After the setback in the panchayat elections, Left leaders in West Bengal admit the front’s industrialisation policy needs fine-tuning and has to be explained to the people, for it to be politically sustainable.
The assessment is that, rather than win it supporters, the Left Front’s attempts to attract investment and industrialise the state has antagonised many. The CPI(M) also admits that the conduct of panchayat-level leaders needs to be corrected. “There is no place for pride and complacency. Our mistakes have to be corrected,” said CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose.
Leaders admit the Left, especially the CPI(M), got carried away by the industrial policy and failed to understand the psyche of Bengal. “We followed the archaic Industrial Acquisition Policy of 1894. We embarked on land acquisition without a Land Use Map and failed to offer an acceptable Rehabilitation Policy. So is it surprising that our own policy has boomeranged on us?” said RSP central committee member Manoj Bhattacharya.
Some CPI(M) leaders say the shift in the last four years from small and medium enterprises to big industries, and indiscriminate land acquisition without tangible results confused the people. “We have failed to convince the people about what we were doing and how it would benefit them. We also failed to understand them,” said CPI(M) central committee member Surjya Kanta Mishra.
Infighting among the Front allies also sent out the wrong signals to voters. “Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s repeated public statements using ‘we’ and ‘they’, and his paying no attention to our views on Singur and Nandigram antagonised voters,” said Bhattacharya. “It is a challenge now and we have to put in more effort to win back the support of the people who have misunderstood us,” said Bose. Another leader said the Front would undertake an “apologetic campaign”.