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Bengal wants next govt to work for poor, peace
Intellectuals feel restoration of peace and welfare of the poor should be the topmost priorities.
Kolkata: With mounting violence ahead of the April-May assembly elections, noted intellectuals in West Bengal feel restoration of peace and welfare of the poor should be the topmost priorities of the next government.
"The restoration of peace and law and order should be topmost priority for the new government. It doesn't matter which party forms the next government. Peace and tranquillity should be restored at any cost," said author Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay.
Expressing similar sentiments, theatre personality Manoj Mitra said: "Peace should be brought back to the state. People should be able to feel again the faith that the government will protect its subjects." He also added that a "change of guard" is necessary because if a government stays in power for too long, it "stops functioning properly".
The Left Front has been in power in West Bengal for 34 years, but this time the Trinamool Congress-Congress combine is seen to be hugely popular. Hundreds of people have been killed in different parts of the state in political clashes and Maoist insurgency since the 2009 parliamentary polls. People are recalling some of the bloody days of the 1960s and 1970s when political violence had engulfed the state.
Apart from the Maoist-affected West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts, several parts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Birbhum, Burdwan, Darjeeling, Malda, Murshidabad, East Midnapore, Hoogly and Howrah have turned into political battlefields with fatalities reported from various parts of these districts almost every day. Campus violence has also made a comeback to the state with almost daily reports of clashes between student groups.
"Peace should come back to the state. The new government should look into it. It should also look into the aspect of development of the poorest of the poor," said noted writer Sunil Gangopadhyay.
Siddharta, lead singer of Bengali band Cactus, also pitched for peace. "Peace should be restored in the state at any cost. It really hurts to see so much violence going on in the state," he said.
The state's ruling Left Front traditionally enjoyed the support of intellectuals. But the scenario changed after the anti-land acquisition protests in Nandigram and Singur in 2007-2008 when a large number of intellectuals openly condemned the Marxist government.
"Development of the poorest of the poor of society should be the first job that the government should do. Especially the development of those people who are below the poverty level," said musician and actor Bikram Ghosh.
"I think special care should be given to the development of the poor. Special attention should be given to the ailing health infrastructure and educational system of the state," said singer Swapan Gupta.
However, some are rather pessimistic and feel a change of guard will make no difference to the life of the common man.
"Every time there is an election, the real loser is the common man. Politicians are only busy making fake promises before polls and exploiting the common man after it," said magician P.C. Sorcar (junior).
Six-phase assembly polls will be held for the 294-member West Bengal assembly from April 18 to May 10. The results will be declared on May 13.