Thursday, August 29, 2013

‘It helped us understand where we stand today’: Surjya Kanta Mishra

Interview with Surjya Kanta Mishra.
FRONTLINE, Print edition : August 23, 2013

“ULTIMATELY, we could participate only in 70 per cent of the seats properly,” said Surjya Kanta Mishra, Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly and Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in an exclusive interview with Frontline soon after the results of the panchayat elections were out.
Mishra talked about the unfair tactics used by the ruling Trinamool Congress, areas where the Left floundered, and the task that lay ahead in politically reviving the Left after yet another electoral setback. “We have to consolidate the Left and democratic forces and that is our immediate task,” he said. Excerpts:
FRONTLINE: The Left Front’s performance in the panchayat elections has been poor. How do you see it?
Surjya Kanta Mishra: We had said before the elections that our target was to improve our performance in the 2011 Assembly elections, taking into consideration the votes obtained at the zilla parishad level in the panchayat elections. We are yet to receive the full results, and we will be making our analysis on the basis of the data we receive from the district level, as is our usual system.
Everyone knows how the State government was trying to defer the elections or have the elections without adequate security. Though the elections were finally held following the Supreme Court order, the directions of the Supreme Court, the High Court and the State Election Commission were not observed and no security was provided during the filing of nominations.
As a result, we were prevented by force from filing our nominations—not just us, but the entire opposition. Many were forced to withdraw their nominations even after filing. Their houses and families were attacked.
Finally, we were contesting in 86 per cent of the zilla parishad seats, 88 per cent of the panchayat samiti seats and 98 per cent of the gram panchayat seats. On the day of polling over 5,000 booths were captured and the elections were rigged. Ultimately, we could participate properly only in 70 per cent of the seats.
Again, on the day of the counting of votes, the counting agents in places like Bardhaman and Howrah were driven out and all sorts of illegal things took place. It is unprecedented that the Election Commission had to give orders for repolling after counting.
In certain places where we had been declared the winner, recounting was done repeatedly, and ultimately the ballot papers were seized and we were forced to go in for repolling.
Having said all this, I must add that that does not explain all the results. In some areas, peaceful elections were held and we did well, but in some we did not. We did not do well in the Jangalmahal area as we expected. Whether our performance was better than in the 2011 Assembly elections remains to be seen.
FRONTLINE:  In the traditional Left bastions, such as Bardhaman, Hooghly and Pashchim Medinipur, where you were expected to stage a turnaround, you failed. But you did relatively well in unlikely pockets such as the Congress strongholds and in parts of Trinamool areas. How do you explain it?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  The ruling party targeted these areas because they knew we were strong there. It was done in a very planned manner. They saw no need to attack places where we were not so strong. As a result, even in places where we did well in the Assembly elections, we did badly this time.
But it is correct that we fared better in areas where we did not expect much. These were the areas where the attacks on us were not so concentrated.
FRONTLINE:  Why is it that issues like the Saradha scam and the ruling party’s perceived intolerance and high-handedness, which were expected to work against it, did not matter much?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  It is not that we did not raise these issues; we carried out movements against all these issues. But it takes time for such things to take proper shape and alienate the government from the people. Two years and two months is not enough.
When there is a change of government, the people have certain expectations and they like to give it time. They learn from their experience, and this is very important. We want this government to stay for five years so that people can understand wholly the nature of the government, and more people learn more about them.
FRONTLINE:  Do you think any organisational weakness that has crept into the CPI(M) is slowing down the turnaround process?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  Ours is a continuous battle against weaknesses and lapses. Rectification for us is a continuous process. We have admitted that we had weaknesses in three spheres—political, administrative and organisational—when we were analysing the results of the elections of 2009 [Lok Sabha] and 2011 [Assembly]. We will continue our rectification process.
FRONTLINE:  With the Lok Sabha elections coming, what do you think is immediately required to revive the Left politically?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  We have always maintained that it is not simply for the sake of power that we wish to get elected to office. Power is very important in parliamentary democracy, no doubt, but our main objective is to see that we mobilise more and more people to change the correlation of the class forces in favour of the working class people.
What is most important for us to do now is to mobilise the working classes in the urban and rural areas, on the basis of their demands, and put our alternative—the Left alternative, the 10 points that the Left parties have declared in the Delhi convention—in place of the neoliberal policies of the Centre. We have to consolidate the Left and democratic forces, and that is our immediate task.
FRONTLINE:  How relevant is the panchayat election results in foreseeing the Lok Sabha elections?
Surjya Kanta Mishra:  I do not think the panchayat results will in that way influence the Lok Sabha elections, or can be used to forecast the Lok Sabha election results. For one thing, when the election is conducted by the Central Election Commission, it is an entirely different matter.
The Central Election Commission is much more powerful than the State Election Commission, and we can expect that the polls will be much fairer than what has taken place this time. At least we will be able to file our nomination and no one will be forcing us to withdraw them. And finally, we will not have the kind of counting we had this time. However, this election was important in that it helped us understand where we stand today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Time to Rise to Save Democracy in West Bengal

By Hannan Mollah

THE Trinamul Congress (TMC) government in West Bengal, led by Ms Mamata Banerjee, has during its two years rule did its best to ensure that democracy is demolished at all levels --- in government, politics, society and culture.

