Sunday, January 27, 2013

Towards a Seventh Left Front Govt in Tripura

By Prakash Karat

THE Left Front in Tripura held a central rally in Agartala on January 20 to launch its election campaign. The state assembly elections are on February 14. I participated in this rally which saw one lakh people attending, a huge number, considering that the total population of the state is only 37 lakhs.

Tripura is in the north-eastern part of the country. It is surrounded on three sides by Bangladesh. It was here in the nineteen forties that the Communist party worked among the tribal people and organised them to fight against the Maharaja and his feudal rule. Nripen Chakraborty, Dasarath Deb and Biren Datta were the pioneers of the Communist movement. The first two later served as the chief ministers of the state.

Tripura has had a Left Front government since 1978. In the first two terms of the Left Front government, there were two major achievements: the implementation of land reforms and the setting up of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council under the sixth schedule of the constitution. There was a break only in 1988-93 when there was a Congress regime. The Congress came to power through a rigged election with the help of the central government headed by Rajiv Gandhi. This was one of the most sordid episodes in Indian politics.The five year period saw semi-fascist terror unleashed against the CPI(M) and hundreds of the Party members and supporters were killed. It was after an arduous struggle that the Congress was isolated and the Left Front regained office in March 1993.

Since then, in the three subsequent elections in 1998, 2003 and 2008, the Left Front won with a two-thirds majority. All in all, the Left Front has been in government for six terms since 1978, except for the one term in 1988-93.

The history of the Left Front government in the last two decades is a remarkable and inspiring one. In the first decade, in the nineties, the state was still affected by the violent insurgency by armed extremist tribal groups. Their attacks had begun in the early eighties. Sheltering in camps across the border in Bangladesh, these groups wreaked havoc in the tribal and hill areas. They were financed and equipped by imperialist agencies and the ISI of Pakistan. They demanded an independent Tripura. Thousands were killed in the three decades of terrorist violence and hundreds of CPI (M) tribal cadres and supporters laid down their lives defending the unity of the people and the country.

The Left Front governments could tackle this armed insurgency by adopting a three pronged approach. First, the political one, of preserving the unity of the tribal and Bengali communities which was sought to be disrupted. Second, by raising and equipping a state armed police (Tripura State Rifles) which could effectively counter the armed gangs. Third, the government stepped up its development and welfare activities once the violence was curbed in the tribal areas.  The Tripura Tribal Autonomous District Council was revitalised for this purpose.
Today Tripura is a peaceful state and there is harmony and unity between the majority Bengalis and the minority tribal people. Tripura stands out in the entire north-east for achieving this, whereas there is ethnic and tribal strife in other states like Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland. The CPI(M) and the Left’s role is the key factor in Tripura.

The record of the Left Front government under the leadership of Manik Sarkar is also outstanding in the developmental and welfare activities. It is acknowledged by all that Tripura is the best governed state in the north-east. In the 2001 census, Tripura was in terms of the literacy rate the 11th among all states; in the 2011 census,Tripura had reached the 4th position with 88 per cent literacy. There were no farmers suicides and no starvation deaths in the last ten years.

Tripura has an excellent record in the delivery of various schemes. Tripura stood first in the country in 2011 by generating 86 average man days under the rural employment guarantee scheme (MNREGA). Tripura has also done justice to the tribal people by being in the forefront in implementing the Forest Rights Act. By mid 2012, 1,19,342 pattas had been distributed to forest dwellers securing their land. There are 16 pension schemes that cover almost all BPL families.

As far as infrastructure is concerned, 90 per cent of the total of 8,312 habitations are electrified. 90 percentage of irrigable land has been brought under irrigation facilities and 50 per cent of the total cultivable land is now irrigated.

The biggest step taken by the current Left Front government was the introduction of 35 kgs rice at Rs 2 per kilo for all BPL card holders which is 2 lakh families. In the north-eastern states, rice is supplied at Rs 5 to 6 per kilo due to the higher transportation costs. It was so in Tripura too till August 2012. The supply of rice at Rs 2 has been welcomed by all sections of the people. The Tripura government is bearing the cost of the increased subsidy.

The Left Front was the first to announce its list of candidates for the 60 assembly seats, 20 of which are reserved for scheduled tribes. The CPI(M) is contesting 55, the CPI-2, the RSP-2 and the Forward Bloc-1.

The Congress party finalised its list of candidates among squabbles and open rifts. It has maintained its alliance with the tribal organisation, the INPT which is the body which incorporated the TUJS and some other tribal groups. The Congress traditionally had no base among the tribal people. It therefore allied first with the TUJS and later the INPT.

