Friday, April 29, 2011

CPI(M) demand: Investigate New Revelations on Purulia Arms Drop

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Investigate New Revelations on Purulia Arms Drop

The Purulia arms drop in December 1995 was one of the most serious instances of an assault on the country’s sovereignty. The investigations and the court trial had proved that the arms were meant for the Ananda Marg which was planning to use it to foment violence to destabilize the Left Front government.

The revelations by Niels Christian Nielsen alias Kim Davy, who is still absconding and Peter Bleach who was sentenced in the case, have raised new questions.

In the aftermath of the Purulia arms drop it was known that the British intelligence agency MI5 had informed RAW about the proposed airdrop in late November 1995. The then British Home Secretary had confirmed this in a press conference in Delhi on January 5, 1996. The RAW had alerted the Home Ministry and other authorities. Yet, the West Bengal Government was sent this information by registered post which reached after the arms drop.

· It was reported that the radar at the Kalaikunda air base was not operational at the time of the air drop.

· How was it that on the return trip from Phuket in Thailand the plane could land in Chennai and take off even when there was an alert on the aircraft.

· For more than a decade Kim Davy has been living in Denmark and the Central Government has been tardy in getting him extradited.

Kim Davy has given specific details of how he had escaped from the Mumbai airport and reached Nepal. He has named Pappu Yadav, who was then an MP, as the person who assisted him. It should be noted that the same Pappu Yadav is in jail serving a life sentence for the murder of CPI(M) MLA Ajit Sarkar.

Both Bleach and Kim Davy have made charges of connivance by certain Indian authorities in the airdrop plan and the cover up later.

All this information necessitates looking at the Purulia airdrop in a fresh light.

The existence of the Left Front Government in West Bengal has been anathema for many domestic and international forces. At present too, the spectre of violence is being used to destabilize the Left Front Government. Even the Union Home Minister recently talked of the “killing fields” in West Bengal and blamed the CPI (M) for it. On the other hand, the Maoist violence is being aided and supported by the Trinamul Congress which is part of the Congress-led government at the Centre.

It is essential therefore to thoroughly investigate the Purulia arms drop affair. For this the following steps have to be taken:

(i) Pappu Yadav should be interrogated and the trail by which Kim Davy escaped from the country should e uncovered and the persons responsible brought to book.

(ii) There has to be a judicial enquiry by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into the circumstances of the arms drop in Purulia and to uncover the network responsible.

Buddhadeb demands judicial inquiry in arms drop case


West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Friday demanded a judicial inquiry by the Centre into the “political conspiracy” behind the arms drop from a foreign plane in Purulia 16 years ago.

“A political conspiracy has been exposed in the media behind the arms drop 16 years ago. And in this context and in the interest of internal security and the gravity of the incident therein, I demand a judicial probe,” the chief minister said in a statement here.

Recalling the dropping of a huge cache of arms from a plane “meant for the Anandmargis” in Purulia at midnight on December 17, 1995, the Chief Minister said, “An alert message from the Union home ministry reached the state home department a few days after the incident.

“The Central alert of December 12 was dispatched to Kolkata from Delhi by ordinary mail in a very casual manner. No advance wireless message was sent to the state on an urgent basis considering the gravity of the situation. The mail reached after the arms drop in Purulia.”

Mr. Bhattacharjee, who holds home (police) portfolio, said the state government handed over responsibility of the inquiry to the CBI considering the gravity of the incident.

“All seized sophisticated arms were handed over to the CBI by the state police. All the seized arms since the days of inquiry were in the custody of the CBI,” he added.

Purulia: was West Bengal's LF regime the target?

By Marcus Dam

THE HINDU, 29th APRIL, 2011

The revelations to an Indian television channel on Thursday by Kim Davy, a prime accused in the arms drop case over the Jhalda area in West Bengal's Purulia district on December 17-18, 1995, and by Peter Bleach who served a sentence for his role in the incident, only go to indicate that various international forces have been colluding with those within the country in targeting and destabilising the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government in West Bengal.

They come not just as an eye-opener at a time when the Left Front is facing its most fierce electoral battle in recent times against an alliance of the Trinamool Congress and the Congress in the ongoing Assembly polls in the State; they also serve as a reminder to the electorate waiting to exercise its franchise in the coming three phases of polling — on May 3, 7 and 10.

What Mr. Davy has had to say in his interview to Times Now TV channel is, according to the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M), “further confirmation of the fact that there was a well-planned conspiracy to use violence to destabilise the Left Front at that time… Such moves are still on.”

Significantly, the arms drop occurred a year before Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held in the State.

As the CPI(M) Polit Bureau observes “…it was a serious assault on India's sovereignty and a diabolical plot against an elected government [in West Bengal] and the Constitution.”

On being asked whether the Central government knew and had authorised the arms drop over Indian territory, Mr. Davy replied: “There were political forces at the Centre who saw it as an opportune way to further their political agenda.”

He continues: “You must remember that we are talking ancient history here, but in 1988 the Centre introduced Presidential Rule in Tripura [the Left Front was in power there in 1987-88] after engaging in supplying arms to different rebel groups there. The same strategy was announced publicly in the beginning of the 1990s that there was a decision to introduce Presidential Rule in West Bengal and therefore it was seen as a furthering of this agenda that arms were procured to protect local people.”

Startling exposé

The disclosures to Times Now by Mr. Bleach are more startling.

Asked what could be the motive behind dropping the arms in “Indian territory in such an illegal manner,” Mr. Bleach says: “To understand that you have to stop thinking of Indian territory. This wasn't dropped so much in Indian territory as in Bengali territory. The target here was the government of West Bengal. At that time, Jyoti Basu was the Chief Minister and the CPI(M) government was in power.”

“The whole objective [according] to my understanding was to destabilise the government of West Bengal so that President's rule could be declared in terms of the Constitution and the State would have been ruled directly from Delhi. That could have disposed the CPI(M) government and that was the entire purpose of the job as I understand it now. I didn't understand it at that time and I have to stress that,” Mr Bleach goes on to add.

As Biman Bose, CPI(M) State Secretary in West Bengal, says: “There have been moves to destabilise the Left Front government… There have been repeated demands for President's rule in the State; like the repeated efforts of the principal Opposition party in the State [Trinamool Congress] to get the Centre to impose President's rule in the State by engaging with the CPI (Maoist) in Jangal Mahal [in the south-western region of the State].”

