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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Karmapa arrives Kalimpong...First electoral mandate for Morcha and more.. Ultimatum to Mount Hermon School authority ... Parishad, a spoiler in Dooars...

KalimNews: The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje arrived at Kalimpong on 13th May from Bagdogra airport mainly to attend the three day long Buddha Purnima Festival to be observed here at Diwakar Buddhist Institute from the 15th May. 
Karmapa was warmly welcomed by his followers thronged from different states of India and also from neighbouring countries. A large number of Indian and foreign devotees of Buddhism are expected to gather at the centre during this period when Karmapa is scheduled to preach and teach his disciples. According to available information the organising committee has also planned to hold a mass rally of the Buddhist followers on 17th May at the town which would be a kind of its own in terms of its significance.
First electoral mandate for Morcha and more

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, May 13: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today not only proved that it is the sole force that enjoys the hill mandate but also established that its electoral influence extends even to the foothills of north Bengal.
Even though the hills account for only three of the 294 Assembly seats, the elections this time had evoked special interest as it was for the first time since 2006 that the mandates for the hill parties were tested.
In the last elections in the hills — the 2009 Lok Sabha polls — the Morcha-backed BJP candidate Jaswant Singh won by over 2 lakh votes. But that election did not reflect the strength of any hill party directly, thereby raising questions on the state’s and the Centre’s decision to keep the other hill outfits out of the talks for Gorkhaland.
During the 2009 polls, the GNLF had decided not to contest the elections while the ABGL had left it to the “conscience” of the people to cast their votes. The CPRM, despite being opposed to the Morcha, had extended support to Jaswant’s candidature.
The results of the Assembly polls have also proved that despite GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh’s return to the hills after almost three years and the strong resentment seen after the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang, the Morcha still enjoys an overwhelming support.
The deposits of all other candidates in the three hill seats were forfeited as the three Morcha candidates won by margins largest ever in the Assembly election results of the hills. (See chart)
The highest margin even during the GNLF heyday had been 40,000 votes. Deposits of candidates are forfeited if they poll less than 1/6th of the total votes cast.
This time, Trilok Dewan, the Morcha candidate from Darjeeling, led GNLF’s Bhim Subba by 1,0,655 votes. Dewan has polled 1,20,532 votes against the GNLF’s 13,977.
In Kalimpong, Harka Bahadur Chhetri of the Morcha polled 1,09,102 while his nearest rival, Prakash Dahal of the GNLF, could manage 7,427 votes.
The situation was slightly better for the GNLF in Kurseong, with Pemu Chhetri polling 21,201 votes but even this could not save her from forfeiting her deposit of Rs 10,000. Rohit Sharma of the Morcha polled 1, 14,297.
Basking in a thumping mandate, Morcha president Bimal Gurung today said: “This is a victory of the people and a mandate for Gorkhaland. The election was just an obstacle for us during our agitation and we decided to face it and the results have been extremely good. We will now go to talks with the new government and depending on their response, we will shape our agitation.”
The Morcha will be organising its victory celebration on May 19 in Darjeeling.
The ABGL, a strong anti-Morcha outfit, turned out to be the biggest loser in the election, with its Darjeeling candidate and party president Bharati Tamang polling 11,198 votes to occupy the third spot.
The ABGL was pushed to the fourth spot in Kurseong by a relatively unknown Bhupendra Lepcha, who contested as an Independent.
In Kalimpong, the ABGL candidate was pushed to the last spot: Tribhuwan Rai could manage to poll only 1852 votes and trailed even behind Bickram Chhetri of the CPI who got 3,105 votes. Bharati Tamang did not even come to the counting centre at the North Point School grounds in Darjeeling.
In the plains, the victory of Wilson Chompromary and the results of the Siliguri, Matigara-Naxalbari and Phansidewa, have shown that the Morcha can be a factor even in the foothills.

