The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM sells foreign ideas to cadre

Calcutta, Feb. 11: Fighting in Delhi against the Manmohan Singh government over foreign investment, the CPM fought for almost three days in its backyard to convince the cadre why it was needed for Bengal's development.

On the last day of the party's state conference, Anil Biswas, who was re-elected secretary for another three years, and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee sought to marry the party and the government on foreign investment. Another marriage was taking place simultaneously ' between development and foreign investment ' for confused party activists.

Immediately after his re-election, Biswas said: 'We fully support the policies being pursued by the government to uplift the lot of the poor.'

If that meant party behind government, he followed it up by saying that the CPM had no objections to foreign investment, except in two areas ' defence and telecom, which are tied to the country's security.

In Delhi, however, the CPM is resisting opening up of more areas than just these two, one being banking.

The confusion in party ranks about the apparently conflicting attitude towards foreign investment at the Centre and in the state had surfaced frequently during the closed-door conference.

Several delegates from Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly and North 24-Parganas had thrown questions at the leadership seeking an answer to this dichotomy.

There was also the other contradiction in the minds of supporters between the pro-foreign capital policies of the Left Front government and their long-held beliefs about development, where the poor form the centrepiece.

Bhattacharjee sought to address the second ' and the more fundamental ' problem. He said there was no contradiction between development and 'our pro-poor policies'.

'Caring for the poor does not mean a full stop to development. Some are questioning why we are asking for foreign investment. We do not have the resources to set up new factories. Besides, the Centre is closing down public sector units. The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government is following in the footsteps of the previous government. Against this backdrop, we have to carry out development projects,' he added.

Foreign investment is required to pursue this development, the leadership said. And this development is also the CPM's vehicle now for pursuing class struggle.

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