Thirty Years Ago

Jyoti Basu, Chief Minister, in a message broadcast from the Calcutta Station of All India Radio, on June 22, 1977, stressed the need for “the people’s co-operation in abundance in order to fulfill the tasks” of the new government.

Excerpts from the Message:

After the last Lok Sabha election, the vast majority of the people of this state have given their unmistakable and historic verdict in the state assembly election. In this election, you have given a fitting reply to the terror, repression, corruption and bankrupt economic policies pursued for the last seven years. You have also rejected the divisive forces. An overwhelming majority of the people of West Bengal have indicated their choice for the programmes of the Left Front and given expression to their desire for a left government in this state.

The Left Front Government has commenced its journey with enormous support and goodwill of the people of the state.

The people have successfully fought back the conspiracies and attacks designed to obliterate the left forces.The erstwhile ruling party and government had subverted parliamentary democracy in 1972 through massive rigging operations. You have won back the right to vote in freedom after a long and arduous struggle. This time, you have voted in freedom and we are proud that you have elected us by an overwhelming majority of the seats.

Hundreds of our compatriots laid down their lives in the state during the last seven years in the cause of democratic rights and struggles of the toiling masses; they had been victims of the terror launched by the then government and ruling party. We remember them all in this hour of victory, and pay our respects to their sacred memory. We pledge to fight for the cause for which they made the supreme sacrifice.

We are conscious that the people of West Bengal have shown great political maturity in voting for a left government and they expect a change in the interest of the people and our state. We shall strive to the best of our ability to be worthy of the trust and confidence reposed in us.

In the past few years, there had been massive attacks on the freedoms and rights of the people of the state and plans were afoot to take them away altogether. I want to assure you on behalf of the Left Front Government that we shall give due priority to the task of restoring and protecting these freedoms and rights. Following a decision taken at the first meeting of our cabinet, we have declared a general amnesty for all political prisoners, detained without trial, under trial or convicted. The new situation in India demands that an opportunity be given to all political forces to operate in freedom and seek the judgment of the people.”

The common people of our state face grave problems in meeting the basic needs of life. Problems have accumulated over the years in all spheres --- food, clothing, housing, transport, power, education, health and even with regard to drinking water facilities. The economy of the state is in a moribund condition and the people’s suffering knows no bounds. Massive unemployment, closed factories, retrenchments, absence of investment, power shortage ---- all these problems have assumed frightful proportions. The condition of the countryside beggars description. We shall make serious and sincere efforts to tackle these problems.

The state governments in India have to function amidst severe political, constitutional and financialconstraints. We will seek to do our best to provide relief and to advance the cause of the state even within these limitations. Our tasks are arduous, but given your support and goodwill, I believe, we shall be able to take these in hand and achieve success. We shall surely overcome all obstacles with the co-operation of the masses.

The Left Front Government shall not be guided by a bureaucratic outlook. We shall try to move with the active cooperation of the common people and their organizations. This government will not put down democratic movements through repressive measures, but will help them advance. It is the sincere desire of the Left Front Government that new horizons will open up with regard to the movements of the democratic masses.

In this connection, it is necessary to put in a word or two on the role of the police. We shall not allow the police to be used to suppress democratic movements, nor shall we allow the police to launch terror and repression on the common people. However, the police will have to be firm in protecting the interests of the people and bringing criminals and anti-socials to book. None will interfere with the police in the performance of this task.

If the reactionary and vested interests seek to create chaos and disorder, and the enemies of the left forces and the people conspire to create difficulties for this government, they will be put down with a firm hand.

The government and the ruling party of the days past had misguided and corrupted a section of our youth and turned them into anti-socials to serve their partisan ends. We shall appeal to these young men to put their past behind them and take up normal healthy and useful roles in society. All political parties and organizations must help our youth to pursue a healthy role.

We want to build up friendly relations with the central government, though we reserve the right to oppose any measure of the centre which may go against the interest of the masses. I hope the central government will cooperate with the West Bengal government in a friendly spirit although ours is a government of the left. I also hope the Centre will go by the norms of a federal democratic set up.

Let me tell you that this government is your own. You have installed it in office, and it is for you to give it necessary direction and guidance through your democratic organizations. We shall do our best to serve the interests of the people in the political, economic and social spheres and to protect their living standards. We will offer you relief from the disastrous consequences of the misrule of the previous government. We shall spare no efforts to move forward to a new future basing ourselves on our past successes and failures.

We are aware that for future developments all over India, the left and democratic forces throughout the country wish us well. Once again I wish to state that we require the people’s cooperation in abundance in order to fulfill the tasks ahead.

Thank You.