Purulia arms-drop accused says operation was organised to bring down Left Front

Niels Christian Nielsen, a Danish national fighting extradition to India for his alleged role in the 1997 air-drop of ammunition over Purulia, has said the operation was sanctioned by the Central government to destabilise West Bengal's Left Front government.

In an interview to Times Now television, Mr. Nielsen claimed that the Purulia arms drop was organised as a form of defence against alleged oppression by the CPI(M) in West Bengal. The government of the former Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, he said, “saw and approved the plans to arm the defence of these innocent people.”

Central Bureau of Investigation detectives have been seeking the extradition of Mr. Nielsen, also known by the alias Kim Davy, saying he was the key figure in organising the drop of several hundred assault rifles, ammunition and explosives to help the murky Ananda Marga cult start an anti-communist insurgency.

Peter Bleach, a former British special forces officer who arranged for the purchase of the aircraft used in the operation, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000, along with the Latvian crew. The convicts, however, all later received presidential pardon. In a separate interview to Times Now, Mr. Bleach backed elements of Mr. Nielson's case, saying “the whole objective, my understanding was, to destabilise the Government of West Bengal so that President's rule could be declared in terms of the Constitution [sic.] and the State would have been ruled directly from Delhi.”

Little is known about the 1961-born Nielsen, who is reported to be wanted in several countries on charges related to arms trafficking and money laundering. For years a member of the cult, Mr. Davy has also been linked to the South Sudan insurgent leader John Garang.

The CBI says that Mr Nielson met with Mr. Bleach at Copenhagen in August, 1995, and asked him to supply 2,500 assault rifles and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition. In September that year, the men met again in Bangkok, where the order was reduced to 500 assault rifles, as well as an aircraft for executing the drop over Purulia. Mr. Nielson succeeded in organising papers which persuaded Bulgaria to sell the weapons, which its authorities thought were intended for the Bangladesh armed forces.

Though sensational, Mr. Nielsen's claims are not new — and he has offered no new evidence in support of his claims.

In a 1995 interview to the British Broadcasting Corporation, he first asserted that the Indian government had deliberately overlooked intelligence warnings of the imminent arms-drop, hoping to precipitate an insurgency in West Bengal. “An armed insurgency in West Bengal would have allowed Delhi impose direct rule on the State and oust the ruling Communists,” the BBC reported him as saying.

Mr. Nielsen's claim that his escape was facilitated by the government was also made earlier by his organisation, the Ananda Marg. Bhaveshanand Avadhuta, a spokesperson for the group, said that it had “good reasons to believe Davy was escorted away by an Indian intelligence official called Dasan”.

But even though little evidence has emerged to support the claims, a succession of unexplained errors by Indian authorities has meant speculation about the operation has refused to go away.

Mr. Bleach, a retired special forces officer who ran an arms firm, had notified the North Yorkshire police of the planned arms drop in August 1995. He claims to have been asked to go ahead with purchasing the aircraft and continue providing information on the plot; British authorities deny this.

Later, in November, MI5, the British intelligence service, notified India that the arms drop was imminent. A London-based British government official involved with the case said at least three meetings took place to discuss events as they unfolded, though he would not share details. The West Bengal government was not immediately notified of the threat. Intelligence Bureau personnel, it later emerged, carried out reconnaissance at possible airstrips in the area, but no on-ground surveillance was mounted by the West Bengal Police.

Mr. Nielsen himself evaded arrest at the Mumbai airport, after the aircraft was finally forced to land by an Indian Air Force jet. Investigators say he bribed authorities at the airport to escape.

A senior CBI official also said Mr. Nielsen appeared to be seeking to “muddy the waters” at the final stage of extradition proceedings. “If he has anything to say”, the officer said, “we'd love to hear it — in court.”

THE HINDU, 29th APRIL, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

We will win comfortably: Buddhadeb

By Ananya Dutta

THE HINDU, KOLKATA, April 25, 2011

His government will focus on agriculture, land distribution, rural development

A day after the second phase of polling for the Assembly election in West Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asserted here on Sunday that the Left Front government will be returned to power for the eighth successive time “with a comfortable majority.”

“We never give out numbers, but I can assure you that we shall achieve a comfortable majority,” Mr. Bhattacharjee told journalists on being asked about the Left's assessment of how many seats they are going to win.

Outlining the priorities of the Left Front, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that his government will focus on agriculture, land distribution, development in rural areas, public distribution system, and providing employment.

“The drive for industrialisation has continued uninterrupted. In 2010, investment worth Rs. 15,000 crore came to the State, crossing all previous records,” he said, adding that contrary to perceptions, the State government was not twiddling its thumbs on industrialisation after the shifting of the Tata Motors small car factory from the controversial site at Singur.

About 8,100 acres had been acquired for industry since the Singur episode, he said, adding that his government had altered its approach to land acquisition by creating a land-use map, trying to generate a consensus on acquisition as far as possible and attempting to leave fertile land untouched.

On being asked about the future of the nuclear energy park at Haripur in Purba Medinipur district, given that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has called for a rethink on nuclear energy projects in the wake of the disaster at Fukushima in Japan, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that a final decision on the matter was yet to be taken.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said that after the incident in Japan the debate on nuclear power had been thrown wide open worldwide. However, he pointed out that the protests organised by certain groups at Haripur were not against the nuclear power plant in particular.

“In Purba Medinipur, movements have been organised against all proposed industrial projects. A ship-building factory was obstructed. Not every such movement is justified,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Asked to respond to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who has again raised doubts about the orders for police firings at Nandigram, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that no such orders had been issued by the government.

Buddhadeb surprised at Manmohan's remarks

Staff Reporter

THE HINDU, KOLKATA, April 25, 2011

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed surprise on Sunday over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's comments at an election rally on Saturday, particularly his remarks that Gujarat ranks higher than West Bengal in ensuring jobs for Muslims.

“I am surprised by his [Dr. Singh's] comments yesterday,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said adding that he had met the Prime Minister on several occasions in New Delhi and “non-performance” of the Left Front government had never come up.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said Dr. Singh's comparisons between the condition of Muslims in West Bengal and Gujarat were “not expected of him” because “Muslims in West Bengal were living in peace and harmony whereas in Gujarat, they live in fear.”

Better literacy rate

On Dr. Singh's claims about the educational and cultural backwardness of the State, Mr. Bhattacharjee reiterated that the literacy rate in the State was more than 77 per cent, against the national average of about 74 per cent.

