December 06, 2015

West Bengal: Rising Resistance

WEST Bengal is witnessing rising resistance and mass activities against the misrule and terror tactics of the Trinamul Congress. The Bengal Platform of Mass Organisations (BPMO) had organised jathas to cover 64,000 polling booths in the state. The rest of the 17,000 booths were to be covered later. These jathas took place between November 14 to 30. According to the reports received so far, over 60,000 booths were touched by around 18,000 jathas. Approximately, 16 lakh people participated in the jathas.

West Bengal is unlike any other state in the country as far as attacks on democratic rights and suppression of democracy are concerned. This is evident from the numerous attacks on a programme which would be considered as normal political activity in the rest of India. The leader of the opposition and state secretary of the CPI(M), Surjya Kanta Mishra, was pushed to the ground when TMC men unsuccessfully sought to stop the march at Narayangarh, his assembly constituency. In Mayureswar, in Birbhum district, TMC goons armed with iron rods and sticks assaulted and injured Ramchandra Dom, Central Committee member and others. A former MLA, Dhiren Let was badly beaten and humiliated. Within two days, a big rally was held at Mayureswar to protest the attack and to assert the right of the people to protest.

Scores of attacks took place in various districts like West Midnapore, Burdwan, Murshidabad, Hooghly, Howrah and many other places. However, despite all these attacks, the jathas went ahead rallying supporters and connecting with the people. Why has the TMC under Mamata Banerjee adopted such a repressive approach? The main purpose of these goonda attacks was to try and prevent the left mass organisations from forging links with the people. The ruling party was also alarmed at the response these jathas were receiving from the people.

The jathas highlighted the worsening plight of the people under four and a half years of the Mamata Banerjee government: the farmers' distress, the starving tea garden workers, the lack of relief for the flood affected people, the growing ranks of the unemployed youth and the epidemic of attacks on women. The jathas saw the active participation of all these affected sections of people. This has also provoked the violent assaults.

The spectre of the Saradha scam continues to haunt the Mamata regime. After vehemently denying any involvement of her ministers and leaders in the scandal, the chief minister has now changed tack. After, Madan Mitra, her minister till recently, was sent to jail after his bail was cancelled and the CBI stepped up investigations, Mamata Banerjee has said that, "Individuals can be thieves, but not a party." This indirect admission betrays nervousness at the prospects of further revelations against her party and government.

The jathas are an important link in the gathering resistance to the anti-people, goonda raj in West Bengal. Earlier the march to the secretariat and the September 2 strike indicated the determination of the Left cadres and the popular response. Mamata Banerjee and the TMC will be forced to realise that violence and repression cannot suppress popular protests and movements.

(December 2, 2015)