EMINENT SPEAKERS OPINE IN KOLKATA
KOLKATA, 20th JUNE: THE achievements of the Left Front government of West Bengal, made during its 34 years long journey, are indelible and no amount of slander can wipe them off. This was the opinion several eminent speakers voiced in a seminar that was organised in Kolkata to commemorate the day of establishment of first Left Front government in West Bengal in June 1977. The seminar, organised by the Left Front, turned into a huge gathering at Nazrul Mancha.
C P Chandrasekhar, an eminent economist, tracked the policy perspective of successive governments in India after independence and identified the alternatives thrown up by the Left led governments. According to him, the Left Front government of West Bengalwas a manifestation of these alternative policies in action, though within structural limitations. Chandrasekhar said the most glaring success of that government was the land reforms through which the agrarian crisis was addressed. Despite initial backwardness and stagnation in the seventies, West Bengal recorded evident successes on social indices including infant mortality, maternal mortality and education.
N Ram, distinguished journalist, recalled the days of semi-fascist terror in West Bengal in the seventies, and commented, “Many friends in media chose not to know or not to inform.” He said the Left Front assumed office in a terrible situation when the youths were frustrated, education was in a doldrums, and democracy was in peril. The Left Front government then brought about a social security.
Ram emphasised that land reforms not only ensured distributive justice, they actually empowered the peasantry and contributed in the growth of production. Those successes are now in danger under the new regime. Already 61 farmers have committed suicide in West Bengal. Any attempt to reverse the land reforms in the state would invite disasters.
Ram lauded the role of the West Bengal’s Left Front government in poverty reduction, decentralisation of power through panchayats and, on top of everything, the defence of democracy. The civil liberties and democratic rights of the people were safeguarded under the Left Front government. “The initial trends of the new government have sent ominous signals of intolerance,” he said. Ram then added, “Left Front leaders have soberly accepted the defeat in the elections and have reacted with patience but there should be serious watch that the rights of people are not lost.”
Ashok Mitra, the finance minister of first Left Front government, sharply criticised those who talk of so called ‘misrule’ of the said 34 years. Maitra said the ‘misrule’ was that more than 60 per cent of land distribution in the entire country took place in West Bengalalone. The Left Front government ensured the minimum wages for the agricultural workers, established three tier panchayats, and ensured democratic rights of the working people including government employees.
Mitra said it was known to the Left parties and their activists that no fundamental transformation of the society would come through a state government. The aim was to rush whatever relief was possible to the people within the constitutional limitations. Tremendous successes was achieved though there were mistakes. The task of the Left is to overcome those mistakes and go forward with Leftism.
Biman Basu, chairman of Left Front, said that one of the major tasks of the first Left Front government was to restore democracy. In 1977, just after the Left Front government was formed, Comrades Jyoti Basu and Promode Dasgupta gave a call that no political retaliation should be carried out. The government freed all political prisoners.
The first Left Front government fulfilled 28 tasks of the 36 it had promised declared in election manifesto. The new government in the state which assumed office in 2011 has declared that they had already done everything that could have been done in 10 years. Let the people of West Bengal judge such unfounded proclamations.
The seminar was moderated by Professor Shobhanlal Datta Gupta.
On this occasion, the Left Font also brought about a book on the real situation of the state at present. The book, titled West Bengal: Which Way was formally inaugurated by former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Left Front leaders paid floral tributes at the Martyrs’ Column before the programme.
People's Democracy, June 24, 2012