In the backdrop of growing authoritarianism and bad governance by the ruling TMC Govt in West Bengal, a 6-member delegation, led by CPI(ML) State Secretary Partha Ghosh, met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently, and expressed strong opposition to the all-round deterioration in the situation and growing assaults on the democratic rights of the common people under TMC rule.
The issues highlighted primarily concerned the agrarian situation, attacks on women and attacks on democracy. The delegation called for completion of unfinished land reforms in West Bengal, democratization of the Panchayat system, remunerative pricing for the farmers, and stern action against any attempt to evict small peasants, bargadars and pattadars from their land. They also demanded that evictees of Singur be given Rs.7 lakh, and a monthly allowance of Rs.7000 until they get their land back.
The delegation demanded release of all political prisoners and scrapping of all the false cases still pending against activists who took part in the Singur and Nandigram movements. Regarding the issue of a host of attacks on women after the TMC came to power, the deputation demanded that a fast track court be set up to expedite the legal process to punish the culprits.
Trying to throttle each and every dissenting voice has been the most disturbing trend over the past several months. From jailing a university teacher for e-mailing a harmless cartoon, to a full-blown attack on workers’ right to strike, or clamping false charges on activists for taking part in anti-eviction protests in Nonadanga, things have gone from bad to worse. The CPI(ML) delegation condemned such attacks on democracy, and demanded that democratic rights of the people be guaranteed and respected.
The Chief Minister’s stock response to most issues was either to blame the previous regime or cite paucity of funds. When asked why the investigation commission for probing the Kashipur-Baranagar genocide has not even convened a single meeting, the flimsiest of excuses like the unavailability of a room was produced! The delegation told the Chief Minister that the people who fought for parivartan (change) would not accept this mockery and betrayal of the people’s mandate and that attacks on livelihood, dignity and democracy of the people, if not immediately halted by the government, would be met with fitting resistance by the people.
[As this report goes to press, a 15 year-old school girl was attacked on her way back to school, and another teenage girl has been gang-raped and set on fire. All this, even as CM Mamata Banerjee lashed out at the press for regularly publishing news on rapes - something she deems as ‘rare incidents’ and examples of ‘negative propaganda’ by the media to paint her regime black. And she had again echoed the highly objectionable piece of patriarchal prejudice, blaming rapes on loosening of parental control on intermingling of boys and girls.]