BENGAL STATE CONFERENCE CALLS FOR WIDER STRUGGLES, DEEPER MASS CONTACT
Following the important address b the Party general secretary [already sent], the state conference began its discussion sessions spread over different time periods. In between, Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee placed his intervention, and finally state secretary Biman Basu came up with the reply to the discussion.
POL-ORG REPORT PLACED
Before all that, Biman Basu placed his pol-org report. The report placed a great deal of importance to strengthening of the organisation and increasing mass contact. Biman Basu started by saying that the Party must appear before the people in the form they would like to see the Party. This was the way to earning the trust of the masses.
The secretary placed importance on making the Party rectified, and alive, than ever before. Rather than observing from afar, the Party must participate in the evolving situation, increase class and mass struggles, and reach out to the people irrespective of political loyalties.
Every tier of leadership and workers must act with political correctness and acceptability. Links with unwanted people must be severed especially socially. The organisation must come out of inactivity and inaction. Mass contact must be made deeper and wider.
The organisation must be made appropriate for the times. All slanders and lies against the Party must be nailed. A complete evaluation of 34 years of the Left Front and the LF government must be made. No one could demolish the pro-people presence, the pro-poor advance of the LF and the LF government.
In placing the report, Biman Basu went into some detail on the array of successes and achievements of the Left Front government in the political, social, and economic realms. At the same time, lessons needed to be drawn from the weaknesses and mistakes that had occurred over 34 years. Not all the resolves taken in the 22nd state conference could be implemented. The revolutionary caution against fulmination of attacks was envisaged but could not be implemented in full.
Mass contact was one of the weaker areas of the Party and the LF. Selective attacks before 2011 have now been made wide assaults. 56 comrades were killed. 23 women comrades were raped. 513 women comrades were molested. 4598 men and women comrades were left grievously injured.
40 thousand were rendered homeless – 22 thousand have to stay back only by paying heaving fines. Share-croppers have been evicted, TU offices occupied, education institutions attacked, false court cases installed against comrades, and elected local bodies have been prevented from functioning.
Following the placement of the report, the lengthy discussion sessions commenced. The 64 delegates who participated in the conference were self-critical and were also demonstratively confident about the days ahead for the Party. The discussion centred on these main issues.
• Class and mass struggle
• Identity politics and its fall-outs
• Importance of correct slogans and implementation
• Media management and stopping media attack on their tracks
• Countering organised terror
• Party education and its importance, especially now
• Democratic centralism to be strengthened
• Inner Party democracy to be consolidated
• Joint functioning to be improved
• Party functioning improved at all committee levels
• Joint movements of various Party fronts to be built up
• Mass front growth to be translated into Party recruitment
• Social issues like the attacks on women and on minorities to be resisted
• Party building must go in the forest areas and in the hill-terai-dooars zones
• Parliamentarism to be fought against
• Party building must go on rigorously
In his important intervention Polit Bureau member of the CPI (M) Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said that he would confine his say to certain aspects of the discussion. Buddhadeb began by saying that self-critically it must be admitted that there were an extent of negative fall-out from the imbroglio of land acquiring-linked-industrialisation policy that had to be gone through by the Party and the LF government.
‘We could not confine ourselves to small and medium industries alone, for the sake of development and growth, and as far as back as 1994 the LF government had announced an industrial policy that called for investment of big capital, including foreign capital in the state—for that was the way we not-incorrectly had thought was forward.’ The policy move was not out-of-place. Complications arose with the process of land acquisition. The aim was to go in for industrialisation and agrarian development.
Important mistakes were committed in Singur and Nandigram, and this must be self-critically admitted. The kisan mind and the kisans’ attachment to land parcels could not be properly appreciated. The government did go in for substantial compensation packages, and this must be recalled.
However, what was not realised was that in neo-liberal times with attacks on resources mounted, the kisan chose to cling to his land. The kisan should have been spoken to and the kisan sabha consulted.
