The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Consensus roadmap for new farm policy

Calcutta, Aug. 30: Careful that it does not run into resistance a second time, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government will have the new draft agriculture policy placed for endorsement as a collective initiative at a Left Front meeting tentatively slated for mid-September.

The CPM — aware of the opposition in its ranks to certain aspects of the draft policy — will address the issue at a meeting of the state secretariat on September 7. Besides, it will push for a fuller discussion at the Front meeting in tune with its stated line of consensus politics.

After building up a consensus at the two meetings, the government will move towards actually framing the policy in the meeting of the Cabinet core committee.

Three Front partners — the Forward Bloc, the RSP and the CPI — whose leaders had earlier opposed the draft policy claiming it had been influenced by recommendations from international consultancy firm McKinsey, are expected to tell the meeting that they have no reservations about the policy if it safeguards farmer’s interests.

Weeks ago, Bhattacharjee informed the core committee of ministers in a note that he had decided to recast the proposed policy in the light of the views expressed by the Front partners on the previous draft policy.

In May, planning and development minister Nirupam Sen placed the draft agriculture policy before the Cabinet.

But the CPM had failed to convince the Bloc, the CPI and the RSP. All the three had raised questions about the contract farming clause that was incorporated in the proposed policy. The CPM finally had to withdraw the clause.

In a recent note to the core committee, Bhattacharjee had said that his government would recast the policy and there will be no system of contract farming in the new one.

The state committee is also scheduled to discuss the panchayat elections slated for next year. The issue of framing the new policy on agriculture is gaining in importance as its implementation will involve the panchayats.

The CPM does not want any controversy over the proposed policy as it might alter the party’s poll perspective.

It is learnt that the Front leaders will sit with the Left leaders of north Bengal after the two-day state committee meeting.

The Bloc, the CPI and the RSP had demanded the presence of Jyoti Basu and Bhattacharjee at the meet.

It is learnt that the chief minister will explain to the Front leaders the government’s plans to counter militant forces like the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre.

Book release

Basu today released Banglar Communist Andolan: Dalil o Prasangik Tathya at a function at the CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street.

The book, a compilation of data on the communist movement in India, is edited by state party secretary Anil Biswas. Bhattacharjee, Front chairman Biman Bose and several other important CPM leaders were present at the function this morning.

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