By Debasish Chakraborty
THE 24th state conference of the CPI(M) West Bengal committee started with a massive rally at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata on March 8 and after five-days of deliberations concluded on March 13 with the battle cry to ‘Oust Trinamool, Save Bengal’. The conference, held in Promode Dasgupta Bhaban in Kolkata, witnessed threadbare discussions on political situation of the state, organisational aspects of the Party and a thorough review of the work of Left Front government in order to build up a Left alternative programme for the state.
The conference was held at a time when the Party and the Left has survived an all-out terror of the ruling class, suffered electoral losses, is facing new threats of communal forces along with an authoritarian government in the state.
The delegate session started with CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat hoisting the red flag in the lawns of the conference venue , decorated by portraits of the departed leaders. Biman Basu read out the condolence resolution. After the last state conference, 106 Left leaders, activists and supporters were killed by ruling party miscreants in the state. Karat and other Polit Bureau members offered their floral tributes to martyrs’ column.
STRENGTHEN PARTY TO BUILD UP MOVEMENTS
In the political-organisational report, placed by the outgoing secretary Biman Basu and later adopted in the conference, a self-critical analysis of the Party’s work was done. With the determination of Party’s activists and with the growing discontent among people, some perceptible changes in the situation have occurred in the last few months.
The future tasks outlined in the report emphasise that in the changed situation, we have to mobilise working people and other sections of the masses that are affected by the policies of the centre and state governments, those who have become victims of the attacks from TMC-abetted anti-socials and joint attacks of criminals and police, and move forward.
Specific tactics have to be adopted in each local and branch areas, depending on the specific reality of the area. We have to remember that there will be difference in style of functioning from the past. But our main goal is to firmly consolidate our class allies and win over general masses and democratic sections. The changes occurring in the society due to neo-liberal policies and its effects on class and social formations should be kept in consideration. Otherwise, there will be mistakes in deciding democratic allies in villages and urban areas, noted the report.
The report emphasised on the change of style of work. It said, ‘Leadership has to work down below, along with those comrades who have worked with risks and responsibility in the last three years. Attending LC and branch meetings are not enough. The district leadership and district committee members working in zonal level must adopt this practice.’ The report identified two tasks as priorities: to get rid of the problem of inactivity in the Party which means develop the Party ideologically, develop the communist values of comrades at all levels and activate them in the fields of struggle according to the organisational principles. At the same time, developing intensive relations with people along with toiling people is needed. The conference also identified the crucial importance of energising the mass organisations with proper monitoring of their independent activities.
While summing up the discussion of 60 delegates on the political-organisational report, Biman Basu said that the positive changes in the situation have to be utilised to build up wider movements. And to do this the Party organisation has to be prepared. The adverse situation can only be overcome through movements.
STRUGGLE FOR LEFT ALTERNATIVE
The conference discussed the review report on the working of the Left Front government. As Suryakanta Misra put it while introducing, it is not only a review of the past but was aimed to develop an alternative programme for the state. ‘Not that we will implement it only when in government, but also keep it in the forefront to intervene on issues as opposition too’, he said. The report itself analysed the backdrop of the formation of the LF, undeniable achievements, the advent of neo-liberal policies and the resulting challenges, the shortcomings and mistakes.
The report was made a public document before the conference and comments and suggestions poured in through e-mail and websites. Summing up the discussion of 27 delegates on it, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said, the experience of running a government for 34 years was unique and its lessons should be summed up for Left movement in our country and for the Marxists all over the world.
He said, the achievements of the LF government have to be seen in class terms. Land Reforms were the major success of the Left Front government in West Bengal that distributed 11, 27, 000 acres of land among 30 lakhs of peasants. Not Just decentralisation of power but empowerment of poor people was our achievement. Not just enhancement of agricultural production but improvement of purchasing power of common people was our achievement. The Left Front government was based upon four pillars: a) success in agriculture; b) considerable human development; c) enhancement of democratic rights; d) to firmly establish secular environment in the state;
Bhattacharjee said, with the advent of neo-liberal policies we faced a new challenge to defend the marginalised people. We initiated social security measures for unorganised workers and marginal sections, provided rice at Rs 2 per kg etc.