However, when asked if the Prime Minister had succumbed to the pressure of coalition politics, Mr. Bhattacharjee said he would not like to criticise him over it as it was “usual” that Dr. Singh should address a public rally here and “speak against the government” at a time when the elections were on.

When it was pointed out that in his speech, the Prime Minister made no mention of Maoists, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “He has not spoken a word on price rise, on the numerous corruption cases in the Centre or the Maoist problem in the State. He has not spoken on many issues. But, how is it possible to comment on something that he has not said?”

Mr. Bhattacharjee said there were other matters on which the Prime Minister “was unhappy,” but had found no mention in his speech, including the fact that no progress was made on the dedicated freight corridor project here or the developments that took place at Singur.

Yet, when asked if he had a message for the Prime Minister, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “He is our Prime Minister. He is doing his job, I'm doing mine.”

On being reminded that it was Dr. Singh who once described Mr. Bhattacharjee as the nation's best Chief Minister, Mr. Bhattacharjee shrugged it off saying, “what the prime Minister may have said at some point in time or when he changed his mind, I am not aware.”

“Eventually, it is the people's opinion about me that matters,” he said.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Status of Muslims in West Bengal

By Maidul Islam & Subhashini Ali

THE HINDU, April 14, 2011 02:11 IST

Misleading data cited in a seminar paper on the situation of the minority community in the State tend to detract from the Left Front government's exceptional record on this count.

Abusaleh Shariff, the Chief Economist of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, who was the Member-Secretary of the Sachar Committee, presented a paper on the socio-economic development of Muslims in West Bengal, at a seminar organised by the Institute of Objective Studies in March. A newspaper report of his presentation claimed that the situation of Muslims in West Bengal was worse than in Gujarat.

This is an erroneous and shocking statement. The ghettoisation and marginalisation of Muslims in Gujarat since the state-sponsored pogrom of 2002 is well-documented. West Bengal, on the other hand, has had no communal violence since l964, and Muslims enjoy security.

The figures of Muslims' access to government employment and education in West Bengal as presented by Mr. Shariff are based on outdated data. He has relied on Census 2001 figures. In fact, the West Bengal government seems to be among the few governments that have taken both the criticism and recommendations contained in the Sachar Committee Report seriously.

The newspaper report said: “Shariff's figures on education, sourced, according to him from the census database and the Planning Commission, show that 50 per cent Muslim children attend school at the primary level, 26 per cent remain in middle school and only 12 per cent complete matriculation against 54 per cent, 30 per cent and 13 per cent respectively for SC/STs and 80 per cent, 58 per cent and 38 per cent for others.” These are data from the Sachar Report (pages 295-299), based on Census 2001. Since then, there has been a significant improvement in the matter of enrolment of Muslims in school in the State. Latest data from the District Information System for Education, which is a joint initiative of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), the Department of School Education and Literacy, the Ministry of Human Resources Development and UNICEF, show West Bengal in a good light.

According to the NUEPA report, in the last three years (2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10), respectively 28.13, 28.28 and 32.30 of every 100 primary school children in West Bengal were Muslims, while 25.25 per cent of the State's population is Muslim. West Bengal's figures for Muslim students' enrolment at the primary level are better than the national average of 10.49 per cent (in 2007-08), 11.03 per cent (in 2008-09) and 13.48 per cent (in 2009-10) respectively, while Muslims form 13.43 per cent of India's population. West Bengal's record is far better than that of Gujarat. There, Muslim students' enrolment at the primary level was 4.57 per cent (2007-08), 4.73 per cent (2008-09) and 6.45 per cent (2009-10). Among all States and Union Territories, West Bengal ranks sixth in primary school level enrolment among Muslim students.

In 2009-10, upper primary school enrolment among Muslim students in West Bengal was 26.46 per cent. At the elementary school level it was 30.56 per cent, more than the proportion of Muslims in the State's population. The State thus occupied the sixth position among all States and Union Territories. The figures for West Bengal are better than the national average of 11.89 per cent and 13.02 per cent respectively, and far ahead of Gujarat: for that State the corresponding figures are 6.44 per cent and 6.45 per cent respectively.

On employment of Muslims in West Bengal, Mr. Shariff has again quoted from the Sachar Report (page 370), which had said its data for West Bengal were incomplete (pages 170, 173). The Report ignores the employment of Muslims in secondary and primary educational centres, which, according to the State government's data is 37 per cent of the total teachers employed. Since more than 20,000 teachers in registered madrasas receive the wages and benefits of government school teachers and the majority of them are Muslims, they should be counted as government servants. For the expansion of madrasa education, the State budgetary provision has increased from only Rs.5.6 lakh in 1976-77 to Rs. 574 crore in the current year. The Central government's allocation for madrasa education (SPQEM) was Rs. 127 crore in the 2011 budget.

In 2010, West Bengal reserved 10 per cent of all State government jobs for OBC Muslims, as per the recommendation of the Ranganath Misra Commission. The newspaper report quotes Mr. Shariff as saying: “A look at OBC statistics in Bengal shows only 2.4 per cent of its Muslims belong to that category.” In truth, after the recommendations of the Misra Commission were made public, a list of 56 ‘more backward communities', 49 of them Muslims, was included in the OBC list in West Bengal. As a result, of the 2.02 crore Muslims in West Bengal, 1.72 crore, or 85 per cent of the total, were notified as OBCs. West Bengal is the first State to implement the Misra Commission recommendations.

The Central government's commitment to the Sachar Committee recommendations is half-hearted and meagre. Whereas the Committee recommended increased spending on Muslim minority educational, health and other needs to the extent of about 15 per cent of the Union Budget, and West Bengal demanded a sub-plan for Muslims on the lines of the SC/ST sub-plans, the Centre has allocated less than 0.5 per cent in the Budgets it has presented since the Committee's Report was tabled in Parliament. In Budget 2011, the Centre reduced the allocation to the Multi-Sectoral Development Plan of minority-dominated districts by Rs. 100 crore. West Bengal, which accounts for 12 of the 90 MSDP districts, has the best record with respect to the implementation of the scheme.