Nor is there any democracy in her party; she is an out and out autocrat of intemperate, intolerant and fascistic nature. She does not allow any minister of her government to take a decision, small or big, without her consent. There is no elected office-bearer in her party at any level. She is the sole authority of her party and runs it as her private limited company.

The same thing is reflected in her governance. She is totally against the opposition parties and never calls them for a meeting. While the Left parties are an anathema to her; even her old partners, the Congress and SUCI, are never consulted. She does not attend the assembly and is not ready to face a question there. To her, the opposition only conspires against her. She or any of her ministers do not call any opposition MLA or MP when they visit a constituency. She never invites an opposition legislator for inauguration of a project in his constituency. She behaved the same way when she was the railway minister. In the last two years, her government never called a meeting of the chairpersons of 14 opposition controlled zilla parishads. Her ministers do not attend any meeting called by a district, subdivision or block level authority if those meetings are to be attended by opposition parties.

This same behaviour was noticed when the TMC was in opposition. Its MLAs were instructed to boycott any government meeting. She refused to attend any meetings even though the then chief minister wrote to her seven times. Can a democracy function in this situation?

As for physical attacks on the opposition, she came to power with the slogan “Badla noy, badal chai” (not revenge but change is needed). But the last two years rule is nothing but a rule of revenge. More than 100 CPI(M) cadres were killed before and another 24 during the panchayat elections. Immediately after she came to power, CPI(M) and other Left parties came under attack. More than 800 offices of these parties, trade unions, kisan, student, youth and women organisations were attacked, burnt, looted, destroyed or captured. On the plea of an incident at Planning Commission office in Delhi, TMC goons attacked and destroyed 1400 plus offices of the CPI(M) and mass organisations. Thousands of its leaders and activists were attacked, and their houses were attacked, destroyed or looted. More than 5,000 of the CPI(M) cadres were driven out of their houses; women were assaulted or raped. Even the aged and children were not spared. Thousands of bargadars whom the Left Front government allotted land and right of cultivation, were evicted from their land.

Another problem is that about 10,000 of cadres were implicated in false cases. While TMC goons attack opposition cadres, the police arrest the victims themselves and implicate them in false, non-bailable cases; the goons freely move and threaten their supporters. Ms Banerjee herself makes provocative speeches against the Left, encouraging the goons to attack the CPI(M). TMC leaders publicly said they would kill the CPI(M) the way one kills a poisonous snake. They instruct their party people not to speak with CPI(M) people, not to go to a tea shop with them, not to attend any marriage or other functions with them and not to establish any marital relations with CPI(M) supporting families. Thus they are destroying social harmony, dividing the common people in villages and towns, creating hatred among them. This may create a permanent cleavage in society and damage the social fabric.

These attacks intensified before and during the panchayat polls. As Ms Banerjee and her party are out to destroy democracy, deny opposition its rights, generate hatred on political lines, damage the social fabric and even instigate communal feelings, they are out to destroy the constitutional institutions and functioning too. While parliamentary democracy cannot function without an opposition, she is not ready to allow the latter to function freely. Opposition parties are not being allowed to hold meetings, not given permission for meetings, and not allotted grounds and parks.

The media are called “the fourth estate” in a democracy. But they are under severe attack. Only such newspapers or TV channels as support Ms Banerjee are allowed to work freely. Only pro-government newspapers are kept in libraries and government offices. Ms Banerjee herself advised people to read the papers or view the TV channels which she prescribes. Newspapers critical to government are being attacked; more than a dozen of journalists, reporters or photographers were attacked and their cameras destroyed. If journalists ask Ms Mamata a difficult question, she immediately dubs them as CPI(M) or Maoist fellows and asks them to leave her press conference. Daily Ganashakti is not subscribed to by a library; she has stopped any advertisements to Ganashakti even though the High Court has asked her to resume it. Even hawkers of newspapers to her dislike were not allowed to go to people, while hundreds of Ganashakti boards were destroyed. Thus the government of West Bengal is trying to gag the opposition opinion and suppress the freedom of media.

Some incidents may be recalled here. Once a professor forwarded on internet a cartoon on Ms Mamata and he was instantly arrested; the case against him is not yet withdrawn. One TMC supporter asked Ms Banerjee in a public meeting about scarcity of fertilisers; she immediately branded him as a Maoist and asked the police to arrest him; the case is not yet withdrawn. In both cases, the National Human Rights Commission flayed the government’s stand and asked for compensation to the sufferers. But the government refused to accept it. One girl asking Ms Mamata a question in a TV show was also branded Maoist and Ms Mamata quit the show. The last two years saw hundreds of such incidents of Ms Banerjee’s intolerance.

