Speaking at the mass meeting held on the occasion of the observance of the martyrdom of those killed during the Food Movement, CPI(M) Polit Bureau Member Buddhadeb Bhattacharya ruled out any sort of alliance or front with the Trinamul Congress to fight against the BJP. He was responding to Chief Minister’s Mamata Banerjee’s suggestion to such effect in an interview to a Bengali Television channel. He said that the TMC is crammed with anti-social elements from top to bottom. The party and the government it runs is destroying the law and order situation in the state, ruining the industrial future of West Bengal and obliterating the cultural heritage of the state.
Taking on the TMC government for sky-rocketing prices of rice and potato in the state, he accused the state Government of failure in every respect during its three years tenure. He also said that the TMC Government has pulled back the state to the position obtaining 10 years ago with old factories closing down and no new industries being set up.
He cautioned the people on the communal gameplan of the RSS-BJP. He also pointed towards the rightward shift that is taking place with more aggressive pursuit of the neo-liberal agenda by the BJP under Modi. He sharply criticized the decision to wind up the Planning commission.
Recalling the history the Food Movement, Left Front Chairman Biman Basu said that though there was scarcity of food in 1959 the scenario improved radically under Left Front rule. The situation is worsening again, he pointed out. He said that during the month of September many campaigns and movements will be launched in the state focusing mainly on the demand to restore democracy in the state. He also underlined that a party like TMC which does not believe in democracy can never fight against communalism.
RSP leader Kshiti Goswami, Forward Bloc leader Jayanta Roy and CPI leader Prabir Deb also spoke in the meeting where the leaders of all the Left Front Constituents were present.
Earlier, various leaders of the West Bengal Left Front paid homage to the martyrs of the movement at the Martyrs Memorial at Subodh Mullick Square.
Like every year since 1960, on August 31, 2014 hundreds of people paid homage to the memory of the martyrs of the 1959 Food Movement.
Bengal was facing a near famine like situation due to the acute scarcity of food consequent to the collision between the jotedars, mill owners and the traders who were hoarding food. With the then Congress government unwilling to intervene to ensure availability of food for the people, a month long campaign was conducted on the issue and the call for a rally at Kolkata on August 31 was given.
On August 31, 1959 Kolkata turned into a sea of red with over 3,00,000 people converging from all over the state demanding food and an end to destitution and hunger. Jyoti Basu and other leaders were in the forefront of the movement.
The government met the mobilization with unprecedented repression. The leaders of the movement were arrested. But the scale of the repression unleashed can be gauged from the fact that eighty people were killed that single day. The ruthlessness and barbarity of the police force is revealed by the fact that not one person died of bullet injuries. All of them were bludgeoned to death. There was no warning whatsoever before the police resorted to such brutal and unwarranted killings. While it also led to injuries to three thousand people, around a thousand people went missing.
A wave of protests took place the next day on September 1 against these atrocious and unpardonable killings. These protests too were met with repression. This time however the police resorted to firing. Eight students were killed. Another 27 people were killed the next day.
A general strike was organised throughout the state on September 3 with the entire state emphatically and vehemently rising as one in protest. Between August 31 and September 3 the violence let loose by the police saw over 130 people losing their lives. Speaking in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly later on, Jyoti Basu compared it to the Jalianwallabagh massacre.
August 31, 2014