Updates : 6th Conference of the Paschim Banga Krishak Samiti Held

The Paschim Banga Krishak Samiti (West Bengal Peasant Association) held its 6th Conference with an open session in Bardhaman followed by a two-day delegate session on 15-16 February. The conference took note of the acute agrarian crisis and resolved to impart a fresh impetus to the peasant movement in the State. Comrade Dipankar addressed the open session while Comrade Rajaram Singh, convenor of AIKSS (All India Peasant Coordination Committee) inaugurated the conference. Comrade Kartick Pal, PBM and several other leaders of the Party’s West Bengal State Committee also attended and addressed the conference.

The delegates at the Conference included those who have come to us from the ranks of the CPI(M) in recent times. There were also signals that the rural poor who had gone over to the TMC in reaction to the CPI(M)’s betrayal of the peasantry, are getting fast disillusioned by the TMC’s approach to the peasants’ questions. Among those who addressed the Conference was a leader of the Singur movement, who reminded that the whole Singur struggle had centred around the demand that 400 acres of land that had been grabbed without consent be returned to the peasants. Now, even the TMC which had made political capital from the struggle had shelved this demand – a demand that continued to move the peasantry to struggle.

On the eve of the Conference, a delegation of Krishak Samiti leaders had met State Agriculture Minister Naren De to demand fixing of the procurement price for potato at Rs 6 per kg, to address the distress of potato farmers who were now selling at an extremely low price even as potato prices in the market were high.

The Conference took up the issue of the reversal of land reforms in the State, whereby diversion of agricultural land and eviction of peasants was a state-wide phenomenon. Delegates discussed, in particular, how sharecroppers were being evicted in Dinajpur and in South 24 Parganas too, sharecroppers were being evicted to make way for prawn farming. The Conference demanded security of tenure and land ownership for sharecroppers, lowering of land ceiling as recommended by the report of the Expert Committee on Land Reforms appointed by the Ministry of Rural Development, as well as agricultural credit, irrigation, fertilizer, electricity and other kinds of support for sharecroppers and small peasants.

The Conference elected a 63-member state council and a 21-member state executive including Comrade Annada Prasad Bhattacharya (President), Comrade Altaf Hussein (Vice President), Comrade Subimal Sengupta (General Secretary), as well as five secretaries.

Implementing a call given from the Conference, the Krishak Samiti held a state-wide road blockade demanding fixing of Rs 6 per kg as procurement price for potato and protesting the rise in prices of fertilizer.

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