The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bloc slams ‘autocratic’ govt

Pursurah (Hooghly), Feb. 19: With an eye on the panchayat polls, the Forward Bloc today again pummelled in public the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government for taking “important policy decisions” independent of its coalition partners.

“We strongly protest the manner in which everything is being finalised at the Alimuddin Street headquarters (of the CPM) without taking Left Front partners into account. We are as important as the CPM is in the Front, then why should we be considered a left over'” asked Bloc chairman Kamal Guha.

Guha’s CPM-bashing is being viewed in political circles as a “calculated attempt” to put pressure on the Alimuddin Street mandarins to concede more seats to the Bloc for the May panchayat elections.

Only a couple of months ago, Guha, also the agricultural minister, had complained about the CPM inducting big landlords into its organisation against whom the Bloc “has been waging a battle for a pretty long time”. This invited a sharp reaction from the CPM bosses.

He is also spearheading an attempt to block the government’s efforts to modernise its agriculture policy on the suggestion of global consultant McKinsey.

Addressing the state convention of the Bloc-controlled Agragrami Kishan Sabha here, Guha said the trio of Bhattacharjee, Nirupam Sen and Surjya Kanta Mishra had announced while assuming power for the sixth time that cooperatives would be given priority for revival of sick and closed industries.

“But to our utter dismay, we have seen that the cooperatives have been relegated to a secondary position and, instead, the CPM has surrendered to the multinationals and is being guided by McKinsey.”

The agriculture minister said the CPM has reduced the importance of cooperatives as it “does not believe in democracy”. He said Jyoti Basu’s stepping-down has cost the Front dearly.

“These days, the Front has become redundant since small partners have no importance in the coalition,” he observed.

Guha also criticised the CPM for soft-pedalling on border problems, particularly BSF excesses on villagers. The CPM did not attach any importance to the issue when the Bloc leadership tried to raise it again and again in 1985. “But today, the CPM leaders are joining a delegation of Bloc MLAs and MPs which will meet deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha on February 24 in Delhi to apprise them of alleged atrocities unleashed by the BSF personnel,” he added.

Distress sale of potato can be prevented if the agro-produce is researched and marketed effectively, he said. “We have to find out how many products can be derived from potato. Starch can be extracted from potato to manufacture spirit. Researchers can advise on the type of potato (to cultivate) to manufacture high quality chips and flakes.”

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