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Bengal reds make history

india Updated: Jun 24, 2006 22:09 IST
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The CPM, uninterrupted. The party on Wednesday celebrated its 30-year rule of West Bengal. From Marxism by the book to MNCs in every nook, from bandhs and boycotts to Brand Buddha, the deep red diluted to pink.

Quite symbolically, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was busy meeting RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani at the Writer's Building, giving final touches to a Rs 4,000-crore investment plan in the state.

Unlike 30 years ago, industrialists are queuing up — be it Tata with its Rs 1 lakh car or the Jindal Group proposing an investment of up to Rs 100 billion.

Party patriarch Jyoti Basu, who was chief minister for 25 years, gave credit to the "discerning and conscious" people of the state. "They have made history by returning us to power for the seventh time. Others in the country should follow the example set by us."

But not everyone in the CPM is happy jumping on to the Buddha brand wagon.

Some wonder if the government's recent indulgence in liberal-reformist policies was alienating it from its original support base — the poor. "Why didn't the poor accept us as their friends?" asked Left Front chairman and politburo member Biman Bose, after giving an analysis of the results of assembly polls.

The manner in which Biman raised his criticism on the day the Marxists claimed to have created history, raised eyebrows both within the CPM as well as in the Left Front. Senior leaders said privately that it was an expression of the growing differences within the ruling Left on the polices being pursued by the Bhattacharjee government.

"Development and struggle must go hand in hand because if we are to progress, we must fight," said Biman in a clear reference to the state government's efforts to tame trade unions and create confidence among potential investors. "We must create a new role model for the Marxists all over the world," he said.

The Left will hold another meeting in Kolkata on Thursday where the main speaker will be Industries Minister Nirupam Sen. Insiders said Sen would refute Biman's criticism.

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