West Bengal's track record in other welfare measures is also impressive. The West Bengal Minority Development Corporation had disbursed term-loans and micro-credit to 1,82,646 persons till January 2011. This is the best record of credit disbursement among all minority finance corporations. The share of bank loans for the minorities in the total priority sector loans of banks in the State increased from 7.89 per cent as on March 31, 2009, to 14.76 per cent as on March 31, 2010. This grew to cross the national level target (15 per cent) and reached 15.01 per cent as on September 30, 2010. At the national level, it is still to reach 10 per cent.

West Bengal is the topper in implementing the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme. Among self-employed business persons who benefited from PMEG, over 30 per cent are from among the minorities. Among all self-help groups in West Bengal with access to institutional credit, 21.8 per cent are groups with Muslim members.

An important aspect of the backwardness of the Muslim minority is landlessness. In most parts of India, landlessness among Muslims has increased after l947. West Bengal is an exception. The success of land reforms under Left-led governments here has significantly benefited Muslims. Among rural households in West Bengal, Muslim households, which constitute 30.9 per cent, have access to 25.6 per cent of the total cultivated land. This is second only to Jammu and Kashmir, which has a much higher percentage of Muslim citizens who have access to 30.3 per cent of cultivable land in the State. Of the land pattas distributed in West Bengal during the period 1977-2010, 18 per cent went to Muslim households.

While more needs to be done for the Muslim minority in West Bengal and, indeed, all over India, it is important to set the record straight. At a time when incorrect data are being used as part of a propaganda offensive against the Left Front government, this has become even more essential.

(Maidul Islam is a D.Phil candidate in Politics at Brasenose College, University of Oxford. Subhashini Ali is a Central Committee member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist)

WEST BENGAL: Left Will Overcome this New Challenge

By Nilotpal Basu

THE continuation of the Left Front government in office without interruption for the last 34 years has been somewhat of an enigma to its friends and foes alike. This was clear on February 13 at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. The Bengal corporate media is infamous for its pathological hatred towards the communists and the Left. Obviously, in recent times, they have been euphoric. At long last, they feel that their dream is on the threshold of coming true. After the electoral setbacks suffered by the Left in the 2008 panchayat elections and more significantly in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 2010 municipal elections, to them ‘the moment of reckoning’ had arrived. But alas! The huge gathering of human beings who recently converged on the ground constituted the largest ever popular mobilisation for a long time. A million and a half men and women, poor and resolute, waving the Red Flag high in the sky, authored the signature tune of the coming battle. This had left the correspondents representing the same corporate media in two minds. In my interaction with some of them, I asked them to explain what they saw. They were clearly left guessing. The gathering defied the very premise of the premature obituary of the Left Front that they had written.


Why does the continued existence of the Left Front provoke such a sharp response? The answer is not hard to find. The process of neo-liberal economic reforms in the last two decades has travelled far and wide in India. The philosophy and ideology of this process has gripped not only the major ruling class parties; even regional outfits have been overwhelmed and co-opted by this phenomenon. Therefore, in the current neo-liberal environment in the country, consensus is not being sought to be evolved but ‘manufactured’.

But the Left is the spoilsport. But for the Left, there would be a smooth sailing for manufacturing that consensus, notwithstanding the several dissenting voices. Obviously, in a country like India, the market-led straightjacket cannot address the unevenness and diversity that is the heart of Indian nationhood. And, obviously, the Left – with its critique of the neo-liberal market-led and finance-driven capitalism – can and does act as a fulcrum for rallying round all these processes and forces who suffer from such a paradigm. The poor, i.e. the working class, much of the downtrodden sections of the peasantry, the agricultural labour, the burgeoning number of working people in the unorganised sector and the socially disempowered, i.e. the tribals, the dalits, the minorities and the women can all come together against the neo-liberal paradigm.

But, on the other hand, if the Left is not around, these processes of potential resistance can come to nought. It is precisely for this reason that domestic and international drivers of the neo-liberal process are so hard pressed to undermine or weaken, if not eliminate, the Left. In the recently leaked out cables from the US embassy in New Delhi, brought out into the open by the WikiLeaks website, we find a candid admission. The cable states: “The worst scenario for the US-India relationship would be one in which a "Third Front" forms a government that excludes both the Congress party and the BJP. Under those circumstances, the communist parties will likely wield great influence in a coalition. Nevertheless, the nuclear deal and a closer strategic relationship with the United States have generated an extraordinary public debate in India during the last year. We have won this debate hands down and, as a result, the US-India relationship has a strong foundation on which to grow over the coming decades.”

It is apparent that the urgency for securing India-US strategic partnership was actually a euphemism for interlocking India into a subordinate relationship in furthering the US imperialist interest in the Asian region. Absolutely crucial to this gameplan was the undermining of the Left in the 2009 parliament elections. It follows that the strike had to be where it hurts the Left the most. West Bengal, with an uninterrupted 32 years of Left Front rule, was the bastion of the Left movement.

Therefore, undermining the Left Front government and the Left movement was an imperative. Therefore, the traditional anti-communist and anti-Left vitriol, which has been a continuing phenomenon, assumed a new urgency and compulsion. The process of bringing together of all the anti-Left forces, which had started in the aftermath of the developments in Nandigram, combined with this new regional and global dimension.

Such an unprecedented rally of the anti-Left forces of all conceivable varieties would have by itself been difficult in achieving its political objective. It was necessary to attack and defame the Left Front government and the Left movement not from a neo-liberal rightwing platform but with pseudo-Left posturing. A major thrust of this attack was to question the very Left credentials of the seventh Left Front government. The fact that the degenerate and ideologically bankrupt Left adventurist band of 'Maoists', for their own political foothold, was embarking on physical attacks and unleashing campaigns of violence against and physical elimination of the CPI(M) and the Left cadre, brought the otherwise unlikely forces together in this process of grand alliance building. That the 'Maoist' vitriol routinely parroted ‘revolutionary jargons’ helped put in place this line of attack.

The last one and a half years have been the period of a life and death battle for the Left movement in West Bengal to overcome these forces and their machinations in order to secure and defend its bastion. Obviously, the battle is not being fought within the geographic confines of West Bengal alone.

It is very important, therefore, for us to comprehend and assimilate the implications of this political backdrop and fight back this vitriolic offensive to undermine the Left movement in the country. Therefore, it is also important to comprehend the basic thrust of the direction and record of the seventh Left Front government which has carved out a course that stands in sharp contrast to the policies pursued by the central government and other state governments steeped in neo-liberal thinking.


