Tuesday, December 28, 2010

West Bengal 2006-2010:Touching New Milestones(6)

Helping the Downtrodden

· Pension: The amount of monthly pension offered by the Government to the Disabled, Senior Citizens, Tribal Pensioners, Fishermen, Farmers and Widows has been revised upwards from Rs. 500/- to Rs.1000/- during the tenure of this Seventh Left Front Government. The number of beneficiaries have also increased manifold.

· The Social Welfare Department offers Disability Pension (since 1980), Widow Pension and Old Age Pension (since 1979) to more than 160300 recipients. The number of beneficiaries of Disability Pension has increased 5 times, recipients of Widow Pension has increased 3-1/2 times and the number of Old Age Pensioners have been enhanced by 90% in the last five years.

· PROFLAL & AAM AADMI PLAN: Beneficiaries of the Provident Fund Scheme for Landless Farmers (PROFLAL) have also swelled in number. About 25 lakh landless agricultural labourers would benefit from the provisions of PROFLAL and Aam Aadmi Schemes this year. The age limit for eligibility of the schemes has also been raised from 50 to 60 years.

· Financial Assistance to the workers of closed factories :- Even in 2006, the monthly financial assistance to the workers of closed down factories and Tea-gardens was Rs.500/- only, which has been increased to Rs.1,500/- at present.

· Beside the Transport Workers :- The State Government has extended a consolatory assistance of Rs.2000/- per head to transport workers rendered jobless due to withdrawal and non-replacement of vehicles with registrations prior to April 1, 1993. The decision is unprecedented in the country.

· The State Government spent about Rs. 400 Crore in the last financial year so that the farmers do not have to bear the brunt of surplus production of potatoes. The objective was to protect the interests of potato-growers.

· Welfare of Hawkers: The Seventh Left Front Government adopted the West Bengal Urban Street Vendor Policy in October 2010. Adoption of the Policy was an unprecedented step towards legalizing the Hawkers and safeguarding their interests. The Government will now consider adopting welfare measures like education, health security, training, loan assistance etc. for hawkers in consonance with the Policy.

· Indira Awaas Yojana: 111512 houses were constructed under the programme in the year 2008-09 while in 2009-10 214827 houses have been constructed. The number has almost doubled.

· Total Sanitation Campaign: The number of Sanitary Toilets constructed in 2008-09 was 448120 while in 2009-10 529663 Sanitary Toilets have been constructed. That is 81543 more than the previous year's total.

· Pucca houses for the Economically Weaker Sections: A number of programmes are being implemented in West Bengal for the Economically Weaker Sections. The Housing Department has launched its Aamar Bari Project in December 2009. A beneficiary in possession of 2 decimals of land whose monthly income does not exceed Rs. 6000/- may get a Pucca house under the scheme. This project is being implemented through the Fisheries, Forest, Sunderban Affairs, Minority Affairs, Backward Classes Welfare, Paschimanchal Unnayan and the Panchayats and Rural Development Departments and the Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority.

· Houses for Slum Dwellers:- The Urban Development Department has been constructing 142000 new houses in accordance with the Basic Services for Urban Poor Programme for 47 municipalities within the Kolkata and Asansol Mission City Areas under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. These apart, work for the overall development of slums has been going on. Moreover, the Municipal Affairs Department has been constructing 52000 dwelling units for the urban poor in 80 towns, under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme. According to a report published by the Union Government in 2010 West Bengal is among the 3 best performing States in provision of Housing for Rural Poor. West Bengal also ranks 2nd in the country in providing Houses for Poor Families belonging to Minority Communities.

· Subsidy for averting Bus Fare hike: West Bengal has set a glaring example by not increasing Bus Fares despite the steep hike in petrol and diesel prices imposed by the Union Government. Even the private mass-transport system is thus being provided indirect subsidies by the Government. The Left Front Government was compelled to take such a decision to protect the interest lower and middle income groups, notwithstanding the resultant strain on the public exchequer. The decision entailed an expenditure of about Rs.100 Crore this year.

· Employment through Animal Resources: Department of Animal Resources Development of the Government of West Bengal has been distributing 20 lakh chicks free of cost every year among the female members of the Self-Help Groups. By setting a rare example par se across the country, the State Government offered a one-time grant of Rs. 500/- initially to every family affected by the Bird Flu epidemic. A Goat-Rearing Unit worth Rs.1500/- was provided to them later, over and above the compensation provided by the Centre. Nearly 27 lakh cows were artificially inseminated across the State in 2009-10. This is also a record achievement. Nearly 76 lakh people in the State come under the purview of direct or indirect employment opportunities created through Animal Resources Development activities.

