July 02, 2023

WB: Left Front Appeals Voters for a People’s Panchayat System

Subinoy Moulik

AHEAD of the tenth panchayat elections in West Bengal, the Left Front has come out with an appeal to the electorate promising implementation of alternative programmes through the panchayat for the benefit of the people. Left Front chairman Biman Basu released the appeal on June 21 saying that the erstwhile Left Front government in West Bengal had established the first three-tier panchayat system which was recognised as a model for the country. Now that the panchayats have degenerated into agencies for looting public money, we are appealing to the people of the state to stop this mismanagement and corruption and to vote for Left Front candidates so as to implement alternative programmes through Left Front-run panchayats, he said at a press conference. CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Salim, Party Polit Bureau member Surya Mishra, Party Central Committee member Rabin Deb, state committee member Sukhendu Panigrahi, CPI state secretary Swapan Banerjee, RSP state secretary Tapan Hore, Forward Bloc state secretary Naren Chatterjee, RCPI leader Subhash Roy, Marxist Forward Bloc leader Ashish Chakraborty, Workers Party leader Shibnath Sinha, and Bolshevik Party leader Prabir Ghosh were present at the press conference. The appeal declares the Left Front’s firm pledge to free Bengal from the grip of the corrupt and autocratic Trinamool, to defeat the communal BJP that is destroying the country’s sovereignty, and seeks the support of the people in favour of Left Front candidates in the tenth panchayat elections to build a people’s panchayat system in the state.


Offering an alternative strategy of a people-centric model of rural development, the Left Front appeal states that the panchayats shall be freed from bureaucratic hegemony and made into people’s own institutions. Real self-governance of the people shall be ensured by holding regular gram sabha meetings. It has been said that in case of acquisition of land in panchayat area and in any project under the purview of panchayat or in case of establishment of non-agricultural projects in rural land, the decision shall be taken on the basis of consensus of at least 80 per cent of the people. The Left panchayats will fight the design of promoters and land mafias to buy rural land outright. For effective decentralization of rural educational administration and for uplifting and upgrading primary school education system in rural areas, the Left panchayats shall work towards re-establishing the village education committees to take care of the education, health and nutrition of the children and adolescents from the financially weaker and backward sections of the society up to the secondary level. Free coaching will be arranged for these students. Tutors chosen from educated persons in each locality shall receive an honorarium for carrying out these responsibilities. Revival of village libraries and establishment of information technology centres in library premises shall also be on the agenda. Public health, nutrition, environment work will be undertaken by ASHA workers, anganwadi workers, health workers, teachers in charge of school midday meals and shall be regularly scrutinised in coordination with the panchayat members.

Initiatives will be taken to meet the shortage of doctors, nurses and health workers in health centres, provide free cooked food to the helpless elderly by reviving the “Sahay” model, provide nutrition, health, clean environment, protection from diseases and germs to mothers and children. Democratic management of cooperative societies for the benefit of farmers, agricultural training through village-to-village farm tutorials, involvement of marketing cooperatives in buying crops for the sale of farmers’ crops at subsidized prices, taking legal action against those involved in corruption in rural job scheme MNREGA and resuming housing schemes in the state also find clear mention in this appeal.

Rural service centres will be set up to provide multifaceted services by providing training to the unemployed boys and girls of the villages, Provident Fund Scheme of the Left Front government period for landless farmers/agricultural laborers will be re-launched. Recalling that Kanyashree or the provision of rice at the rate of Rs 2 per kg was actually a project of the Left Front government, it has been categorically said that the existing public welfare oriented scheme for the financially weaker sections of the society will continue and its benefits will be extended by preventing corruption. All social security schemes will be need-based and transparency will be ensured in their implementation. 'Amar Bari' (My Home) project will be renewed to construct houses for homeless families in a timely manner. The existing compensations will be increased and doubled in case of death due to snake bite, lightning, attack by wild animals, crop loss and house damage due to elephant attack. People working in hazardous sectors will be insured. Measures will also be taken to control unregulated fares in public transport. Insurance will be arranged for migrant workers by collecting detailed information about them. Cancellation of fake job cards will be executed and deserving people will get the facilities. It has been stated that transparency will be brought in project implementation. Teacher-pupil ratio will be rebalanced in village schools. Sustained efforts will be made to stop dropouts. Hostels will be opened for tribal and scheduled caste students. Free food will be provided for the elderly. Door-to-door drinking water project will be accelerated. Farmers insurance and payment of advance money will be arranged through cooperatives. Farmers will be insured and paid through cooperatives. The bargadars and pattadars will be given back the legal title to the land. Tribal rights to forest land will be restored. Tourism industry will be expanded. Special measures will be taken to conserve local species. Instead of 100 days, the demand for 200-300 days of work will be strongly presented. Extortion by high interest rates of microfinance will be eliminated. Social security schemes will be expanded. Awareness programme will be taken to contain the spread of alcoholism and addiction in the villages. Social afforestation scheme will be re-introduced and insurance for honey collectors will be introduced.

Speaking to reporters, Biman Basu said that after taking the oath of office in 1977, the first chief minister of the Left Front government, Jyoti Basu, had said that his government would not be run from Writers’ Building (the erstwhile secretariat of the West Bengal State Government) alone. It will maintain living relations with people through the representative organisations of the people and through panchayats/municipalities. Panchayati Raj was introduced in our state before the three-tier panchayat system was introduced across the country by amending the Constitution. But after the departure of the Left Front government, there is no democracy at the village level. Panchayats have turned into agencies for looting public money. In district after district, the Left Front is fighting with a united spirit to free the panchayats from the hands of plunderers. Dialogue is on with all other anti-Trinamool and anti-BJP forces. This appeal describes the programme of building panchayats of the people, for the people, by the people, he added.