What is the Left premise in the present times? This question has to be revisited in the light of the so-called Left critique to deny the Left credentials of the seventh Left Front government of West Bengal. This critique obviously fails to recognise the fundamental distinction between State power and office. In the context of the Constitution in a bourgeois-landlord State, and given its specific characteristics, the state governments are not invested with State power in a Marxist-Leninist sense. On the contrary, the elected office which the Left has come to occupy with the support of the people is under constant policy challenge and attack. The fact that such a battle has continued for as long as three and a half decades cannot change this basic reality. The very existence and continuation of the government was essentially a testimony for the constant class and democratic struggles but for which this unlikely phenomenon could not have become a reality. Therefore, to effect basic changes in such a framework would be an impossible task. Not only that; even to carry out tasks in the interest of the people, in contradistinction from the neo-liberal policy direction itself, has become an increasingly difficult goal to accomplish.

In this context, it is important to understand what constitutes the basic task of the Left in office in the present times. To start with, a Left government would have to do everything possible to sensitise the people for putting up a resistance to imperialism --- particularly in its present avatar as a driving force for neo-liberal globalisation. Obviously, constrained as it is by the limitations of constitutional powers, this would imply the taking up of an initiative to ensure government intervention in economy, particularly to insulate the people from the disastrous consequence of profit-driven market-oriented aggressive. This would also imply major initiatives in addressing the growing inequality and unemployment inherent in the lopsided growth-centric paradigm which benefits the corporates and other economic elite disproportionately. In the Indian context, this would also mean addressing economic and social injustice which adversely affects the socially vulnerable sections like the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward communities, women and religious minorities, particularly Muslims.

In the present times, the Left premise would also necessitate an underlined urgency in addressing the challenge of communal and divisive forces. And this agenda would have to address simultaneously along two directions. The first would be to strengthen the process of unity of diverse identities and create conditions for mutual respect and harmony, so that people belonging to different identities can and do mobilise unitedly against common policy threats which endanger their life and livelihood. Along with this, and no less importantly, sections who do suffer economic and social injustice on the basis of their identity would have to be provided an equal opportunity by unleashing specific targeted measures for positive discrimination.

To sum it up, in the present context, the Left premise would comprise a fight against imperialism and neo-liberal globalisation, against communalism and the politics of division, and strengthening a strong sense of social justice.


It was Comrade Jyoti Basu who set out the approach of the Left Front government on this crucial question. His constant refrain was that ‘socialism cannot be built in isolation in West Bengal.' However, what we could do is to constantly sensitise the people on the dangers of imperialism. And there is no question of giving up this conviction. It was during the seventh Left Front government that the question came up so sharply. It was brought up by an agitated US ambassador in India, viz David Mulford. He was objecting to the castigation of US policies and military occupation in Iraq by chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, in one of those mammoth gatherings at the Brigade Parade Ground. While the government of India was in the process of coming ever closer to the US administration of George Bush, Buddhadeb boldly put forth that the anti-imperialist and humanist traditions of our legacy should inspire us to oppose and protest the barbarity which the US imperialism has embarked on in Iraq, causing death and destruction to millions of Iraqi people. Peeved by this, Mulford objected saying that if the West Bengal government is looking for foreign investment, particularly US investment, how can the chief minister dare to criticise the US actions.

Mulford, a rightwinger as he was, had no clue about the approach of the Left Front government. The latter has not been opposed to private investment, or for that matter, foreign investment. But that is for bridging investment gaps, accessing technology not available within the country and, most importantly, to spark employment. It is never ever to compromise on the distinct anti-imperialist legacy of the Left. That glorious tradition remained intact during the last five years. It is essentially for this role of the Left movement and its recognition by the Left Front government that Kolkata still remains home to the largest anti-imperialist congregations of people in the country.

The challenge of neo-liberal globalisation and international finance-driven policies of the union government is, indeed, a humongous one for a Left government, more so if the latter is not merely attempting to provide some relief to the people but also to set out an alternative policy course with the limited powers available to a state government.

The whole question of expanding powers of the state governments and a restructuring of the centre-state relations has been a major contribution of the Left movement, particularly of the Left Front government of West Bengal, in the struggle for strengthening our democracy through progressive devolution and decentralisation. While pursuing the objective of reinforcing democracy and national unity, such a direction of restructuring would obviously help expand the space for the Left Front government to pursue alternative policies. With the onset of neo-liberal economic reforms in this country in the early nineties, the overreaching role of the central government, which played an impediment to the strengthening of the powers of the states, was replaced by the growing role of markets in determining policy in crucial sectors of the economy and the society. Thus the new environment of the reforms directly undermined the intervention by the government in the interests of larger sections of the people.


Therefore, during its tenure, the seventh Left Front government went on to carry forward the unique programme that had changed the correlation of political forces in the state --- land reforms. Initiated much earlier, the West Bengal land reforms experience has now attracted attention not only of the economists and development experts inside the country but also internationally. In our country, in spite of its dwindling share in the GDP, agriculture continues to provide livelihood to 65 per cent of the population. In such a context, the continued land reforms in West Bengal are a major bulwark against the neo-liberal course of corporate takeover of land and the entry of multinationals in food and agri-business. Since 1977, the small and marginal farmers of West Bengal have acquired 11,27,000 acres of free pattas. Today, 84 per cent of cultivated land in Bengal is owned by small and marginal farmers --- in contrast to the national average of a mere 34 per cent.

That this process also acts as a principal instrument to address social justice is borne out by the fact that recipients of such land redistribution are comprised of 37 per cent from scheduled castes, 18 per cent of scheduled tribes and 18 per cent from the Muslim community. A significant number of these pattas are joint pattas in the name of a man and his wife, establishing the principle of gender equality. That is why today, notwithstanding the fact that West Bengal accounts for only 3 per cent of total agricultural land in the country, it accounts for 22 per cent of land redistribution.

With a smokescreen sought to be created around the developments in Singur and Nandigram, there was a concerted attempt to portray the seventh Left Front government as one which embarked on forcible occupation of agricultural land for the corporates, giving a go-by to its earlier legacy. But the facts speak something else. During the tenure of this government, 16,700 acres of land has been distributed by 2009-10 and another 6000 acres in 2010-11. The land redistributed by the seventh Left Front government alone may be equal to that in the rest of the country during the last 20 years.