· The allocation made in the financial year 2006-07 for Development of Forests and Adjoining areas has been enhanced to more than 3 times in 2010-11. The Plan Allocation under the above-mentioned head has increased to Rs.103.88 Crore from Rs.31.70 Crore.
Rice at only Rs. 2/- per Kg.

· The State Government has been supplying rice at the rate of Rs. 2/- per kg only to 26400000 people, reeling under the burden of poverty. This facility has been extended not only to the people living below the poverty line, but also to the poorer people living above the poverty line. The Left Front Government is avowedly beside the common people, who are badly affected by the steep price rise.

100-Days Job

786.62 Lakh man-days were created in 2008-09 in the State under NREGA. In 2009-10, 1551.71 Lakh man-days have been created. Between 2006-07 and August 2010, 4516.9 Lakh man-days have been created under the Programme. On an average a family got 26 days job in 2008-09, which increased to 45 days in 2009-10. Till October this year the count has already crossed 30 days.

Subsidy in Power Tariff for the Low and Middle Income Families

· The frequent upward revision of power tariffs can broadly be attributed to the policy of indiscriminate privatization adopted by the Government at the Centre. In this perspective, the Government of West Bengal has been thriving hard to safeguard the common interest of the in the lower and middle rungs of the society. In the wake of the upward revision of the power-tariff by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission in July 2010, the State Government has been extending a subsidy of Rs.120 Crore to relieve the consumers from the low and middle income groups. Nearly 20 Lakh consumers would now pay lesser charges for each unit consumed. The tariff will remain unchanged for 22 lakh consumers and for 36 lakh consumers, the charges actually payable now would be less than the revised tariff.

West Bengal 2006 - 2010:Touching New Milestones(5)

History in the making in Minority Welfare

· Apart from ensuring reservations, the Left Front Government is committed to holistic development of the minority community in the State. In 1976-77, the then State Government used to spend a meagre amount of Rs. 560000 for the development of Madrasah Education. The allocation under the same head in 2009-10 is a whooping Rs.610 Crore!

· 105 New Madrasahs have been set-up in the tenure of the Seventh Left Front Government alone. 400 Madrasah Education Centres have also come into being in the same period. Construction work of 300 more MSKs and 200 SSKs is under progress.

· The Seventh Left Front Government has accorded recognition to the Madrasahs as Institutions for Minorities.

· The Madrasah Service Commission was constituted in 2008. This Commission has appointed more than 4000 Teachers between 2007 and 2009, of whom 93% belong to Minority Communities.

· The West Bengal Minority Development and Finance Corporation have assisted 345000 beneficiaries in 2009-10 by granting Rs.116.50 Crore in their favour, for Self Employment and Training of entrepreneurs belonging to Minority Communities. The Corporation’s performance is the best in the country.

· The amounts earmarked for payment of scholarships, financial grants etc. to minority students have been largely enhanced. The number of beneficiaries has multiplied accordingly.

· District level offices of the Minority Welfare Department have started functioning in 11 districts of the State from the last year. A Minority Cell is operational in the remaining districts.

· Alia University was established in 2007. The State Government has declared it as an Institution for the Minorities. Altogether 327 posts in various disciplines have been created for the Alia University within the last one year.

· A new Haj House has been constructed near Kolkata Airport in the tenure of the present State Government. There are in all 9 Haj Houses in the whole country. 2 of those are in West Bengal.

· 158 Police Constables out of 612 recruited in October 2009 belong to minority communities.

· Inclusion of at least one member of minority community in Selection Committees constituted for supervising public recruitment has been made mandatory.

· Empowerment of women belonging to minority communities is one of the exceptional areas of success of the State Government. The project for empowering women envisages implementation of various programmes, besides assisting SHGs.

· Nowhere in India but in West Bengal are the SHGs comprising of women from minority communities, provided with a 50% subsidy.

· The work for establishing English-medium Madrasahs has taken off only during the regime of the Seventh Left Front Government.

