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WB: Left Front Calls Jathas to Mobilise Villages Ahead of Panchayat Elections

The call has been given by the West Bengal State Committee of the All India Agricultural Workers Union, Centre of Indian Trade Unions and All India Kisan Sabha.

File Photo.

Kolkata: Panchayat elections in West Bengal are yet to be announced. However, long before the announcement of the election, the Left Front will hit the streets with the slogan 'Chor tarao, gram bachao' (chase the thief, save the village). A jatha (march) is planned across the state from November 1-20, called by the West Bengal State Committee of the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

As the festival season has ended, the state government will resume 'Duare Sarkar' across the state from the beginning of November. The government will go to people's doors throughout the month. But there is no 100-day work project in the Duare Sarkar camp, said some Left Front workers.

Amiya Patra, secretary, AIAWU, said: "The government has decided to come to the doors of people in November. When the government comes, poor people will go to talk about their problems. Why did we not get 100 days of work in the village? Why did we not get wages even after working? Why is the chance of a mature house wasted? Village people will go to the government camp to find out. The protest will be held at the Duare Sarkar camp. If necessary, the camp will be surrounded."

Biplab Majumder, president of West Bengal Pradeshik Krishak Sabha, alleged: "People of the villages have been victims of fraud and deprivation for the past decade. If you go to protest, you will be repressed. The village is endangered by looters supported by Trinamool Congress (TMC). The Jatha will lead the way to the end of rural dictatorship."

The march will take place in poor neighbourhoods. A meeting of the Provincial Farmers' Union, CITU, has already been held as part of the Gramin Jatha.

Sagar Badyakar, an agricultural workers' organiser from Bankura district, said: "We had given a memo to the panchayat with the demand that at least 10 days of work should be given for 100 days before Durga Puja. I wanted to do that to earn some money before the puja. But the panchayat did not accept our demand. The government was also busy with the carnival."

"Durga Puja is over. Diwali has also gone. Low-income families in the villages remain in the dark. How can the poor survive? It didn't rain this time. Many lands could not be cultivated. If there was farming, there would be work for the poor. There is no work for 100 days after cultivation. The inflation is sky-high," Badyakar added.

The situation is so bad that its effect is evident in village shops and bazaars as shopkeepers complain of poor sales during the festivals.

The state has never faced such barren employment opportunities for the rural poor. This has been the norm for the last 10 months in the villages. Three Central government projects are open for the entire country, but not in West Bengal. No government official is ready to answer why that is the case, alleged some villagers.

The organisers of the Jathas alleged that at the root of the jobs crisis was TMC's corruption, adding that the extent of corruption had directly affected the lives of farm labourers. They accuse the leaders and ministers of the ruling party of “selling jobs through corruption.”

“Teachers have been illegally transferred and brought back after that appointment across the state. The result is that primary and secondary schools in remote areas are now without teachers, which definitely impacts the education of the children of low-income families,” they allege.

The West Bengal Pradeshik Krishak Sabha said there was no remunerative price for farmers' crops. The price of rice has been falling in the market before new rice is grown. The same is the case with jute. The Jute Corporation has closed 27 jute buying centres in North 24 Parganas district. On the other side, the price of fertilisers has increased at an alarming rate at the beginning of potato cultivation.

"Poor people's concerns need to be highlighted to reach the rural towns," Amal Halder, Secretary, WB Pradeshik Krishak Sabha, told People’s Reporter.

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