People's Democracy

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


No. 47

November 20, 2011

All out Attack on Democracy in West Bengal


On November 11, Surjyakant Mishra, leader of opposition in the West Bengal state assembly, released a document titled “All Out Attack on Democracy in West Bengal,” while addressing a press conference at Banga Bhavan in New Delhi. While the document detailed the attacks the cadres of the Trinamul Congress (TMC) have perpetrated against the members and supporters of the CPI(M) and other Left Front parties in the state since immediately after the assembly elections in May 2011, it also documented the patronage the TMC goons have been receiving from the state government. On this occasion, Mishra also quoted a couple of recent examples of TMC misdemeanours, adding that in some instances these goons have not spared even the Congress party that is allied to the TMC. 


Panchayati raj institutions, university senates and other elected bodies too are facing the threat of getting dismantled, Mishra said.


In reply to the presspersons’ queries about what was new in the document as the TMC too, while in opposition, had been making such charges against the then Left Front government, Mishra asserted that he had enough proof to substantiate his charges and that his evidences can be verified any time, by anyone. He also said that the chief minister had not deemed it necessary to reply to any of the 40 letters he had written her in these six months. Mishra dubbed the situation as an indicator that something worse than the Emergency was in the offing, as even the normal activities of opposition parties were getting obstructed. 

The text part of the aforementioned document follows.


Reign of terror

Following the declaration of the last assembly election results in West Bengal on 13.05.201, the TMC led ruling combine has unleashed reign of terror on the Left activists. Several representations from the dharnas, protest rallies organised by the West Bengal Left Front committee, memorandum given by the Left Front Legislature Party and 40 letters given by the leader of the opposition to the chief minister for redressal went unheeded. The governor was apprised of the situation more than once. Even the prime minister of India has been intimated and furnished with all details and data. Reports reveal that till 31.10.2010, 43 Left Front activists and supporters have been murdered, 10 more were abetted to commit suicide, 699 women were assaulted physically, 511 molested and 23 raped; 4157 persons had to be hospitalised for the treatment of injuries suffered by them and many more were forced not to lodge complaint and seek hospital treatment. Apart from that 66 Left activists were untraced before 2011. Out of that one skeleton of an untraced activist was found recently. There had been 2654 cases of arson and looting of houses and 40,095 persons were evicted from their place of living under threat. 3185 Left leaders and activists have been arrested on false and fabricated cases. There have been 165 incidents of pre planned so-called ‘arms recovery’. To buy peace and stay in their home, people have been forced to pay money to the local AITC leaders and workers. According to the most conservative estimate, total extortion amount thus paid might exceed Rs 278.7 million. 771 party, trade union and offices of other mass organisations were either burnt, closed or captured. 77 offices of students union have been captured. There have been widespread attacks on the rights of peasantry where more than 3418 ryots were denied to cultivate their own lands measuring more than 9222.73 acres, besides 26841 number of patta holders and share croppers have been evicted from 9222.47 acres land. Even the Left party organs have not been spared. More than 244 boards displaying Ganashakti Daily in public places have been dismantled and thousands of its copies have been burnt. The hawkers have been beaten to disrupt its circulation chain.


While Maoists and KLO militants are being released as political prisoners, thousands of Left Front activists have been implicated in false cases on fabricated grounds including those instituted on the plea of the so-called recovery of arms and skeletons. Democratic institutions like panchayat bodies, municipalities, co-operatives, different elected bodies of educational institutions have been made defunct either by attacks, intimidations or by government’s fiats. In certain areas, teachers, non-teaching staff and students are not being allowed to enter their institutions. The state is going into an anarchic situation where even Congress followers are not spared from the aforesaid attacks. The infighting among the TMC factions appears in the media every day.


LWE aggression in JangalMahal/ continuation of TMC-Maoists covert links

When the Left Front government was in office, there was a remarkable success in confronting this menace by the co-ordinated actions of the central and state government. The new government has completely reversed this stand thereby giving the LWEs a free hand to regroup, strengthen and expand the area of operation leading to murder of three TMC leaders and one Jharkhand Party leader close to TMC. While keeping the joint forces almost idle, the actions of the state administration appear to be a ‘got up game’ between the LWEs and the TMC blaming each other for breach of trust and mutual understanding forged before the poll. The common agenda of both of them is directed against the CPI(M) and the Left in general. The interlocutory dialogues between the state government alternating with war of words, look like eye washes, clearly exposing the unholy and unprincipled nature of their alliance.



The way the tripartite agreement has been signed and GTA bill passed without taking the opposition into confidence has further complicated the situation in the Hills. Keeping on record the demand of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha for a separate state of Gorkhaland and setting up a high power committee to recommend inclusion of new areas under GTA, the government has opened a Pandora’s Box. These are clear departures from the understanding arrived at the tripartite meetings held when the Left Front government was in office. In a very recent development, a proposal for creation of a Gorkha Adivasi Territorial Administration (GATA) has been floated. This has added a new dimension to the existing problem furthering the division between Gorkha and adivasi people and within the adivasi population itself. This may destabilise the peace and tranquility of this sensitive area inviting fresh threat to the national integrity and security.


