I visited Kolkata for 4-5 days in the beginning of April. A political study-journalistic tour, it was a bit disorganised. I visited the rural suburbs of Kolkata and Howrah, had a chat (it was neither an interview nor a survey) with e-rickshaw a taxi drivers, local venders, tea/tobacco sellers, snacks sellers, co-passengers in local trains, as well as private and state buses.
I met various kinds of people who may be clubbed under the category of unorganised sector workers — some of them were floating while some were from Bihar. For them, there is nothing like paid holidays, PF, emergency or medical leaves, health/life insurance. They have to work maximum number of hours without any protection by the labour laws. The RSS/BJP government has destroyed all labour laws, even those for the organised sector workers immediately after coming to power, thus proving their great loyalty to the capitalist class. The government even removed minimum wages in the BJP-ruled states. The current wage rate that many companies follow are not fixed by the fixed by the government and insufficient for even bare survival.
Well, in my “survey” or rather general interaction with the people, I can’t forecast the election results, even that of Kolkata or Howrah, forget about West Bengal. Yes, what I did feel is that people are in favour of welfarism, or rather used to it, and very few are opting for a Hindu Rashtra at the cost of welfare measures.
In Bengal, public transport is highly affordable, food is cheap on roadsides (a plate of rice with fish curry costs just Rs 30-40). Hotels, unless three or five star ones, are quite affordable. Medical facilities, too, are not beyond the reach of the middle- and lower- class. They all have become expensive since the Left got removed from power. Yet, welfarism continues in the state to some extent due to it’s strong inertia.
People know that if the RSS/BJP party comes to power, the longevity of people’s life will crash soon. Only direct beneficiaries of power and money, and those who are a part of maniacal chant “Jai Shri Ram” are supporting the right-wing in the state.
However, what will happen during the elections is yet to be seen. EVM manipulation is not the mother of all election malpractices. The effect of these economic, social and political evils can be regularly witnessed both before and after the EVM process. The Election Commission, media, SM, police and paramilitary forces, and judiciary are sworn supporters of the ruling RW political party and in service of capitalism.
A huge drama for ‘democracy’ is in progress in five states and Bengal has a very special position amongst them.
My final comment: “Election to election politics” has brought us to a new economic, social and political situation where people’s resistance is no more powerful enough to force political parties to adopt a pro-people ideology. But they tell people what to do, eat, wear, drink, pray and even what to think, and people are forced to obey. Our thought process must not be to reverse the process, which is a mere negation, but to prepare for a socialist revolution, i.e. negation of the negation.