Another area of concern is the unprecedented growth in incidents of assault against women in Bengal since Ms Mamata assumed office. In the notorious case of gangrape in Park Street, she immediately said it was a stage managed show. But when the case proved to be true, the inquiring police officer was transferred. After a series of other rape cases, a TMC activist recently raped and killed a college girl in Kamduni village in Barasat, North 24 Paraganas district. But Ms Banerjee visited the place only after ten days of the incident and when some women wanted to talk to her about it, she termed them all as CPI(M) cadres and Maoists. More than a dozen rapes have occurred in Barasat alone. (In that panchayat, the TMC won all the seats uncontested as no opposition candidate was allowed to file nomination.) The National Commission for Women and the National Crime Bureau have reported that West Bengal now ranks highest in number of rapes. While Kolkata was once a safe haven for women, now it is rape capital under Ms Mamata. Of course, to her mind, these are stage managed cases, and a conspiracy to defame her government.

In West Bengal, peasants were in a better position due to land reforms under the Left Front government. They also got government assistance and their crops were purchased by a government agency at proper prices. Not a single peasant committed suicide during the 34 years of Left Front rule. But peasants are in great distress now, and so far 87 have committed suicide. But Ms Mamata says this too is a false propaganda against her government and no farmers committed suicide in her regime.

Constitutional authorities too are under attack. The Human Rights Commission listed dozens of cases of the government violating the human rights of the people. But most of the cases were not heeded to. Ms Mamata has showed total disregard for this commission.

Similarly, the Kolkata High Court made several remarks against the government for violation of the people’s democratic rights. But the government disregarded many court orders. After the Supreme Court ordered deployment of central forces for panchayat elections, her government used them mostly for patrolling on roads and not to protect voters from TMC goons.

The disregard shown to the State Election Commission about the panchayat elections is well known. Her government attacked the commission and the commissioner. Ms Banerjee said the commissioner had got extension under the Left Front rule and was therefore working against the TMC government. All her ministers abused this lady, used filthy languages against her, threatened her and tried to throttle her attempts to conduct elections properly.

Earlier, the Left Front government established a vibrant panchayati raj in West Bengal. It was regarded as an ideal decentralised democratic setup and followed in the whole country through the 73rd constitution amendment. The Left Front government conducted seven panchayat elections, all in time. The poor for the first time got an opportunity to utilise their vote freely, and majority of the elected members were poor people. But Ms Banerjee tried to destroy this decentralised rural democracy. She started to ignore the elected panchayats and started to contact BDOs directly, asking them to work as per her advice. She encouraged the bureaucrats to ignore elected bodies.

Her dillydallying in holding the panchayat elections is ell known. First she announced elections without talking to the election commissioner or revising the voters list which is mandatory. The Left Front then approached the CEC who ordered a revision of electoral rolls; about 25 lakh new voters were enrolled. Then she announced two days polling with only state police being used, whereas the State Election Commission asked for five days polling with use of central forces. The government disregarded it and the EC approached High Court which upheld the latter’s plea. The government then appealed to a double bench of High Court, which took a lot of time. When the EC approached the Supreme Court for an early decision, the latter ordered five-phase election and use of central forces. The Supreme Court also flayed the bad law and order situation in the state. The polling period fell in the month of Ramazan and Ms Mamata tried to postpone election on this plea, but the Supreme Court said the state government was responsible for the delay and for fixing the polling dates in the month of Muslims’ fasting. All her attempt to delay the elections thus failed; they were finally held in five phases.

But Ms Banerjee made the election a farce. She organised a squad of motorcycle borne goons to terrorise the people. Though the High Court ordered her to check this force, she did not pay heed to it and continued the terror activities. As a result, 6000 plus Left candidates could not file nomination papers and TMC ‘won’ those seats uncontested. During polling too, TMC goons terrorised the voters with police help. Central forces were either kept in barracks or used for street patrolling. As a result, there was wide ranging booth capturing and intimidation of voters. Driving many voters away, TMC goons thus captured 4,470 booths. The police worked fully in tandem with them. A large number of Left activists were attacked and 24 killed during the election period. Later, TMC goons captured many of the counting centres, damaged ballot papers and even declared their candidates elected without proper counting.

It was thus that the TMC ‘won’ 14 zilla parishads and a majority of panchayat samitis and gram panchayats. The Left could win in two zilla parishads and the Congress managed two. The final tally shows that out of 48,800 gram panchayat seats, the TMC won 25,077 seats (51 per cent). In spite of all such severe attacks, rigging and capturing, Left Front won 15,593 seats (32 per cent) and the Congress managed 5,506 (11 per cent). Even if the result of is uneven, it is not so bad for the Left in view of such semi-fascist attacks. The TMC victory in fact does not reflect the people’s support.

This means Ms Mamata’s resolve to eliminate the Left from West Bengal got a rebuff; the Left still has substantial support base and strength to fight back for restoration of democracy.

West Bengal has had a long history of democratic student movement, with regular elections to student unions. Schools too are managed by representatives elected by guardians. But the TMC has criminalised a section of students and is attacking the democratic sections of students. Colleges, universities and schools were attacked by goons all over West Bengal and many students were killed. Union elections were announced under strong pressure from students but when the Left oriented organisations won in colleges where free and fair elections took place, elections to the remaining were postponed on the plea of violence in educational institutions. Thus the democratic rights of students were curbed in West Bengal. When the SFI protested against it, one of its leaders, Comrade Sudipta Gupta, was killed in police custody, for which a CBI enquiry was denied.