· This Government has initiated the popular West Bengal State Madrasah Sports Meet.
Muslims as OBCs enjoy Reservation – West Bengal is the Pioneer

· In a historic move, the Seventh Left Front Government has brought 53 Muslim communities within the ambit of reservation quota as OBCs on the basis of their backwardness. Among the 53 more backward communities identified, 49 are Muslims. The remaining 4 Muslim communities have been identified as Backward. About 172 Lakh out of the 202 Lakh strong Muslim population of the State are now in the reservation list. This is totally unprecedented in the country.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

West Bengal 2006-2010:Touching New Milestones(4)

5 New Universities and 73 New Degree Colleges

· 5 new Universities (West Bengal State University, Gour Banga University, Alia University, Presidency University and Sidhu-Kanu-Birsa University) and 73 new Degree Colleges have been set up during the tenure of the Seventh Left Front Government alone.

· A campus of the Aligarh University is coming up at Murshidabad. Another campus of the North Bengal University is being built up at Jalpaiguri. Similarly, a campus of Rabindra Bharati University is coming up at Siliguri.

· The State Government has sanctioned 3500 posts of lecturers for colleges and universities in the last four and a half years. This excludes Universities not directly under the Department of Higher Education.

· University Grants Commission has declared the Calcutta and Jadavpur Universities as 'Potential for Excellence'. 16 Colleges of the State have also been conferred upon with the same status.

· 2 new Medical Colleges have been established at Kalyani and Jadavpur. The Cabinet has recently approved establishment of 3 more Medical Colleges in the State. The scope of Post Graduate studies in Medical Sciences has widened substantially.

· 36 new Engineering Colleges have so far been set-up within the tenure of the Seventh Left Front Government, since 2006.

· Legislation for establishment of a private university titled 'Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology' has been passed in 2008, with the objective of imparting advanced education in 'Information and Communication Technology'.

· The Union Government has very recently decided to recognize 'Bengal Engineering and Science University' as an Institute of National Significance. BESU is the first institution in the country to have acquired this distinction.

· The Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India decided to set up 'Indian Institute of Science Education and Research' - world-class centres for cultivation of science and research following the pattern of IIT and IIM at various places of the country. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India laid the foundation stone of the Kolkata Centre in 2006 under the initiative of Government of West Bengal. The Institute’s new campus is under construction at Kalyani. Activities are being carried out from Salt Lake till the new campus at Kalyani comes up. It has opened up a new horizon in talent development of the State. This would never have been possible without the pro-active role of the State Government.

· Work for establishing 'Rabindra Udyan' - which will be a full fledged institute for Tagore Research has been initiated at Jyoti Basu Nagar (Rajarhat) to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of the poet this year.

· Primary Education: Primary Education in West Bengal is on the verge of universalisation. 99.25% children of the State are now enrolled in primary schools, much ahead of the Pan-Indian enrolment ratio. A hundred percent success is imminent with active cooperation of all concerned. The drop-out rate has swooped down to 6.85%, which is less than the national average of 7.8%. Coverage under Mid-day Meal programme has been extended to 95%.

· A separate authority is being set-up to monitor and manage the Sishu Siksha Kendras (SSK) and Madhyamik Siksha Kendras (MSK) running under the aegis of the Panchayats and Rural Development Department. The uncertainties concerning job security of teachers have since been resolved.
· More than 3000 vocational training centres at Secondary School level have been set up under the initiative of the Technical Education and Training Department during the tenure of the Seventh Left Front Government alone. 2 Lakh new students have been enrolled. More than 200 Vocational Training Providers (VTP) have been established under the Skill Development Initiative Project, and among them they have covered another 35000 students. Apart from these 24 ITIs and 22 Polytechnics have been rendered operational during the last 5 years. 50 more ITIs are expected to be commissioned in the current financial year.
Helping Poor students

· Left Front Governments have always been keen to extend the scope of education to the poorer and backward sections of the society. But the contribution of the Seventh Left Front Government in the area is very special.

· The State Government issues grants to nearly 26 lakh students belonging to the scheduled castes/ tribes reading in Classes V to X towards purchase of books and examination fees. Only 15352 students got the benefit in 1977-78.

· The State Government offers maintenance grants to about 6 lakh Scheduled Caste / Tribe day scholar students reading in Classes V to X. The quantum of this grant has been enhanced from Rs. 600/- to Rs.750/- from this year.

