Sunday, January 22, 2012

200 Days of ‘Change’:Promises are Always to be Broken

Why Target?

200 days are not sufficient time to evaluate the work of any State Government. The target-based campaign was first started by the bourgeoisie political parties of United Sates of America and Eastern Europe as a part of their election campaign. Though the targets are often forgotten after the election and those parties are least interested to fulfill the targets once the election is won. This electoral tactics has been blindly copied by TMC before the 15th Assembly Election of West Bengal. In reality TMC has even plagiarised the slogan "Change We can believe in" from American President Barrack Obama.

Target of 200 Days

Prior to the last Assembly Election of the State TMC could not publish any English translation of their Election Manifesto. Instead of doing so they have created another separate document called as 'VISION DOCUMENT'. The documents set the target of the work to be completed within 200 days of the new Government. That document contained mainly a little section of the Election Manifesto and the list of the works, which shall be done within first 200 days from the formation of TMC led Government in West Bengal. A Careful reading of two documents brings out the dissimilarity and contradiction.

In some aspect by using the jugglery of words against the Left Front, TMC has informed that they will continue with the work done by the former Left Front Government. In many aspects they could not dare to reject the truth. We shall look into few declaration made by TMC and try to see how far they have been fulfilled.

False Claim on Investment

TMC led Government has maintained its heritage of False claim of success in Industrial Development in the state. In reality the Government has failed to draw any new flow of investment in the State. The new Government has failed to bring out its new land policy yet. This failure has resulted in massive set back of the Government to bring any new investment in any of the major sectors. Above all the CM has clearly declared that the Government will place all seek industries in auction for sell whereas it was promised in TMC's election manifesto that it will resurge seek industries and save them.

Farmers Suicide: Bengal Enrolls Itself in the List

West Bengal has not witnessed with the instance of farmer's suicide where other states in India had laths of incidents of such kind. The farmer policy of the earlier Left Front Government could successfully tackle the situation by providing adequate support to ensure the price of the crop by way of continuous land reforms. The Government changed; TMC came to power and brought a shift in the policy towards farmers, which has forced the farmers to get into the crisis, and made suicide as the only resort to the marginalised farmers. Till the date under the new regime 6 farmers and field workers have committed suicide with the burden of huge loan. Compared to the last year the farmers have suffered a huge crisis. They have been even forced to distress sale the crops. Since the Panchayat have been paralysed by the new Government, the job under NREGA has been stopped. The so-called Government of maa-mati-manush has reversed the success of land reforms of earlier Left Front Government by issuing directive (memo no. IRC/624/11).

The Neoliberal Solution in Transport

The TMC led State Government has started to enforce the neo liberal economic policies in State owned transport system. It has already stopped the payment of pension to the retired workers of the state transport corporations. Even the current workers are not receiving the regular salary in those corporations. In August a CESTC pension holder lady has committed suicide after the non-payment of pension. More serious situation aroused when the almost 18,000 current workers received their salary for the month of October, not before 30th November. The Transport Minister Subrata Bakshi has told that the Government shall offer the VRS package to the transport workers to resurge the sickness and also it will stop the bus service from all non-profit making roots.

The Poor Financial Situation

Before the Assembly election the TMC used to complain against the earlier Left Front Government that it is responsible for the huge debt of the State, after the election the same has been boomeranged against them. Even the situation is so grave that West Bengal has been elevated at the top among the states in the amount of debt. In last six months the new Government has taken a loan f Rupees 10,000/- from the market, which is almost double of the loan amount taken from the market in last year (Left Front Government). The Finance Minister of the State Dr. Amit Mitra has promised that the Government will increase 30% at the average earning of the state, but in reality the growth rate is only 15%. It is quite impossible to reach the target level before this year ending.

The Action for Seek Industries: CM

TMC had declared in their Election Manifesto that 'All Seek Industries will be resurged' but on contrary to that declaration On 4th November the Chief Minister has declared the declared that the seek industries of the state shall be sold in auction. It shows the dual policies of TMC before and after the election.

Land Reforms Stopped

The new Government by issuing a direction (memo no. IRC/624/11) has declared that the Government will come out from the path of Land Reforms and the distribution of lands to the landless people. The memo has been issued on 18th October. The Policy determination Committee, appointed by the new Government has termed the policy of land reforms followed by Left Front Government as 'Robbery of Land'. The Committee has also stated in their draft recommendation that the Government will take punitive measure against such robbery of land.