After observing its growing isolation from the masses, the TMC decided to dispense with all elected bodies in the state. Instead of elected bodies, they are now going in for nominated bodies for management of schools, colleges and cooperative bodies in the state.

When the true face of Mamata government came out gradually, it disillusioned even those intellectuals who had worked hard to bring her to power. Now all such intellectuals, writers, artists, film actors, poets and professors do say that the paribarton (change) they had expected has not come. They are now feeling cheated and openly saying so in their writings, in their TV talks and in public meetings. Minorities too were influenced by her demagogy and false promises. But they too are feeling cheated as, within three months of coming to power, Ms Banerjee announced that she had completed 100 per cent of her promises to the Muslims.

This is thus the experience of many in West Bengal --- that the promised paribarton has not come. Expectations of no section of the people were fulfilled. The people of Singur were assured to get their land back in three months, but nothing has happened after two years. Dozens of railway projects Ms Mamata had promised as railway minister have proved false; not a single project whereof foundation stones were laid was taken up for implementation. Ms Banerjee’s falsehood regarding the state’s development is increasingly coming to the fore. If anybody raises a question about it, brutal force is there to suppress him. Thus this is high time --- not only for the Left but for all the democratic forces --- to rise to the occasion and fight for restoration of democracy in West Bengal.

People's Democracy, August 18 , 2013

West Bengal Solidarity Actions across the Country


ON August 7, the whole state of Tripura stood in solidarity with the struggling masses of Bengal as the CPI(M)’s call to observe “Save Democracy in Bengal Day” received huge and spontaneous response from the masses all over the state.

In all the subdivision headquarters of the state, processions and meetings were organised by the divisional committees of the CPI(M). In other areas, similar processions and meetings were organised by the local committees.
In Agartala, braving incessant downpour, a slogan shouting procession started from the Children’s Park, before a packed street corner meeting took place at Paradise Chowmuhani. The procession was led by CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar, CPI(M) Sadar divisional committee secretary Samar Adhyo and others.

Addressing the gathering, Bijan Dhar said more than 100 leaders and cadres of the CPI(M) and other Left Front parties had been murdered in the last two years of the rule of Trinamul Congress (TMC) in West Bengal; more than 30 workers of the Left Front were killed during the last panchayat elections alone. Thousands of people have been evicted from their houses. All the democratic norms were thrown to the wind as no opposition candidates were allowed to file nomination in more than 6000 of seats. Thousands of booths were captured and ballot papers were snatched. Orders of constitutional bodies including the State Election Commission, High Court and even the apex court were disobeyed. It is another thing that despite all this the Left Front fared well in the areas where we could offer resistance by mobilising the masses. These results do indicate that the mass base and support of the TMC are shrinking.

Bijan Dhar said these incidents of murder of democracy are not new to the people of Tripura. We had the same experience here from February 1988 to February 1993. Here too the people’s resistance led to the defeat of the semi-fascist rule of Congress and TUJS. He said, in West Bengal today the attack is not confined to the CPI(M) or Left Front alone. The TMC is not sparing even its former ally, the Congress, or its current ally, the SUCI. In 1972, after the elections to the Bengal state assembly were rigged and a reign of semi-fascist terror was initiated, we had warned that this would not be confined to Bengal alone. That caution of the Left was vindicated when internal emergency was imposed in June 1975. History shows that it is not the communists but the reactionary bourgeois parties who try to uproot the bourgeois parliamentary democracy.

Dhar further said we express our complete solidarity with the masses of Bengal who are fighting for saving democracy and the rights of the people. We believe the parivartan of ‘parivartan’ in Bengal is invincible. In the national level too, the UPA is trying to avoid the parliament and it promulgated the food security ordinance. This is a clear tendency towards curbing democracy. The working class and its political party must attach primary importance to this movement of saving democracy in West Bengal and in the country as a whole. (Rahul Sinha)


THOUSANDS of people marched through the streets of Kolkata on August 7 to protest the attack on democratic rights of the people in recently held panchayat elections in the state. At the call of the Left Front, the march started from Esplanade and went on up to College Street. Biman Basu, Suryakanta Misra and other Left Front leaders were present in the rally.

In a public meeting after the rally, Biman Basu condemned the violent attack on Left Front activists and general people during the elections. He said, the Left Front government declared general amnesty to all political prisoners just after assuming office in 1977. In contrast, the TMC government is blatantly using the administration to arrest hundreds of opposition activists on false cases.

Suryakanta Misra said the Left parties conducted struggle for democracy before the Left led government took office in the sixties and seventies. When Left Front was in office, the struggle was not restricted to Writers’ Building alone. The Left parties continued with the struggle in the fields and streets. Now, under a new situation the fight will continue despite terror.

Misra said, in the panchayat elections the people have sent a warning signal to the TMC government. If they fail to respond to the signal, they will face the wrath of the people.

Andhra Pradesh

THE results in the recent panchayat election in Bengal do not truly reflect the verdict of the people as the entire election process had been vitiated with booth capturing, rigging, violent attacks on opposition etc, said CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat in Hyderabad on August 02, 2013. He called upon people outside Bengal to extend full support and solidarity to the heroic fight of Bengal comrades to defend democracy and rights of the people.