· The State Government grants Pre-Matric Scholarship to about 5 lakh students reading in Classes I to X and belonging to minority communities. In the Post-Matric level 90000 minority students are awarded scholarships. 4000 students get merit based scholarships, and 10000 minority students are awarded Hazi Mohammad Mohsin Scholarships from the State Government. 30% of these scholarships are reserved for female candidates.
· A monthly incentive of Rs.100/- is offered to every girl student reading in Classes IX to XII in Madrasahs.

· West Bengal Urdu Academy has also enhanced the value of the scholarships it offers.

· The State Government has started giving incentives to female graduate and post-graduates coming from financially weaker minority families from this year itself. Any female student securing 40% marks would be entitled for this incentive. Female students at the Graduate level get Rs. 9000/- and students at the Post Graduate level get Rs.14400/- per year.

· Government of West Bengal has introduced Ambedkar Medha Puraskar from 2010 to encourage meritorious students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
· Financial assistance under the Merit-cum-Means Project is being extended to students through the Department of Higher Education. 3657 students were benefited in 2008-09 and 7343 students benefited in 2009-10 under the project.
· Financial Assistance of Rs.343.88497 Lakh was released to 4588 students from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund till September 2010.

· The minority students enrolled for vocational training in Alia University are required to pay only 10% of their tuition fees. The State Government pays the remaining 90% on their behalf.
Job Security for Part-time and Contractual Teachers

· The Seventh Left Front Government has conferred due dignity upon those attached with the noble teaching profession. The list includes Teachers of SSK/ MSK, Para-Teachers of Primary and Madhyamik Schools, VRP, Shiksabandhu etc. and Part-time and Contractual Lecturers serving in Degree Colleges. This is the first time that any State Government in the country has adopted such a step, putting an end to the yearly hassle of renewal of contract. The salary hike for now would be around 35%. Pay would be revised every three years and a one-time payment of Rs.1 lakh would be admissible at the time of superannuation. About 140000 Teachers would benefit from the scheme.

West Bengal 2006-2010: Touching New Milestones (3)

Record Investment in Industries

· West Bengal is forging ahead towards industrialization, notwithstanding Singur and Nandigram. An amount of Rs. 8400 Crore has been invested in the State in 2009 alone, this being the largest investment in a year over the last two decades. It is expected that investments would escalate to the tune of Rs.10000 Crore in 2010.

· Information Technology: West Bengal as a State has encountered the recent global economic recession most deftly. Investments pumped into the IT Sector multiplied manifold. West Bengal earned Rs.2700 Crore from exports in Information Technology Sector in 2005-06. The amount has gone up to Rs. 6,400 Crore now. Scope of employment has simultaneously increased. In 2005-06 only 32000 employees served in the Sector. More than 1 lakh young people are serving the IT Sector. This number is expected to escalate to twice the number in 3 years.

· Second Financial Hub of the Country: Hon’ble Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, inaugurated the Second Financial Hub of the country at Jyoti Basu Nagar (Rajarhat) on the 13th October 2010 last, thereby acknowledging success of the industrialization process and economic prowess of West Bengal. The first financial hub in the country was commissioned at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai. It is expected that the activities of Banks and other Financial Institutions would increase manifold with commissioning of the Financial Hub. Total investment in the Financial Hub would exceed Rs.1500 Crore creating employment opportunities for about 2 Lakh people directly or indirectly.

· Leader in Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises: West Bengal has been maintaining its supremacy in Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises in the Country– both in terms of the number of established units and the employment opportunities generated. As of now, nearly 28 Lakh MSMEs are operational in the State and almost 55 Lakh people have been gainfully employed therein. The State Government has a budgetary allocation of Rs.200 Crore in 2010-11 for the development of MSMEs in the State.

· PCPIR: Haldia is already established as a Petrochemical Hub. In 2009, the State Government decided to set up a Petroleum Chemical Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) comprising a part of Haldia Municipal Area and Nayachar. The decision is historic in the backdrop of the commitment of the State Government for employment-intensive industrialization. Investment in the PCPIR is expected to be around Rs.15000 Crore and employment opportunities for 10 lakh people would be created.

· Haldia Petrochemicals is an icon of West Bengal's industrial resurrection. It happens to be the second largest polythene producer in the whole country, meeting 70% of the demands for polythene in Eastern India and 30% of the national demand. More than 654 ancillary industries have come up in the State, opening up nearly 2 Lakh employment opportunities in 2009-10.