Net Failure in Rural Development and NREGA

During the time of Left Front Government in West Bengal the state had secured its position out of first five states in implementation of NREGAs (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). The new Government has brought down the state out of last 4 states. In the financial year 2010-11 the number of job days created under NREGAs was total 15 crore and in this year the number has reduced to only Rs.2 crore. The failure has drawn the attention of the Central Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh that he has written a letter to the Chief Minister (no. FTS-66592/2011) where he has written that the state is currently having Rs.1823 crore but out of that Rs.900 crore have been left unutilised.

Reduction in the Expenditure on Minority Welfare

In the last financial year the budget allotment in minority welfare under former Left Front Government was Rs.664.46 crore. The new Government has reduced Rs.30.66 crore the allotment in minority welfare drastically in the first budget itself. The budget maintained silence on the large section of minorities left out of the purview of the Multi sartorial Development Project of the Central Government. The budget has not spent a single word on the English Medium Madrasas of the State. The programmes taken by the earlier Left Front Government to provide the rehabilitation packages to the divorced, homeless and helpless minority women have been completely ignored in the budget. These forgetfulness shows that the so-called minority friendly attitude of TMC was just like a mask, which has been already taken off.

Fascism: The Late Realisation of Mahasweta Devi

The honeymoon period of TMC-and so called 'CIVIL SOCIETY' (Sushil Samaj) is over within first six months of the new Government. At least the statement made by Mahasweta Devi On 21st November indicates that. The conflict raised due to the refusal by the Police to grant permission for a public meeting called by APDR at Metro Channel. While condemning such action Mahasweta Devi asked whether they have knowingly invited fascism in State or not. The conflict has also attracted the statement of Kabir Suman, a TMC MP, which has reminded the CM that as an opposition leader she made a continuous 26 days dharna at that Metro Channel only. Late is better than never. Although late, but the so-called Susheel Samaj has started to realise the original face of TMC.

How Many Days Singur shall Wait to Get Back the Promised Land?

TMC had declared that their Government will return the lands belong to the UNWILLING FARMERS of Singur after the formation of the new Government. With the lapse of time those farmers are also realising that the promise was nothing but a pre election gimmick. 100 days, 200 days... no one knows how many days they wait to get back the land.

Return of Power Cut

One of the major successes of the Left Front Government was that it could reduce the power cut in the state. The change in the Government has taken back to the time of Power cut. The Government has failed to make a plan to maintain the supply of electric in the state. Over all they have indicated that it might have to increase the price for electric under the compulsion.

Syndicate, Promoters and TMC

The evil nexus between Syndicate, Promoters and TMC has been revealed after the murder of TMC worker Swapan Mandal at Keshtopur, 24 Parganas (North). The main accused Partha Sarkar and others are also the well-known TMC leader of the area. The situation indicates that the evil nexus got strengthened during the first six months of the change. Unfortunately the Government is doing nothing to break such nexus except the verbal attack and counter attack among the TMC leaders.

Curtailment of Panchayat Right

Panchayat of West Bengal was considered as a model to rest of India under Left Front Government. It was West Bengal, which was the real torchbearer of decentralisation policy and the three tiers Panchayat system to ensure peoples participation in local Governance. But the new Government has done nothing to consolidate that success. Instead of doing so they have taken initiative to curtail the rights of Panchayat by empowering the executive. In order to do so the CM met the BDOs and SDO and issued the direction to them.

The University Ordinance

The new Government has already proclaimed an Ordinance to destroy the democratic system in the Educational Institutions. They are trying to adopt the nominated managing committee system. This amounts to an attack on democracy established in the state by Left Front in last 34 years.

CM at Police Station

On 6th November the CM herself had visited Bhowanipur Police Station to resolve a criminal dispute, which is not only unprecedented but also dangerous for a democratic system.

Police Firing

On 1st December the Police of the new Government has fired on a peaceful protest at the demand of electricity at Nainan of Magrahat, 24 Parganas (South). 4 People including three women and a twelve years old girl died in that firing. In last six months police has fired several times at Asansol, Pandaveswar, Haroa and Bagula. One person died at Asansol incident and one woman died at Bagula by the bullets of the police of new Government.