“Our candidate in Kalchini has won and this is a blow to those people who told us that we have no support in the Dooars. Our votes were the deciding factors in Siliguri, Phansidewa and Matigara-Naxalbari seats,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.
The Morcha has an estimated support base of around 8,000-10,000 votes in the Siliguri Assembly segment, where the winning margin was 5006. In Phansidewa too, where Sunil Tirkey of the Congress has won, the Gorkha population is around 10,000. The winning margin in this seat was 2,237.
The highest Gorkha population in the plains — around 20,000 — is in the Matigara-Naxalbari segment, where the Congress’s Shankar Malakar has won by 6,833 votes.
Morcha chief Gurung said that while the hill results were expected, the most satisfying aspect of the election was Asok Bhattacharya losing fromSiliguri.
“I am very happy that we could play a part in Asok Bhattarcharya’s loss. He was the main person who opposed us and our demand,” said Gurung.
Bhattacharya lost by 5,006 to Trinamul’s Rudranath Bhattacharya, to whom the Morcha had extended support.
Parishad, a spoiler in Dooars
AVIJIT SINHA, Siliguri, May 13: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad has failed to make any significant impact on the results of five seats where it had contested and instead emerged a spoiler for the anti-Left alliance by helping the Left retain three constituencies in the Dooars.
The state leaders of the Parishad, who were confident of doing well in the polls, have blamed the grassroots leadership for the poor show. The tribal outfit’s popularity was based on its tooth-and-nail opposition to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s demand that the Terai and the Dooars be included in its proposed Gorkhaland. Over the past two years, the Parishad had also made serious inroads into the tea gardens with workers moving away from Citu and Intuc to join their newly formed Progressive Tea Workers Union.
“Our intention was noble and our demands were rational, but it was the failure of the regional leadership who could not convince our supporters the importance of our agenda,” said Tez Kumar Toppo, the state general secretary of the Parishad.
But the anti-Left alliance has blamed the Parishad for severing ties with the Congress even after a round of talks with Pranab Mukherjee before the polls.
“Had they sided with us our alliance candidates would have won in Kumargram, Birpara-Madarihat and Malbazar. Even the Morcha-backed Independent candidate in Kalchini would have lost,” said Prabhat Mukherjee, a leader of Congress trade union, Intuc. The only seat won by the anti-Left despite Parishad presence is Nagrakata.
Figures underscore what Mukherjee has alleged: in Birpara-Madarihat, the RSP won by polling 42,539 votes while the combined votes for the Congress and the Parishad candidates was 48,568. In Kumargram, the RSP polled 71,545 votes and the Trinamul and Parishad votes totalled 77,748 votes. The CPM candidate benefited and polled 62,077 votes in Malbazar as the total ballots polled by the Congress and the Parishad stood at 78,577.
Wilson Chompromari, the Morcha-backed Independent in Kalchni, polled 46,000 votes while the Trinamul and the Parishad candidates together got 63,000 votes.
KalimNews:Security deposits of all candidates other than GJM forfeited.
Tanka bdr Rai, Speaker Bidhan Sabha and SR Subba Congress candidates elected in Assam.
हेडलाईन न्युज :
१. GJM को जनाधार छैन भन्ने अशोक भट्टचार्यले आफ्नो जनाधार घटेको थाहै पाएन ..
२. सुबास घिसीङको ब्रह्मास्त्रले गोरामुमोको गुड्डी उडेन ..
३. प्राधीकरण र चानचुने व्यवस्थाको निम्ति GJM लाई जनताले जिताएको होईन ..

Ultimatum to Mount Hermon School authority
KalimNews: Staff of one of the oldest and reputed school of Darjeeling seeking all round improvement has given an ultimatum to the school authority. Alleging negligence from the school authority to the staff and students such as supply of poor quality of food to the students and injustice in the present salary scale the staff has been pressuring the administration since 2009. 