· Steel: A number of steel industries are coming up in the State. M/s Gas Seal Industries Ltd. is investing around Rs.3000 Crore in Purulia for the production of steel, cement and electricity generation and 2500 persons would be employed in this project. The corporate entity Joy Balaji has chosen Purulia for setting up its steel, cement factories and power station at an investment of about Rs.16,000 Crore. JSW Bengal Steel is establishing a steel project with an investment of around Rs.35000 Crore and. 18000 people are expected to find employment opportunities in this project. This apart, M/s Bhusan Steel Limited has proposed investment of Rs.15000 Crore and the Adhunik Corporation is investing Rs.7200 Crore for their steel, power and cement manufacturing units coming up at Purulia.

Financial Condition

· Some interested quarters often scandalize the West Bengal Government in regard to the quantum of borrowings of the State. The fact is that at the close of 2009-10 the accrued loans of the State stood at Rs. 169000 Crore. This includes the cumulative effect of borrowings since the 1950s - much before the Left Front Government took over. Moreover, such loan accumulations are inevitable in the context of the economic policies pursued by the Union Government.

· The accrued Loans of the Union Government in the corresponding period is estimated to be around Rs. 3500000 Crore (Source: Economic Review, Government of India – 2009-10).

· Information released by the Reserve Bank of India in February 2010 indicates that the loan burden of the U.P. Government is Rs.221000 Crore. Maharashtra has a loan burden of Rs. 208000 Crore. Substantial Loans have also been secured by the Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat Governments.

· According to Reserve Bank of India, West Bengal ranks fourth among the large states in regard to the Credit-Revenue Ratio and it occupies the eleventh position among 28 States.

· The Credit-Revenue Ratio was 48% five years ago, but it has now subsided to 41% only. The corresponding figure for Government of India is as high as 56%.

West Bengal 2006 - 2010: Touching New Milestones (2)

Land for the Urban Poor

The Seventh Left Front Government has offered the security of a shelter not only to the rural poverty-stricken, but also to the Urban Poor. Refugees are getting unconditional rights of possession. Even Non-Refugees dwelling on plots of land earmarked for refugees are being endowed with long-term lease. Urban poor residing on plots of unused vested land for more than 20 years are being offered long-term lease for 99 years against a token Salami of Re 1/- only. Thus the urban poor in West Bengal have been provided with the security of a shelter, from where they would not be evicted. The Thika Tenancy Act has been amended for the purpose. Nearly 5 lakh Urban Poor would benefit form the programme. West Bengal shows the way!


· The overwhelming success of the State in agriculture can be primarily attributed to safeguarding the interests of tilling hands through land reforms. The pan Indian rate of growth of agricultural production was 1.6% in 2008-09 and 0.2% in 2009-10 while the corresponding rates for West Bengal were 4.4% and 4.2%.

· Less than 3% of the total cultivable land in the country is in West Bengal, but it produces 8% of India’s total agricultural produce. (Source: Assocham 2010)

· Increase in the agricultural production in the State is coupled with increase of the Cropping Intensity. This signifies a tendency of cultivation of more than one crop on a single plot. Cropping Intensity of the State was only 155% in 1992-93 and it has now gone up to 192%. The Cropping Intensity of the State ranks second in the country.

· The State produced 74 Lakh Metric Tons of food grains in 1976-77. The quantity has now gone up to 170 Lakh Metric Tons.

· West Bengal was a deficit State in food grain production prior to 1977. West Bengal now tops the list among rice producing States. Currently, the Average Annual Rice-production is 148 Lakh MT, which translates to an increase of 98% over the production of 1977-78.

· West Bengal is also the leading jute producer in the country. Jute production in the State is estimated to be 7842.6 MT per year on average.

· West Bengal ranks first in production of vegetables in the country. The quantity has risen to 130 lakh MT now, excluding potato.

· By producing 35% of national yield of potatoes West Bengal is the second leading producer with an annual production of about 95 Lakh Metric Tons.

· West Bengal ranks 1st, 2nd and 8th respectively in production of pineapple, litchi and mangoes.

· West Bengal produces 15% of the fruits and vegetables produced in the country.

· West Bengal ranks 3rd in the country in overall flower production.

· Production of edible oil in the State is equivalent to 10% of the national production.

· West Bengal produces one-fourth of total tea-production of the country and it accounts for 45% of the national income from tea-export.

· West Bengal has retained its leading position in fish-production in the country by continuously stepping up the across the years.

