Friday, November 18, 2011

No self-esteemed person is needed by Mamata Govt.

Sanyal quits school reforms panel after ‘rift’

Somdatta Basu | TNN 18.11.11

Kolkata: Eminent educationist Sunanda Sanyal on Thursday stepped down as chairman of the syllabus committee appointed by the Mamata Banerjee government to bring reforms in school education. Sanyal said he was suffering from chikungunya and had asked to be relieved of his duties, but insiders attributed his decision to difference of opinion with committee members and some decisions taken by the government “ignoring” his advice. 
    In July, Sanyal had quit another key panel — the higher education committee — also headed by him. 
    Sanyal is known to have strongly disagreed with the government’s decision — taken at a cabinet meeting — to do away with the pass-fail system till class VIII, accepting provisions in the Right to Education Act. Sources said one of the reasons why he chose to opt out of the school committee was that he did not want to be held responsible for decisions taken by the government. 
    The 19-member committee comprising educationists, ex
perts and government officials submitted a draft report to education minister Bratya Basu last Monday that endorsed the government’s decision to abolish the pass-fail system. Sanyal did not attend Monday’s meeting, citing “health reasons” for his absence. Later, he sent a note of dissent stating his views. 
    “I believe if the state government decides to do away with the pass-fail system till class VIII, its repercussion will be felt even in higher education. If those students who fare badly in examinations are granted promotions, it will lead to a degeneration of the education system,” Sanyal told TOI on Thursday.

Worst politics played by Mamata Govt. in West Bengal health care

Nov. 18: The state government has decided to shift the proposed super-speciality hospital on the lines of the AIIMS from North Dinajpur’s Raiganj to Kalyani in Nadia.
“The state government has now decided that the AIIMS-like hospital will come up in Nadia,” Union junior health minister and Trinamul leader Sudip Bandopadhyay toldThe Telegraph in Calcutta.
Earlier in the day, Bandopadhyay who was in Siliguri, said the specialised hospital would come up in a place where it would benefit the maximum number of people.
Writers’ Buildings sources said the Centre, which has approved the project and sanctioned Rs 800 crore for it, had to be informed about the change in the hospital site.
Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi has already launched an agitation in her constituency Raiganj in support of the hospital there.
But sources close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee said Deepa, with whom she does not see eye to eye, would not be given an opportunity to gain popularity in north Bengal.
“The AIIMS-like hospital was mooted for Raiganj at the behest of Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, who was then the information and broadcasting minister. Deepa (his wife) is reaping its full political benefit,” a Trinamul leader said. “She knows that if the hospital is set up in Raiganj she will gain a lot of political mileage in north Bengal. It is hardly fair to expect Mamata to allow that especially since Deepa is forever saying nasty things about her.”
Deepa today said the decision to deprive north Bengal of a specialised healthcare was a deep-rooted political conspiracy of Trinamul. “North Bengal districts are still a Congress bastion and Trinamul wants to weaken us there by not allowing the hospital to come up in Raiganj,” she said.
In August Mamata had said an AIIMS-like hospital would come up in Kalyani in Nadia and that the land for it had been identified. But she had not said anything about shifting it out of Raiganj.
Health department officials said more than 100 acres has been identified in Kalyani. “Kalyani, where more land is available, is a much better location than Raiganj,” said a senior official.
Writers’ sources said the government would have to inform the Centre if the hospital is shifted. “But that will not come in the way of the project,” said a source. “The location of the facility in the state is not the Centre’s concern.”