A staff said that the staff of the school are not happy with the principal Mr Fernandez.On the 13th March there was an altercation between the staff and the principal who agreed to put the issue by calling a board meeting but there was no response. On April 25th the staff staged a demonstration by postering  in the school. On 26th they were given word by the principal that the school would hold a board meeting by 30th May. The staff allege that still there is no response so an ultimatum is given to the Principal and they will wait till 30th May and go for further agitation programme. 
Left Soviet moment, Part II
Change has to begin from the top in CPM
Calcutta, May 13: The ignominious defeat of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government spells not just a change of guard at Writers’ Building but is a grievous blow to the CPM and Left forces in the country as a whole, not unlike the collapse of the Soviet Union which adversely impacted Left parties internationally two decades ago.
An ashen-faced Left Front chairman Biman Bose today admitted that neither the CPM nor its allies had expected this “unprecedented debacle” and promised a “chulchhera vishleshan (threadbare analysis)” of the reasons behind the defeat.
In Delhi, party leaders echoed Bose and a politburo meeting, followed by a central committee meeting, are on the cards to discuss the debacle.
But such is the magnitude of defeat and so grave are its implications for the party’s future that the usual post-mortems which the CPM is adept at and the hackneyed prescription of “rectification” are unlikely to be of much use this time. Only an overhaul of the party’s ways of thinking and being, starting with changes from the top and not the bottom, may help the CPM re-invent itself and regain its strength in the medium to long term.
The CPM leadership in Delhi sought to seek solace in the “narrow” defeat in Kerala to offset the gloom of Bengal but the truth is that neither Kerala nor Tripura ever measured up to the importance of Bengal for the party.
Bengal was much more than just a state government. The CPM’s huge “mass base” in Bengal and seven election victories in a row made it the biggest Left bastion not just in India but in the entire “non-socialist” (i.e. countries not ruled by communist parties) world. The Bengal unit was the bulwark that nourished and sustained — materially and politically — the CPM in the rest of India and certainly in New Delhi.
In the absence of MPs from Bengal, the CPM could never have influenced the working of the first UPA government at the Centre, Prakash Karat could not have become a household name by confronting the Prime Minister over the nuclear deal and the party would not have become the nucleus of various “opposition conclaves” and “third fronts” for two decades starting from the early 1980s.
Much like the Soviet Union, which came under attack for not being “radical” enough, many “Left-oriented” people have been critical of the Left Front government in Bengal and often felt that its defeat could lead to a “cleansing” that would revitalise the CPM which remains, for better or for worse, the fountainhead of the mainstream Left in India.
However, just like the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a retreat of “socialism” in Europe and much of the world (with China and even Vietnam embracing the market), the debacle in Bengal is likely to make it even more difficult for the Left in India to remain politically relevant at least in the short term.
At the same time, unlike the CPSU or the ruling communist parties in Eastern Europe which fell like nine pins when the Berlin Wall came crashing down in November 1989, the CPM is fortunate to be functioning in a vibrant parliamentary system — never mind that the party officially decries it as a “bourgeois democracy” and still pays lip service to the idea of “revolution” and “dictatorship of the proletariat”.
It is theoretically possible, therefore, for the CPM to revive in Bengal despite its dismal showing in this election.
But that will not happen as a matter of course and will depend greatly on the capacity of the party leadership to understand the causes of the defeat and make fundamental changes in the party’s way of functioning.
Chances of that appear bleak. The most worrying sign of the CPM’s malady, in fact, is not today’s result but the fact that the party did not see it coming. Every single CPM leader and cadre one met in course of the election campaign — whether in 31 Alimuddin Street or in some mofussil town or remote village — chanted the same lullaby of “recovery” till even this morning.
The CPM was convinced that those who had deserted the Left Front in 2008, 2009 and 2010 had returned to their fold because of “anti-incumbency” against Trinamul-run panchayats and municipalities; that the 2009 reverses were a result of “national” factors such as the unviability of Third Front, that the vast mass of rural peasantry were fearful of losing their land and dignity if the “right-wing” forces took over and that — thanks to all the above — a “turnaround” had taken place.