· The State has attracted record amounts of investments in food-processing during the last four and a half years. 1426 projects were approved during the financial years from 2006-07 to 2009-10. A whopping amount of Rs.3305.13 Crore has been invested for these projects. The number of employment opportunities generated directly or indirectly through these initiatives, stand at 117325.

West Bengal 2006-2010: Touching New Milestones-(1)

An Overview of Achievements
The Seventh Left Front Government assumed office in May 2006. In the span of the last four and half years, the Government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has achieved unprecedented milestones through successful implementation of its alternative policies, which are progressive on one hand and protected the common people's interest on the other. Obstacles en route were many, agents of regression were increasingly plentiful and it was not therefore an easy task to steer the governance - inter alia striking a balance between agricultural growth and industrialization, upgrading the infrastructure for and quality of education, development of physical infrastructure, improving the physical quality of life for backward classes and minorities and ensuring social security for the economically weaker sections, thereby setting exemplary benchmarks in excellence. This is neither an attempt to analyze this success, nor to portray the success stories prior to 2006. It is a rather humble attempt to present a few relevant facts in a nutshell.

New Benchmark in Assignment of Ceiling Surplus Land

· Assignment of Ceiling Surplus land to landless farmers has continued unabated for the last 33 years in West Bengal through Distribution of Patta. This is acclaimed as the best job ever done in the country to protect the interest of the agrarian community.

· More than 1127000 acres of land has already been distributed free of cost among 30 Lakh farmers in West Bengal. About 37% of the benefactors belong to Scheduled Castes, 18% to Scheduled Tribes and another 18% come from Minorities.

· Women from peasant families share ownership of plots in West Bengal. More than 618000 Joint Pattas have so far been handed over. Female Patta Holders alone exceed 161000 in number.

· While only 3% of the total landed area of the country is comprised in West Bengal, as much as 22% of the total land distributed through land-reforms is from this State.

· Small and marginal farmers own 84% of the total cultivable land in our State, courtesy land reforms. The national average is just a shade above 34%.

· The State amended the Land Reforms Act in 1977 to thwart any attempt to evict bargadars. The legal rights of 1513000 registered Bargadars have thus been firmly secured. About 1115000 Acres are recorded as Barga in the State.

· Patta for 16700 acres of land have already been distributed in the tenure of the Seventh Left Front Government- between the years 2006-2010. Another 6000 Acres are expected to be distributed during the remaining period of 2010-11. One wonders whether the volume of this land-distribution, accomplished within just 4 1/2 years of the term of the Seventh Left Front Government can match any similar effort undertaken in 20 years elsewhere in India.

· As a first-ever endeavour in the country, the Seventh Left Front Government has launched a unique 'Project for Bestowal of Agricultural and Homestead Land' in order to consolidate further the benefits of land reforms. Plots of land measuring 5(five) Cottah each, are being offered free of cost under the programme, to Land Labourers, Rural Artisans and Fishermen. The earnestness of the State Government about procuring land for implementation of the project is such that it has been buying plots from willing sellers offering a premium of 25% above the current market-rate. Nearly 2 lakh families are expected to be benefited from this project.

· About 27 thousand tribal families in the State have already received Patta in terms of the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. It has been observed that tribals have on the whole, benefited more through land-reforms in relative proportion to the total population of the State.

'Maoist' or 'Mamata': Dial 'M' for Murder

By Subhanil

Sat, 2010-12-18 11:55

Swapan Koley used to get up at 4am in the morning to collect his share of newspapers which he distributed to various households. This was his source of earning to continue his studies in the college. He also had a dream. A dream of changing the world where all students like him will be guaranteed the benefit of education, where man will not oppress man for higher and higher profits. It is this dream that the murderers of Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) wanted to destroy when they brutally killed Swapan Koley on 16th December.

He was beaten with rods and swords in his college. When he took shelter on the roof of a house near his college, he was thrown down from this roof. When he was trying to reach hospital on a rickshaw with the help of his friends, he was attacked again by the TMCP goons. Swapan Koley could not take it any more and died. His only crime was that he was an activist of SFI.

Shouvik Hazra is a bright student of English Honours at Asutosh College, Kolkata. Like any other day he went to college on 16th December. On that day, the SFI along with the non-teaching and teaching staff of the college were participating in a procession protesting against the violence unleashed by TMCP. The procession was attacked by the TMCP goons and Shouvik Hazra lost his left eye when a stone hit his eye.

