
A total of 378 Left workers have been killed by Trinamul Congress-'Maoist' alliance in West Bengal after the last parliamentary elections. The big and festooned Red dais that marked the rally out had in front, eight columns on which the names of the martyrs were inscribed. The Left Front leaders paid homage to the martyrs and placed wreaths of flowers at the columns.
Presiding over the mighty rally, Bengal Left Front Chairman, and CPI(M) state secretary Biman Basu called upon the people to resist the killers as these forces were out to jeopardise democracy itself. He asked the people to go back to their areas, their localities, their cities, their town, their villages, their hamlets with the resolution to ensure that a pro-people Left Front government is once again elected to office for democracy, and for development.
Biman Basu called for a people’s upsurge for democracy in the 79 thousand booths and auxiliary booths of the 294 Assembly constituencies to which elections would be held. Each household of each booth must be interacted with and the contact made close and clarifying towards the polls and the setting up another Left Front government in Bengal.
Noting the pro-poor measures the Left Front government had undertaken over the past three decades and more, the senior CPI(M) leader stated that democracy was well-established today in the urban and rural areas. The people are empowered by the rural and urban self-governing bodies. Unique in the country, Bengal witnesses 50 per cent of the planned budget decentralised down to the lowest level of functioning.
Around 30 lakh of the rural poor have benefited from free khas land, and 15 lakh more have won the right as share-croppers. The Left Front government has a democratic outlook on all sections of the working people, something that was not there before 1977. The members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have stood to win benefits under the Left Front governance. He alleged that ‘sharecroppers are being assaulted regularly and their lands largely being snatched by TMC landlords and TMC-led panchayats.
The Left Front government has initiated lots of developmental programmes not only for the organised labourers but also the unorganised labour force. To sustain such initiatives and ensure the development of the common mass we must organise people to form the 8th Left Front government. Only the Left Front government can fulfill the expectation of peasantry and industrial forces in West Bengal, averred Biman Basu.
He warned that the pace of development would halt if peace and democracy were not allowed to flourish. Mass education would suffer, as would pro-people progress. Democracy must be ensured to see the state go further ahead, working for the mass of the people. For this, the unholy alliance of the Bengal opposition must be dealt a strident defeat. A Left Front government was the need of the hour, concluded Biman Basu.
Rising to address the rally, amidst a great round of applause, West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee noted that the way of the masses was the way of the Left. The state has progressed with the Left. The slogan of the opposition to ‘change’ did not carry conviction. Would the proponents of this ‘change’ also call for changing of the measures undertaken by the Left Front government like development, democracy, redistributive land reforms, Panchayat system, mass education, and above all the flourishing of the rights of the common people! Would the masses now have to down the Red flag as well!
The call for this vaunted ‘change’ was also being fuelled by a segment of foreign powers that had nothing but fear and hatred of the Red flag. They are indulged in an ill-gotten effort to finish off the Left, if they could, in various countries. Let them beware and desist from all efforts from interfering with the affairs of Bengal, said Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Bhattacharjee referred to the Trinamul Congress as a disastrous danger and said that these forces were providing succour to the ‘Maoists’ and helping the latter’s efforts to kill the rural poor for the ‘crime’ of being Communists and Left workers. Until now, the ‘left’ sectarians could be contained in the three western districts of Bengal, the CPI(M) leader stressed. Buddhadeb was also critical of Trinamul Congress for their understanding with the separatist GJMM.
Bashing out at the second edition of the Congress-led UPA government, the chief minister highlighted the unprecedented corruption completely engulfing the UPA-II and the whole country. Billions of rupees of public money has already been drained into bourgeois pockets where ‘who’s who’ of the UPA associates are involved. And when the food inflation goes beyond the tolerance, they ridiculously argue that the reason of price rise lies in ‘the increasing purchasing power of people’ as people started consuming more!
Slamming the Congress as ‘unkind and brutal’ to the people, the chief minister averred that the Congress has given enough patronage to those illicit hoarders of the country who perpetrate ‘black marketing’ particularly of sugar and onions and many other essential commodities. These people are also responsible to drain out such commodities in the name of export, when the internal markets are witnessing soaring food inflation.
Referring to the black money, he said undeclared assets proliferated especially in foreign banks, and the Congress government would not disclose the names of the people owning such undeclared assets and income. The union government firmly believed yet in the ‘trickle down’ effect of putting the lubricant of wealth on the topmost earning layer of society and allowing the befits to drip down – an impossible and improbable scenario.
Addressing the youth brigade, the chief minister stated that Mamata Banerjee’s Railway Ministry is on the verge of complete bankruptcy. She is also very reluctant to fill up empty posts in different categories of employment. She can’t generate a single employment, averred Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee. “I specially congratulate the youth and students who have responded so hugely particularly in colleges and other institutions. We must convince those people, who have either been baffled or dissatisfied with the Left Front, about the imminent danger of the TMC-'Maoist' extremism”, affirmed Buddhadeb.
Noting that the Bengal Left Front government had made sure of the social security of unorganised workers, ensuring at the same time of emoluments for the workers of closed factories, Buddhadeb pointed that ‘we had wanted industrialisation in Singur and Nandigram and not any trouble and unrest for, trouble and unrest went against the grain of development and people’s understanding.
The Left Front government was in office on the strength of support among the toiling masses. They know what constitutes the Left Front government and what it politically connotes. The chief minister called upon the students-youth to come forward and make the Left Front more alive and alert while augmenting Left’s strength among the masses.
Bhattacharjee also appealed to the women as well to the members of the scheduled castes and tribes to renew all the while their strong support behind the left governance. The Left Front government has made reservations a possibility for the minority community, ensuring land and education for the people. There has been peace and amity in the state under its governance. Asking the people not be diverted in the wrong direction by the diatribe of the Railways minister, Bhattacharjee noted that the weight of the foundation stones itself would have a drawdown effect.
Bhattacharjee called upon the Left workers to lead the people out of any confusion that might have arisen, and to play this role as a political task. The people who had been misled must be interacted with and brought back into the fold. The errors and mistakes committed must be rectified. There is a plethora of good leaders and sincere workers yet, some of the leaders have erred, and this had the effect of getting the people to misunderstand us, said Bhattacharjee who also said that the people must be listened to with humility all the way with no commandism in existence.
He urged to reach out to the people in every city and every village and a strong organisation must be built up with their participation. ‘We have won seven assembly elections,’ said Buddhadeb who went on to assert that the Left Front would struggle and win the elections this time as well, and the people knew that they had no path other that the Left path before them for democracy and development.
The rally paid homage to the memory of the Communist poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz on his birth centenary. CPI(M) leader Mohd Selim recited the some memorable lines from Faiz. At the beginning of the rally, Biman Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee formally published a poster of a painting of Faiz by the noted artiste Wasim Kapoor. Also addressing the rally was CPI(M) leader Shyamali Gupta who in her brief address spoke of the role of the Left Front government in the uplift of women and pointed to the atrocious attacks on the women by the Bengal opposition and its goons across the districts, especially over the recent past.
Other Left Front leaders who spoke at the rally were Mohd Amin (CPI-M), Manjukumar Majumdar (CPI), Barun Mukherjee (FB), Kshiti Goswami (RSP), Kironmoy Nanda (SP), Pratim Chatterjee (FB-M), Umesh Chaudhury (Biplabi Bangla Congress), Prabodh Sinha (DSP), and Subhas Roy (RCPI).
(with inputs from our
Special Correspondent in Kolkata)