It was clear to even passing visitors that nothing of the kind was happening in either rural or urban Bengal and that the “poribortoner hawa” had become a tidal wave across the state. Contrary to what Biman Bose and other CPM leaders said today, the ordinary Bengali voter was not “silent” — she spoke out loud and clear this time, he did not mince words in telling anyone who cared to ask why “change” had become necessary after three and a half decades.
Yet a party that prides itself on dedicated cadres who work “365 days a year” in every village and para failed to see the writing on the wall and dismissed all reports to the contrary as the handiwork of the “corporate media” working in cahoots with “American imperialism” to fell a pro-people government.
It never realised — and may still not admit — that the main reason behind its defeat is that the people were no longer pro-party, that a sense of stagnation and suffocation with “Party rule” had reached a breaking point that desperately sought an outlet.
The CPM’s “post-mortem” may acknowledge the party’s complete disconnect with the people’s mood this time but no remedy will come forth unless the leadership reviews the whole organisational principle of “democratic centralism” that led to this disconnect.
The CPM may be a social democratic party in practice — and indeed can be little else in a parliamentary democracy — but clings on to the organisational principle laid out by Lenin a century ago. Lenin’s “party of the new type” with its emphasis on a vanguard and in which the leader exercised supreme control may have been necessary in a revolutionary situation but got distorted in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries itself.
To adhere to that principle — where the party leaders tell the cadres what the truth is rather than formulate policy by getting inputs from below — in the Indian context today is a recipe for “disconnect” with the people, and the election verdict is a vivid example of that.
A little research shows that the “Political Resolution & Review Report” adopted at the Extended Meeting of the CPM central committee in Vijayawada in August 2010 first decreed that the “corrective steps” taken by the party in Bengal following the 2009 reverses “should help in bringing about a turnaround in the situation.”
Once the CC had spoken, the “turnaround” had to happen and so down the line, the party leaders kept talking about it till they led every cadre and sympathiser to believe that “recovery” had indeed happened. No one thought of checking with the “khet mazdoor” tilling the land before their eyes or the vendor in the local train whether the wave for change had indeed petered out because the party had ordered it to do so. And even if any cadre had doubts, he would never express it, lest he be accused of “right deviation” or becoming a victim of “corporate media propaganda”.
No party leader is likely to question, leave alone give up, the comforting doctrine of democratic centralism because that is what allows some of them — particularly the oracles of wisdom sitting in the party’s headquarters in Delhi — to call the shots without ever being held accountable for the debacles and reverses faced by the party, for the failure of the CPM to spread beyond its three (now just one) stronghold more than sixty years after Independence.
It is much easier instead to lay blame on low-level cadres, accusing them of all kinds of sins ranging from “parliamentary deviation” to “un-communist behaviour” to “alienation from the people”, and then undertake a “rectification” exercise that “weeds out” these elements — without the broom ever reaching the higher echelons of the staircase.
Under the iron rule of democratic centralism, any dissent from below is controlled and sanitised if it is allowed to be voiced at all. Things can change only if there are differences, usually over the ideological line, at the top or if the leader himself decides to go beyond the party structure — like a Gorbachev or a Deng Xiaoping did.
In the CPM today, only V.S. Achutananthan has dared to ignore the “Party” and go about his own way. The CPM’s better-than-expected performance in Kerala today may have come about despite the party, not because of it, and thanks largely to VS who did not let the party structure come in the way of his connect with the people.
A resounding defeat of the kind the CPM has faced in Bengal today can lead to two trajectories. It can make the party retreat into a shell, become more “ideologically pure”, more rigid and insular and inward looking. Or it can provide a great opportunity for a huge churning that has been kept under the lid for decades now, a churning that would question and challenge the ideological wisdom and organisational stranglehold of leaders who have lost touch with the people. Is the Bengal CPM up to it?