Alteration of Charge Sheet to Save a Minister

The CID under the Home Minister and Chief Minister Smt. Mamata Banerjee has deleted the name of one of the ministers of her ministry, Mr. Arup Roy, from the charge sheet filed in connection to the murder of a TMC leader of Bally, Howrah. This incident is also unprecedented and dangerous for an impartial judicial system. In another incident under the direction of the law minister of the new Government police has withdrawn a murder case against the congress anti socials at Krishnanagar. The Police have also shown partiality to arrest a TMC councilor who was connected to a murder at Tarapeeth, Rampurhat.

Falsification Continues…

There are thousands incidents in last six moth duration of the new Government which revels the inefficacy of the Government to run the state. The declarations at Election manifesto remained unfulfilled and the Governments action does not indicate its willingness to fulfill them in near future. So the writing of the CM in a document to mark 100 days of the new Government that it has finished maximum work of 200 days within 90 days only tells us that Falsification continues... either in opposition or in Government, because the name of the party is TMC.

Friday, January 20, 2012

TMC trying to undermine Left Front's success: Prakash Karat

PTI / Thursday, January 19, 2012 19:26 IST

KOLKATA: CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has alleged that the Trinamool Congress-led government in West Bengal is bent on undermining the success achieved by the Left Front in land reforms and in the three-tier panchayat system.

"West Bengal carved out a niche for itself in the Panchayeti Raj and land reforms initiated in 1978 and it was the role model in the entire country, which is sought to be be undermined by the present Trinamool Congress government," Karat said in an interview to CPI(M) daily 'Ganashakti'.

Karat said that the Trinamool Congress would not be successful and would face "stiff resistance" if there was any move by it to undermine the LF's success in land reforms and in the panchayat raj system.

Claiming that West Bengal was adjudged 'best' among states in the implementation of land reforms and panchayati raj system, Karat said, "This was considered a role model for all other states and it was an acknowledged fact".

"If the Trinamool Congress government dares to spoil all our efforts aimed at benefitting farmers and villagers, there will be a mass resistance," the CPI(M) general secretary said.

Commenting on the 'attack' on the CPI(M) and other Left parties ever since the Trinamool Congress came to power, Karat said, "This government's oppressive and suppressive nature has been exposed to the people."

"During the Left front rule, no democratic movement came under attack from the police which has been common in both Congress and BJP-ruled states. This is a new phenomenon in West Bengal. But people will come forward and resist any oppressive acts of the government," he said.

The CPI(M) general secretary said that the Left Front had captured power in the state in 1977 through democratic movements 'which was maintained all through its 34-year rule'.

About the Left parties' prospects in five states going to Assembly polls, Karat said, "The Left force will try to improve its position."

Mamata-Sanctioned Anarchy in Educational Institutions

KOLKATA: EDUCATIONAL institutions have become the most favourite target of ruling party’s hooligans in West Bengal. A single day has not passed in the last few months when TMC miscreants had not attacked either the students or teachers in colleges or schools.

The concerted attacks on the educational institutions by the Trinamool Congress reached a new low on January 5 when the principal of Raigunj College, Dr Dilip Dey Sarkar, was physically assaulted by Trinamool goons within the college premises. He was dragged by the collar from his office, repeatedly shoved, punched and abused. When another professor of the college, Subrata Saha tried to save the principal, he was also assaulted by the Trinamool goons. The entire attack was orchestrated TMC councillor and district level TMC leaders like Tilak Choudhury (district working president of TMC), Gora Sarkar (TMC leader), Ratan Majumder (TMC councillor), Bhola Mukherjee (TMC councillor), Priyabrata Deb, student wing leader of the party. The perpetrators of the crime, later identified, included local TMC activists. The entire incident took place in front of the police, who remained as mute spectators since the culprits belonged to the ruling party.  This incident, in particular, has shocked the psyche of the people as it was televised in gory details.

The event evoked strong condemnations from various quarters. But more shocking was the reaction of the chief minister and state government. Cabinet ministers appeared before the press to defend the attackers and termed the assault as a ‘small incident’. Then the chief minister herself described the incident as a ‘very small incident’ and alleged a conspiracy by Congress to malign her government. In tune with the attitude of the highest level of the state administration, the district police sat idle and refused to arrest the main culprits named in the FIR. However, with directions from political high-ups, Tilak Choudhury and Priyabrata Deb stage managed a ‘surrender’ and were granted bail within hours. Sports minister Madan Mitra even went to Raiganj and held a public meeting with Tilak Choudhury present on the stage. It was a clear cut message from TMC leaders that the attacks would continue and the government would shelter ruffians from the ruling party.

