The crucial two-day politburo meeting of the CPI(M) beginning in Delhi from February 17 will discuss the widening differences with its Left Front partners – particularly the RSP, CPI and the Forward Bloc – on the question of acquisition of farmland for industries and Special Economic Zones.
The three Left Front constituents, now working in a coordinated manner, have told the CPI(M) that they were opposed to the Bengal government’s drive to acquire agricultural land for setting up industries and building infrastructure.
The RSP has gone even a step forward and has told the CPI(M) that it was against the very concept of SEZs as a vehicle of growth. Instead of amending the SEZ Act, the very concept of SEZs should be discarded “lock, stock and barrel’ the RSP has told the CPI(M).
The CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc have also told the CPI(M) that they will not support the Bengal government’s attempts to relax land ceiling in the state. The Forward Bloc has even threatened to vote against any Bill that the government might bring in the state assembly to relax land-ceiling laws.
Giving an indication of the developments ahead, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat had rushed to Kolkata last week to restrain Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is aggressively pursuing the policy of land acquisition. During the state secretariat meeting of the party, Karat had asked Buddhadeb to go slow on his land acquisition drive till the issue was discussed threadbare in the politburo.
The simmering differences between the CPI(M) on the one hand and the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc on the other came to a head particularly after violence erupted first in Singur and then in Nandigram, Haldia and Khejuri.
The three Left Front constituents had also opposed repeated imposition of section 144 in Singur to prevent Opposition parties from disrupting the construction works of the Tata Motors’ small car project. Their stand was vindicated on Monday when the Calcutta High Court described imposition of prohibitory orders as “abuse of power.”
During the state secretariat meeting of the CPI(M) on Friday, the chief minister explained in detail why it had become necessary to impose section 144 in Singur and said that had it not been done, Opposition activists would have permanently stalled the Tata Motors project. The state secretariat accepted his logic.
CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu, who attended the meeting despite ill health, later said, “The government thinks what it has done is right and if required it will be done again. The party supports the government.”
Basu also supported the government’s acquisition of farmland. “Agriculture is important but industry has also to be set up. We recognize there is some misunderstanding (among the people) and that is why we have taken upon ourselves the task of explaining this to the people,” Basu said. EOM