Singur saw problems develop in the later phases when 85% of the work for the small car factory and production had been completed. The opposition leader was allowed to block the highway for several weeks. This showed up the administration as directionless. The investors at Singur chimed in with a saying that they were not willing to remain in Singur as unwanted guests, recanting on their ‘remain-in-Singur-even-at-gunpoint’- talk of yore.
There was no land acquired in Nandigram. The opposition swung into action on a pretext, cut roads, occupied large areas with guns and other weapons, and the police firing went against the Party and the Left Front government in a gesture of menacing finality.
Enumerating the successes of the Party and the LF government, Buddhadeb went on to note the advances made in the areas of land reforms, Panchayats, local bodies, social sector, protection of minorities and backward people, and general social security. He lamented that over the final periods of the seventh LF front, the bureaucracy proved intransigent and non-cooperating, making all efforts to make the governmental functioning grind to a standstill.
In the light of eight months of malgovernance by the present Trinamul Congress-Congress alliance state government, class and mass struggle must be sharpened and widen. Party building was a contingent task. Bigger mass rallies are to be organised. Class-based movements must be highlighted. The masses must be organised in a bigger, better way under the Red Flag, concluded Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
The following resolutions were adopted at the conference.
1. In memory of martyrs
3. Sharpen the anti-imperialist struggle
4. Resist price rise and universalise the public distribution system
5. Keep alive the struggle against fundamentalism, terrorism, and communalism
6. Sharpen the struggle of the working people under attack from the wide implementation of neo-liberal policies
7. Put a stop to kisan suicides for the interest of agriculture and kisans’ interest
8. Enhance the struggle of the unorganised workers
9. Against unemployment, for employment
10. On the question of the development of the minorities
11. Sharpen the struggle against foreign investment in retail trade
12. For women’s rights and dignity
13. Sharpen the struggle to consolidate the successes of 34 years of the LF government
14. Build up struggle against authoritarian attacks
15. On literacy, mass health, and mass people’s science
16. Against anarchism, terror, and authoritarianism in education
17. In protest against the attacks of the present government on the Panchayat system
18. Keep alive the struggle against separatist activities in the state
19. Against aggression in the field of culture
20. Organise the urban and suburban poor, build up bustee organisation
21. The political stand of the Party and the Darjeeling issue
22. Resist global warming to conserve nature
23. Against the anti-Left and anti-Communist role of a section of the media
24. Make success of the 28 February general strike in India
25. Stand by the side of the martyrs’ families and help the attacked
26. Prevent river bank erosion and call for rehabilitation of the affected
27. On development of the people of the SC and ST
The following mass fronts placed their reports.
18. Bustee organisation
19. Free software
23. Marxbadi Path
25. National Book Agency
Responding to the discussion on the pol-org report, state secretary of the Bengal CPI (M), Biman Basu said that such wide-ranging discussions as witnessed by the 23rd conference was a sign of health in the organisation. Biman Basu started by pointing out that close to 90% of the Party members of the CPI (M) had not faced ever the present exigencies. Recruitment policy was no longer rigorous and comrades have started to lack political moorings.
The speaker recalling the contents of the 1968 document of the central committee called for a revamping of the Party organisation in Bengal. Party committees must be made more compact. Duplication of leadership must be prevented. Inner-Party demo racy and democratic centralism must be rigorously practiced.
Dwelling on the issue of the CPI (M) vis-à-vis state government, Biman Basu said that the Party had never become an appendage of the government. Every issue of the government was discussed in the Party. 70% of the meetings of the state secretariat were dedicated to discussing governmental issues.
In the new situation, the flow of struggles and movements must be strengthened and of needed reorganised. The Party must go to the basic classes, pick up issues, and launch vigorous movements. Dwelling on identity politics, the speaker said that the Party must work amongst the people to prevent such politics from destroying the unity of the basic classes.
Recruitment among the backward people and the minority groups must be further stepped up. Political education must be widened and the Party membership catered to with both Party classes and popular lectures. The task has to be taken up with renewed vigour. In the task, the attention to cultural front activities must not be lost sight of, in any circumstances.