CM's partymen attacking ally workers

Cong ‘unhappy’ with TMC

Top Cong Leaders Vent Anger On Trinamool’s Inaction


Kolkata: Malda Congress MP and State Youth Congress president Mausam Noor’s plan to lead a “silent rally” from Hazra to Gandhi Statue in Mayo Road on Friday against Trinamool’s frequent attack on her partymen has an implicit political connotation. The rally will be in Kolkata South Lok Sabha constituency where by-elections are slated on November 30. The choice of place has already generated rumblings in Trinamool Congress ranks. 
    “Across the state, Congress party workers are being attacked by Trinamool supporters. Police are playing a partisan role. False cases are being slapped against our workers. We informed everyone, even to the Trinamool high command, about the incidents, but to no avail. We want to send across a strong message. While we respect the alliance, this can’t go on unabated,” Noor said. 
    On November 20, Congress workers will assemble for a conference on Panchayati Raj, which will be attended by union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and general secretary Shakeel Ahmed. The crucial decision of whether 
Congress will go alone in the forthcoming civic polls, scheduled in 2013, will hinge on the meeting. State Congress president and MP Pradeep Bhattacharya and minister Manas Bhunia have already told workers in Malda and West Midnapore that Congress will go alone in these districts. Bhattacharya on Wednesday told media persons, “We are not speaking against the government. But trying to strengthen it,” adding they’d want the government to delegate more powers to the gram samsads and panchayats instead of the executive. 
    The government’s purported deci
sion to shift the AIIMS-like hospital from its proposed site in Raigunj to Kalyani had also not gone down well with the ally. “The hospital in North Bengal would have fulfilled the aspirations of a lot of people. The local MP has every right to highlight the people’s cause. It is not about attacking the government but to highlight a genuine issue,” Ahmed said. It is not only about Congress nursing a grudge. Trinamool isn’t happy either with some actions of the state Congress. Subhendu Adhikari, Trinamool’s youth wing president, alleged, “They are so vocal about reported attacks on their partymen but have remained surprisingly silent on the murders of Trinamool workers in Jangalmahal. A section of Congress is only bent on disrupting the alliance. Or why they will induct into the party a person who’d fired at Mamata Banerjee, then an opposition leader?” 
    The later is a simmering flashpoint in the lower levels. In 1995, a former CITU worker Md Mukhtar had reportedly fired at a car being driven by the now speaker Biman Banerjee with Mamata in it at Gardenreach’s Bichalighat. Mukhtar was inducted into Congress’s trade union wing INTUC late October.

School children were forced to take part in political rally

Calcutta, Nov. 18: The Mamata Banerjee government has formally removed the school network from the political conveyor belt during working hours.
A gazette notification has banned schoolchildren from political activities and teachers from using school premises for political purposes during class hours.
But the notification does not address the larger moral question of why the pupils are not being protected after school hours.
The notification comes a couple of months after children from a government-run south Calcutta school were forced to become rally cattle — a malaise highlighted by The Telegraph.
The notification issued by school education secretary Vikram Sen said: “No student of any government school or government-aided or unaided school shall take part in any political activity or join any political rally within or outside the school premises during school hours. No (school) premises… shall be used for any political purpose within school hours.
“No teacher… shall take part in or promote directly or indirectly any political activity within school premises during school hours.”
The notification was placed before a high court division bench headed by Chief Justice J.N. Patel. The document underscored the need to make educational institutions “free of political influence”.
The order puts the onus of ensuring compliance on the managing committees of schools.
The penalty on offenders is not specified. Government pleader Ashok Banerjee said the school education department would take action or direct managements to do so.

Hide and seek!

Maoists threaten ‘feudal lord’ Subhendu


Kolkata: Last week, the Intelligence Bureau prepared a report suggesting Trinamool MP Subhendu Adhikary featured on the Maoist hit list. On Thursday, Maoist leader Akash threatened that the Adhikary will be punished in the peoples’ court. 
    For past one month, the Tamluk MP has been in a bid to take on Maoists politically, which led him to hold series of meetings in different Maoist stronghold villages. 
    In all his public meetings, Adhikary threatened the red guerrillas and on November 12 rally at Kurasole near Jhargram, he had said, “Either Maoists will have to lay down arms or they have to leave the state.” 
    In response to the threat, Maoists alleged that Trinamool Congress is masterminding hooliganism across the state to keep their domain. “Even they are not sparing their ally Congress,” said Akash. Like the previous government, Trinamool is also trying to wrest power at gun 
point and creating an undemocratic and suffocating atmosphere in the state. 
    Adhikary, who is considered as an old ‘friend’ of the Maoists since the Nadigram days in 2007, is now on the top Maoist enemy list in Jangalmahal. Maoists alleged that the anti-land acquisition movement that gave Trinamool a momentum against the Left Front government was organized by the Maoists. “He just betrayed with the people at Nandigram. His treachery helped CPM goons to return Nandigram through November 2007 operation,” alleged Akash, who warned that people in Jangalmahal and Nandigram will not forgive him. Branding Subhendu as a feudal lord, the rebel leader said “We will continue our struggle. We don’t fear jail and bullets.” 
    The rebel camp also alleged that Subhendu has been hiring the goons who once used to work for the CPM. “How long will you be able to terrorize people? They will drag you in their court. And then where will you escape?” quizzed the rebel.