Graveyard Bengal
ASHIS CHAKRABARTI, TT: The Left Front is leaving behind not just scorched earth but worse.
From the decaying Darjeeling and the stagnating tea gardens in the Dooars to the skeletons of closed and sick industrial units in the old rust belt of Durgapur-Asansol and on both banks of the Hooghly, it is a long row of graveyards that the Left leaves behind in Bengal.
Not just industries but, more crucially, institutions that once made Bengal proud and prosperous lie in ruins, whether in education, administration, health services, small and medium enterprises or even in agriculture and other land-based activities.
Such is the scale of Bengal’s decline that it is now among the poorest states in India. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), constructed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) for the UNDP’s Human Development Report, 2010, estimates 55 per cent of India’s population to be poor on the basis of various indicators such as health, education and living standards. According to the study, the proportion of the poor in Bengal is 58.4 per cent, which is higher than the national average.
For all the noises that the Left made over the Arjun Sengupta Committee’s finding that 77 per cent of India ’s population live on less than Rs 20 a day in terms of purchasing power parity, the 34 years of Left rule has actually deepened poverty and unemployment in the state. Data from the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) show that aggregate employment growth in Bengal between 1993-94 and 1999-2000 was only 0.76 per cent, compared to 2.44 per cent in earlier periods. This means less work and also more and more irregular work.
Obviously, a government that has one of the worst rates of indebtedness among the states has neither the money nor a vision to create either wealth or jobs. The success story of Haldia or the IT hub in Salt Lake can hardly counter the big story of overall decay. Besides, they also show what economists call a disturbing trend of an imbalance between investment and employment generation.
It certainly is not the truth that the Left inherited a “Sonar Bangla” (Golden Bengal). Bengal’s economic decline started in the sixties, thanks mainly to a huge population rise because of the unending influx of refugees from former East Pakistan and then Bangladesh. Even between 1951 and 1961, Bengal recorded a 33 per cent rise in population, as against a national average of 22 per cent. Letters of the then chief minister Bidhan Chandra Roy to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru vividly capture the strains on the state’s economy.
The industrial sickness also had much to do with the Centre’s unfair freight equalisation policy which, together with the shrinking orders from the railways and the CPM’s irresponsible trade unionism, killed the small factories in Howrah, once known as the Sheffield of India.
The eve of the Left Front’s coming to power in 1977 wasn’t exactly the high noon of Bengal’s glory, either. A crumbling Congress, both in Delhi and Calcutta, left Bengal politically unstable and economically vulnerable. The Left contributed its share to the gathering doom with its militant politics, especially on the industrial front. The entry of “gherao” in the Oxford English Dictionary, in a way, symbolised the new age in Bengal.
In fact, the Naxalite violence and the Youth Congress-Chhatra Parishad vandalism of the late 1960s and early 1970s prompted the first brain drain from Bengal. The economic decline that set in and the party society that the CPM then founded and spread everywhere forced two generations of the best and the brightest to leave the state in fear and despair.
The tragedy is that when Jyoti Basu began his long reign, the Left, instead of reversing the trend in economic decline, started dismantling more and more edifices, economic and institutional, with greater vengeance.
The most powerful symbol of a fine institution going the graveyard way under the Left was Presidency College. Liberal and professional education, which had given Bengal an edge over other states for over a century, became the Left’s main battlefield for its supposedly ideological breakthroughs.
What the Left did to pull down Presidency — first with a new transfer policy for its teachers and then stuffing the faculty with political loyalists and even manipulating the admission policy — was reminiscent of the Red Guards’ battles during the Cultural Revolution to destroy the “elitist” character of Tsinghua University, founded by the Americans in 1911 as a centre of excellence in science and engineering. Rajat Kanta Ray, the history professor and now vice-chancellor of Visva-Bharati, was the only teacher of repute who stayed on at Presidency until recently — like the “boy on the burning deck”.
