Two incidents late last year shook the conscience of many people in West Bengal. On December 9th, 2011, major fire claimed 93 lives in the Advanced Medical Research Institute (AMRI) Hospital, Kolkata. Most of them were patients admitted to the hospital for treatment. In another incident, 173 people died after consuming spurious hooch (locally manufactured liquor) in the state’s South 24-Parganas district. Many who died were mainly daily wage labourers who bought the cheap liquor that was easily available in that locality. In this article, we examine the real causes that led to the tragic incident at AMRI, Kolkata
After month long arduous process of much trumpeted “Indian Electoral Democracy” the results for the just concluded elections for five state assemblies arrived a fortnight ago with a mixed bag. Though much of the results have gone on the expected lines, the verdict in Kerala is a bit of a surprise. The rejection of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) rule in Tamil Nadu is of course something many did expect, but the sweep with which the corrupt rule of Karunanidhi and his coterie has been done with, goes to show the bottled up anger of the people in this southern state.
The progress of every second draws us closer to the D day in the hard fought state elections in West Bengal where the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is trying to consolidate its power in the soil of Bengal by displacing the Communist Party of India (Marxist) -CPI(M) led Left Front govt. which has been ruling the state for the past 34 years. The CPI(M), on the other hand, appears to be struggling to hold on to their long held fortress to prevent being erased from Indian Politics. This interesting but hard fought battle is being fought on the parameter of change with each side trying to define the word to their own convenience.
Killings are ultimately the responsibility of the ‘Communist’ led state government.
The Communist Party (Marxist) has had majority support in West Bengal and has run the state for 30 years. Much of its support has come from the landless peasantry who were granted what they thought were permanent land rights under a popular but very limited land reform. Now, with the leaders of this party choosing to side with big multinationals in a big drive to set up Special Economic Zones, has moved to take back the tenuous rights of these people. Huge battles have been waged and the ‘Communists’ have employed armed police to put down the angry uprisings of the local population. On March 14, eighteen demonstrators were killed in the Nandigram area and many more were badly injured.
‘Communists’ garner the votes of poor but policies are increasingly pro-business
The much awaited results of five state elections in India – in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry – have gone more or less along predicted lines. Except for the fact that the competing shower of promises of goodies and freebies in Tamil Nadu swayed the voters until the last minute, the rest of the poll exercise and the ensuing results went as expected. The ‘communists’ of the CPI(M) and CPI won 235 of a total 293 seats in West Bengal. They also won 98 of a total 140 seats in Kerala. The Communists, who have their biggest following in West Bengal and Kerala, are rivals to the Congress party in these two states, in spite of supporting the ruling Congress-led UPA government at national level.