Undemocratic Mamata exposed by ally

Calcutta, Nov. 18: The battle for north Bengal was fought in Calcutta today by three feisty women in Bengal politics.
In the tarmac-paved street corner were Mausam Noor, the young MP and the state president of the Youth Congress, and Deepa Das Munshi, another MP and the protector of the Congress’s rights in north Bengal.
In the red-stone corner at Writers’ was Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister.
At stake was the Congress pie in north Bengal, the national party’s redoubt that has withstood the Left onslaught but is now facing a raid from a voracious Trinamul.
Mausam and Deepa landed a punch by organising a silent padayatra from Hazra Road crossing to Mayo Road in Calcutta in the afternoon, crippling traffic and provoking an outburst from Mamata.
“Now the Congress will have to take a decision whether they would remain with us or not, both at the Centre and in Bengal,” the chief minister told STAR Ananda.
Mamata said the Congress was free to leave the alliance if it wanted. “If they do not like to continue relations with us, it is better to leave us. We have a majority in Bengal. Besides, we can independently reach out to people,” she said.
The padayatra — Deepa and some others had gagged themselves with a black band — was intended at highlighting Trinamul’s alleged attacks on Congress workers in north Bengal districts such as Malda and North Dinajpur. Pockets of north Bengal have been bristling with turf battles since the new government assumed power. On Wednesday, a Trinamul worker was killed by alleged Congress supporters in Malda.
Mamata reminded the Congress of her support, not just in Bengal but also in Delhi. “This cannot go on that they simultaneously speak against us, attack our activists and share power with us in Bengal and enjoy our support in Delhi. This has to be sorted out because the Congress’s protests on road are strengthening the CPM’s hands.”
Congress central leaders tried in the evening to calm ruffled feathers but the tug-of-war has some political as well as personal history.
Mausam, who hails from the Khan Chowdhury family of Malda, used to enjoy a good rapport with Mamata. But relations apparently soured when Trinamul tried to spread its reach to Malda, where the Congress won eight of 12 Assembly seats in the last elections.
The Congress’s political future in a traditional stronghold at stake, Mausam appeared to be sending an unmistakable signal to Mamata by launching the protest march from a place — Hazra — not far from the chief minister’s house.
The march appears to have touched a raw nerve in Mamata, who said her party was also capable of taking out a hundred processions against the Congress. “But we cannot do this because we believe in shristachar (cordiality) and we respect our ally,” she added.
Deepa has always been vocal against Mamata, especially when she tries to protect her ailing husband Priya Ranjan Das Munshi’s turf in North Dinajpur.
Deepa’s latest grouse is a fear, not entirely unfounded, that an AIIMS-like institute Priya Ranjan had planned for Raiganj and got cleared by the Centre could be shifted by the Mamata government.
Trinamul leader and Union junior health minister Sudip Bandopadhyay told The Telegraph: “The state government has now decided that the AIIMS-like hospital will come up in Nadia.” Officials said over 100 acres had been found at Kalyani in Nadia.
Deepa has already launched an agitation, which she today threatened to intensify, to pile pressure on the Mamata government to acquire the land identified in Raiganj.
Mamata tonight phoned Pranab Mukherjee to lodge a complaint against the padayatra. Mukherjee then spoke to state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya to express his “reservations” about the rally.
AICC Bengal in-charge Shakeel Ahmed said he would seek a report from the state Congress. “We have no intention to do something that will jeopardise the alliance with Mamataji,” he said.
Although Mausam and Deepa stood out in the padayatra, the state Congress had thrown its weight behind the event. Bhattacharya and Sabina Yasmin, minister of state for labour in Bengal, joined the march. But Deepa and Yasmin, who is from Malda, were not seen at the brief meeting on Mayo Road where the march ended. ( )

Whom the tribals will believe?

Hint of tribal alienation?

