'We Must Clearly Spell Out Our Policy Of
Land Acquisition & Rehabilitation': Buddhadeb
West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee recently spoke to Ganashakti on a variety of developmental issues that are reflected in the policies of the Left Front government. During the course of the interview given on the occasion of Left Front government completing 31 years in office, Buddhadeb also commented on the Darjeeling developments.
The focal point of success of the Bengal Left Front government is the regime of redistributive land reforms because of which the rural poor is in possession of land parcels of varying sizes. The success has been achieved through a series of hard struggles and not merely through administrative regulations. The work of the administration also comprised the physical transfer of land rights in the shape of patta deeds to the rural poor and the landless.
Around 84 per cent of the total mass of agricultural land (amounting to 1.35 crore acres) is in the hands of the rural poor. There has also been the setting up and the running of panchayati raj institutions. The panchayats could be organised and run by the rural people because the land belongs to them now. This has in turn influenced the great success we have had in agricultural production. We lead the country in terms of producing rice, jute, potato, vegetables, fruits, flowers etc.
On the opposition to industrialisation
We gave a slogan that we shall consolidate our successes in agriculture and on that foundation shall build up industries. This was done as part of the pre-election call in 2006. Certainly, the people had agreed to the implicational content of the slogan that we raised. Nevertheless, the transition was never an easy task. We frankly expected opposition to be forthcoming as a compulsion from those whose land would be transferred. Thus, the task now is that we clear up further the issues affecting land acquisition and rehabilitation.
Consensus on the issue of development
The task of land reforms and transfer of land to the kisans and the rural poor was certainly done based on the widest possible consensus. The consensus was available because the programme was of anti-zamindar character and was also an exercise in democracy. However, on the issue of private capital that is connected with the process of industrialisation (we do not have any viable alternative to this) a confusion has been created amongst the ranks of the opposition parties, the LF constituents, and even amongst a section of the mass of the people.
At the same time, there is consensus in that everybody would say that they, too, would like to welcome industrialisation, and that they do not stand opposed to it. The debate is principally built up around the mode and method adopted. We have to reach a consensus here through discussion. We are fully seized of the indecision that the LF constituents are affected by on the question of private capital, big capital, and capital of the MNCs.
On the confusion among the poor
The orientation and direction of every programme of the LF government is towards the welfare of the working people who are poor. This is our major difference with other state governments.
We have always held that the Left alternatives of the Left Front government comprise:
* Land reforms, panchayati institutions etc
*Industrialisation aimed at increase of employment, with emphasis on the manufacturing sector and on the small and middle-level industries
*Total literacy, total health, self-help groups, social security especially for unorganised workers etc
These are the directions of our programmes. It is true nonetheless that despite all this, we are not able to reach out to every section of the poor. The state government, the panchayati raj bodies, the municipalities, and especially the Party must specially look to this on a basis of urgency.
On the reduction of mass support
We are presently in the midst of going about a comprehensive review of the results of the rural polls. The preliminary review has revealed that there are several common reasons why our support was eroded where it did. These include, for example, weaknesses of the Party and the mass organisations, the disunity amongst LF constituent partners, the weakness of our campaign against the propaganda of the opposition, and above all, the spread of a baseless fear on the issue of land acquisition. We have to discuss thoroughly all these issues before fixing our next steps.
We have to proceed with great caution and patience in dealing with the Darjeeling problem for the issue is very sensitive and is also connected with the question of nationality. A political solution must be found through discussions. We can and shall remain, solidly bonded together - the people of the hills and the people of the plains.
The basic pre-condition of development is peace and amity. The avenues of discussion with the leadership of the Darjeeling agitation must be kept open. We have kept the union government aware of the issue on behalf of the state LF government. The resolution of the issue, as we have said, must be forthcoming through an amicable discourse.
PEOPLE’S DEMOCRACY, June 29 , 2008