The same politics of “anti-elitism” or “democratisation” of education prompted the abolition of English and the examination system from the primary school level.
But the assault on education actually went much deeper. From the universities to colleges and schools, loyalty to the party prevailed over the formalities for recruitment. The result was a pathetic fall in educational standards at all levels — mediocre teachers producing unteachable and unemployable students. It was like Gresham’s Law in education, the bad driving out the good. Better salaries for teachers helped the party and its flock but not the cause of education.
 Surprisingly, the CPM’s crusade against excellence and modernity, in industry or education, was a far cry from what its Chinese comrades were doing at the time. Deng Xiaoping was launching the “Four Modernisations” in China around the time the CPM in Bengal was resisting the introduction of computers in industry and other commercial sectors.
But surely things were different in agriculture and in village life. For a time, they definitely were. The land reforms and the elected panchayats not only electrified the lives of the poor with a new sense of democracy and empowerment but also improved both production and productivity in agriculture.
There are debates if the improvements in farming until the late 1980s were really the result of land reforms or of the introduction of high-yielding seeds and more intensive use of small irrigation under private initiatives. But there was little doubt that the poor in rural Bengal had more purchasing power and greater political participation than ever before.
But the promise died young. The CPM gradually moved away from all forms of economic and political radicalism in the villages. With the party’s help and support, a new “middle” class, comprising school teachers, middle-turned-rich peasants and small contractors of government-funded schemes, pushed the poor away not only from leadership but also from any form of participation in economic and political decision-making.
The CPM’s abdication of the cause of social justice and its alienation from the poor in rural areas showed in two striking ways. The poor who had got small plots of land, thanks to land reforms, or had their share-cropping rights legalised through Operation Barga, were selling off both land and cropping rights to the new class of the rural rich because the former did not have the means to buy the inputs for farming or make the land feed an expanding family.
The increasing seasonal migration of villagers from several districts such as Bankura, Purulia, West Midnapore, Malda and Birbhum to other states indicated the shrinking of the rural economy in Bengal. Worst of all, all recent data — from the National Council of Applied Economic Research and some other organisations — have confirmed that Bengal now has an increasing rate of school dropouts and low enrolment in the villages.
A few years ago, Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Trust collected detailed statistics in some districts to show what had been known for many years — that primary education was in a shambles, largely because of absenteeism by teachers who used their political clout to do everything other than go to the school and teach. The CPM made a desperate attempt at damage control some years ago by banning teachers from contesting panchayat elections. It was too cosmetic a change that came too late for the teacher-comrades to renew their interest in teaching.
Why then did the Left win elections all these years, especially on the strength of its rural vote? Obviously, the Left Front government’s pro-poor work during its earlier years and the salaried classes in government jobs created a solid votebank. But there are two other broad political answers to the question. One, electoral politics is not necessarily linked to development or to who benefits most from it. Even so, the decline in the Left’s vote share since 1996 provides a link. Second, the rise and fall of a party in any state has much to do with the rise and fall of the Congress in that state and at the Centre. For that makes a crucial difference to electoral arithmetic in India’s age of coalition politics.
But the graveyard symbolism for Bengal showed also in an overall deterioration of the state’s political culture. It wasn’t surprising that one of the most abusive of CPM leaders in the just- concluded polls was a former college principal. On the Trinamul Congress camp, too, one star who excelled in verbal abuses was a cultural icon-turned-politician. Verbal abuse and actual violence have a field day when productive labour or thinking is in short supply.
The empty fields of Singur, from where the world’s cheapest small car in history could have rolled out and thereby helped revive Bengal, are a stirring image of a new hope under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that too died young.
Trinamul win with cherry on pudding called Asoke -  ‘How can the winds.… be stopped at the gates of North Bengal?’

Avijit Sinha, TT, May 13: The north is finally catching up with the south.