Saugata Roy TNN 17.11.11

Kolkata: Those who had been to Jagori Baske’s home in Purulia’s Bagdubi village would be aware of the pitiable background of this shy adivasi girl who later turned into a brutal Maoist squad leader. A mud house behind a pond in this forest hamlet, no land to fall back upon and no cattle to rear. Jagori lived with her mother in extreme poverty, surviving on a meagre income from babui grass. 
    Jagori had the desperation and zeal to break out of the penury — the Maoists gifted her a dream that shat
tered midway. 
    What does her surrender signify? Are the Maoists losing their foothold in Jangalmahal? And if so, is the Trinamool Congress gaining new ground when the CPM organisers are on their heels? The series of developments that led to 
the dramatic surrender displays a lack of trust towards the Maoists. But this is not all. It has created a void among the adivasis that is more significant than the surrender. The innocent adivasis, who largely supported the ‘bon parti’ against the CPM’s domination, are at a loss. 
    Those in power have failed to understand the socio-cultural fabric of the adivasi community which is as important as the under-development that plagues the region. It’s true that Maoists have smashed the adivasi 
patriarchy that was the last word in the community. But the mainstream political parties — CPM and of late Trinamool — dominated by the Sarkars, Pandeys, Roys and Adhikarys have never spared a thought to engage the adivasi samaj that could work wonders in bringing peace to the area. 
    Jagori’s surrender is not an isolated case, as Maoists would like to showcase it. Shobha Mandi, another tribal Maoist squad leader, was the first to surrender. Gurucharan Kis
ku alias Marshall was among the men dumped by Maoists, and later Laxmikanta Baske from Katasimul village joined the Trinamool-backed platform. 
    They are all adivasis — a major contingent of the Jangalmahal population that played a key role in the Lalgarh uprising in 2007. It sent ripples in the entire adivasi samaj. Sensing the mood, the Maoists kept tribals Lalmohan Tudu (killed) and Sukhshanti Baske (now in custody) in the first panel of the People’s Com
mittee Against Police Atrocities. Chhatradhar Mahato (a non-tribal) was the spokesperson. A little after the uprising, the Maoists took over completely and broke the writ of the adivasi society. 
    This seems to have triggered the alienation. The Maoist diktat also began to dominate personal relations within the guerrillas. It became evident when the party didn’t allow Jagori to marry her mentor Gurucharan Kisku alias Marshall and instead made her tie the wedlock with Rajaram Soren. Marshall felt out with the Maoist leadership and was shown the door, so was Jagori. It did not go down well among the adivasis. 
    “I won’t go into the internal affairs of the Maoists. But it’s a fact that Maoists are losing public support among the adivasis. But there is no one to address their concerns. We are trying in our own little way,” said CPI(M-L) leader Santosh Rana. 
    Jagori’s surrender may prompt the Maoists to regroup themselves among the adivasis who are not taking them in right earnest. They might try to consolidate their position among the non-tribal Mahato community, which might further aggravate the social tension. 
    The Mamata Banerjee government cannot make much headway in the adivasi belt with its band of bureaucrats. The BPL rice that was promised to them has been stopped for over a week, soon after the government ordered a three-tier committee comprising BDOs, SDOs and district magistrate to revamp the delivery system.

West Bengal babies death continue due to inefficient Govt.

3 more babies die in Malda, CM sets up task force


Malda/Kolkata: Three more babies died in the Malda District Hospital on Wednesday pushing up the death toll to 29 in last eight days. The unabated deaths have prompted the state secretariat to sit up and take note. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in charge of the health department, has ordered setting up of a high-level task force to suggest ways to revamp the mother and child care system all over the state. 
    The task force under pediatrician Abhijit Banerjee will be collecting information on infrastructure and staff in government hospitals and inspecting them, before it submits time-bound remedial measures to bring down infant and maternal mortality rates. 
    The CM has asked health of
ficials to ensure that no child is left to lie on the hospital floor due to dearth of beds. District magistrate Archana said, “From now, teachers of the Medical College will attend the hospital. Instead of one, the hospital will have three pediatricians at all times.” Principal Dr Debashis Bhattacharya said that stabilization units will be opened in block hospitals.

