Peasants demand work, remunerative prices, and an end to political terror

Krishak Bachao (Save Peasants) mobilisation by the West Bengal State Committee of CPI(ML) on 9 January turned out to be quite successful. The 10,000-strong mobilisation of peasants gathered at Rashmani Road, Calcutta to press for their urgent demands. Peasants from almost all districts of the state participated in large numbers. Participation from newer areas of work and by forces who have joined the party breaking away from CPI(M), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and BJP was also significant. Com. Shankar Mitra, CCM, presided over the meeting. The main speaker was Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya. State Secretary Com. Kartick Pal, State Standing Body members Com. Ajit Das and Com. Biman Biswas were among the other speakers.

Addressing the rally, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the slogan ‘Save Peasants’ is being raised today in all the corners of the country. Not only the peasants, the toiling masses throughout the Country are lending their voice in unison to this slogan. He said that even after 53 years of independence and 23 years of Left Front (LF) rule, peasants are being subjected to agony. The Congress government at the Centre was replaced by the United Front government which again gave way to the BJP-led government. But each of them pursued the new-economic policy, and this baneful economic order has forced the peasants to the path of further pauperisation. The NDA government has introduced a disastrous agrarian policy inviting MNCs into the agrarian sector. The ruling elite earlier assured the peasants that they would be able to export foodgrains under the new economic order, but today import of foodgrains is the norm. Now they are exhorting the peasants that producing rice and wheat is not profitable, and instead, they should cultivate grapes and flowers! Drawing attention to the food problem, he said that while 30 crore people are being made to starve, the rats are making merry, with the foodgrains in the FCI godowns. Hence we are raising the demand ‘food for work’, which needs to be popularised. He further warned that if this demand was not heeded, the starving masses would forcibly break open the FCI godowns for their subsistence.

Referring to the Garbeta carnage in Midnapore district, in which eleven PWG men were alleged to have been murdered by CPI(M) goons, he said that political terror is going on unabated in west Bengal for twenty-three long years. It is not the political affiliation of the murdered men that is important, the more important question is that poor peasants are becoming victims of political terror. Karanda in Burdwan and Suchpur in Birbhum district also witnessed the slaughtering of agrarian poor. The lives of the agrarian labourers and poor peasants must not be allowed as stakes in the political game of ‘capturing’ and ‘re-capturing’ of villages between CPI(M) and TMC. The political terror in West Bengal must come to an end and the truth of Garbeta carnage -- however horrific -- must come out. He further said that while on the one hand the state is witnessing a tussle for power, on the other hand, the LF Government was on a compromising course with capital. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya wants to implant the Andhra model of Chandrababu Naidu, with appeasement of MNCs as his guiding policy. But those who uphold the red banner and stand by the toiling masses will surely not take this appeasement of capital lying down. We carry on, he declared, the glorious legacy of Bhagat Singh and Charu Majumdar and we will not allow the white terror of the ‘70s to be reenacted here. We have to build a happy, prosperous India on the united resistance of the workers, the peasants and other toiling masses.

Pointing to the precarious condition of the peasants, Com. Ajit Das said that while the peasants were not getting remunerative prices for their produce, the prices of other commodities are soaring. Only by selling two kgs. of rice can a peasant get 1 litre of kerosene. Com. Biman Biswas accused the state government of remaining indifferent to the problems of the flood-victims, and called for building up a front consisting of struggling forces to realise the demands of the peasants.

State Secretary Com. Kartick Pal observed that the LF government came to power in West Bengal with the demand of democracy at the forefront. But today democracy is at peril at the hands of the LF itself. That there has been a carnage at Garbeta cannot be denied, he said forcefully, and it is the duty of the state government to locate the bodies. If the LF as well as the CPI(M) think that they will be able to cling to power by unleashing terror, then it will not be long before they get a shocking lesson. He declared that today CPI(M) is in no position to uphold the red banner and resist the fascist TMC. He appealed to all struggling left forces to join CPI(ML), the real defender of the red banner.

–Jayadeep Mitra