The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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People above all else, claims CPM brass

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government on Saturday night stared at an impending image crisis when its guardians, the Left Front, unveiled plans for a never-before confrontation with the judiciary after co-opting Writers’ Buildings in preparations for the showdown over the Calcutta High Court verdict restricting rallies.

Officials indicated that both the Front and the government were “well aware” that the decision would put a question mark over the government’s intentions, and more importantly, its ability to withstand party pressures and implement reformist measures like Justice Amitava Lala’s verdict.

“But the decision should not be viewed as an insular one,” said a senior official of the CPM. “Instead, it has been taken after weighing all possibilities. It is not the first time that a Left Front government is going into a confrontation with an authority to uphold constitutional rights of the people,” the official added.

The reference was to the string of state-sponsored bandhs that marked the tenure of the Jyoti Basu government to protest the Centre’s economic policies and political motivations.

Several bureaucrats directly associated with Bhattacharjee’s industrialisation efforts and Calcutta-based industrialists told The Telegraph on Saturday that the government would find it difficult to convince the average investor of its intentions in view of the position it has taken on the rein-rally verdict.

In their perception, the government’s decision to appeal against the verdict would rebound on it before long. Because, they argue, it has virtually negated, in one swift stroke, the promise Bhattacharjee personally made to industrialists on September 25 at a Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) meet. From being a state where cholbe na, cholbe na is the standard refrain, Bengal will morph into a place where the mantra will be cholbe cholbe, he had promised.

“Precisely at this point, the image crisis begins,” says an industrialist known for his proximity to the CPM leadership. “The contradictions are far too evident.”

But, says CPM state secretary Anil Biswas, “We are in office for 26 years because we have always put people ahead of all other considerations. During the period, we have successfully brought in investments for setting up industries for our people and also discharged our political responsibilities without diluting our priorities. There is no need to feel that we will fail to do so now.”

Left Front chairman Biman Bose, also a politburo member, dismissed talk of investors beating a retreat from Bengal. “We do not think the investor will judge Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government solely on the position it has taken on the anti-rally verdict and not take into account all the good work it has done for the industry in the past two-and-a-half years. I think the investor is much more perceptive than our critics tend to think.”

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