The Left may not have been as completely decimated in north Bengal as it has been in the south, but it has been humbled far beyond its worst fears. For the first time since the Left Front came to power in 1977, it has been left with only 16 of the 54 Assembly seats in the region. In the 2006 elections, it had bagged 37 seats.
More importantly for the politics of the region, traditionally considered Congress territory, Trinamul, a fledgling party here till a few years ago, has fared almost as well as its alliance partner, establishing a firm footing in north Bengal for the first time ever.
It had taken a wager by deciding to contest exactly half the seats from here and has driven home its point by winning 16 of the 26 seats it contested. One seat it had kept for the NCP. Ally Congress has won 17 of the remaining 27 seats.
But the cherry on the pudding for Trinamul was the defeat of CPM strongman from north Bengal, Asok Bhattacharya, at the hands of its candidate Rudranath Bhattacharya, a political novice, from the Siliguri seat.
“If the winds of change are blowing across the state then how can the north remain an exception,” said Darjeeling district Trinamul chief Gautam Deb. “Trinamul has arrived in north Bengal and is here to stay.”
Even Bhattacharya, who was the municipal and urban development minister in the Left Front government, was forced to concede this after his defeat this afternoon. “When the anti-incumbency factor is so strong in the state then how can the winds of paribartan be stopped at the gates of north Bengal?” Bhattacharya said in Siliguri after his defeat. “I have been winning from here for the last four terms, so my defeat is indicative of these winds of change.”
The fact that Trinamul could put up an impressive show despite Congress leader Deepa Das Munshi putting up “rebel” candidates against several Trinamul nominees proves how strong the winds of change were.
In fact, Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee has been assiduously cultivating the region, where the party could only open its account in 2006 by winning the sole Dinhata Assembly seat, ever since she became the railway minister two years ago.
During her frequent trips she has not failed to remind the people that she is not a “seasonal cuckoo” and every time she has come with a bouquet of promises and a neglect-versus-development slogan.
She has promised an axle manufacturing factory in New Jalpaiguri; an electronics signal component factory in Cooch Behar; a diesel loco shed and multi-functional complexes in Siliguri. In her last railway budget she promised Darjeeling a centre of excellence in software development.
What also helped Mamata was the fact that she managed to raise hopes among the people of the region that she could resolve the problem of the Darjeeling hills. Even though she has emphasised that she would never support a separate Gorkhaland state, Mamata has repeatedly said that if she came to power she would settle the problems with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, calling the people of the hills “my brothers”.
But it is the response of the Morcha to Mamata that has made people in north Bengal believe that she can actually execute what she has promised. The Morcha not only welcomed Mamata on her visit to Darjeeling last year, but its chief Bimal Gurung also claimed that he had a “very satisfying” meeting with the railway minister.
“It is this acceptability Mamata Banerjee has across the region that has added to the credibility of our party,” Deb said. “The chief minister has not gone up to the hills.”
In fact the Morcha, which won the three hill seats of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong today, had extended the party’s support to the Trinamul-Congress alliance even though it was unsolicited.
“We have got the ball rolling in north Bengal,” Deb said. “Soon it will be the same as south Bengal.”
Elections:  People are masters
J.N. Manokaran- The results of elections held for the State Assembly of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry were declared on 13 May. The results were shocking for some, as expected for some and thriller for others. Indian democracy has survived the test of time. There are always conspiracies to subvert the democracy; people of India have come out with their final word.
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is considered as one of the progressive State in education, health care, delivery through Public Distribution System (PDS), Higher education, and industrial development. The Dravidian movement with rationalist worldview has dominated the State for more than four decades. The Dravidian movement having an ideological base, created identity politics long before many political parties in India thought of. The pride of Tamil race, pride of Tamil language appealed to the backward castes of Tamil Nadu. They saw tremendous upward mobility. It is no wonder that a large number of Civil Services recruits this year from Backward Castes were from Tamil Nadu. (About 10 per cent of those who cleared Civil Services exam were from Tamil Nadu) However, the State while pioneering the backward caste progress ignored the Dalits who undergo daily atrocities in rural areas. As a result, urbanization helped Dalits to move out of villages to cities and Tamil Nadu is the most urbanized state in India.