Attack on three-tier panchayats and other elected bodies

The two basic pillars of Left alternative for equitable and sustainable development, land reforms and democratic decentralisation through panchayat bodies are being reversed and bureaucracy asked to rule over the three-tier panchayats. With no faith in people and their elected bodies, even 50 per cent of gram panchayats run by the TMC and its allies and other ministers are no more allowed to take to podium to address press conference. It not just shows a mere dependence on bureaucracy – it is a journey towards one person rule in the state, a clear manifestation of authoritarian trend. In this regime, so far 596 gram panchayat bodies run by Left have been forcefully taken over and run under the TMC dictum, 392 gram panchayat members in 54 gram panchayats and 20 panchayat samity members in 8 panchayat samities have so far been forced to resign. 390 members of 80 gram panchayats and 11 members in one panchayat samity have been compelled to defect to the TMC under serious threat.


Attack on trade union rights

There is an all-out attack on the rights of workers in the organised and unorganised sectors as well. The State Transport Corporation workers are not given their pensions. They are yet to receive their salary for the last month.


Dismantling the democratic education system

The TMC led government very recently promulgated an autocratic ordinance on the eve of winter session of the assembly to replace the court, senate, syndicate and other bodies elected by registered graduates, teachers, students, non-teaching staff and other stakeholders by nominated bodies to run the universities.


Worst consequences of this auocratic and bureaucratic educational system were experienced by people of this state in the early part of seventies. Irregularity and uncertainty in taking examination and declaration of results were main features at that time. This is a premier attempt of privatising and corporatising the education.


This ordinance is bound to revive nepotism and lack of transparency by discarding the scope of social monitoring already in place. It is evident in recent developments of nomination of the leaders, MLAs, MPs and ministers of the ruling parties in the management committees and governing bodies of educational institutions, setting away the elected bodies. The autonomy of the universities and authority of the vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors will be under serious attack.


Agrarian crisis

The farmers in the state are facing an unprecedented crisis to maintain their livelihood. The price of all essential commodities and agricultural inputs are roaring high and going out of reach of the peasantry. Cost of fertilisers increased by 40 per cent to 200 per cent after de-regulation with its hoarding and black marketing further worsening the plight of the farmers. Even one third of credit required is not met up by the banks. Recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission to fix the minimum support price of produce by adding 50 per cent to the production cost had not been implemented. The farmers had to sell jute at less than Rs 2000 a quintal as against Rs 4000 last year, paddy for around Rs 650 per quintal against Rs 1100 last year, potato Rs 150 per quintal against Rs 300 last year. No action has been taken either by JCI, FCI or by the state government. MGNREGA performance is extremely poor. The position of the state was among the first four in employment generation last year and now it is among the last four states. Agricultural labour is in utter distress, having almost no employment.


Govt’s failure to uphold the state’s demands and rights guaranteed by the constitution

In spite of raising the issues of re-allocation of funds from the central government as guaranteed by the constitution for the development of the state, the present state government is running after ‘special package’ leaving the major and genuine issues unattended like royalty, cess on coal, etc. A memorandum was submitted to the prime minister by the present Left Front Legislature Parties during his visit to the state where an alternative approach was proposed. Copies of the same were forwarded to the chief minister, finance minister and other ministers for their information. The leader of the opposition also proposed an all party delegation to the union government from West Bengal Legislative Assembly to discuss the matters so that a consensus could be arrived for the benefit of the state but no response from the government side was received.


In defiance of all parliamentary norms in an unprecedented manner, the present government did not face and deliberately avoided the budget discussions on some major departments like home, public works, land and land reforms, health etc. Even a full budget was not placed, leaving the state to run on de facto vote-on-account for the financial year.


Fragile policy freezes industrial prospects

In its five months tenure the present government was unable to make any headway in the industrial sector mainly due to its negative approach and government’s withdrawal from land acquisition process for industry. This will rather encourage the land sharks and land mafias, thereby providing an opportunity to form a class of speculators at the cost of the small farmers which account for 97 per cent of the holding and operating 84 per cent of the cultivated land. The state industrial projects so far conceived and announced from time to time by the government appears to be a day dream and not likely to happen in reality. The joint venture of the state government, SAIL and the Railways at Singur is not likely to make any progress in the tangle of all stakeholders, culminating in the recent judicial complicacies.


The state has already lost a sunrise opportunity in the automobile sector and as well as in the Petroleum, Chemical and Petro – Chemical Investment Region (PCPIR) at Nayachar in the district of Purba Medinipur. The proposed PCPIR, abandoned outright, would have been much eco-friendly than the proposed Thermal Power Plant. For all practical purposes, the land will be utilised in the name of eco-tourism by private real estate. The agreement lacks transparency and is yet to be made public. The progress of setting up of other steel industries in pipeline in backward districts like Bankura, Purulia has been jeopardised. All most all initiatives taken by the Left Front government for the development of industrial infrastructure viz Katwa Power Plant (NTPC), airport at Andal, East –West Corridor, food processing and agro based industries in North Bengal districts, broadening and expansion of national and state highways etc are being halted or rejected for nothing, making the future of the state dark. The state is going to face severe crisis in power sector. The present government has failed to make any short term or long term planning to handle the crisis.


Some letters written to the chief minister and others

Up to 03.11.11, the leader of the opposition has written 40 letters to the chief minister of West Bengal on aforesaid issues. Barring a single letter asking for more details, which were provided, no response has so far been received. This is only one example how curtsy extended to her by the opposition is being reciprocated. It may be recalled that the opposition attended all the meetings convened by the chief minister which, she ritually refused to do when the LF government was in office.