THE RECENTLY concluded CPI(M)’s West Bengal State Conference had several note worthy features. With all fan fare an atmosphere was created among the people as well as its members that the party in retrospect is going to change the policies and programmes it had adopted and implemented in the state as per the neo-liberal prescriptions of the central government under the leadership of Congress, the faithful agents of imperialists.
The revolutionary left like CPI(ML) had no such illusions. But some people had it, after the humiliating electoral defeats in the legislative assemblies in West Bengal and Kerala. All such illusions might have disappeared if anybody had gone through the text of the draft of the Political Organizational Report the state secretary placed before the delegates in the conference. Though the full text is not yet published, from the speeches of the leaders and comments that appeared in the party organs, the indications are very clear that the party has not done any retrospection and is not ready to roll back the policies and programmes on the so called development agenda.
The Polit Bureau member and the former chief minister Budhadeb Bhattacharjee continued to defend the so called development agenda in his hour long speech on the 3rd day of the State Conference. The full text of the speech is available in the party organ Ganashakthi of 18th February, under the head “Go to your own class”. The heading will definitely attract a common reader who is interested in the left politics. But if one goes through the entire text, she/he can find the total disarray and contradictions in his speech to confuse the reader. Actually he is on a mission to argue in favour of the neo-liberal policies. Hence he wants to make the common people and party workers feel that the party is in favour of waging class struggle and attain the revolutionary goal and at the same time he wants to make sure and send a message to the MNCs that he still favours the neo-liberal policies and programmes.
Ganashakthi reported that Budhadeb, in his speech has given the direction to the cadres and workers, what should be the duties of the cadres and workers in the changed scenario in the State, which clearly establishes the authenticity of the line to be adopted in future. Let us go to the text:
“67% of the State population is from the poor labourers. The poor people, farmers, slum dwellers of cities, organized and unorganized working force (Budha’s favorite middle class is missing) are the class base of the communist parties. In future, the task of the party workers would be to organize these sections of people under the red flag.” He also confessed: “What I have said about the strikes was not to be said. I had said this at that time and in front of you also I am saying the same”
“The negative side of the Singoor and Nandigram incidents went against us. But it does not mean that the initiative for industrialization was wrong.” See the irony: “Under the Jyoti Basu regime, in 1994 itself, we had adopted the same industrial policies. And the cardinal point was that the left front govt. will implement this policy by basically opposing the neo liberal policies. By using the favourable conditions that came in our way like withdrawing of licensee raj and freight equalization policies due to neo-liberal policies, we will accept that conditions and make use of it. Yes, it was our understanding that though we invite the domestic and foreign capital, we will give stress on medium and small scale sectors”. (The people could see the present state of affairs of small and medium industries in our state – more than lakh units are closed down).
He continued: “We will give more importance to agriculture, food processing and production oriented industries, like steel, automobiles, etc. etc.” He has also pointed out that: “Foreign investment had come even before adopting this industrial policy in the year 1994. As a result of which Haldia Petro Chemicals was established. Even foreign capital had come to our state from Japan and U.S.A. Hence reaching a conclusion that the decision of Industrialization is not correct will not be correct.” See how he is arguing in favour of the steps he had taken for the so called industrialization : “The Government had acquired thousands of acres of land before Singoor and Nandigram incidents and what to say even after this incident, six thousand acres were acquired. There was no any problem. Even in Singoor, majority of the land owners was in our favour. We could not save the small car factory as the Tatas abandoned the project even after completion of 80-85% work, under the excuse of opposition’s blockade.”
“And on the other side, after the first incident, in Nandigram, within a week, the govt. had notified that there would be no acquirement of the land. But making use of the situation, some people, opposition parties and Maoists started attacking the people, killing, blocking the roads. Police did not go for acquiring the land but the campaign was so and the entire episode went against the govt. The shooting of police on the people also went against us”
He is not repenting on the entire episode. He did not see any lapses in the policies but only structural faults: See what he says “We should have shown more patience, done more discussion before acquiring land”. We could not convince the people that acquiring of the land was for the interest of the entire society. The section for whose development we were establishing industries could not realize the fact that it is for them we have done all this.” Pointing out the review of the central committee, Budha said: “We should have taken into consideration the fact that due to the neo liberal policies, the natural resources like land, forest, mines etc. are going to the hands of the big corporates.
The contradictions in his speech clearly establishes that how he is direction -less or misleading: “The Left Front Govt. never followed the path of neo-liberal policies. We did not follow the path of states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and others. We followed the alternative path to the neo-liberal policies. We said land reforms will be done here. Even during the 7th left regime we had distributed lands among the poor agricultural labourers (indirectly he is agreeing the fact that even after 34 years of rule in the state, they could not complete the land reforms and distribute the surplus land among the poor). Is it neo liberal policies? Was our Panchayat system, and giving more importance to decentralization were neo liberal policies? Giving importance to the social sectors, education, health, social security projects to poor labourers are definitely following the alternative path to neo liberal policies. We have tried our level best to serve the interests of tribals, scheduled castes, minority etc. These were the alternative path of leftists. Is inviting the big corporate houses to establish industry in our state is only neo liberal policy. Others things are nothing? We were discussing about industrialization in every conferences since 1991. Even in the last conference we had adopted resolution on industrialization.”
Budha continued: “We never said that development won’t be the alternative/substitute to class struggle. But to develop class struggle we should take up the developmental projects. It was clearly mentioned in our Party Programme itself that while running the government we should not sit idle but should do something. We should do work on Education, health, industry, etc. The goal of these developmental works is to expand the arena of the class struggle.”
From the above speech one could understand how Budha tries to legitimize his government’s action citing examples from their Party Programme itself. He also wanted to remind the central leadership and his critics inside the party and ordinary cadres that he has not done anything new but just implementing the Party Programme. It clearly establishes the bankruptcy of the Party Programme. In reality the root cause of the problem is the Party Programme itself which helps to promote the neo-liberal policies. The stand taken by the party long back, i.e., in the 90s itself is responsible for today’s events. (It is to be noted it was in 1991 the Congress government under the finance ministership of the world bank- returned Manmohan Singh had started full-fledged implementation of the neo liberal policies). In line with the Central Government, the Left Front Govt also followed suit.
In his speech, he talked about the rectification of mistakes committed by the party. But nowhere in the draft document or in the speeches of the leaders it was explained what mistakes they have committed. They are still not admitting that the industrialization policies and land acquiring were wrong. Budha, in his speeches and CPI(M) in its documents, never identified the mistakes as ideological. Instead they are only talking about some sort of organizational and administrative wrong steps and about the organizational inability to convince the people about their “pro-people” work! The party bosses are asking the cadres to seek apology from the people for the mistakes they have committed. But the cadres are in dark about the mistakes they have committed for what they should apologize to the people. See the bankruptcy of the Party.
Though discussing about the CPI(M) is a futile exercise, a big chunk of the working people are still with it, expecting something from the party. We have to explain the real character of their party leadership and their policies. The CPI(M) has not learnt any lesson from the history; it refuses to learn any and will never learn any in future also as it has degenerated to outright social democratic positions.