Agriculture, Land reforms and panchayat system kept the Left front in power for 30 years in West Bengal. But to continue, the Left Front will have to focus on heavy industries, knowledge-based industries and infrastructure.
Left Front leaders outlined this vision for their cadres in identical words at functions, both Delhi and Kolkata, to mark 30 years of teh parties’ rule in West Bengal.
At the Netaji Indoor stadium in Kolkata, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told the crowd that the “younger generation wants heavy industries and better living conditions. If we fail to deliver, they will not spare us,” Buddha said.
He criticised the Opposition for portraying the need for industries as an issue for fight between them and the government.
“This is ridiculous. There is no turning back from industries for us,” Buddha said. Former chief minister Jyoti Basu, who led the government in the state for 23 years, said people had created history by voting the Left Front government for the seven consecutive terms. “Left Front is not just a machine for winning elections but a continuous movement of the people,” explained Basu.
Turning to industries, Basu said the Opposition was behaving “irresponsibly” by trying to stop the coming of industries here.
Basu recalled that a similar opposition was witnessed during the construction of the Haldia Petrochemical Limited here. But today people are getting the benefits. In Delhi, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat admitted there was no other way for industrial development then to invite and ensure capitalist investment from companies like the Tata Group.
“Post-land reform, we have to adopt industrialisation. It would not be at the cost of agriculture but we have to compromise. Industrialisation cannot be achieved without the help of capitalists like the Tatas,’’ Karat said.
Incidentally, the Tata Group’s efforts to acquire land through the West Bengal government for its automobile plant had triggered trouble in Singur last year. There was more trouble in Nandigram when the government got land for a Dubai-based company to set up a chemical hub.
Karat said private capital was needed because neither the Centre nor the state government had enough resources to trigger industrial growth. “But (even if the investment is private) we would ensure labour rights are protected and trade unions allowed to function. In this way, along with industrial development, the workers’ struggle would continue,’’ he promised.
General secretary of CPI, AB Bardhan, also pitched for industrialisation, saying just agriculture will not help Bengal. “Industrial development is necessary. But the tactics and the ways to do it should be worked out,’’ he said.