THE marches, organised by Bengal Platform of Mass Organisations, swept through villages and towns of West Bengal in 13 days. Thousands of people joined in the marches in respective areas, signifying new dimensions of popular mobilisation by Left forces in the state.
Northern jathas which started from Coochbehar and Malda merged at Siliguri on November 1. Local and district level marches joined in the central rally in different locations. One of the main concern of these jathas was the problems of tea workers. The marches raised the slogan of minimum wages for the tea garden workers as well as proper ration, health and education facilities for them. Flood and erosion of rivers were other issues which are affecting thousands in northern districts. The jathas raised these issues forcefully.
On November 1, Siliguri witnessed a Red Wave as thousands of people joined in a massive rally. Addressing the public meeting after the rally, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Md Salim said, the second phase of the struggle would be a fight to achieve peoples’ demands, particularly at the local level.
One of the central jathas from Farakka to Kolkata passed through Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas. It traversed through villages, raising demands of the peasantry; through towns particularly raising the issue of raging unemployment and through industrial areas raising the demand of opening the closed factories.
In Barrackpore industrial belt, factories are being closed regularly. One after another, jute mills have been either closed or their production has been drastically reduced. Trade unions are under attack as the ruling party has sided with the owners. When the jatha crossed through this area, workers welcomed it and came out in the streets in numbers, breaking the atmosphere of terror and intimidation.
At about the same time last year, areas around Naihati in North 24 Parganas were affected due to communal clashes. The march passed through affected areas and it was a marvelous show of unity among all sections of the people. The residents, both Hindus and Muslims, alleged that RSS-BJP and TMC played divisive role during the tension while the Left stood the ground. At a public meeting in Barrackpore, Surjyakanta Misra said, on the one hand economic miseries of the people are increasing. On the other, there is unprecedented danger of communal polarisation aimed to break any united fight of the toiling people. The working people must remain alert to this menace.
Two jathas started from southern corner of the state – both from the two ends in South 24 Parganas. In these two marches, the sufferings of the peasantry, the deprivation of people of Sundarbans were raised. The jathas covered huge distance with strong support from the people of the areas. In Howrah and Hooghly, the marches took up the issues of remunerative prices of the peasantry, the compensation for the flood affected people and workers of the closed industry. In Hooghly’s industrial belt, the scenario is grim and large factories like Dunlop and Hind Motors have been closed, rendering thousands jobless. The marchers raised the issue of de-industrialisation inthe TMC rule.
As this report goes to press, Kolkata is preparing for a massive rally on November 3, when southern jathas will merge in the city.