The principal has resigned from the post by saying that there is no security in the college at all. Instead of requesting him to continue or assuring him security, the state government immediately accepted his resignation, resulting in another round of shock waves.

This serious incident has not deterred TMC activists and on January 10, another attack took place in Rampurhat College in Birbhum. Here the principal was threatened by outsiders that they would create ‘another Raiganj”. Who cares of law if the chief minister is with you?

On the same day TMC activists ransacked students’ union rooms in Ballygunje Science College campus of Kolkata University and South City College in south Kolkata.

Only last month the headmaster of Jadavpur Vidyapith was beaten up by a TMC mob led by a local councillor. Such incidents are reminiscent of the terror stricken days of the 1970's when the Congress goons attacked the very edifice of the education system in the state. Left Front legislators have submitted a memorandum to the governor drawing his attention to the anarchy in educational institutions.


Conspiracy to Ban Politics In Bengal Campuses


By Ritabrata Banerjee

THE principal of a college was physically assaulted and dragged around the whole campus. He was greeted with abusive words and was beaten up amidst roars of “Vande mataram”.  This horrible action was seen by entire Bengal as television channels presented “live and exclusive” coverage of Trinamool Chatra Parishad supporters bashing up the principal inside the college campus.

With flags of ‘Advancement of Learning, Unified Life and Patriotism’ (the motto of Trinamool Chhatra Parishad) the attackers were seen ransacking the college. After beating up the principal and destroying the property of the college, they left the campus shouting slogans praising their supreme leader.

Even as the entire state was shocked at this terrible incident, more shocks came their way. The chief minister dismissed the incident as of ‘little’ significance. She even went on to the extent of defending the attackers by terming them as ‘kids’ who must be given a chance of rectification. The victim principal, who was attacked, insulted and humiliated, was branded as a partial administrator by the CM. The incident of beating up teachers in the campuses was thus justified by the administrative head of the state herself.

It was impossible to recognise the goons who beat up the principal as ‘kids’. At best some of them can easily be termed as ‘guardians’. A 58 year old ‘kid’ Tilak Chowdhury, who happened to be the district president of Trinamool Congress, led this assault. He was assisted by Priyabrata Dubey, district president of the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad. None of the others involved in the incident were from the campus. In reality these anti-social elements had no right to enter the campuses in the last three and a half decades. The Left Front governments under Comrade Jyoti Basu and Comrade Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had created an environment in the state where the campus belonged to people associated with academics. The situation has changed entirely with the change of political guard in the state.  The campuses are now easily accessible to the people who do not have a direct connection with teaching and learning.

The entire incident took place in front of the police who preferred to play the role of a silent spectator.  But it is difficult to put the entire blame on them. Particularly after the incident in Bhowanipur police station where the CM herself barged in to get her party goons released. Raigunj and many other places in the stand are examples of  the ‘change’ that has occurred in the state. The incidents at Raigunj, Ashoknagar, Guma, Jadavpur, and Rampurhat are bringing back to mind the horrific days of the seventies in the education sector. In all these places, TMC miscreants attacked the heads of schools and colleges.

The chief minister is not alone defending the miscreants. She is assisted by her ‘dramatist’ education minister and other ministers. They have come out with their versions of defending the attackers. The education minister, who is also a teacher of a college, mocked at  the victims saying they were acting like television stars in order to get attention! Perhaps it is not wise to expect more from a person who is known for his dramatic skills.


Before the Bengal assembly elections, a section of the media had floated a term ‘dalatantra’ (party-favouritism) in order to assist Mamata Banerjee’s campaign against the Left Front government. The eight months of TMC-led governance  has shown what the actual meaning of this word is. Mamata Banerjee has not given up her old habits. As union rail minister she had created a record of sorts by constituting numerous committees headed by people who were publicly supporting her. The practise continues now with her as chief minister. Sixty odd committees, a number of them for the education sector, have already been formed. A new dictionary is being written: where being elected is termed as ‘dalatantra’ whereas getting nominated is termed as ‘ganatantra’ (democracy).  Within a very short span of time all efforts to crush the democratic structure of the education system have been organised.

