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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 50, New Delhi, November 28, 2020

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, November 28, 2020

Saturday 28 November 2020

Letter to The Readers, Mainstream, November 28, 2020

November 26 which is the Constitution day was marked by a one day protest action by major workers organisations and trade union federations AITUC, HMS, CITU, INTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, among others, to oppose the Anti-Labour policies of the Modi 2.0 government.

Peasant organisations from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand and UP, which have since September 2020 agitated against the Farm Bills passed by the Central Government, launched a protest ‘Delhi-Chalo’ March to the Capital on November 26-27, under the banner of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, comprising seven farmers’ organisations. There was obstruction by police in Haryana to prevent the peasants march from entering the State by the protestors out manoeuvered the state police by breaking through three barriers; There has been heavy police deployment on the borders of Delhi to stop the march, which has used water cannon and teargassed the marchers and the standoff is continuing. Delhi Police’s request to turn nine stadiums in the city into makeshift "jails" to detain protesting farmers was turned down by the Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.

Traffic from the National Capital Region was suspended by the Delhi Metro. The police set up barricades wrapped in barbed wire and sand-laden trucks to block the farmers’ path, and even dug up roads to act as trenches. All signs of the new authoritarian ways of the government to scuttle protests now and in future.

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The 2020 Assembly elections are coming soon in West Bengal. These are important elections in a large State where the contest will be between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the national behemoth the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Top BJP leaders recently travelled through West Bengal and have blown the poll bugle. The party is seemingly putting in a big effort to make inroads into the State, while ruling TMC is doing all it can to withstand the BJP onslaught and is expected to sail through, but the contests are going to be close.

The reasons for the expected contests being very tight is because the Left-Congress party combine will cut the votes against the BJP. The Left vote has weakened greatly in the past years but it still does have a considerable imprint across Bengal. The Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury’s recent statements confirm the attitude of the Left Party in West Bengal which sees it as a two-pronged battle against BJP and the TMC.

Media reports say that some 480 CPI-M supporters have recently joined the BJP in the Midnapore district. In June 2020 Ex-CPI-M MP Jyotirmoyee Sikdar joined the BJP. On September 29, 2020, a three-time CPI-M MLA Angad Bauri joined the BJP. In 2019, Khagen Murmu, a Santhali leader who spent almost four decades with the CPI-M, quit to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A former CPI-M MLA Mafuja Khatun joined the BJP in 2017. The BJP has been poaching leaders of the Trinamool and of the left and been gaining ground in West Bengal. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls showed BJP’s success, where its vote share increased from 16.8 per cent in 2014 to 40.25 per cent. The once-formidable CPI-M has seen its vote share in West Bengal sink, it scored a duck in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. After these 2019 elections, the General Secretary of the CPI(M) had said that “The intense communal polarisation has squeezed the space of other democratic forces.” (see ’Ebar Ram, pore bam’ wave beat us, says Yechury). The Question is: why is his party not calling for a barrage in West Bengal against communal polarisation led by BJP? Will the CPI-M led Left Front in West Bengal pay heed to Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation’s call for a joint fight against Bharatiya Janata Party?. The Left Front should rethink its role in the coming elections, they have nothing more to lose other than their demons. Maybe that is asking for the moon. Can the Congress Party can be persuaded to rethink its strategy in Bengal?

Perhaps it is time for both the CPI-M and the Congress which have joined hands in the coming Bengal elections to have an electoral understanding with the TMC against the BJP.

Tributes:

Zia ul Haq, one of the oldest living members of the Communist Party of India, passed away at his home in Allahabad on November 22, 2020, he was 100 years old. He had collaborated with Mainstream weekly in the past. He was a prominent figure in the left circles of Allahabad. He will be widely remembered.

Tarun Gogoi the three-time former Assam Chief Minister and senior Congress leader passed away on November 23, 2020. He was 86.

Vishwa Mohan Badola passed away on November 24, 2020. The 84-year-old was a popular theatre, Radio and TV actor. He began his career as a journalist. He worked with the Patriot - the left of centre newspaper and at one time he was New Delhi Bureau Chief of the Deccan Herald.

Ahmed Patel, the very prominent leader of the Congress Party passed away on November 25, 2020, he had contracted Covid-19 recently.

Diego Maradona, the hugely popular football player from Argentina, died on November 25, 2020. Football fans around the world see his passing as a landmark moment.

We pay our tributes to the above figures

November 28, 2020 – The Editor

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