These tribal organisations have had separatist platforms at various points of time. The Congress had the dubious record of encouraging the tribal separatist and extremist forces just to isolate and weaken the CPI(M)’s strong base among the tribal people.

Today, these tactics stand discredited before the people. The Left Front stands for unity, peace, progress and development – a platform which is attracting the youth in large numbers.
At the rally on January 20, wave after wave of people, marched into the ground raising the slogan “We will bring the Seventh Left Front Government”. This is a pledge which will be in all certainty fulfilled on February 14. 

People's Democracy,January 27, 2013

‘Rule of Anti-socials Now in West Bengal’

Kolkata: THE people of West Bengal are now being left at the mercy of anti-social elements, said Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. In two consecutive mass rallies in North 24 Parganas, Bhattacharjee said, “Anti-socials have realised that they can get away with anything, the party in power is theirs as is the government. Not only are they being provided shelter; the signals being sent out from Writers’ Building indicate that they are free to engage in anarchy.”

Almost every day, the people of the state are now witnessing violence led by the ruling party leaders or the anti-socials promoted by them. The range of attack has already spread from CPI(M) and the Left activists to various sections of the people. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee questioned the attitude of the state government and said the people would not tolerate the rule of the anti-socials. The time has come to break the silence. The coming Panchayat elections in the state will decide who would win – the anti-socials or the peoples’ power. Left Front will not surrender any space in the elections despite terror.

Underlining that all development had come to a standstill in the state with both the industrial and agricultural sectors languishing, Bhattacharjee said the state government instead of directing its resources for the development of the state, was bringing out full-page advertisements in newspapers with chief minister’s profile splashing all over and is funding festivals. Kolkata is being painted blue and trident street lamps being put up even as the government claims it has no money. Is this not expenditure? The government’s money is public money and it must explain such expenses to the people. 

What is of utmost disappointment is a dangerous stagnation in industries. Bhattacharjee said the government has no industrial policy; it had not moved a single step forward in the past twenty months. Industrialists were no longer keen to invest in the state. On the contrary, companies are leaving the IT hub in the Kolkata too. After damaging the prospect of industrialisation as opposition, TMC is damaging the prospect of new industries as ruling party too. In the agrarian sector, farmers are committing suicide.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Defeat the Politics of Terror


A BRUTAL gang-rape of democracy took place in Bengal on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.

A 50,000 strong CPI(M) rally protesting against the attack on senior Party leader, a member of the state assembly, having been elected uninterruptedly for the last forty years and minister for land reforms in the Left Front governments, Abdur Rezzak Mollah on January 6 by Trinamul Congress goons  led by one Arabul Islam who lost the last state assembly elections, was brutally attacked by armed TMC goons. 

Rezzak Mollah was traveling to attend the district Kisan Sabha conference, on the way when he went to visit a CPI(M) office that was ransacked and burnt down by the TMC goons, he was brutally attacked.  He was admitted in a nearby private nursing home.  The TMC-led state administration, in a display of depraved inhumanity, pressurised the hospital to discharge Mollah  without being properly treated.  The intention was to show that he was not grievously hurt.  However, the MRI scan report of the same hospital showed that he had a serious fracture in his backbone near his waist.  In a perfidious manner, the same Arabul Islam, who led the attack, got himself admitted in a private nursing home claiming to be injured.  The doctors there, however, pronounced that he had no injuries. 

In this attack, 20 vehicles carrying CPI(M) supporters to the protest rally were attacked and set on fire.  27 protestors were injured with three suffering from bullet injuries.  Five are in hospital at this very moment battling for life.  Instead of taking any action on those who mounted such a grievous attack, the state police under directions from the TMC chief are arresting those who are victims of this attack.  The perpetrators moved around scot-free while the victims are being arrested under false charges. 

Worse is the fact that senior ministers of the state government are openly justifying this attack and trying to project this as a CPI(M) initiated attack on the TMC.  The right to peacefully protest is a right guaranteed under the Indian constitution and law. Instead of ensuring that the law of the land is implemented, the Trinamul Congress state government has actually been using the state administration to deny people the right to peacefully protest and, on the contrary, to foist false cases against CPI(M) and  Left supporters. 