Karat was addressing a solidarity meeting with Bengal Left Front organised by the CPI(M) Andhra Pradesh state committee. The meeting held in Sundarayya Vignana Kendram was presided over by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and state secretary B V Raghavulu. Among those who spoke included CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, CPI state secretary K Narayana, RSP secretary Janakiramulu, Forward Block general secretary B Surender Reddy and CPI(ML) Liberation leader Uday Kiran. Although CPI(ML) could not send its representative to the meeting, it sent a message expressing solidarity with the fighting comrades of Bengal. CPI(M) central secretariat member V Sreenivasa Rao was present on the dais.

Karat in his speech depicted the grim picture of Trinamool violence in Bengal during the recent panchayat polls. He said it was during the Left Front regime of 34 years that the panchayat system in Bengal came into existence and became an important instrument of empowering the poor peasants, agricultural workers and others in governance. This had resulted in a big change in rural Bengal. The main aim of Trinamool Congress behind this violent campaign to sieze the panchayats is to undo this empowering. They do not want the poor to have any say in deciding finances and other aspects of panchayat rule, he said. Around 4470 booths were openly rigged; counting process was also manipulated in many areas to ensure victory of TMC candidates. He cited how TMC goons threw bomb and killed the husband of CPI(M) candidate Manwara Biwi in the presence of TV crews for daring to contest the elections.

Karat said he did not agree with those who cite the panchayat poll results to say that TMC has gained strength in rural areas. “Trinamool Congress won these panchayat elections on this false basis. If they think they can continue to dominate the people of Bengal in this violent manner, they are wrong. There is plenty of evidence in the recent polls that people have begun to fight against this goondaism”, he said.

Yechury in his brief speech in Telugu said what is happening in Bengal is a serious class struggle. The TMC government is bent on reversing the land reforms programme of the Left Front by which over 11 lakh hectares of land was transferred from the rich to the poor. There would be more efforts in this direction in the coming period, he felt. The violence and undermining of democracy in Bengal, if not checked, would result in undermining of democracy at the all India level, he warned. In this connection he drew a parallel with the events of 1967, 1972 in Bengal and the imposition of national emergency in 1975. “We had warned then also that it is not just an attack on the Left but an attack on democracy itself. Now also it is an attack on democracy and the rights of people. We have to learn lessons and prevent the danger”, he said. Yechury also called for widespread solidarity actions. Earlier, a booklet brought out in Telugu detailing the present situation in Bengal was released by Yechury on this occasion.


Responding to the call of the Party central committee to observe August 7 as 'Save Democracy in Bengal' day, many rallies, hall meetings were held across the state of Andhra Pradesh. Effigies of Trinamool Congress government were burnt in many mandal headquarters.

Impressive rallies were taken out in Khammam and Warangal districts as also in Srikakulam town while hall meetings were held in Medak, Karimnagar, Guntur, East Godavari districts. CPI(M) central committee member S Veeraiah addressing the meeting in Karimnagar termed the Mamata Banarjee regime as a fascist one and called on people to participate in the struggle to save democracy in Bengal. (INN)


Several hundred activists, men and women, workers, youth, students, on the call of the CPI(M) held a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on August 7, 2013 demanding an end to reign of terror, assaults, arson and murders let lose by Trinamul Congress goons in West Bengal.

The dharna was addressed by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP Sitaram Yechury, Central Committee member and general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha Hannan Mollah and Central Committee member and Delhi state secretary PMS Grewal. Delhi state CITU president K M Tiwari and working president of Delhi JMS Asha Sharma also addressed the dharna. Delhi CPI(M) secretariat member Vijender Sharma presided.

The speakers strongly condemned the attacks by Trinamul goons and demanded that they be stopped immediately. The speakers pointed out that in recently held panchayat elections, there were widespread attacks on the CPI(M) and Left Front workers. Around six thousand CPI(M) and Left Front candidates were physically prevented from filing their nominations. Twenty four CPI(M) activists were killed by Trinamul goons between June 3 and July 25. Over 4,700 booths were captured by them. They also emphasised that if these are not stopped in West Bengal now, then there is a danger to democracy in the rest of the country as was witnessed during Emergency in mid-seventies. Today’s dharna was also an expression of solidarity with the fighting people of West Bengal who are braving and struggling against the Trinamul terror, they said.


ON the same day, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat addressed a mass meeting in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, saying that the state sponsored violence and terror in West Bengal is not only against the leaders and activists of the CPI(M) and other Left parties but also against the people of West Bengal in general, including intellectuals, students, youth and women.

The programme was organised by the CPI(M)’s Jharkhand state committee on the slogan of “Save Democracy: Against the Politics of Terror and Violence,” as a part of the countrywide programme of the CPI(M). She referred to the violence, terror, booth capturing, frightening the candidates and sympathisers by the TMC during the recent three- tier panchayat elections.