Obviously, this emphasis on ensuring land for the small and marginal farmers has been accompanied by expansion of the irrigation facilities. Ignored by the central government and denied of any major central investment for big irrigation projects, the development here has been based on utilisation of ground water through the decentralised initiative of panchayat institutions. As a result of this, just from a 28 per cent of irrigated land in the state in 1977, the proportion has increased to 72 per cent, almost doubling the crop intensity. This has led to increased production and productivity in agriculture. From 74 lakh tonnes in 1976-77, agricultural production is now 170 lakh tonnes. During every year, in the last five years, the GDP growth in agriculture in West Bengal has been far ahead of the national GDP figures in this sphere.

Thus the land and agriculture policies of seventh Left Front government of West Bengal stands in contrast to the neo-liberal direction of opening up agriculture to foreign multinationals in agri-business and retail trade. The new challenge, of course, is how to develop more storage capacity, agri-processing, and a modern supply chain infrastructure where the value of production can be ensured mostly for the producers. If this is not again a Left policy, what is?

On the question of management of the food economy, during the last three years the Left Front government has provided rice at Rs 2 per kg to around 2.63 crore people. The government had to spend Rs 500 crore to enforce this programme. This, again, is in contrast to the direction of reduction in food subsidies and exclusion of huge sections of the population from the ambit of food security through an unrealistic definition of poverty levels and by restricting the public distribution system to a small section of the population.

Similarly, the seventh Left Front government has ensured major advances of those sectors of the economy like small and medium scale enterprises which do not require big investments. In fact, both in terms of number of enterprises and generation of employment, West Bengal has been occupying the first position in the country for quite some time. At this point in time, West Bengal has 28 lakh small industrial enterprises which employ 55 lakh people. This is achieved through increased budgetary support for facilitating the survival and consolidation of such units.


The seventh Left Front government has particularly taken head on the policy course sought to be pushed by the central government. In education, its major thrust has been to ensure 100 per cent enrolment and sharp reduction in the dropout rate during the earlier period. Professor Amartya Sen is on record appreciating the unique initiative in Bengal through Sishu Siksha Kendras (SSK) and Madhyamik Siksha Kendras (MSK), supervised and run by panchayats which have played a pivotal role in reducing the dropout rates. Effective implementation of the midday meal has been the other major factor. These kendras have appointed teachers from the neighbourhood and belonging overwhelmingly to the disadvantaged social groups like SCs, STs, OBCs and Muslims. The state government provided security of tenure and enhanced the remuneration to these teachers.

In higher education, the state’s approach is in complete contrast to the direction of privatisation and commercialisation. In the last five years alone, 74 colleges have been started and five new universities established. These are mainly in backward areas or in those with dense SC, ST, OBC and Muslim populations. Two universities have been created specifically for the Muslim communities --- one under the state government and the other, a centre of the Aligarh Muslim University. It is because of these efforts that sections hitherto excluded from access to higher education have been able to overcome the earlier hurdles. On the other hand, efforts are on to enhance the quality and performance of the universities to bring them national and international recognition and appreciation.

The West Bengal public health system is unique and treats 73 per cent of the total patients undergoing treatment in the state in government facilities. The number of patients accessing services in the primary health centres and rural hospitals is improving rapidly. On the basic health parameters like birth rate, death rate, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, West Bengal is way ahead of the national average; on some of these parameters it occupies the first or the second position. Here also, the thrust is on improvement of the health sector through public funding --- in contrast to emphasis on private investment in five star speciality and super speciality hospitals.

Finally, the seventh Left Front government is reinforcing its earlier initiative for ensuring social security for the workers, particularly in the unorganised sector. It has embarked on a massive programmes that bring together provident fund, health insurance and special packages for the exigencies of accident which they might have to suffer. This is bringing an upheaval in the unorganised sector workers’ sense of belonging.

A major initiative following the Ranganath Mishra commission recommendations has been to expand the number of OBCs to 53 and extending 15 per cent additional reservation for these communities. Of these, 10 per cent are reserved for Muslim OBCs. Out of the two crore six lakh crore Muslims in the state, one crore 82 lakh Muslims will now benefit from this step. Coupled with this positive discrimination, the hugely expanded investment in education for the Muslims in madrasahs as well as other institutions of education for all stages, including universities, has set out a dramatic course of improvement for Muslims in the development process. Now the empowerment of minority Muslims is not merely through a remarkable level of land ownership but also through educational empowerment.


In today’s context, if this is not an active Left policy, what is? It is precisely because of this record of the seventh Left Front government that it has come under attack from the extreme rightwing and, of course, imperialist interests. The added dimension today is of attacks from the pseudo-Left platform, spearheaded by the 'Maoists' and their intellectual apologists. However, that such an attack can be successfully met is more than evident from experiences in the past. With the support of the democratic, progressive and the Left movement in the country, the Left movement in West Bengal will definitely overcome this new challenge. The people of West Bengal are preparing for that very big battle.

People's Democracy, April 03, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011



“Since the minorities – especially the Muslims are very much under-represented, and sometimes wholly unrepresented, in government employment, we recommend that they should be regarded as backward in this respect within the meaning of that term as used in Article 16 (4) of the Constitutionand that 15 percent of posts in all cadres and grades under the Central and State Governments should be earmarked for them as follows: (a) The break up within the recommended 15 percent shall be 10 percent for the Muslims (commensurate with their 73 percent share of the former in the total minority population at the national level).”… Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, May 2007 (tabled in Parliament in December 2009)

· The 7th LF government has implemented 10% reservation in government jobs for 53 backward communities among Muslims

· As a result of the expansion of State OBC list, currently, among 2.02 crore Muslims in Bengal, 1.72 crores are OBCs amounting to over 85% of total Muslims in the state.

· West Bengal is the first and only state to implement the Ranganath Misra Commission recommendation to provide 10% reservation for Muslims in state government jobs

· There is now a total 17% OBC reservation in West Bengal: 10% for Muslim OBCs and 7% Non-Muslim OBCs.


“Select institutions in the country like the Aligarh Muslim University and the Jamia Millia Islamia should be legally given a special responsibility to promote education at all levels to Muslim students…At least one such institution should be selected for this purpose in each of those States and Union Territories which has a substantial Muslim population.”…. Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, May 2007 (tabled in Parliament in December 2009)

· Under the 7th LF government a new campus of Aligarh Muslim University has been established in Murshidabad, which has started offering law and MBA courses from this year.

· West Bengal government has made 300 acres of land available for setting up this AMU regional campus.

