People's Democracy

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


No. 19

May 08, 2011


Rural Poor Bolstering Left Front

N S Arjun from



IF one goes by the corporate media's coverage in Bengal, it would appear that the only thing of interest left in the present elections is the swearing in of Mamata Banerjee as the next chief minister of the state. In fact, in a blatant attempt to influence voters, Ananda Bazar Patrika has published on May 4 the likely future ministers of her cabinet along with their photographs and portfolios as their main lead news! It is as though Trinamool Congress' call for poribartan (change) has already occurred in the state.


A visit to the rural areas of the state makes it clear that nothing can be farther from truth than this frenzied, partisan coverage by the corporate media. Elections in Bengal have always been – and more so this time given the range of forces intent on dislodging the Left Front government – an arena of bitter class battle. With the rural poor realising what this so-called poribartan would mean to their lives – a return to the rule of landlords, jotdars and rich peasants – they are consolidating behind the Left Front in larger numbers by each passing day. Consequently, a revitalised Left Front is waging this battle with gusto. Each vote is being hard fought for and it would indeed be naïve to believe that the Bengal election outcome is a settled matter.


Burdwan is a citadel of the Left Front not without reason. Much before the All India Kisan Sabha was formed in 1936, the district witnessed heroic peasant struggles under the banner of Burdwan Krishak Samithi since 1933. The struggles were against usury interest, high rents and taxes. The peasants successfully faced British repression and wrested concessions. This movement was led by Comrade Bhupendranath Dutta, the youngest brother of Swami Vivekananda. He was also one of the founding members of the Communist movement in Burdwan. Legendary figures of Kisan movement, Benoy Krishna Choudhary, Harekrishna Konar, Saidullah and others came from this district. Post Independence too, this glorious legacy of struggles continued under the banner of AIKS and Communist Party for distribution of land and for the rights of sharecroppers. Thousands of acres of land were occupied by the poor peasants in the district during the United Front government of late sixties.


However, during the semi fascist terror of 1970s, the gains of the peasants were sought to be undone. Like elsewhere in the state, 186 leaders and cadres of CPI(M) and AIKS were brutally murdered in the district as part of that effort. In Burdwan town alone, 23 leaders were killed among whom included freedom fighters who were killed barely some feet away from the police station in the town. Thousands of peasants who had occupied surplus lands were evicted.  A reign of terror was let loose.


After the coming to power of the first Left Front government in 1977, Operation Barga was fittingly launched from this district. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land were distributed among the poor peasants and the recording of sharecroppers done. That the landlords and jotdars continue to nurse a grudge against the Left Front to this day and would spare no effort to once again wrest the lands from poor peasants has become clear post 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Around 30,000 acres of land vested to the poor peasants in the district is without pattas as Bhoomijeevi Sangha, an umbrella body of the landlords, raised litigation in various courts. Such litigation is affecting around 1.87 lakh acres of distributed land across the state. The beneficiaries are in physical possession of the land. It is from such lands that these forces have begun to evict the peasants first. For that, they have once again resorted to terror tactics.


In Mangalkote, a district committee member of CPI(M), Comrade Phalguni Mukherjee, was brutally killed by TMC goons after the Lok Sabha polls. Another zonal committee member Comrade Sishir Chatterjee was hacked to death by these goons last year. Similarly in Hijolna village of Raina constituency, two comrades were killed. In Kethugram assembly constituency in one block area ten CPI(M) workers were killed since Lok Sabha polls. It is here that the CPI(M) candidate and his election agent were attacked by TMC goons on the polling day on May 3.


Alongside this terror, the jotdars supporting the TMC began efforts to evict the peasants from their lands. In Kulsona village in Mangalkote, a poor peasant Salim Mallick, has been tilling his one acre of land as a sharecropper for the last 30 years. His tenancy is recorded but he was not given patta due to litigation. He was evicted by the jotdar. The entire poor peasants stood by Mallick and forced the jotdar to give his land back. Similar efforts in Raina were thwarted by the conscious peasants.


CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and industry minister in the Left Front government Nirupam Sen said that a section of neo-rich farmers, who are financially well off due to double and triple cropping of their lands, are supporting the Trinamool Congress. He felt the main pillars of support for Trinamool are the lumpen elements and that this has sparked off fears of return of 1970s semi-fascist terror among the people. He felt that the Left campaign in areas where there have been murderous attacks by the Trinamool goons has been the most positive.


Nirupam Sen is seeking re-election from Burdwan Dakshin constituency. He asserts that the situation of 2009 is not prevalent in the state now due to various reasons. “Going by the response to our campaign, it has been distinctly noted that those who left us have returned. There is also a perceptible shift among minorities in our favour”, he says. As for the reasons for this turnaround, Sen highlighted the change in focus of LF government with thrust on various welfare schemes. The unprecedented corruption, price rise, black money issues haunting the Congress-TMC led UPA-II government has also impacted the mindset of people. Also, the nepotism, corruption and forcible collection of money in the TMC-run local bodies has exposed their true character before the people, he says.


So, when Mamata Banarjee, gives the slogan: Mangalkote theke Raina, Vaam Front ka aur chaina (from Mangalkote to Raina, No more Left Front), the rural poor clearly understand the real meaning of that slogan. Terror, accompanied by snatching away of their hard won gains of the last 34 years. They are determined to defeat that slogan.