Tripura: Pursuing Mass Line, CPI(M)’s Unique Initiative to Rouse People
By Our Correspondent
CPI(M) has 15 MLAs in Tripura. In the past four years, they have been trying their level best to raise the burning livelihood issues of common masses of the state cutting across caste, colour and creed in the highest forum of the administration, i.e., the assembly. But the number of sittings of Tripura assembly under the BJP-IPFT regime has been very limited and the number of days of every session including the annual budget session is very minimal. Also, the lion’s share of the session time is grabbed by the treasury benches in a very planned manner so as to deprive the opposition of the opportunity to highlight the urgent issues of the masses. This indicates the fascistic fashion of the ruling BJP to suppress and muzzle opposition voice even inside the assembly during its sittings.
CPI(M) MLAs tried to draw the attention of the governor, chief minister, some other ministers, chief secretary and the DGP to the prevailing crisis of livelihood of masses and fascistic attacks being perpetrated on the masses by the political miscreants nurtured and pampered by the BJP. They were requested to take urgent necessary steps to save people from starvation and starvation deaths and obviously also to stop fascistic attacks and allow people to exercise their democratic rights in all respects. But there has been no due response from the state government.
In this unimaginable prevailing situation, apart from taking part in day-to-day struggles of the masses organised by different democratic organisations, the MLAs of the CPI(M) have taken the measure to go directly to the people to know their present important local issues and seek advice from them on how best the MLAs could take steps to help them to face and overcome their problems.
Tripura has eight administrative districts, 23 sub-divisions, 58 rural development blocks and 20 urban local self bodies. Under the leadership of Manik Sarkar, former chief minister and present leader of opposition in the Tripura legislative assembly, the MLAs of CPI(M) started visiting each and every sub-division since May 13. They visited 21 sub-divisions as part of a delegation and met people of 2 sub-divisions in other areas. In all these meetings about 6,000 people covering 600 gram panchayats, 578 village committee areas under Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council and 20 urban bodies took part in discussions and expressed their mind most freely and frankly identifying their concrete local issues before the MLA delegation urging for persuasion with the higher authorities of the government at the earliest. All these were very lively and very encouraging interactive sessions between the common masses and the members of the MLA delegation. The people who came to meet the MLA delegation submitted a written memoranda on their local current burning issues.
Having heard all these with serious attention, the MLA delegation prepared separate memorandum for each and every district and met the district magistrates separately. The delegation of MLAs during discussion with the district magistrates urged upon them to take active initiative involving block development officers, sub-divisional officers, and senior most officers of different development-oriented departments of the district concerned. The delegation members told the DMs that they would again come to them after one month to take stock of what tangible steps have been taken till then. All these programmes have been completed on June 20.
In each and every sub-division, the leader of opposition on behalf of the members of the MLA delegation requested the people who took part in the meeting that they should not suffer from any sort of illusion that their problems would be solved since the MLAs are taking their issues with the appropriate authorities of the government administration, rather they have to keep on mounting pressure on the government by way of rousing the people of their own locality and organising struggle on these specific local issues which they raised. On one hand, pressure from the grassroots by the mass struggle of people and the pressure from the MLAs of the CPI(M) and other democratic mass organisations on the other may be useful in yielding results in people’s favour to solve some of the urgent issues, if not all.
The people responded in an enthusiastic manner and by this time, the people have started organising mobilisations with new vigour in different areas of the state and met in mass deputation their local authorities taking up their specific local issues.
The following common burning issues have come up during the discussions between representatives of gram panchayat, village committees and urban body areas and the members of the MLA delegation throughout the state for the last five weeks. The most common demand has been the “demand for work, wage and food.”
MGNREGA: The number of man-days per head has gone down drastically. Wages are not being paid regularly. Machineries are being used illegally. All card-holders are not getting work. Many card-holders in almost all gram panchayats and village committees are drawing wages without transacting works. No gram sabha meeting is held and thus there is hardly submission of yearly accounts stating resources and expenditure, including creation of assets, etc. There is neither any approval of future action plan and proper social auditing.
Drinking Water: Safe drinking water still remains a dream in many rural areas and the projects which started long back, have now been disturbed and there is a failure to lift water months after months due to absence of regular maintenance/repair and non-availability of regular power supply.
Irrigation: Most of the irrigation plants have become non-functional due to lack of repair works for the last three/four years and at the same time tangible steps have not yet been taken to draw the uncovered areas under assured irrigation facilities.
Connectivity: Virtually, large areas of rural road connectivity have broken down due to lack of maintenance/repairing works for long periods.
Electricity: Electrical supply has become uncertain. In some areas, people have been facing non-availability of electricity for 7/10/18 hours. It has also been mentioned that there are villages and hamlets where electric supply remains cut off for months altogether. This has been creating multifarious problems of supply of drinking water, irrigation activities, hospital services, bank services, internet connectivity, etc.
Social Pension: A good number of pension holders have been delisted from the pension rolls without any reason. This has pushed them into starvation. Earlier they used to get pension for years in a regular manner.
Housing: A good number of genuine beneficiaries of PMAY scheme, both in rural and urban areas, have been deprived vindictively. A sizeable number of people who received the first installment for construction, are being deprived of the second installment for failing to pay money to political leaders of their locality.
Health: Most of the PHCs are unable to discharge their responsibilities due to inadequate number of doctors, nurses, para-medics and non-distribution of essential and urgent medicines.
Education: Schools of all stages – primary, high and higher secondary –have been suffering from shortage of teachers. There are a number of primary-level schools being run by only one or two teachers. The so-called fan-fared ‘Bidya Jyoti Prakalpa’ has been limping with many faults including shortage of teachers and usurping money from students like in private system. This is nothing but depriving education to the children of poor families.
Paddy Procurement: Government is not purchasing paddy immediately after harvesting which is allowing middlemen to deceive and exploit the actual farmers from getting due price for their produce.
River Bank Erosion: Erosion of river banks in different sub-divisions has been destroying valuable cultivable land and at places homestead land. This needs to be prevented by taking necessary permanent measures.