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Intolerance and Inefficiency doubled up Maoist problem in West Bengal, India


Joint forces step up operation, interlocutors offer to resign


Kolkata/Midnapore: With the government-appointed interlocutors writing to chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday and offering to step down from their role, the stage is set for full-scale offensive against Maoists. 
    DGP Naparajit Mukherjee made it clear that the government was in no mood to take things lying down. “Criminal acts have to stop. Police are responsible for stopping these acts like killing, extortion of money, felling of trees, and police have to enforce the law. They (Maoists) can still surrender arms and hold talks, but the killings have to certainly stop,” the DGP told reporters at Writers’ Buildings. The interlocutors perhaps sensed this. “Now it’s a war-like situation. We think we are no more required. So we wrote to CM and requested her to relinquish us,” said Choton Das, an interlocutor. 
    Meanwhile, joint forces oper
ation continued in full-swing across Jangalmahal. Intensive combing operations continued in Purulia for the second day in a row. Officers admitted that they had fired more than 2200 rounds. IGP (Western Range) Gangeswar Singh, their CRPF counterparts and Manoj Verma, SP, Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) chalked out a strategy in a meeting at Purulia. Raids and 
patrols were increased. During the day, more than 200 CRPF jawans combed the forests of Purnapani and Koromsole near Lalgarh in West Midnapore. 
    An intelligence tip-off on the possibility of the presence of Maoist squad leader Bikash prompted CRPF jawans to fire nearly hundred rounds in these jungles hemming Lalgarh. West Midnapore SP Praveen Tripathi claimed 
that Bikash had been camping there. “We have recovered two INSAS rifles, one SLR, one .303 rifle and five pistols from a Maoist hideout along with huge quantity of explosives,” said Tripathi. 
    The reworked blueprint suggests elite anti-Maoist force CIF will work together with CoBRA teams in ambushes. “Maoists are changing their strategy, accordingly we are also changing plans,” said the IGP (Western Range). 
    The DGP, however, said the operational details could not be shared and neither was he ready to say if more forces were being requisitioned from the Centre, but added that the main focus of the police was to arrest and prevent criminal activities. He said police were constantly recovering arms and ammunition — and had even done so on Wednesday. According to the DGP, if any person or organization kills, police are automatically responsible to take action, and even so in self defence.

Mamata trying to suppress democracy to hide her inefficiency

Rebel sympathizers slam Mamata


Kolkata: Seldom has a chief minister named Maoist frontal organizations and threatened to take action against them for “glorifying murderers and terrorists”. Branding the Matangini Mahila Samiti a “demonic brigade”, CM Mamata Banerjee also warned people against the All Bengal Students Union, two Jadavpur university professors and several government employees for their Maoists links. 
    On Wednesday, all these “accused” chose to take off their veil and take on the chief minister. Addressing mediapersons, the rebel sympathisers said that they had never concealed their moral support for the Maoists “who are fighting for the poor and deprived people”. They accused the chief minister of gagging the democratic atmosphere of the state. 
    Debolina Chakraborty, Matangini Mahila Samiti’s founder-secretary, who actively took part in Trinamool headed Nandigram movement said: 
“The government has changed but the policy remained same. Like the previous Left Front government, the Trinamool government is also gagging the voice of protest. And the word ‘Maoist’ is only an instrument to suppress any form of protest.” 
    Jadavpur University’s history professor Amit Bhattacharya said the CM’s “insinuations forced him to speak out”. Jail doesn’t bother him, he said. “I was a political detainee in the ’70s,” he said. Bhattacharya who is working on a UGC-approved project to understand the Maoist problem in India, said, “We thought the new government will bring some change but nothing happened. In her manifesto Mamata Banerjee had promised to end state sponsored terrorism. It continues.” 
    ABSU secretary Raktim Ghosh condemned Mamata for branding the organization a Maoist wing. “She is implementing anti-student rules. She is trying to stop all types of movements and protests on campuses. Whenever we protest we were branded as Maoist,” said Raktim.