The outgoing Chief Minister who was perceived as the custodian of Dravidian ideology gradually deviated in promoting his immediate and extended family. He groomed his sons and daughter into politics and wanted them to succeed the throne as if in monarchy. And some of his kith and kin became wealthy by taking over lucrative businesses. The monopoly over Television and print media began to strangulate the freedom of expression for other views in a subtle manner.
Corruption that became public by 2G scam reached even rural people with the aid of Free Television scheme promoted by the DMK Government. At all levels of Government corruption was rampant. People got used to the corruption as there was no other option. Political interference in appointments, tender awards, and police force did not go well with the people. The people thought enough is enough and voted DMK out of power.
Offering money for vote has become a new culture in politics. Instead of seeking votes on the basis of service or accomplishment or promises; votes were sought through payments to voters. It was distributed to poor (at least some corruption, scam and black money reaches the poor). The vigilant Election Commission does its best to curb all such unruly, illegal, illegitimate and immoral practices but not always successful. Electoral Reforms seems to be in the back burner of most political parties, and civil society leaders have not taken up this issue seriously. Corruption cannot be fought without Electoral Reforms as black money is used in the election process.
West Bengal
The Left claimed to be pro-poor. Though they began with land reforms, helped marginal farmers and showed solidarity with the working class; they became corrupt with power. The political power they wielded made them insensitive to the people needs. The bureaucracy under Left rule lacked motivation and many times undermined by party cadres. The leadership who were most senior citizens did not understand the changes around the world, progress in other parts of the country and were in a content mode. Even Left shocking defeat in 2009 Lok Sabha elections did not wake up the sleeping political alliance. Their super confidence in their invincibility added to their arrogance and snobbery. They just tried to tinker and do some cosmetic changes that did not satisfy the aspirations of the people.
Mamta had fought hard in the streets, in all forums to see that the Left is unseated. She had her ears on the ground. As her party name indicates she was a grass root (trinamool) leader. The maverick politician who depended on her rhetoric has to convert her concept of transformation (poribartan) into reality. She has to direct all her energy that was previously directed against the Left, to provide good administration. This is an opportunity to prove her mettle as a leader who delivers her promises.
The UDF in Kerala got a wafer thin majority. There is an opinion that if V.S. Achuthanandan had better co-operation from the party, he could have got endorsement for his governance and development. The Congress party that was complacent had to work hard to get this victory.
There seems to be a new dawn in Assam. Fear, casteism and violence dominated the state politics for long. Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) became a political party that represented Ahomia community while Bharatya Janta Party represented Bengali Hindus forgetting their national aspirations. There are other splinter groups that represented Bengali Muslims. Tarun Gogoi had a pragmatic approach to issues of Assam. Development was the priority and people were happy that Congress got more seats in its third term under his stewardship. He also negotiated with ULFA, brought violence down and guaranteed safety for people. Instead of treating ULFA as Law and Order problem; he opted for political solution that brought political dividends.
Puducherry Union Territory election was a fight between popular leader and power mongers. Congress has the habit of letting power mongers take over the party and letting down popular leaders. NR congress that was formed just two months back by the harassed leader swept power.
Christians should reflect.................
The atheistic and rationalistic ideologies of Left and Dravidian movement are almost finished. What would replace them? There is a danger of Hindutva ideology making inroads in the States of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala. There is also an opportunity for The Church in these States to share the gospel as the field is ripe. Tamil Nadu and Kerala churches are strong enough to share the gospel, provided there is revival and vision in those churches. For West Bengal, this may be an opportune time to reach out as they are hungry and thirsty for the Truth and for Transformation. God is providing a New Door of Opportunity

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