While elaborating the prevailing situation in West Bengal, she said the terror and violence being faced by the people were not seen before. She said that state sponsored terror and violence targeted the elections to the three-tier panchayat bodies because since the year 1977 to 2008 the panchayats of West Bengal had shifted the class balance in favour of the poor through land reforms. Maximum land was distributed among the landless and other poor during the tenure of the Left Front government. This was the reason that free and fare elections to panchayat bodies could be held during the Left Front government’s rule and that women, dalits and minority people won not only in the reserved seats but also in several general seats. The achievements of the Left Front government in the arena of decentralisation of powers to the grassroots level were unique. She said the attacks on the people in general were aimed to shift the class balance from the poor to the rich and to weaken the panchayati raj system in the state.

The TMC government is not only capturing the panchayats by means of terror and violence but also making mockery of democracy. In the first stage, 6,196 candidates were not allowed to file their nominations. Those who could file nominations while facing threats were brutally attacked; women candidates of the Left Front were the main targets. Their relatives and supporters were attacked; their houses were burnt. The TMC has also showed contempt for any independent institutions, whether it is the State Election Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, or it is the High Court and Supreme Court, Brinda Karat stated. The TMC has made the use of criminals for this state sponsored vandalism. It is nakedly providing shelter to all sorts of criminals. Criminalisation of politics has resulted in alarming deterioration of the law and order situation in West Bengal. Sharda Chit Fund and other corrupt practices have been exposed during the rule of the TMC, the speaker stated.

Another important aspect of the precarious situation of West Bengal is that the Left forces and the democratic people of the state are courageously fighting for their democratic rights, even at the cost of their life. This is the reason the Left parties have won more than 19,000 seats in the recent panchayat elections. On this occasion, Brinda Karat held that we have to take an oath for solidarity with the struggling people of West Bengal and to intensify the Left movement and struggle of the toiling masses in Jharkhand.

Gopikant Baksi, secretary of the Jharkhand state committee of CPI(M), presided over the meeting. Ramchandra Thakur and Prakash Viplav, members of the CPI(M) state secretariat, moved the condolence resolution and political resolution respectively. CPI(M) state secretariat member Surjeet Sinha, CPI(M) state committee member Sanjay Paswan and RSP state secretary Radhakant Jha also addressed the meeting. CPI (M) state secretariat members Mohd Iqbal, Sudhir Kumar Das, D D Ramanandan, Prafull Linda and Gita Jha, Ajay Kumar of the CPI and Jayant Pandey of the AIFB were also present in the meeting.

The state committee of the CPI(M) has decided to hold mass meetings, conventions etc throughout the state in the coming days, especially in district headquarters and industrial centres on the question of defence of democracy in West Bengal. (Gopikant Baksi)


RALLIES and demonstrations were organised at Ropar, Raikot, Ludhiana Satnaur, Hoshiarpur, Nangal, Bhawanigarh and Balachaur in protest against the mounting attacks on democratic rights of the people of West Bengal by the TMC government led by Ms Mamata Banerjee.

Addressing the rally at Ropar, Raghunath Singh said the democratic rights of the people of West Bengal have been under threat since the TMC government came to power in West Bengal, and hundreds of leaders and workers of Left Front parties, especially of the CPI(M), have been killed by TMC patronised goons and anti-social elements since then. Condemning the ongoing violence, misuse of state machinery and the recent rigging of panchayat elections, Singh said all the democratic, peace and justice loving people of Punjab would stand by the Left Front of West Bengal like a rock. He recalled the achievements of the erstwhile Left Front government of West Bengal under the leadership of late Comrade Jyoti Basu, adding that that was the government which protected the life of thousands of Punjabi people in 1984 after the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi when the whole country was in the grip of anti-Sikh riots. The speaker also appreciated the role of West Bengal Left Front in national politics, and its firm position in defence of unity and integrity of the country, democracy and secularism. It also goes to the credit of the Left Front that it has been uncompromisingly opposing the anti-people and anti-national economic policies of both the UPA and the NDA.

Bhoop Chand Channo, Jatinderpal Singh, Darshan Mattu, Sukhminder Sekhon, Mohinder Kumar Badhonwan and several other party leaders addressed the protest rallies in various parts of the state.


THE Bhubaneswar district committee of the CPI(M) organised a procession and demonstration in the city against the TMC politics of terror and violence in West Bengal. This was part of the Save Democracy campaign at the call of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau.

A large number of party cadres took out a procession from the Bhubaneswar railway station and proceeded towards the Lower PMG Square a where protest demonstration was held.

The demonstration was addressed by CPI(M) state secretary Janardan Pati, state secretariat members Dushmanta Das and Suresh Panigrahi, state committee members Tapasi Praharaj, Puspa Das, Jameswar Samantaray and Sarat Das, CPI(M) local committee secretary Pravat Panigrahi, trade union leader Naba Mohanty, tribal leader Sala Maranadi and SFI leader Bikash Nath.