· The Calcutta Madrasah was upgraded to Aliah University in 2007, which is currently offering five year integrated MA and MSc courses in humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, engineering, management and computer science alongside Arabic and Islamic theology.

· The Aliah University is already operating with 28 faculties. A total number of 327 new posts were created in various departments of the university till 2010.

· Two new universities in MCDs of West Bengal, namely WB State University in Barasat and Gour Banga University in Malda have over 20% enrolment of Muslim students.


“The Madarsa Modernisation Scheme of the government should be suitably revised, strengthened and provided with more funds so that it can provide finances and necessary paraphernalia either (a) for the provision of modern education up to Standard X within those madarsas themselves which are at present imparting only religious education or, alternatively, (b) to enable the students of such madarsas to receive such education simultaneously in the general schools in their neigbourhood.”…Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, May 2007 (tabled in Parliament in December 2009)

· For the purpose of expansion of madrasah education, the total State budgetary provision of West Bengal has increased significantly from only Rs.5.6 lakh in 1976-77 to Rs. 574.0 crore in the current year. The Central Government’s allocation for madrasah education (SPQEM) was only Rs. 127 crore in 2011 Budget.

· The number of madrasahs in West Bengal has increased from 238 in 1977-78 to 605 in the current year, and the number of students has increased from 4,338 to 4.78 lakh over this period.

· The West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission was established in 2008 to overview the recruitment of madrasah teachers. By 2009, more than 4,000 new teachers were recruited by the Madrasah Service Commission. 93% of total new recruit were Muslims.

· There were only 2580 madrasah teachers in 1977, which has increased nearly 8 times to the current figure of 19,992 by 2010.


“We further recommend that effective ways should be adopted to popularise and promote all the self-employment and income-generating schemes among the minorities and to encourage them to benefit from such schemes…

We recommend that the rules, regulations and processes of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation be overhauled on a priority basis…with a view to making it more efficient, effective and far-reaching among the minorities.”... Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, May 2007 (tabled in Parliament in December 2009

· Rs. 422 crore worth of credit has been disbursed by the West Bengal Minority Development Corporation (WBMDFC) till January 2011; 182646 persons have benefited from the disbursal of term loan and micro-credit by the WBMFDC till January 2011; (Beneficiary of term loan 78105 & beneficiary of micro-credit 75265);

· This is the best record of credit disbursement among all minority finance corporations in the country.

· The share of bank loans for the minorities in the total priority sector loans of the banks in the State has increased from 7.89% as on March 31, 2009 to 14.76% as on March 31, 2010, and this share has increased further to cross the national level target (15%) and reached 15.01% as on September 30, 2010.

· West Bengal is the best performer in terms of implementing the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEG). Among self-employed business persons, who benefited from PMEG, over 30% are minorities.

· Among all self-help groups in West Bengal with access to institutional credit, 21.8% are groups with Muslim members. The average loan size of WBMDFC to SHGs is Rs. 1.25 lakh, which is the highest in the country.


The flagship scheme of the Central Government in implementing the Sachar Committee recommendations is the Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP) for Minority Concentrated Districts.

· West Bengal has emerged as the foremost state in the country in the implementation of the Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP). West Bengal accounts for 12 out of total 90 MSDP districts in India.

· Rs. 264.24 crore has been already spent on MSDP in West Bengal till 31st December, 2010, which is the highest in the country among all states implementing MSDP.

· The highest number of houses in Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) (21317), anganwadi centres (4109), additional classrooms (2043) etc. in Muslim concentrated areas has been built in West Bengal.

· Against the approved estimates of Rs. 3780 crore for MSDP for the XI Plan period, only Rs. 2750 crore has been reflected in approved XI Plan document. This meager resources are being further cut by the Central Government as can be seen in this year’s budgetary support for MSDP: a decline from Rs. 1160 crore in 2010-11 to Rs. 1050 crore in 2011-12





· The success of land reforms under the Left has significantly benefited the Muslims. 30.9% of the rural households in West Bengal are Muslim households having access to 25.6% of the total cultivated land in the state (second only to Jammu and Kashmir with 30.3%).

· Out of total number of land pattas distributed in the state during the period of 1977-2010, 18% were allotted to Muslim households.

School Education:

· According to the NUEPA report, while Muslims are 25.25% of the population of West Bengal, 30.03% of all children enrolled at the primary level in West Bengal in 2009-10 were Muslims. The national average is 13.04% only (in 2009-10) .

· In 2011, out of a total of 10,04,931 Madhyamik examinees in West Bengal, 2,53,779 are Muslim students, which is 25.27% of total Madhyamik examinees.

· In 2011, out of 6,38,240 Higher Secondary examinees, 1,48,777 are Muslims, which is 19.85% of total Higher Secondary examinees.

· In 2011, 49,588 Muslim students have appeared in Madrasah Board Examination in the state.


1. Why is Trinamool Congress silent on the reservation for Muslim OBCs in West Bengal?

2. As per Sachar Committee Report, only 4.5% of Railway employees are Muslims. How many Muslims have been recruited in the Railways since 2009?

3. TMC Manifesto talks about implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations. What have the TMC Ministers done at the Centre in this regard, till date?

4. Has the TMC accepted the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya (Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi case)?

5. Can the TMC cite one issue in which it has opposed the communal politics of RSS-BJP?

Kolkata, 3rd April, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Left Front Confident of Comfortable Majority: Buddhadeb

THE Left Front in West Bengal is striving to get 50 per cent or more votes in every booth and constituency in the coming assembly elections, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee categorically asserted in a press conference in Kolkata on March 23. “We were ready to face united opposition from the very beginning and nothing has changed because of an alliance between TMC and Congress”, he said. The Left front will attain comfortable majority, he said with confidence. When asked if this is the toughest election, he said: “No. I have seen many elections, especially 2001 and 2006. At that time also, there was media hype that we were facing a tough election. But we have proved everybody wrong.”

Bhattacharjee explained the basic understanding enunciated in Left Front manifesto and answered wide range of questions.

He said the Left Front and its government has stood beside the people, particularly in unorganised sector, who have been marginalised by market economy. Already 25 lakh unorganised workers have been provided with facilities of provident fund. All such sections would be brought under social security. Self help groups have increased in large numbers and they are being provided support from the government.

