BENGAL POLITICS: Poll rout blame on govt – but naturally ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Calcutta, June 9: At the first meeting since the Left Front’s latest poll debacle, the CPM’s partners today criticised the government for not finalising the below poverty line list, not streamlining the ration system and not speeding up the distribution of Scheduled Caste/Tribe certificates.
They alleged that these factors had taken the poor away from the Left and contributed to the miserable poll results.
Faced with flak, sources said, front chairman Biman Bose pleaded with the partners to stall the discussion till the CPM had analysed the results at its state committee meeting on June 26. “The CPM wants to discuss the results first. The issue cane be taken up at our next meeting, after the CPM has finished its discussions,” Bose was quoted as saying.
Today’s meeting did not have a spelt-out agenda but it was widely believed that the results would be taken up, exactly a week after the Left’s civic poll drubbing.
But sources said the CPM might not have expected the government to become the target.
A front leader said the RSP was the first to blame the government. “They said the incomplete BPL list was creating problems. Similarly, work to identify the bottom 10 per cent of the above-poverty-line list is pending.
“Some front constituents also pointed out that the public distribution system was not working properly and the SC/ST certificates were not being distributed. They blamed the government for its administrative lapses and cited that as the reason for the Left’s poor showing in the municipal elections,” the front leader said.
Yesterday, Samajwadi Party leader and state fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda had said the front had lost the mandate: “The Front should prepare to sit in the Opposition. We have lost the confidence of the people who are now giving oxygen to the Opposition…. The workers and the peasantry have deserted us.”
A few days ago, Forward Bloc secretary Ashok Ghosh had said the Election Commission could hold early Assembly polls, given the political clashes that have been occurring “across the state” since the municipal polls.
Bose today requested the partners not to discuss their grievances or misgivings in public “as the media try to extract mileage from it”.
He told them to raise the issues at front meetings, the “appropriate place” to do so.
After the meeting, Bose told journalists: “We have asked the front partners to analyse the civic poll results and submit reports. We will then discuss the civic elections, at a front meeting next month. If necessary, an emergency meeting of the front can be convened in June itself.”
When his government was being slammed, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was at Alimuddin Street but not at the meeting. A CPM leader said the agenda did not warrant his presence.
After Bose promised the allies another date to discuss the civic polls, they deliberated on the strategy to be adopted on the civil nuclear liability bill and the Bhopal verdict.
The front chairman said he did not ask for an explanation from the Bloc leader or the fisheries minister for their remarks. “I will think about that later,” he said. The meeting also did not discuss the possibility of early Assembly polls, he added.
Sources said some of the partners expressed apprehensions about the Left’s Assembly poll performance. “Ghosh said it would serve the front better to prepare for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to make a comeback,” a source said.
The CPM today named its bypoll candidate for Durgapur I Assembly bypoll.
Archana Bhattacharya, 69, who has been associated with the party’s women’s wing since 1970 will be the Left Front candidate from a seat that fell vacant with the death of power minister Mrinal Banerjee in February.
Maa, mati and Marxist manush – again Bengal’s parochialism from both sides ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Calcutta, June 9: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Mamata Banerjee won’t find a better flag-bearer than Biman Bose.
The Bengal CPM chief today chanted “maa, mati manush”, Mamata’s mantra that has gained currency with successive poll victories over the Left.
Bose did not grimace but the seemingly innocuous reference could go down as the “humble-pie moment” of the Left. Especially since chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had derisively referred to the slogan as “Oh! It’s a jatra!”
But Bose today sang the triple-M theme song without batting an eyelid while addressing the media at the CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street.
“They should do so in the interest of maa, mati, manush,” Bose said, appealing to non-Left MPs to oppose the UPA government’s civil nuclear liability bill in the wake of the Bhopal gas tragedy verdict. The Left is against the bill as it seeks to limit the liability of a nuclear plant operator in the event of an accident.
When chief minister Bhattacharjee, whose cultural credentials cannot be called to question, took the jatra swipe, he was drawing a parallel with a rash of shows that mushroomed after the Nandigram movement. Some of the jatras sported titles like Maa Matir Lorai and Langal Chalai Maatir Maa.
Before the 3M slogan came to be associated with Mamata, it did have its roots in a jatra. In 1975, when Mamata was 20 and Bhattacharjee was being groomed for bigger things in life, a jatra called Ma-Mati-Manush, scripted by Bhairab Gangopadhyay, was topping the charts in Bengal.
If the coinage has struck a chord among Bengal’s electorate, it appears to be haunting the chief minister.
During the run-up to the civic elections, Bhattacharjee had said: “Every day, some new train is being inaugurated like duronto, uronto, jhulonto, dubonto (fast, flying, hanging, sinking). What is happening? Is this maa, mati, manush?’’
But Bose seems to have found the slogan quite agreeable, unable to resist another reference.
“Our duty is to look after the interests of our country’s people, our country’s land and our mothers and sisters. If our country’s mati and its people are made targets of attack by foreign countries, particularly imperialist forces, we should not sit back and watch that happen. Our job will be to protect them,” the CPM state secretary said.
Asked whether he had found virtue in Mamata’s election slogan, the Left Front chairman said that it wasn’t a question of “using it’’ but standing up for mothers and sisters .
“It’s not an issue of using someone’s slogan. Our party also wants to protect our country’s land and its people. If foreign corporations spread disease in our country, it will lead to the birth of deformed children. In that event, our mothers and sisters will suffer,” Bose added.