The various mass fronts working in the bustees, health sectors, literacy, science etc must be coordinated and the functioning of mass fronts as such must be recalled all the while. In this connection, Biman Basu said that Party committees must look to the functioning of NGOs set up under Party guidance.
Elaborating the nature of attacks rained down on the Party and the mass fronts especially after the new right reactionary government was worn in, Biman Basu pointed out that the Party unity must be sharpened, rigorous inner Party struggle carried forward in the task of rectification, the Party strengthened and the attacks resisted taking the mass of the people along. Biman Basu concluded with a call for a widening of the mass base of the Party and for deepening of mass contact.
Following the carrying of the pol-org report, the conference elected a new state committee of 75 comrades with provision for electing eight more subsequently. Biman Basu was re-elected state secretary. The new control commission was formed. The editors of various Party organs were elected. Names of a 90-member state delegation to the 20th Party Congress was elected.
The credential committee reported noted that the state conference 510 delegates, 114 observers, and 15 honorary delegates present. Of the delegates 267 represented the middle class, and there were 34 from the working class, 79 poor peasants, 7 agricultural labourers, 81 middle peasants, 22 rich peasants, 10 landlord/jotdars, 2 small capitalists, and 8 business persons. Of the 510 delegates, 355 worked as whole timers. 184 worked in the TU front, 190 among peasants. 213 had been inducted from the youth front, 93 from the peasants, and 51 from the TUs.
Benoy Konar, central committee member, delivered the concluding address.
The Bengal Party identified the following tasks.
1. The resolutions and decision of the 23rd state conference and the 20th Party congress must be implemented.
2. Standards of Party members enhanced through education and re-education.
3. Continuous struggle must be launched against imperialism, religious fundamentalism, separatism, and divisive identity politics.
4. Progressive, socially conscious sections of the society must be taken along in the struggle against superstition, casteist politics, persecution of women, and backward and ideologically-sightless thinking.
5. Continuous mass struggle against policies of neo-liberalism
6. Struggle against bureaucratic interference in the rural self governing bodies, anarchy in education, and setting up of false and motivated cases against Party comrades
7. Correct recruitment, pro-mass functioning of Party committees, and mass collection
8. Rectification campaign must be further augmented. Inner Party democracy strengthened, flourishing within the frame of democratic centralism.
9. Democratic functioning and growth of mass fronts
10. Increase in the number of Party wholetimers.
The call of the state conference comprised the following:
• Build up a Party invigorated with ideology, and free from errors and inaction
• Severe relationship with the socially unwanted
• Increase the pro-active measure of the Party and the mass fronts
• Befriend the working people irrespective of political affiliation
• Develop class and mass struggle; widen mass base
• Improve Party functioning
Those of the detractors who would pontificate about the Bengal Party becoming alienated from the masses should have come to the open rally for the state conference. The venue was the vast stretch of green amidst the city called the brigade parade grounds.
We have been witness to such rallies from the late 1960s. We have seen huge gatherings at the call of the Red Flag. We have also seen a smallish corner of the grounds occupied by a rightist or left sectarian assemblage.
February 6 of the past year saw a mighty rally take place here. A bigger effort was held in the December of 1992. The present rally surpassed both. We would not float ideas about numbers, but suffice it to say that by the late night of 18th February, a full one-quarter of the grounds have been taken over by the comrades who had come from the suburbia and the mufussil, and had not found a covered shelter anywhere in the city, thanks to the administration.
By the time the sun arose, on a bright, clear morning, thousands of people fro all tiers of life and livelihood started to congregate on the maidan. Many attended the rally. Many could not come despite having braved out of their districts in the face of attacks and assaults, threats and intimidation. This was because they found the entry to the grounds far, far away, as they brought up the middle and the rear of the marchers. We were told that many could not leave the platforms of the two main Railway entry points into the metropolis, Sealdah and Howrah, as the front end of the processionists just managed to reach the rally before the ground had started to become brimful with masses of the people waving Red Flags. Prakash Karat, Biman Basu (who presided), Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Mohd Amin, and Dr Surjya Kanta Mishra addressed the rally. Party and Left Front leadership were present on the dais.