The Sixth West Bengal State Conference

Towards regeneration of the revolutionary left



1. To contest in the coming panchayat elections on the widest possible scale. At least winning double the number of seats won last time.

2. To intensify the agrarian labourers’ struggle on the basis of their various demands and mobilise them in struggle against the state government for a comprehensive legislation incorporating their interests. To raise the membership of the agrarian labour organisation to 2 lakhs.

3. To go in for substantial increase of the membership of trade union, youth and women’s organizations.

4. To put pressure on the state Government for instituting an enquiry into the massacres of the 1970s, and side by side, initiate efforts for constituting an independent, nongovernmental commission of enquiry within 28th July 2002.

5. To increase the circulation of the state party organ Deshabrati to 10,000, with a regular subscriber target of 1500.

THE SIXTH State Conference of CPI(ML) Liberation was held at Krishnanagar in Nadia district from 811 November. The Conference observed that the 6th Left Front Government (LFG) was a regime orientated more towards right. Led by CPI(M), this Government has committed itself to the privatisationliberalisation course. Its newfound zeal for the Centre’s economic ideals has increasingly endeared itself to the newer sections of big industrial houses. Since assuming power, this regime has gone on a feehike spree and resorted to many anti-people measures. Its decision to close the ‘sick’ undertakings sacrificing workers’ interests for the sake of its courtship with the industry, commercialisation of education and health care, introduction of contract system, implementing with alacrity the Centre’s decision to ban SIMI and launching a witch-hunt against their leaders, formation of an antinaxal cell, and demolition of the huts along Tolly’s Nullah by deploying RAF – all these and other similar measures make its rightist shift more pronounced. The corporate sector, realising that only the Left Front (LF) is capable of providing the muchneeded political stability for liberalisation and privatization, backed it to the hilt. The LF chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya has become a darling of the corporate world. And, the slogan of “improved left” – which was the slogan of the LF in the run up to the assembly elections – could only have one meaning: further renunciation of its left credentials. The Conference naturally decided to intensify the struggle against the LFG.

Resistance struggle was the other aspect on which the Conference laid emphasis, especially in view of CPI(M)’s rural terror which incidentally is also directed against revolutionary left and targets the agricultural labour base that is shifting towards CPI(ML). The conference noted that the question of resistance was inevitably related to the development of the peasant movement. The peasant movement everywhere was confronting the political terror of the CPI(M), the threat of the Trinamool Congress ruffians, the wrath of the rural rich and the repression of the police and the administration. So any slackening of initiative or lack of planning in matters of resistance will affect the consolidation of the movement and it will also have its adverse effect on unleashing the activism of the masses. It is being urgently felt that selfdefense squads should be formed and strengthened in keeping with the guidelines of the 6th Congress. Conscious efforts, educating and training the masses, active participation of the masses on the basis of their basic demands – this should be the approach in respect of building up the resistance struggle, the conference noted.

A major point of debate revolved around the question whether the focus should be on organising the agrarian labourers or mobilising the broader peasant community. Some comrades opined that as a consequence of the Centre’s new agrarian policy the imperialist intervention in the agrarian sector has assumed serious proportions and this has ushered in a severe crisis on this front. The party should therefore focus on resisting the imperialist attack on the peasantry as a whole and thereby place the main orientation of the rural work on the peasant association. Though not belittling the work of the peasant association, the conference stressed that organizing agrarian labourers should be viewed as the basic work in the rural areas. Their numbers are on the increase according to the Census data. The Operation Barga and other agrarian reforms initiated by the LF have brought little improvement in the lives of the agrarian labourers. Everywhere they are always at the receiving end. The agrarian labourers as a class are increasingly finding themselves locked in conflicts with vested interests. From Karanda in Burdwan to Suchpur in Birbhum, the killings of agrarian labourers by the CPI(M) make it glaring. Moreover, the major burden of the agrarian crisis will also be shouldered by this class. Developing class struggle in the rural areas with the class of the rural proletariat at the forefront is of paramount importance to organise them as an independent class. Deliberating on the issue, Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya observed: “As a communist party, it is our duty to organise the marginalized agrarian labourers into a major independent force and thereby give a fitting rebuff to the attack let loose on them. Side by side, an opportunity has come upon us to organise the middle and even a section of the rich peasantry who are getting increasingly vocal against the TNCs, the pro-corporate sector agricultural policy and the WTO. But they are comparatively lesser in number. So those who would like to raise a Chinese wall between the agrarian labourers’ organisation and the peasant association and argue in favour of the peasant association should reconsider. Our progamme delineates that the communist party should intervene in the agrarian crisis on the basis of the totality comprising the rural proletariat as well as the broader section of the peasantry, and that is apt.”

The conference attached due importance to the North Bengal situation. It noted that the grievances of the Gorkha and the Rajbanshi communities in North Bengal were growing. There is acute lack of development and a sense of deprivation in respect of their language and culture has made these communities restive. Instead of sympathetically considering the demands of the Rajbanshi community, the LFG has let loose police repression on them. Arable lands are being converted into illegal tea gardens and among the people evicted thus from their land very few find employment in the tea gardens. The Conference therefore decided to intervene in and strengthen the movement of the people of North Bengal for democratisation of the North Bengal Development Council and for its pro-people orientation.

The Conference also explored the reasons behind the prolonged stability of the LF. There was a proposal that we should have an alternative set of reform programmes in response to the reforms initiated by the CPI(M). The conference however stressed that there were specific reasons behind the emergence of the socialdemocratic rule in the state and it would be futile to search for its stability in its reform programmes. Its stability has to be perceived in the context of its integration in the bourgeois power structure and thereby emerging as the “natural ruling party”. Touching upon the issue in his concluding speech, Com. DB delineated the historical perspective and observed that the Congress in its attempt to do away with Naxalism manifested itself in West Bengal in the cruelest and most abominable form. This has substantially weakened the Congress in the state. He went on to explain, “Congress is also weak in Bihar and UP, but in West Bengal its decline has assumed historical level. Coupled with this our earlier disintegration and absence in the movemental arena invested in CPI(M) all the glorious legacy of the left movement and given it sort of a hegemony. This might have continued for 25 or 30 years or even more. But sooner or later the CPI(M) will meet its inevitable end.”

In his concluding speech, Com. Dipankar also said a few words about some intellectual comrades who suffer from a sense of frustration. This, he held, was not an unusual phenomenon. Quoting Gramsci, he said that if they suffered from “pessimism of intellect” it had to be overcome by generating “optimism of will.” And for this, any weakening of confidence in the party would only make matters worse. Confidence in the party, he categorically stated, must be unflinching. On the question of establishing the identity of the party, he said that mere obsession with the old identity would not serve any fruitful purpose. In the backdrop of its glorious tradition, a new identity based on specific demands of the situation had to be forged. He appealed to all to carry out an in-depth study of the West Bengal situation in its specificities, reinvigorate the party and make bold strides toward regeneration of the revolutionary left movement.

-- Jaydeep Mitra