There is a multi-pronged attack by the government with the intention of crushing democracy in educational institutions. On one side it has issued an ordinance curtailing democracy in the colleges and the universities and on the other hand elected student unions are being brazenly attacked and captured. The democratic rights of the student community are not ensured in most of the states. Student unions elections are organised only in a few state and central universities. The states where the Left has been in power have always been at the forefront in ensuring the democratic rights of the students’ community. The 34 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal was a period where not only the democratic rights of the student’s community was established but the democratic rights of all people associated with academics were guaranteed.

There was a fixed calendar for the polls to the student unions of colleges and universities and as soon as the scheduled dates appeared on the calendar, the students of the Bengal campuses exercised their democratic rights to elect their representatives.

There is a change of situation for the worse now with the so called ‘change’. Till date 96 elected student unions have been captured by might. Democracy has obviously not been the tool in capturing the campuses. Hooligans in different parts of Bengal started attacking the campuses once the new government came to office. The justification for capturing the campuses was simple. As 35 lakh more people have voted in favour of TMC than the Left Front, there was no right for the SFI to run the elected unions. Throughout Bengal starting from the mountains to the sea, college and university unions faced unprecedented attacks and were subsequently captured. As expected, the police remained a silent spectator. In all, 28 college campuses were ransacked and 80 SFI activists were seriously injured and hospitalised. SFI supporters are not being allowed to go to the campuses, or even sit for their examinations. The peaceful environment of learning and teaching has been completely disrupted. The recent addition to this phenomenon is teacher bashing. The horrible picture of the education sector is visible to everyone except the chief minister and her media cheerleaders.

It appears the government had prepared the script to curb democracy and is now basically utilising the opportunity. After assuming office the government’s ordinance regarding colleges and universities made this very clear. It says that the people who will be in the governing body of the university will not be ‘elected’. The members either will be nominated or will be ex officio. One of the reasons furnished by the education minister behind cancellation of the election process was that most of the present lot are ‘political’. He believes that if people will be elected there will be politics behind it! He is also clear that the government can not allow anybody to be in the decision making process who has a political background. The ordinance categorically says that if the vice chancellor has a political identity or if it is revealed the government has the right to sack him or her.


In a nutshell, a war against democracy has begun. The ‘dramatist’ education minister is loud and clear -- campuses must be free from politics. The same echoing voice can be heard now from different spheres. As the 'teacher bashing' continues on the Bengal campuses under the stewardship of Trinamool Congress, people ranging from television anchors to ex vice chancellors, singers to painters, half intellectuals to half ministers have started blaming 'politics' as the sole culprit for such incidents. Even columns have started appearing in leading newspapers urging the state government to immediately stop the student union elections in the campuses. 

This is not at all new. The issue of student politics has recurred repeatedly in discussions on the education policy of our country. The right of students to have students’ unions has always been upheld in principle by the State. However, with the onset of the neo-liberal era, the approach towards student politics has taken a turn for the worse as exemplified by the Birla Ambani Report (2000) and the proposed Model Act for Universities during the tenure of the then BJP-led NDA government. These initiatives viewed students’ unions as an impediment in the path of implementing the privatisation and commercialisation agenda, and took refuge in the argument of preserving the academic ethos of educational institutions. At that point of time  Trinamool Congress was a part of the NDA coalition and had supported such undemocratic moves. Now in the new era of ‘change’ in Bengal, the government is appointing ‘Mentors’ from Harvard who will usher in a 'change' of the education system. These mentors are also firm believers in the post-modern theory of ‘Campus without Politics’.

The politics of these mentors is the politics of the market. Politics of protest is a hindrance to the designs of the market. Therefore it is very necessary for people committed to market forces to put a check on the political activities. And thus politics is being targeted. In order to establish a logical conclusion to the neo-liberal designs, violence is orchestrated in the campuses so that intense hatred against politics can be worked up.

Whatever the claims of the government may be, it has to primarily cater to the interests of the market forces that helped them before the assembly elections. In the education sector, it is being carried out in a fine manner. Let us look into two decisions of the new government. In order to appease the private engineering college managements, admission criteria have been relaxed and tuition fees doubled.

Almost every day the chief minister and her team are declaring that no work can be completed as the previous Left Front government has left no money in the coffers. There is no dearth of money for decorating the rooms of the ministers or for increasing their salaries by manifold. It is clear the declarations about lack of money are being made in order to pave the ground for private initiatives.