Addressing the protesters, Janardan Pati said the Odisha state unit of the CPI(M) is committed to stand in solidarity with the Bengal unit of the party and the fighting people of the state. He appeals to the Left and progressive forces and the media in Odisha to understand the gravity of the Bengal situation. He added that the ongoing political terror and violence would not last long as the people of Bengal would fight and defeat it as they had done to defeat the semi-fascist terror regime between 1972 and 1977. This, he said, is high time the entire party must stand unitedly and resolutely with this crucial struggle to defeat the politics of terror and violence. (Suresh Panigrahi)

How Trinamool Achieved a ‘Landslide’ Win

By Debasish Chakraborty

THE mystery of TMC’s so-called landside win in panchayat elections in West Bengal is being revealed as details of the votes are trickling through the official results of the state election commission. Apart from blatant terrorisation during the election process, nearly 4500 booths were captured during the five phase elections. Even after that, armed attacks and massive rigging took place in the counting process also. Despite these, however, Left Front candidates have won in 15,593 seats in the three tiers.

The result sheets reveal how intensive the rigging was. Few examples can be put up:

In Purshura in Hooghly district, there was widespread terror. In booth No. 80 of No. 36 zilla parishad seat, CPI(M) candidate has got zero vote while her TMC rival has got 604 votes. In the same seat, LF candidate has got 1, 4, 6, 8 votes in four booths in four schools while the TMC candidate has got 498, 555, 369, 577 votes respectively. In zilla parishad seat numbers 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, LF has got one digit vote in more than 40 booths and less than 30 votes in 60 booths. In Khanakul sub division of Hooghly, the people had no chance of voting as there were no candidates of opposition. None were allowed to file their nomination.

In Saratchandra in Bagnana, Howrah, TMC captured booths in large numbers and CPI(M) polling agents were chased away. In one after another booth, CPI(M) candidates finally got single digit to 30 votes while TMC got 300 to 700 votes. In these booths CPI(M) won comfortably in last assembly elections.

In Ketugram of Burdwan, in a zilla parishad seat, CPI(M) got 1, 2 and 3 votes in three booths in Muragram while TMC got 554, 707 and 356 votes respectively. Same happened in another zilla parishad seat in Ketugram where CPI(M) candidate polled 7, 8, 9 votes while TMC got 350 to 650 votes. Interestingly in all these booths, CPI(M) won in the last assembly elections.

How TMC ‘won’ can also be gauged from an example in Minakha in North 24 Parganas. In Dhuturdaha of the block there were 13 seats out of which TMC ‘won’ uncontested in 6. Left Front was not allowed to contest. But in the rest 7, voting took place and TMC was defeated in all of them. It was clear that if there were contests in those 6, TMC had to face severe defeat.

In North 24 Parganas, apart from mindless terror during the voting, at least 10 zilla parishad seats were snatched by the ruling party during the counting process. Details of the counting are now available. In all these seats, Left Front candidates either won or were leading with unassailable margins. TMC armed gangs entered into counting halls, chased away Left parties’ counting agents, beat up candidates and forced the counting officers to declare TMC candidates as winners. In some cases, the administration directly helped TMC goons and police remained silent or took part in the rigging. These 10 seats simply meant that this zilla parishad would have been won by Left Front. CPI(M) has already decided to go to court on this issue.

In Burdwan, TMC particularly targeted 9 blocks: Raina 1, Raina 2, Memari 1, Memari 2, Jsamalpur, Aushgram 1, Ketugram 1 and two blocks of Burdwan sadar. In these nine blocks, Left Front either won or was marginally defeated in the last assembly elections. Even after terror, the Left Front took lead in most of the 36 zilla parishad seats from these 9 blocks. Then came the massive attack in counting centres. Left Front agents were chased away, ballots were torn, and forcibly results were declared. It was complete mayhem.

In Bagnan in Howrah district, CPI(M) candidates even received the winners’ certificate when stormtroopers invaded the counting centres. All result sheets were destroyed and TMC candidate was declared ‘winner’. In one such incident TMC candidate herself protested against such vandalism by her party men but was threatened with dire consequences. In many seats here, the counting process was vitiated midway and TMC candidates were simply declared winners in the face of guns.

Innumerable examples of such frauds and forced perversions of peoples’ verdict have proved that the panchayat elections turned farcical to a great extent.

This however is not to suggest that TMC won the elections only through rigging and violence. What the facts reveal is that they could not have won in this scale if elections were free and fair.

People's Democracy, August 11, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Even with Intensive Terror, Left Front Showed Resilience

Kolkata, 30th July: AS was apprehended; West Bengal panchayat results reflected a distorted picture of the reality in rural Bengal. Trinamool Congress 'won' handsomely in most of the districts in all three tiers. They won with bigger margins wherever the terror was most widespread and intensive. The attacks and violence which started well before the filing of nominations and went through the entire election process was extended to the counting centres too. In many districts Left Front agents were driven out from counting centres; counting officers were forced to change results in ruling party’s favour, even after the counting and ballot papers were snatched away. These incidents mostly took place in Burdwan, Hooghly, North 24 Parganas and Howrah.

The results also showed the resilience of the Left forces in the state. Despite terror and arrogant rhetoric of chief minister herself, the Left Front could not be exterminated. TMC won with wide margins in West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Purulia, Birbhum, Hooghly, Bankura, Coochbehar and South Dinajpur. In all, they won 13 district councils.

