People, in unending protest lines, in lakhs, came in from all over the state; women, the elderly, children, youth, students, teachers, intellectuals, farmers & workers. The spirit was revolutionary, the ambient sound, mythical. A roar a minute, from every common man, registering his protest against the misrule of the 30 month Trinamool government! The thunder of the collective roar would have surely reached the CM’s ears when CPI (M) General Secretary, Prakash Karat said that the only alternative for a people’s government at the center was the Left led coalition. The collective roar seemed to better itself when former Chief Minister & CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya thundered that while Mamata Banerjee is able to avoid answering to the Bengal Assembly, she will have to answer to the people.
The entire Left Front with its state & national leaders were in full attendance on the stage & speaker after speaker was greeted with thunderous applause from the assembled multitude. The martyrs were remembered, saluted! The galaxy of speakers were led by Prakash Karat, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Biman Bose, Surjyakanta Mishra of the CPI (M), Ashok Ghosh & Hafiz Alam Sairani of the Forward Bloc, Kshiti Goswami of the RSP, Manjukumar Majumdar of the CPI, Ratan Mazumdar of DSP, Janmejaya Ojha of the SP, Mihir Bain of the RCPI, Pratim Chatterjee of the MFB, Umesh Choudhury of BBC, Shivnath Sinha of the Workers party, Samar Bardhan of the Bolshevik party. Every speaker castigated the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool government for its attack on democracy, its encouragement of unprecedented atrocities on women, its inaction on the growing inflation & the growing totalitarian nature of its government. Forward Bloc & RSP leadership flays both their errant MLAs & the conduct of the Trinamool party in the unprecedented horse trading in the just concluded Rajya Sabha polls.
Left Front Chairman & CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, Biman Bose reminded the audience of the promises made by the TMC before the 2009 LS polls & 2011 Assembly polls. The promises of employment, industry, schemes for farmers, universities, even airports across the state, et al remained empty. He reminded the audience that while her promise before the polls was to do away with contractual employment, she had only created a handful of contractual jobs which pay less than the minimum wage. All that the CM was interested in was hosting ‘festivals’ at the cost of keeping crores of stomachs hungry. The government & the ruling party were encouraging the growth of anarchy & divisive forces. It was trying to break the unity of the poor & toiling masses, every dissenting voice muffled. He urged the people of Bengal to recognise the true face of this ‘dishonest’ political force, which has taken 145 lives of left workers & leaders so far. She had allowed her ‘naughty’ boys to attack women with gay abandon, with the most heinous cases of rape & murder becoming common place. It was a shame for all Bengalis that the most modern, cultured & safe society of Bengal leads the country today, in atrocities against women.
Prakash Karat termed the rally a historic one, both in terms of sheer numbers & for overcoming the Trinamool terror. He blasted the UPA-2 government which came to power in 2009 with Mamata Banerjee’s help as one which has only multiplied the woes of the common man; rampaging inflation, growing unemployment, massive corruption. The BJP, which was trying to position itself as an alternative, had the same economic policies. Modi’s Gujarat model, he said, is but a euphemism for large scale ‘loot’ by big corporations, Indian & MNC. He stands for ensuring supernormal profits for these companies & will complete the full measure of neo-liberal economic policy. That apart, Karat reminded the people of BJP’s divisive agenda & Modi’s role in the 2002 genocide. The party is therefore working towards creating a non-Cong & non-BJP alternative that will govern the country on an ‘alternative policy’ trajectory. He informed the people of Bengal of the initiative taken by the CPI (M) & the left parties to bring together all secular & democratic parties to fight the scourge of communalism; a 14 party convention was successfully held in Delhi. He announced that all parties will meet soon & announce the ‘Third Alternative’ before the Lok Sabha elections.
The Leader of the Opposition & CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, Surjyakanta Mishra electrified the audience with his appeal to the CM to use her ‘eyes & ears’ to listen to the protests of the people of Bengal. He castigated her for the complete lack of democracy in her party, her voice being the only one, as was evident in the TMC rally on the 30th of Dec. As he delivered the Charge sheet, one after the other, the massive crowd roared its approval. He dubbed the government, 1) Totalitarian, 2) Anti-people, 3) Anti-development & 4) Corrupt. He exposed the massive growth of per capita debt of Bengal after this party came to power. 55,000 crs had been added in just 30 months, more than 1/4th of the total debt the state had after almost 60 yrs of rule since independence. Bengal had gone from being the 13th in per capita debt to being the no.1 in the country. He charged that the CM had bankrupted the state by her ad hoc expenses, most of it in festivals across the state, throughout the year. The new administrative calendar was more of a festival itinerary, having planned 60 in the coming year, one a week. He thundered that the people will no longer allow her to loot the votes like she had done during the Panchayat & Municipal polls, they will fight back. Mishra ended his speech with a reference to a legendary piece of dialogue from Satyajit Ray’s iconic ‘Hirak Rajar Deshe’. Replacing the Raja with a ‘Rani’, he asked the people to do what the revolutionary school teacher had asked the people fighting the evil tyrant, ‘Dori dhore maaro taan, Raja hobe khaan khaan’, i.e., ‘ Give the rope a strong tug, the King will bite the dust’!
Former CM & CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, ended the meeting with a brief detailing of the policy alternative; industry & jobs, arresting the fuel price hike & inflation, Land to the rural poor, no selling of banks, insurance companies or natural resources. Every policy commitment was seconded by the people by a thundering roar. When he thanked the audience & the people of Bengal for ensuring a record turnout, the applause lasted minutes. He said that the Mamata government was insulting the youth of the state, not only increasing unemployment by closing down industry, but being dishonest in advertising creation of new jobs, a trickle actually; like the contractual policemen, which paid less than minimum wage or exhorting them to work for fraudulent companies such as Sharada, etc. He accused her of playing with the lives of the Bengali people. He said all work, be it industry or agricultural had come to a standstill. He termed the government as shameless; to be wasting people’s money for promoting her own face in government sponsored advertisements at an unprecedented scale, every possible media vehicle, every day. He blasted the CM again for having a tacit understanding with the communal BJP & exposed Modi’s governance claims. He reminded the people that Gujarat, unlike Bengal had no Land Reforms, no people’s representation at the grass-roots. It was backward in both primary & secondary education. He said that the people of Bengal know that it will repent the ‘Two Laddoos of Modi-Mamata coalition’ that BJP PM hopeful offered, i.e. ‘Modi at the Center & Mamata at the state. The people of Bengal, he said , knew that the left front stood for all round development of the working masses & will vote for a non-Cong, Non-BJP ‘Third Alternative’ at the center.
Earlier, in the day, one saw scores of people march towards the Brigade grounds from all corners of the city. A common slogan was that the ‘Mamata Government was no longer required in the state’. Echoing the sentiment, Biman Bose ended his speech urging the people of Bengal to turn out a win for the Left Front in each of the 42 seats in the coming Lok Sabha elections. That would be a record. But then, this political season has been one of breaking records, the turnout at this Brigade Rally of the Left Front surpassing all previous benchmarks & expectations!
As Buddhadeb Bhattacharya said, ‘the voices of the toiling masses of Bengal cannot be stopped; the Red Flag can never be forced to surrender’!