The highest impediment for the commercialisation and privatisation of education is the organised student movement in the campuses. The acts of the government and the education minister have automatically given rise to numerous questions among students. The campuses are raising the question “Was it not the democratic process that led to the education minister being elected as MLA and later as minister. Then how can he oppose democracy in the campus?” The academic qualification of the researchers who have lost their right to be elected as per the ordinance is no less than the ‘dramatist’, ‘professor’ education minister.

The government tried to justify its putting curbs on involving students and non-teaching staffs in the decision making process of the universities, which was guaranteed during the Left Front period. The campuses are discussing that the Senate and Syndicate not only decided about the appointment of vice chancellors. Starting from the promotion of sweepers to the making of syllabus of the students, everything used to be decided in the Senate and the Syndicate - the highest democratic decision making structures of universities during the Left rule.  

To be precise, behind the campaign to eliminate politics from the education system there is an elitist design to crush the democratic fabric established during the last 34 years.

Ever since the TMC-led government came into office, students and non-teaching staff were being attacked. Now even teacher bashing is a regular phenomenon.  Here are some major incidents:

10 December, 2011 - Trinamool outsiders attack the headmaster of Ashoknagar Boys Secondary School.

17 December, 2011 - Trinamool Congress activists slap the headmaster of Jadavpur Vidyapith in the precense of local Trinamool Congress councillor.

29 December, 2011 - Trinamool Congress goons attack the headmaster of Guma Rabindra Vidyapith.

5 January, 2012 - 58 year old ‘kid’ leads the attack on the principal of Raigunj University College.

11 January, 2012 - Raigunj is repeated by Trinamool Congress goons in Rampurhat College.

These above mentioned days are definitely black days in the history of the state. The black days of the seventies shamefully records the killing of vice chancellor of Jadavpur University Gopal Sen within the campus. There were instances where headmaster of MAMC School, Durgapur, Bimal Dasgupta, was burnt alive for the crime of protesting against unfair means adopted at examination hall by leaders of Chhatra Parishad (NSUI). Teachers like Satyen Chakraborty, Santosh Bhattacharya were killed at Howrah and Murshidabad. There are many more examples in this regard.

Many firebrand right wing student leaders of those days are today ministers in the Writers Building. Some of them are defending the culprits who are associated with principal and teacher bashing! The then black hair of the young turks of the seventies may be white now. But still their cherished memories of the pandemonium of the seventies are so very alive in their thoughts! Bengal has started witnessing the repetition of history in the education sector.

But the protest is very much in the air. There are Left students who are not allowed to enter campuses. They are unable to sit for their exams. Their admit cards are being burnt in front of them. They are threatened, beaten up. Some are hospitalised with fatal injuries. But still they have not given up the flag of SFI. They are at the barricades of resistance. The wall writing is sharp, bold and clear - ‘If politics determines our education, we must determine the politics’. This resolve to determine politics is the silver lining in these worst of times for education sector in the state.

SOURCE: People's Democracy

Spate of Farmers’ Suicide in Bengal: Disaster Looming Large

KOLKATA: IT has been eight months since the Trinamool Congress-led government has assumed office in West Bengal. And, in the last three and a half months alone over 22 farmers in the state have committed suicide due to debt-related problems, which is again a result ofan increase in input prices and non-remunerative prices. Both of these phenomenon, the increase in input prices and a fall in theprices of the crops, are a result of the policies adopted by the central as well as the state government.

The input prices have increased because the central government, following its policies of neo-liberal reforms, has slashed the fertilizer subsidy because of which in some cases the prices of fertilizers have increased by more than 100 per cent in the last one year. The TMC leader and the current CM was part of the union cabinet that took the decision to increase the prices of fertilizers and she neverprotested. With such a huge increase in prices of fertilizers, the money invested by the farmers had to increase, because of which they had to borrow money from the market. All this was done with the hope that the prices of the crops will be remunerative enough to give the farmers a positive return on the investment with which they could meet the loan and other expenses. But this did not happen. For example, last year the Minimum Support Price (MSP) announced by the central government for a quintal of rice was Rs. 1050.