The chief minister underlined three major areas of success of the seventh Left Front government. First, the state has become self sufficient in rice production and moved forward in massive food grains production. Second, large sections of marginalised people have been provided with social security. Thirdly, the minorities were provided reservation through OBC category along with development in their education and economic activities. In this regard, Bhattacharjee mentioned that though Left Front government was trying its best to alleviate the socio-economic conditions of the minorities, the recommendations of Ranganath Misra Commission opened up the opportunity of providing reservation for them.

Apart from the general development of the state economy, Left Front in its manifesto has focused on some specific infrastructural areas. The chief minister said that the next government would link up all villages with roads connecting with the main road of the area, would connect all villages with electricity and safe drinking water facilities. New towns will be developed around the existing cities.

Bhattacharjee said, an atmosphere of chaos has been created in the state. We want to stop this. Left Front will never allow the disintegration of the hills from the state. Maoists have already affected damages and they have been supported irresponsibly by the opposition forces. Some forces, by their utter intention to grab power immediately have created a condition of intolerance, indiscipline and formed a fear psychosis among people. West Bengal has to come out of this situation.

‘The Left has always progressed through self critical analysis’, said the chief minister. He pointed out that while there was no option but to industrialise the state, there occurred some conflicts regarding land acquisition. Taking lessons from those incidents, the state government has become cautious and underlined consensus in acquiring land. After 2008, we have acquired 8100 acres of land without any problem. The state government has already worked out a land use map and a land bank would be created on that basis.

He also pointed out that rectification in Party work has also progressed. “We have instructed our Party workers clearly that there should not be any needless intervention in natural life stream of civil society”, the chief minister said.

Bhattacharjee said the people of the state would not invite a danger. He asked, “Will West Bengal be run like the railways ministry is being run?” He charged that the railways minister has laid foundation stones without provision of money for the projects. About six other central ministers from TMC, he said, were like ‘non performing assets’, doing nothing in their official jobs while drawing wages from public exchequer.

Bhattacharjee also demanded that the central projects should be handed over to the states and 50 per cent of the direct and indirect taxes should be devolved to the states as they have to meet the basic amenities of the people like education and health. The eighth Left Front government will mobilise all states to strengthen this demand, he said.

LEFT FRONT Manifesto Projects Pro- People Alternative

THE 34 years experience of Left Front government in West Bengal is a unique experience in moving forward in an untraversed path. The formulation of alternative policies and their implementation within the structural limitations were all accomplished through a daunting task. Left Front, in its manifesto for the ensuing assembly elections, has reiterated its commitment towards emancipation of the toiling people and proceed to achieve new goals.

The manifesto is a working document, written in the backdrop of negative fallouts of neo liberal policies in the country. The unbridled market forces have resulted in marginalisation of millions. Safeguarding the interests of these sections and the poor people will be the focus of the eighth Left Front government in West Bengal, the election manifesto asserted.

The manifesto has mentioned about three most important goals of the eighth Left Front government. First and foremost is to elevate the standard of living of the families below poverty line. Employability of these sections will also be a priority. Secondly, the eighth Left Front government will aim to take West Bengal to a leading position in the country on the basis of three human development indices ie, purchasing power, education and health. Thirdly by extending agriculture, industry and other different services, the eighth Left Front government will work for the employment and income generation of the poorest 40 lakh families of the state. Altogether this will formulate the direction of the comprehensive development of West Bengal.

The manifesto elaborates ten specific programmes to attain these three fundamental goals. It says that people having family income of below Rs 10, 000 will be provided rice at Rs 2 per kilo. Some daily necessities like pulses, sugar, edible oil, cloth and biscuit will successively be put under the purview of the public distribution system. To prevent distress sale by the farmers, the state government will buy rice from within the state by giving them assistance price. To provide cooked food for the helpless poor families, the ‘sahai’ (assistance) programme will be further extended.

Besides carrying on the programme of distributing land, multistoried buildings will be constructed for the displaced and homeless people. In the urban areas, same types of buildings will be constructed in the project of giving land for dwelling.

Security, provident fund scheme, insurance and social protection of all contractual staff, unorganised labour and farm based labour will be further extended and will include all concerned people. Allowances for the poor people will be increased both in amount and number of recipients. The government will also ensure the strict implementation of announced reservation in educational field and work places.

To lower down the school drop out to less than 1 per cent, the government will provide financial assistance. Along with it, all girl students up to class XII including the tribal, schedule caste, other backward communities and minorities will receive special allowances for dress and cycle successively within five years. Students of class XI and XII residing more than five kilometers away from their school will get to travel in government and private buses once a day.

The eighth Left Front government will draw up and implement an Act on public health. The common people will get free treatment through insurances and health protection schemes under this Act. The government will also identify the common and life-taking diseases. All poor families of the state will be brought under health insurance and the government will pay the premium to the insurance companies. Within the next five years every district will have at least one medical college and nursing college.

The eighth Left Front government will constitute a special power mission to supply safe drinking water for each family. All families will also get toilets.

Every big village and urban slum will be connected by concrete road. Other roads of the villages will also be concretised successively. Besides planned urbanisation, a special committee will be constituted for consolidated development of the slum areas.

Every home will get electric connection. Every pump set used for agriculture will get electric connection. If those pump sets are used between the stipulated time announced by the government, the electricity charge will also be subsidised. To meet the demand of electricity in industry and other sectors, the generation of electricity will be increased to further 4000 megawatt.

The eighth Left Front government will work out the procedures for eliminating the existing barriers in the process of offering government services to the common people. To ensure the commitment to the people, necessary administrative reforms will be executed. The annual performance of the cabinet ministers will be evaluated and necessary actions will be taken as per that. All administrative stratums have to be free from corruption. In all the stages, administration and police have to convene all party meetings. They have to listen to the suggestions and advice of the peoples’ representatives.

The manifesto of the Left Front also declares that the eighth Left Front government will double its fund allocation for the development of the tribals, schedule castes, other backward communities, minorities, refugees, women, north Bengal, Sundarbans and Pashchimanchal area. Programmes will also be chalked out for hands on work of the people of these sections.

Other programmes include strengthening agricultural production, towards industrialisation to generate ten lakh jobs, development of the self help groups and development of planned cities.

The Left Front will also continue to project alternative policies against the anti-people measures of the centre. It will struggle for devolution of 50 per cent of central taxes to states and restructuring of centre-state relations. It will also try to mobilise all state governments towards achieving these demands.