Issue Date: Friday , April 4 , 2008 (Kolkata, Telegraph)
Power & protest fault line
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Coimbatore on Wednesday. (PTI)
Coimbatore, April 3: The CPM’s concessions to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s policies often caused tension at the party congress, provoking attacks on his government by delegates from other states.
As some of the delegates spoke of “revisionism” and questioned the handling of Nandigram, central leaders told them they should be defending rather than criticising “our governments”.
Most delegates approved the “spirit” of the policy guidelines for Left-ruled Bengal, Kerala and Tripura that set down industrialisation as a necessary goal, particularly in Bengal. But some demanded stricter policies, especially on land acquisition for industry and special economic zones (SEZs).
The 40 delegates from Andhra Pradesh were the most vocal, and were backed up by the 16-member Maharashtra team and the 49 comrades from Tamil Nadu, insiders said.
“This would be a revisionist line if we have separate policies for states where we are in power and those where we are not. If we are to oppose land-grabs for SEZs, and those by realtors, we should do it everywhere,” an Andhra leader said. One delegate asked: “How can a Left government fire on farmers even if (their resistance) is Opposition-instigated?”
Another Andhra leader said: “We, too, faced the allegation of instigation when police killed our supporters in Khammam.”
This was after Bengal higher education minister Sudarshan Ray Chaudhuri had called Nandigram a US “conspiracy” and Howrah party secretary Sridip Bhattacharjee termed it an Opposition “plot”.
Politburo member M.K. Pandhe was moved enough to say: “Party leaders from other states must appreciate the difficulties of the party and governments in Left-ruled states. The difference in priorities in (different) states will be resolved through discussion and practice, but party workers across the country should defend our governments and highlight their achievements.”
General secretary Prakash Karat tried win the sceptics over this morning as he replied to the discussion on the policy framework.
“We are not running socialist governments…. After staying in power for 30 years in Bengal, we can’t tell the people, ‘We can’t deliver or fulfil your expectations because of our limited power’. So our policies should address the new challenges,” a delegate quoted him as saying.
Karat made it clear the party couldn’t grow in other states without defending the Left-ruled states, but urged the three CPM-led governments to ensure their policies did not work at cross-purposes with the party’s plan for growth in other states.
Bengal industries minister Nirupam Sen, who was promoted to the politburo today, admitted that the two priorities were yet to be in sync.
“We have held important discussions on how to run governments within the confines of a federal structure in some states without harming the interest of the party and people’s movements in other states,” he said.