From May 2011, after the state assembly elections, till December 31, 2012, 85 CPI(M) comrades have been murderously killed by the TMC goons.  There have been so far 848 physical assaults on women in which there were 129 brutal rapes.  In many of these cases, instead of taking action against the culprits, the Trinamul Congress, including the chief minister, has trivialised  such heinous sexual assaults on women.  Rape and physical assaults on women have become an instrument of demonstrating the TMC’s political power.

Since the assembly elections, 42,724 CPI(M) and Left sympathisers were evicted from their regular residences.  Nearly 3,000 houses have been burnt and looted.  646 CPI(M) offices across the state have been attacked and ransacked.  222 trade union and other mass organisation offices have been forcibly captured by the TMC goons.  There is a large scale attack on educational institutions and 84 students’ union offices, where the TMC students wing lost the elections, have been `captured’. 3,336 CPI(M) leaders and activists are arrested on false and fabricated cases. 

There is large scale extortion that is taking place by the TMC goons all across the state.  The forceful collection of money from nearly 10,000 people has benefited the TMC by nearly Rs 28 crores. 

Rezzak Mollah has been the target of the TMC since he was the minister for land reforms.  The Left Front government’s implementation of land reforms  has deprived many a former landlord of their illegally held land above the ceiling.  These sections have been systematically undoing the gains of the poor farmer and agricultural labour as a result of land reforms.  Nearly 3,500 such farmers are not been allowed to cultivate their own land amounting to nearly 10,000 acres.  27,283 patta holders and bargadars who were given land legally under the land reforms have been evicted in an area of nearly 10,000 acres. 

This is the `paribortan’ that is taking place in West Bengal since May 2011.  There is a merciless attack against all political opponents of the TMC and an open daylight murder of democracy and democratic rights of the people.  Such a naked attack on civil liberties and constitutionally guaranteed democratic rights of the people cannot be tolerated. 

Bengal has not forgotten the experiences of the semi-fascist terror that was unleashed during the decade of 1970s.  For full five years, when democracy and democratic rights was severely assaulted by the then Congress party, which included today’s TMC,  many political forces in the country, despite CPI(M)’s warnings,  had seen these attacks as an aberration and isolated in West Bengal alone.  Such illusions were shattered in 1975 when internal Emergency was imposed clamping civil liberties and democratic rights across the country.  It is the Indian people’s struggle for the restoration of democracy that triumphed in 1977. In the election that followed, the Left Front was elected to government in West Bengal and continued to win seven consecutive elections in the state. 

The semi-fascist terror was resisted by the CPI(M)  which lost over 12,000 of its leading cadres in murderous assaults and tens of thousands of families were evicted and many leaders had to function from the underground.  The people of West Bengal, along with the people of the rest of the country,  finally triumphed.  Those who forget this history and seek a similar repetition will meet the same fate – comprehensive political defeat at the hands of the people. 

The people of West Bengal have never bowed in the face of such attacks.  The politics of violence and terror, the current aggressive phase unleashed to terrorise people into submission in the forthcoming panchayat elections in the state, will be defeated politically in a democratic manner.  All those who value our constitution and have faith in our system of parliamentary democracy cannot be mere spectators but need to rise to defeat such politics of  terror, violence, depravity and inhumanity. Such terror and violence has no place in democracy and must be banished.

(January 09, 2012)

People's Democracy


January 13, 2013

CPI(M) Protests Attack on Left Activists in Bengal

NEW DELHI: CPI(M) held a demonstration outside Banga Bhawan on January 9 to protest against the assault on Left leaders and activists in Bamanghata, in the outskirts of Kolkata by Trinamool miscreants. Hundreds of demonstrators shouted slogans condemning the attack.

The demonstration was addressed by Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of CPI(M), Central Secretariat members Joginder Sharma, Hannan Mollah and Nilotpal Basu.

The incident is the latest instance of the continuing violence by Trinamool Congress against CPI(M), the Left parties and the opposition and the democratic rights of individuals are under constant threat in the state.

Speakers demanded immediate arrest of TMC goons responsible for the incident and reiterated that CPI(M) would defeat all such anti-democratic designs.
PB Condemns Attack on Rezzak Mollah 

THE Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the physical assault on Comrade Abdur Rezzak Mollah, member of the West Bengal state committee of the CPI(M) and MLA. Rezzak Mollah was assaulted by a Trinamul Congress leader, Arabul Islam, and others while visiting a party office which had been burnt down by the TMC men. Rezzak Mollah received injuries to his face and has been hospitalised. 

This is the latest instance of the continuing violence by the Trinamul Congress against the CPI(M), the Left parties and the opposition. The CPI(M) demands that the TMC leader and others responsible for the attack be immediately arrested. 