End of Democracy in West Bengal, India

Unions see a role reversal

Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, Udit Prasanna Mukherji & Suman Mondal | TNN 17.11.11

Haldia: Flags at the factory gates changed overnight after Trinamool Congress came to power on May 13. It marked the end of the Citu era in Haldia that rarely happens for trade unions elsewhere in the country. But in Bengal, the Citu leaders identified themselves more with the ruling CPM to exercise control on all the stakeholders – from the employees to their bosses. Stripped of power, the Citu-affiliated trade unions crumbled like a pack of cards. The members have virtually gone underground after handing down the mantle to the rival Trinamool-backed union leaders who faced a similar fate when the Left was in power. 
    The once-all-powerful CPM zonal secretary Sudarshan Manna can’t even move out after sundown, such is the scare. A total 43 Citu offices in this in
dustrial belt had to be closed downwith the leaders huddling in the Sukumar Sengupta Bhavan, the CPM’s Haldia zonal office and the Left Front’s last fortress in Haldia. 
    “We cannot even sit at Shramik Bhawan, the Citu headquarters in Haldia. Only some of our port labourers go there and leave before sunset. You cannot imagine the extent of terror we are facing,” said Manna. 
    He claimed that they still have a support base among the majority of labourers. But they are scared to come out in the open with us. “There is no democ
racy in Haldia. What is going on here is a mockery of democracy,” Manna said. 
    Manna’s remark sounds similar to the Trinamool’s comments when Haldia MP and CPM strongman Laxman Seth held the sway. When TOI reporters met Trinamool labour wing leader Azizul in 2010, he said: “We are not even allowed to enter the factory gates. If any of our supporters dares to go near the factories, he is chased away.” 
    The CPM zonal office puts on a rather desolate look, with a handful of leaders roaming around lazily. “It is a political struggle. We have lodged more than 100 complaints with the police, without ex
pecting any action. All these complaints are for records only. Right now, we cannot operate openly,” said Manna. 
    Manna, who refused to get photographed, shied away from making a specific allegation against the 
Opposition. “There are extortions, ransom demands, infighting. I am not interested in talking about specific cases. It is an open secret. Everyone in Haldia knows who is doing what.” 
    Unable to maintain its branches, Citu is now merging its branches into one. “It is not that we have given up the political struggle. But we are doing it much cautiously,” the veteran trade union leader said. But the man who used to call the shots in the Left’s heydays, Laxman Seth, remained beyond the reach of the media. “He is now out of Haldia,” Manna said.

CM's party in West Bengal sucks Industries

Jobs cut, monthly pay intact

Backed By Unions, 1,000 Casual Workers Refuse To Quit

Udit Prasanna Mukherji & Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay | TNN 17.11.11

Haldia: Faced with losses of Rs 600 crore this fiscal, the management of Haldia Petrochemical Limited (HPL) reduced its hired car fleet by 25% last month to trim expenses. The move was part of a larger cost-cutting exercise across various departments that made around 1,000 of the 1,800 casual workers engaged in HPL redundant. But all of them, blessed by their powerful unions, have refused to quit and continue to draw their regular wages, rendering the whole cost-cutting operation ineffective. 
    Now, as the petrochem giant fends for survival strategies, it continues to issue paycheques worth around Rs 1.5 crore every month to workers not even on the payrolls. Partha S Bhattacharyya, managing director of HPL, said, “The decision was taken as part of the overall cost-cutting exercise. One needs to understand that.” The average monthly pay of an HPL casual worker is Rs 10,000-12,000. “This (paycheques to redundant workers) will affect the margin by Rs 15-18 crore this year,” an HPL official said. Such workers are not HPL recruits but are hired by private contract agencies that are close to the trade unions. 

    The much celebrated political change appears to have done little for Bengal’s largest industrial town, where Trinamool Congress-backed labour unions continue to hold sway and issue diktats in the same fashion that Citu did during Left rule. “When Citu controlled the unions, it forced HPL 

