THE West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee has started facing the music from his own party-men. Before the election was won, Buddha made up his mind whom to keep in the ministry and whom to shunt out. There are certain ministers whose incompetence is already established and certain others whose corruption & relationship with mafias is also well-known. In the last ministry there number of ministers who had arrest warrants on murder charges. These warrants were there when Jyoti Basu was Chief Minister. Since then till the last month of the last Left Front government these ministers were termed as absconders although they were regularly coming to the Writers? Buildings (State Secretariat). When the notification for the 13th Vidhan Sabha was given Buddha as Chief Minister asked his colleagues to surrender. Anyway Buddha had a mind to drop these ministers, if not all, a considerable number of them, but he was not successful. To turn down all the names produced by the CM for their inclusion in the new ministry, the CPI (M) leaders had to sit in at least four formal meetings which in itself is a history. This is an extremely sorry state of affairs for a party which boasts of its strict discipline. Jyoti Basu has again appeared in the scene as a back-seat driver.
When the election was won by the Left Front the media termed this victory as the victory of Brand Buddha image. There were certain things which Buddha mentioned during his election campaign attracted people very much. One such propaganda was as follows: ?I am not practicing socialism. I am practicing capitalism,? chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee said on 12 April with barely five days to go for the state polls. Ten years ago this would have been heresy. No longer. With the opposition in disarray and even China dumping socialism in all but name, the Left in Bengal can afford now to call a spade a spade. ?I can'tpractice socialism even if I want to. I am just trying to make sure workers get more relief,? Bhattacharjee said. Speaking at the Press Club in Kolkata, reform'slatest icon explained why he had had to rethink his commitment to dogma. ?Earlier we were in the opposition and did, what we did. Now we need investment. We can'tignore the capitalist. We can'tafford agitations that will close down factories. So I insist on a harmonious relationship between workers and management,? he explained. CPI (M) state secretary Biman Basu did not express his unhappiness over this type of utterances by the Chief Minister let alone a statement in form the of a rejoinder. Now when election was won, Biman started shouting, ?Who is Buddha? And what is the meaning of BRAND BUDDHA? In our party, we do not believe in such things. It is the party whose decision is final. Buddha received rebuff from the people as well. Salim Industrial group of Indonesia wanted to set up one factory in West Bengal. State government identified one multi-crop land in Bhangar (South 24 Parganas district) to be handed over to them. People, specially the poor peasants of the area resisted this proposal for obvious reasons. Government was insisting on getting the land. After the election, it was found that the CPI (M) candidate was badly defeated in Bhangar constituency. Buddha had to swallow this bitter pill.
Biman started shouting, ?Who is Buddha? And what is the meaning of Brand Buddha? In our party, we do not believe in such things. It is the party whose decision is final. Buddha received rebuff from the people as well. Salim Industrial group of Indonesia wanted to set up one factory in West Bengal.
Buddha got another rebuff from his party bosses when his officers went to Singur (District Hooghly) to show a piece of land consisting of 1000 acres to Tata-officers for setting up a factory to produce small cars. They all were gheraoed by the villagers for the simple reason that this multi-crop land will cost the people heavily. Among this 1000 acres, only 125 acres are one-crop-land and rest is multi-crop land. When the agriculture minister Naren De was confronted with the media persons he said that nobody, not the Chief Minister nor any officer of his office informed him about this. In the same way land & land revenue minister Rezzak Molla also pleaded his ignorance. Even the CPM-front organisation Krishak Sabha, who generally deal with this kind of things, did not know anything about this. How this could happen? Was there any kind of sabotage against Buddha from the party itself? The very next day, Jyoti Basu thundered – ?I asked Buddha why proper preparation had not been made to avoid this incident.? Now government is trying its best to make a patch-up arrangement with the peasants. But fact remains that apart from the crucial question of food security, houses situated in 400 bighas of land will have to be demolished and no proposal for proper rehabilitation of these families have been forwarded.
Next is the question of modernising the Kolkata airport (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport). Central government has already proposed to modernise Kolkata and Chennai airports through private company. Chief Minister Bhattacharjee has already agreed to this. State Industry & Commerce Minister Nirupam Sen said, ?If pre-requisite for modernisation is privatisation, we have to accept it, because we want modernisation. But the CPI (M) national secretary Prakash Karat has said in polit bureau meeting that they would not allow any private company to do this job. In that meeting Jyoti Basu also expressed same opinion which obviously put Buddha in a fix.
There is no doubt that the clean image of Buddhadev Bhattacharjee did make the difference in the last election. Personally, Jyoti Basu is not at all ready to accept this position and the other old guards of the party are also supporting Basu. In absence of the coordinating role of late Anil Biswas , former state secretary of the party, it would very difficult for them to mend ways. Let'ssee what happen.
(The writer can be contacted at 13/B, S.N. Chatterjee Road, Kolkata-700 038.)