The Polit Bureau appeals to all democratic forces to raise their  voice of protest against the thuggish violence indulged in by the Trinamul Congress in West Bengal.

Horrific Attack on CPI(M) activists in Bhangar

KOLKATA: IN a horrific attack on CPI(M) activists, who were coming to join a rally protesting attack on senior Party leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah, Trinamool Congress goons indiscriminately fired and burnt the vehicles carrying people. The gruesome incident took place in Bamanghata, in the outskirts of Kolkata on January 8, 2013. At least three CPI(M) activists with serious bullet injuries have been admitted in hospital while some more received grievous injuries. Fourteen  trucks and mini trucks were burnt and twenty more were ransacked. The entire attack was led by Arabul Islam, a TMC strongman and former MLA, the prime accused in the attack on Rezzak Mollah.

Member of the West Bengal state committee of CPI(M), veteran leader of the peasant movement, former minister and sitting MLA of Canning East constituency, Abdur Rezzak Mollah was assaulted and beaten up by a group of Trinamool Congress hooligans, at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district on Sunday, January 6, 2013.

Hundreds of people from Bhangar and adjoining areas in South 24 Parganas were coming to a rally in Kolkata to demand the arrest of Arabul. TMC activists were well prepared for the attack. Eye witnesses told media that Arabul himself started firing from his revolver and then TMC activists began to fire forcing people to run for shelter. TMC activists chased the people and started burning vehicles one after another.

And there was no sign of their intervention. Even fire tenders reached much later. That the whole attack was pre-planned was proved by the fact that as soon as firing began, a group of TMC activists blocked the road with stones and other obstacles. Some injured fled to villages and could not be brought to hospital till evening.

Three seriously injured persons are Sujit Das, Hasim Ali Mollah and Maidul Mollah. Some more sustained injuries from bullet, bombs and bricks. Veteran teacher and CPI(M) leader Kanti Majumdar was forced to remain at the spot with injuries for two hours when he was rescued.

Meanwhile, thousands of people marched to Alipore in Kolkata, the headquarters of South 24 Parganas district administration at the call of Left Front. The rally was called to demand arrest of Arabul Islam and other criminals who attacked Rezzak Mollah on Sunday. In the huge rally, Left Front leaders including Suryakanta Misra, opposition leader, criticised the state government for allowing mayhem in the state. Left Front leaders met Superintendent of Police and asked his explanation for not arresting the criminals. Left Front legislators joined the rally. Later, Left Front leaders also met Governor and complained about the role of state administration.

Left Front chairman Biman Basu condemned the attack in Bamanghata, saying the democracy in the state is now under threat. Left Front organised processions all over the state, including a central rally in Kolkata on January 9.

In the Writers Building, the state secretariat, industries minister Partha Chatterjee defended the attack on CPI(M) but hurried to flee away from media persons without answering any questions. In blatant exercise of arrogance Chatterjee even praised Arabul as an “energetic boy”.

Rezzak Mollah was attacked when he went to visit a CPI(M) office which was ransacked and burnt down by the TMC goons on Saturday. Arabul Islam himself along with other miscreants attacked him. The senior leader was hit on the eye, lips and stomach. His vehicle was also badly damaged.  The local Party comrades rescued him. He was admitted to a private nursing home. The state administration, in the most inhuman manner, pressurised the hospital to discharge Rezzak Mollah even before he was treated properly. On Monday, the hospital authorities declared that except stitches in the inner portion of his mouth, there is no injury to Rezzak. But in a great embarrassment for them, the scan report of the same hospital showed on Tuesday that he had a fracture in his waist. He was advised to stay in the hospital.

CPI(M) state secretary Biman Basu said that the Party strongly condemned the “barbaric” attack on Rezzak Mollah. Describing the incident as the latest instance of the continuing violence by Trinamool Congress against CPI(M), the Left parties and the opposition, he pointed out that the democratic rights of individuals are under constant threat in the state and demanded immediate arrest of TMC goons responsible for the incident.

Instead of condemning the horrific attack, the TMC leader and state urban development minister Firhad Hakim said the incident was a minor one. He, in a way, sought to legitimise the attack. This has become a regular phenomenon in the state - where the ruling party and the administration always protect the attackers instead of the attacked persons. Attacks on CPI(M) workers and extortion from them are on the rise. The TMC leaders perhaps have understood that if they allow people’s voice to spread then that will be disastrous for them in the coming panchayat polls in West Bengal.