to employ these casual workers. Now, only the signboard has changed and Trinamool-backed labour wing INTTUC has taken over. Nothing else has. We have told union leaders to redeploy the excess labour in other companies. But they are not listening. The company will not survive if they continue to step up pressure,” the official said. 
    HPL officials also alleged the productivity of most of these 
casual workers is very low. “They are unskilled workers. In Gujarat, if you change contractors, the new contractor has the right to deploy a new set of workers. But here, you cannot do that. And we cannot change the contractors either because no good contractor is willing to come,” an official said. 
    Milan Mondal, working president of the INTTUC-affiliated HPL casual workers’ union, does not think casual labourers at HPL are in excess. “This is a ploy to get rid of workers,” he said. 
    Amid a fierce battle among INTTUC factions for control of unions, HPL’s highly skilled permanent employees — numbering around 400 and most of them engaged in tech
nical jobs — are putting up a brave face. A majority of them have shunned unions affiliated to a political organization. 
    Narayan Chakraborty, an employee of plant materials department, said Citu had forced them to form a union a few years back but they never took active part in the union’s 

activities. “Now, the Citu union exists only on paper. They do not have any influence on us. If INTTUC approaches us, we will say no,” he said. Dibakar Karmakar, an employee of the instrumentation department and Dipnarayan Sarkar, who works in logistics, share the same view. “Why should we form a union when we can approach the management on our own?” Sarkar said.

Bengal Industries getting sick for extortion by ruling Trinamool Party

Extortion Strangles Haldia Trade

Bengal’s biggest industrial hub is gasping for breath. Toughs owing allegiance to the ruling party are bleeding companies dry. What makes it worse is that there are many factions fighting for the spoils

Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay & Udit Prasanna Mukherji | TNN 17.11.11

Haldia (East Midnapore): Haldia Petrochemicals Limited (HPL), the flagship of neo-industrialisation, decided to slash its fleet of cars as a costcutting measure in October. It could shed the car fleet, but could not get rid of the drivers. Result: HPL is paying out the wages of these idle drivers engaged by contractors. 
    Mitsubishi Chemicals (MCCPTA) lost one manday because Trinamool Congress goons demanded a huge sum from the transporters on Viswakarma Puja. The extortionists backed down only when the news reached the state secretariat. 

On November 1, goons punctured more than 2,000 cartons of edible oil at Emami Biotech

On November 1, Emami Biotech officials were shocked to see that goons had punctured more than 2,000 cartons of edible oil with knives or screwdrivers. The oil spilled all over the floor of factory’s packaging shed. A complaint was lodged at Haldia’s Bhawanipore police station. The loss was worth Rs 10 lakh. Police retrieved a poster addressed to the labour contractor threatening him with dire consequences. 
    The state’s biggest industrial hub, Haldia, is in dire straits. And it’s not just the economic downturn. Extortion by toughs owing allegiance to the ruling party has become a rule in Haldia — only the party changes with the change of guard at Writers’ Buildings. 
    There was a time when companies used to dispatch the wage bills of workers to the Haldia Citu office from where workers on contract got their wages. With the CPM hegemony gone, Trinamoolbacked unions are desperate to gain control of this “gold trove”. Unlike the CPM era, there is no one Laxman Seth in the area. The new extortion regime has given birth to many such Seths who have started flexing their muscles at the slightest pretext to have their way. If some of these local touts enjoy the confidence of Trinamool MP Subhendu Adhikary, the budding monarch of Haldia, there are others within the Trinamool to queer Adhikary’s pitch. They all swear by Trinamool MLA Shiuli Saha. Investors ignoring this political parameter are bound to suffer. 
    There is no point looking at a single window solution to this problem. It’s not feasible to come 
all the way to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee or send an SOS to industries minister Partha Chatterjee for the daily hazards. The politics here revolves around the small-time leaders looking for short-term gains. They are not bothered with the company’s financial health or its future. They want to get their men absorbed in the company payrolls, and not the other way round. And if someone in the Trinamool-backed labour unions takes a pragmatic stance, he runs the risk of getting outnumbered by his factional rivals. 
    The industry has now become a war front with the threats and sabotage turning into full-scale armed clashes to establish hegemony. 
    Managers of industry are now unable to find a method in the madness. They do not know who to negotiate with on wage disputes or other trade union demands. “There is no end to the wheeling-dealing. If we agree to the demands of one 

    faction, we 
    earn the wrath of the other. And yet another group comes up with another charter of demands with a vengeance. We are facing threats and counter threats. In the Left regime, we knew that dealing with the Citu was the ‘be-all-and-endall’ of the issue. But now it is getting tough by the day,” an industry representative said. 
    The desperate situation has prompted the Haldia Council of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce to convene an emergency meeting on 
November 30. HPL managing director and Haldia Council’s chairman Partha S Bhattacharyya said: “All industry related matters will be discussed in the meeting.” 
    Prior to this discussion, the industry needs to lend ear to what the Trinamool foot soldiers in Haldia have to say. Haldia town Trinamool Congress vice-president Pintu Bhattacharjee and Trinamool MLA Shiuli Saha went hammer and tongs at party MP Subhendu Adhikary. 