Left Front won Jalpaiguri Zilla Parishad by clear majority, wresting 23 seats out of 37.  In North Dinajpur, LF won 13 seats out of 26, while Congress won in 8 and TMC in 5. It was a Congress-run district council. In Maldaha, Left Front won 16, Congress in 16 and TMC in 6. Congress wrested Murshidabad district council by winning 42 out of 70 seats. In Nadia, TMC won 25 while LF won 21 after a close fight.

In Panchayat Samiti level, Left Front won majority samitis or block-level bodies in Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, Maldaha, Musrshidabad, and Nadia. Out of the total 330 blocks in the state, Left Front won in 68, TMC in 219, Congress in 20 and 20 have been undecided or hung. It is to be noted that TMC won in 870 seats in this level ‘without contest’.

In Murshidabad, LF won majority in 15 block bodies, three more than 2008. In Nadia, LF got 9 PS bodies, two more than TMC. In North 24 Parganas, LF got 4 PS bodies in 2008, which increased to 7 in 2013. This has come despite widespread terror in the district.

In Village Panchayat or GP level, out of a total 3215 GP bodies, Left Front won in 749. TMC won in 1812, Congress in 240, while 393 bodies are hung.  In large number of GP bodies, the ruling party did not allow any opposition parties to file nomination. They won ‘uncontested’ in these bodies.  TMC won in 5356 seats in these bodies as ‘uncontested’ at this level. The actual figure is higher as they have put up ‘dummy’ candidates themselves.

In Murshidabad, LF won 102 GPs, while TMC won 8. In North 24 Parganas, LF won 47 GPs in 2008, which has increased to 60 in 2013. In South 24 Parganas LF has won 94 GPs and 58 in Jalpaiguri. Even in East Midnapore, a stronghold of TMC, Left Front won 43 GPs. In Nadia again, LF won 51 GPs while 48 are still undecided. These figures, along with many other districts showed that Left Front has not been ‘wiped out’ as has been claimed by the ruling party or a section of the media. On the contrary, in comparison with 2011 assembly election results, it was the ruling party which suffered erosion in support.

TMC’s winning streak was largely manifested in the districts and areas where terror was much widespread. They won ‘handsomely’ in terrorised areas in Coochbehar, South Dinajpur, West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Birbhum, Burdwan. In North and South 24 Parganas, Left Front alleged from the beginning that TMC was out to capture by force an entire area in the border of the two districts. That has happened and the TMC won seats in those areas.

Despite this rigging and continuous terrorisation of people and almost 50 deaths during the election period, resistance by the Left and people was remarkable. Braving violence, the villagers voted for the Left parties in hundreds of villages in the state. Around 9000 LF candidates have won in three tiers. The Left Front, while condemning the vicious attacks on democracy in panchayat elections, has called for a protest march on August 7 in Kolkata.


In a blatant incident of terrorisation, CPI(M) Loksabha member Mahendra Roy could not cast his vote in panchayat elections as he was attacked in front of the booth on July 25. He, along with his wife was assaulted in booth no. 141 in Kukurjan in Rajganj of Japaiguri district. Roy represents Rajganj parliamentary constituency in Loksabha.  TMC miscreants captured the booth from morning and prevented voters from casting their votes. Repeated complaints to district administration did not produce any result. Mahendra Roy went there to cast his vote and was gheraoed by TMC activists. There were no central forces nearby.

The last phase of panchayat elections in four districts of West Bengal, all in northern Bengal, witnessed violence, murderous assaults, booth capturing and rigging in large number again. Voting took place in Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, and South Dinajpur.

In North Dinajpur, a CPI(M) supporter Abdul Aziz was killed in Itahar in front of the booth when TMC miscreants attacked him and several other villagers with sharp weapons. TMC captured the booth from morning and when villagers gathered there to protest, the goons attacked them. Sirajul Islam’s right hand was chopped off from arm. Fingers of Idu Das, wife of CPI(M) candidate were also chopped off.

TMC captured booths in Itahar, Chopra and Raiganj of this district. In many villages armed bike borne gangs moved, threatening the villagers not to come to booths.

In South Dinajpur, TMC captured booths in Gangarampur, Tapan, Kumarganj. In many places TMC activists chased away voters from booths. Many Left Front agents were forcibly evicted from booths. Hundreds of people could not cast their votes.

In Coochbehar, violence was more widespread. In Tufanganj, Sitai, Sitalkuchi, Dinhata and Mathabhanga blocks, many booths were practically in control of TMC activists. They did not allow Left Front agents inside the booths. In Panishala, even CPI(M) candidates were not allowed to vote.

In Jalpaiguri, three persons were injured at Talguri under Maynaguri while another person was hit on his head when he was going to cast his vote today. All the four persons were CPI(M) supporters. Three CPI(M) supporters were injured at Paharpur area of the district, when TMC attacked in the village. Around 500 villagers were not allowed to vote in Kukurjan along with the CPI(M) Member of Parliament.

Biman Basu condemned the violence and said that the ruling party tried to turn the entire election process into farce. People in villages in West Bengal have lost their democratic right to choose their representatives.

Party wise: Zilla Parishad Results of 2013 Panchayat Election
Total Seat









North Dinajpur



South Dinajpur









North 24 Parganas



South 24 Parganas











East Midnapore



West Midnapore