On industrialisation, Bhattacharjee said, our programme was to revive industrialisation in the state. Former chief minister and our leader Jyoti Basu had taught us to take maximum benefit out of the situation that arose in the nineties. We had to go for private capital, knowing full-well that they would come here for profits only. Our interest was to enlarge the scope of employment. Our industrialisation policies attracted investment, the highest amount being Rs 15,000 crores in 2010. Land acquisition never posed a major problem amongst people in West Bengal. Land was acquired even before Singur and after. We basically wanted just 1 per cent of total cultivable land. In North Bengal, Medinipur, Barrackpore, Rajarhat, South 24 Parganas we never faced any problem. But in Singur the situation went out of control. We admitted in our document that there was a lack of understanding on the question of peasant’s attachment to land. In Nandigram, the situation was different. However what happened there cost us dearly in the state and had its negative impact on the Left movement in the country.
As the document itself outlined, Bhattacharjee admitted that there was unnecessary intervention in educational sphere, partisan divide between rural people in distribution of benefits, high handedness in some areas. ‘In a democratic country like ours, the plurality of thought must be respected’, he commented.
Bhattacharjee said, the success, weaknesses and the lessons would help us to develop the alternative for the future. We will go the people with this alternative. The change of political situation in the state will come surely but only through sustained movement. The Party should develop in a way that gains trust and respect of the people.
The state conference concluded with the call of ousting Trinamool Congress government to save West Bengal. In the concluding session, the conference adopted a resolution calling upon the people to organise to defend democracy, strengthen secularism, and fight against unprecedented corruption in the state. CPI(M) has called for industrialisation of the state which is suffering from critical decline of industries in the last three and half years resulting in perilous growth of unemployment. The conference called upon to initiate movements for remunerative prices of agricultural products. The Party will increase its initiative to unite Left, democratic and secular forces to defend democracy and resist the politics of division among people.
The conference elected Suryakanta Misra as new secretary of the state committee. An 81-member state committee has been elected, with three vacancies to be filled later.
Biman Basu, the outgoing secretary took charge in 2006 after Comrade Anil Biswas expired. Later Basu was elected as state secretary in 2008 and 2012 conferences. Biman Basu led massive student-youth movements in 1960s and 1970s. Later, he helped to build up Party in many districts of the state. He was the chief initiator of mass literacy movement also. A tireless leader, Biman Basu is Polit Bureau member of the Party.
Suryakanta Misra joined in the Party through student-youth movement. A doctor by education, he hails from undivided Midnapore. He was the district council president of the district in the three-tier panchayat and gained popularity through massive land reforms and rural development work in the district. A peasant leader, Misra later became a minister in Left Front government, in which he worked in health, panchayat, rural development ministries. He became a state committee member in 1988, state secretariat member in 1995, central committee member in 2002 and member of the Polit Bureau in 2012. Currently, he is also the leader of the opposition in the state.
The new state committee included 20 new members with 18 of them from younger sections. The new members are: Narayan Biswas, Apurba Paul, Niranjan Sihi, Ajit Pati, Aniruddha Chakraborty, Ratna Dutta, Saman Pathak, Jiaul Alam, Robin Rai, Debabrata Ghosh, Mansa Hansda, Somnath Bhattacharya, Mrinal Chakraborty, Palash Das, Rupa Bagchi, Gauranga Chatterjee, Dilip Ghosh, Gargi Chatterjee, Tamser Ali, Meghlal Sekh.
Nirupam Sen, Md Amin, Raghunath Kushari, Banani Biswas, Prasanta Pradhan, Dinesh Dakua, Hasim Abdul Halim are among 11 special invitees.
The conference elected the new State Control Commission of the Party, where Kanti Biswas has been elected as new chairman.
The conference has also elected 175 delegates for the 21st Party Congress.
Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury, S Ramachandran Pillai, Brinda Karat, Manik Sarkar, Tripura state secretary Bijan Dhar and Assam state secretary Uddhav Burman also attended the conference.