In the name of the Trinamool trade union, some people are extorting and amassing personal wealth. Neither the party, nor the labourers are benefited. We are the original flag-bearers of the party when the Trinamool was constantly under attack. But when we sought affiliation of our trade union, we were denied by state-level leaders. We have formed a parallel INTTUC union at each company as we can only protect the interest of workers. Our leader Subhendu Adhikary has brought some hooligans from outside to run the Trinamool labour wing at different units. These hooligans are extorting labourers, extracting ransom from industrialists and selling jobs at a premium 

 “We represent the original party. We built the party’s base, brick by brick. But now we find ourselves left behind. Our leader Subhendu Adhikary has brought some hooligans from outside to run the Trinamool labour wing at different units. These hooligans are extorting labourers, extracting ransom from industrialists, selling jobs at a premium,” they said. 

Some opportunistic people, who have come to Trinamool from the CPM, are trying to defame the party and its leader Subhendu Adhikary. We have affiliation. Others who are trying to pass off as the real INTTUC have not been affiliated by the party. What they are doing is unconstitutional. The allegation of extortion against us is baseless 
—Milan Mondal | IINTTUC LEADER

Milan Mondal of the Subhendu faction denied the charge. “Some opportunists from the CPM, who are claiming themselves to be Trinamool workers, have been trying to fish in the murky water. They are trying to defame the party.” However, Mondal admitted that there was some “overdoing”, when specifically asked about the Mitsubishi transporter extortion case. 
When asked about the involvement of dubious characters like Selim, Arman Bhola, Mona Jana and Subal Middadas — all of whom have criminal antecedents — in the trade unions, Mondal saw 
nothing wrong in it. He described them as “social activists”. “We could not have countered the Citu without them. If you are in danger, they will be the first to come to your rescue. They are the true Trinamool workers. In the Left regime, police booked almost all the leaders worth their salt under heinous sections. So don’t be taken by the police records.” 
    A few days ago, Gokul Tung, a tough of the Shiuli faction, allegedly threatened independent workers agitating at KS Oil gates under the banner of Jana Jagaran Mancha. Tung warned them of a severe beating if they do not come under their fold. 
    If there was any doubt about the Trinamool infighting, hear it in the rivals’ own words. 
    HDA chairman and Tamluk MP Subhendu Adhikary said,” There is no room for confusion. The industry should recognise only affiliated trade unions. Why should it deal with unrecognised ones? There is no truth in the rumours going around. On the contrary, Haldia is experiencing a new dawn with greater productivity, excellent work-atmosphere where both industry and workers can work at peace.” 
    Haldia MLA Shiuli Saha strongly differs. “I am answerable to my people and my voters. I have to raise my voice if my people do not get jobs. If the party MP has his way, why can’t I? I have already written a letter on this to the state leadership,” Saha said. 

 Haldia is witnessing a new dawn with greater productivity and zero-man day loss. You will hardly find the extortion and blackmailing that existed at the time of Laxman Seth. Citu has been systematically spreading rumours that have no basis 

There is neither democracy, nor impartial administration. We are not allowed to function. We are being attacked. Labourers are losing jobs if they hold red flags. The industry is suffering as it has to satisfy many demands from various factions 

We are confused. There are two sets of union leaders from the same party, each claiming to be the genuine one. They place separate charters of demand. If we agree to one, the other comes up with a steeper demand. In the Left Front regime, Citu was at least the be-all-and-end-all 
A top industrialist, AFRAID TO BE NAMED 

The demands of the trade unions remind me of the man who killed the goose that gave golden eggs 

Those who have built the Trinamool in Haldia are being ignored. Some dubious outsiders are getting prominence. The state leadership is also giving trade union affiliation to some particular people, not those who fought for the party despite having been beaten up by the CPM workers