Brushing aside the criticism heaped on the Left Front-ruled West Bengal on the SEZ issue, CPIM general secretary Prakash Karat has said that industrialisation was the need of the hour for the state because of discriminating policies followed against it by earlier Governments at the Centre. The same discriminating policies had led to a lack of capital investment in the state, he added.
Karat said that the land-use policy followed by the West Bengal Government would provide a "scientific" basis for converting agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.
On the criticism by some Left-leaning intellectuals, Karat said that his party "rejects the platform of the anti-industrywallahs," and added that the working class in West Bengal had suffered as a result of de-industrialisation and the state government was striving to transform it into a manufacturing base.
"The people of West Bengal are the best judge of genuine defenders of the cause of the peasantry," Karat said in an article in the forthcoming issue of People's Democracy, the party's mouthpiece.
The CPIM general secretary, however, added while Left-led governments would promote private investment, they would defend the public sector in key areas. Wherever possible they would also expand public expenditure in social sector and project alternative policies to protect the poorer sections.
"While doing so, the state governments headed by the party will strive to implement the directives of the 18th Party Congress which was pro-people and which balanced development," he said.
Opposing the existing provisions of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act and Rules, Karat said that the Left while fighting for a change in existing laws, would ensure that even the existing provisions are used to create SEZs to promote industry and not "real estate speculation".
Karat also lashed out at activists like Medha Patkar who had joined the ranks of Trinamool Congress, BJP and Congress. He said that such individuals did not hesitate to make "outrageous comparison" between land acquisitions in Singur and US occupation in Iraq, reflecting their "poverty of understanding of US imperialism".
He added that the CPIM would "continue to refute the modern-day Narodniks who claim to champion the cause of the peasantry." Karat explained that the Narodniks in late 19th century Russia believed that the overthrow of Czarism could transform the village communal system directly to socialism as industrialisation was regressive, He added that this understanding had led them lose the sympathy of the peasants too as they indulged in individual terrorist actions.
Karat said that Naxalite groups in West Bengal, as elsewhere, had no alternative to place before the people other than a programme of violence and disruption.