This scale of violence unleashed in educational institutions is being orchestrated by the TMCP under the direct instigation of Ms. Mamata Banerjee and her cohorts to terrorize the youth and students who fight for a left cause and dream about making a better society. This is however not something very surprising. Ultimately the modus operandi of the Trinamool since its inception has been a politics of provocation and violence with which they have mobilized a large section of the anti-socials under their banner. It is this politics that has killed Swapan Koley and has blinded Shouvik Hazra.

Skirmishes and stray incidents of violence has been a part of student politics all over India. It is also a common sight that the students who were fighting yesterday joke about the incident the next day over a cup of tea or coffee. What Mamata Banerjee has done through her brand of politics is to shred away the romanticism of student politics, the passionate appeal for one's ideology and politics, the liberal space of debates and discussions in college campuses. Instead with her brand of politics student politics has been hijacked by local goons and thugs, campuses are being turned into graveyards of students, politics is being turned into an arena where students will not dare to tread. In other words, Ms. Banerjee and her goons want to destroy the culture of politics within students. This is not mere speculation. The President of TMCP said that they believe that there should be no politics in campuses, in a program in the Bengali News Channel Star Ananda. This is the real agenda of the violent attacks on the student community in West Bengal. It is the compulsion of Ms Banerjee to pursue this agenda since devoid of any constructive politics she is the first person to know that thinking students can never be part of the TMCP. This agenda is being driven with full speed keeping in mind the forthcoming Assembly Elections in West Bengal.

The criminal activities of the TMCP in the college campuses is nothing but an echo of the larger murderous game plan of the Trinamool. Their leaders openly proclaim that if they win the Assembly Elections in West Bengal, they will drive out all the left supporters and will uproot the children of Lenin! It is their vision that in West Bengal they will not allow the red flag to fly with brute force. In their pronouncements we are clearly hearing the footsteps of fascistic politics.

What she and her followers have forgotten is a simple truth that dreams cannot be murdered, ideas cannot be suppressed and the left ideology cannot be physically exterminated. Swapan Koley's cold blooded murder is an assault on the idea of free speech, of the right to dream and think differently. With his murder however many more Swapan Koley will be born ready to carry forward the red flag and the ideology of Independence, Democracy and Socialism.

While the people of West Bengal were trying to grapple with the death of a student, news came from Purulia that 7 Forward Bloc workers have been brutally murdered by the Maoists. This is the first time that such a big number of killings of political activists has taken place in West Bengal. Moreover, most of the activists were tribals, whom the Maoists claim to fight for. Gopeshwar Mahato, aged 70 was not spared by the Maoists. The Maoists also did not spare Ms. Chopola Gorait, a wife of a rickshaw puller and head of a panchayat. All these people were poor and supported the Left Front in West Bengal because of which they were brutally killed by the Maoists. The so-called revolution that the Maoists want to bring in India is basically a charade. What they are doing in West Bengal today is acting as mercenaries of the Trinamool. That is why Ms. Banerjee till date has not condemned any murder that the Maoists have committed in West Bengal.

The current situation prevalent in West Bengal is one of intense attack against the CPI(M) and the Left Front, which is reminiscent of the semi-fascist terror of the 1970s. In this situation the party must ensure that all sections of the population are mobilized against the fascistic tactics of the Trinamool-Maoist combine. Already in the jungle-mahal area we have witnessed how thousands of people mobilized themselves and ensured that Maoists are sent on the back-foot. The heroic struggle of the people of jungle-mahal should inspire people across West Bengal to rise up in unison against the violence unleashed by the goons of Ms. Banerjee.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It is either the Left or death for West Bengal: Buddhadeb Bhattacharya

KOLKATA,30November,2010: Claiming there was no alternative to the Left Front in West Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the state would not survive without the alliance.

"There is no alternative to the Left in West Bengal. If the Left goes, the state would not survive. It is either the Left or death," Bhattacharjee said at a rally here.

Reactionary forces, communal forces and some foreign forces did not want the Leftists to remain in power in the state, he said.

"What will be the future of the state if the Left goes? In West Bengal, the Left stands for the peasants' movement, the workers' movement and the movement of the poor."

In an apparent dig at Trinamool Congress which is eyeing a change of government in the state, he said "what change? We took land away from the zamindars and distributed it to the poor farmers. Will they give land back to the zamindars? They do not want a government of peasants and workers".