The erstwhile Left Front government announced a bonus of Rs 50 per quintal so that the farmers received Rs 1100 per quintal of rice. This year the central government has announced an MSP of Rs 1080 per quintal. But the current TMC-led government has not announced any bonus for the farmers. As a result, the farmers are getting a price which is lower than what they got last year. The same story applies for jute farmers too. The MSP for jute was set at Rs 1675 per quintal. The state government however did not take any initiative to ensure that the Jute Corporation of India sets up procurement centres in the state to buy jute from the farmers. In the absence of jute procurement centres, the farmers were forced to sell their crops under distress and in the process ended up making huge debts from local money lenders and banks. The plight of the potato farmers followed a similar story. With bumper harvest of potato and the state government doing nothing to prevent price crash, the price of potato has decreased to 20 paisa per kg because of which the farmers are getting zero return on their investment.

The rate of suicide of the peasants has increased sharply in the recent past. In fact, it has become almost a daily occurrence. The first such incident came to light on October 17, 2011 when Dhana Tudu, a tribal agricultural labourer, committed suicide in Burdwan. In the following 115 days, 21 more followed suit. Burdwan district, the ‘rice bowl’ of the state, bore the brunt most severely. 15 of the dead farmers are from that district alone. In Maldah, 3 peasants committed suicide while 2 took their lives in Bankura. One each from Japaiguri and Hooghly also took their life under duress.

While the agrarian sector of the state is clearly under severe distress, the government and the chief minister are on a total denial mode.The CM has gone on record to say that there has been no debt-related farmer suicides in the state. This is the familiar story which has been repeated thousand times in the killing fields of Vidharbha and Andhra Pradesh. Now, the CM has joined this league, dumping the so called maa-mati-manush of West Bengal. What is even more shameful is that far from assuring farmers that their interests will be protected, the government is spending crores of rupees on a beach festival at Digha, organising conferences for the business houses etc. This completely exposes the utter disregard that the TMC-led government has for the plight of the poor people in the state. The leader of the opposition, Dr. Surjya Kanta Mishra has condemned such callousness of the government and has demanded that compensation be paid to the farmers who have committed suicide, like in the cases of the AMRI fire incident and the hooch tragedy. The sensible democratic people of West Bengal will not tolerate such apathy towards them and in the coming days will intensity the struggle against such anti-people policies of the government.

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, who was in Kolkata attending the central committee meeting, termed these suicides as ‘manmade disaster’. He alleged that the farmers have become debt-ridden due to policies of the central and state governments.Though more than 2.55 lakh farmers committed suicide in the country since 1995, West Bengal had bucked the trend. That was possible because of the support rendered by the Left Front government to farmers. But in the last eight months, the TMC-led government has failed to protect the peasantry. Karat also mentioned that LDF government in Kerala could successfully halt the mass suicides in Wayanad when it took over from the UDF in 2006. Now with the UDF back, in the last one and half months alone, there were at least seven cases of farmer suicides in that state.

----------- -------------------------------------
List of farmers who
committed suicides in WB
(till January 17, 2012 )

 S.No   Name          District     Date
1.     Dhana Tudu, Burdwan, 12.10.2011
2.     Sambhu Das, Burdwan, 14.10.2011
3.     Budhi Tudu, Burdwan,  16.10.2011
4.     Madhai Ghosh, Burdwan, 6.11.2011
5.     Bhabani Porel, Burdwan, 15.11.2011
6.     Safar Mollah, Burdwan, 18.11.2011
7.     Tarun Shar, Burdwan, 24.11.2011
8.     Nayanmani Pal, Bankura, 7.12.2011
9.     Utpal Goswami, Burdwan, 8.12.2011
10. Barun Pal, Burdwan, 20.12.2011
11. Rabin Barman, Jalpaiguri, 21.12.2011
12. Sushen Ghosh, Burdwan, 28.12.2011
13. Amiya Saha, Burdwan, 1.01.2012
14. Bodhan Hazra, Burdwan, 2.01.2012
15. Arindya Mondal, Maldaha, 7.01.2012
16. Kenaram Sarkar, Maldaha, 7.01.2012
17. Shankar Mandi, Burdwan, 9.01.2012
18. Gopinath Bauri, Bankura, 9.01.2012
19. Haridas Ratna, Maldaha, 12.01.2012
20. Tapas Majhi, Burdwan, 14.01.2012
21. Rabindranath Patra, Burdwan, 15.01.2012
22. Ganesh Durlav, Hooghly, 17.01.2012