Social Scientist. v 17, no. 192-93 (May-June 1989) p. Back material.


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ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE LEFT FRONT GOVERNMENT IN WEST BENGAL

There has been a flourishing of Democratic and Trade Union Rights of the people. There are no Black Acts like ESMA in operation here. Nobody gets arrested on political grounds.

West Bengal remains free of Caste and Communal strife: members of the minority communities consider the State a safe heaven of peace. There are very few instances of persecutions perpetrated on women, especially, compared to the National scene.

West Bengal has an enviable record of Law and Order. The crime rate is negligibly low: riots are conspicuous only by their absence. Darjeeling is peaceful with the political solution of the C.N.E.F. imbroglio.

Significant achievements have been made in redistributive Land Reforms. 12.57 lakhs of acres of ceiling-surplus agricultural land could vest to the State (and the figure is no fewer than one-sixth of the totality of such vested land in the country). 8.60 lakh acres of the vested land have been redistributed among the rural poor and the landless. And the figure represents nearly 21 per cent of the total amount of redistributed Sand in the country. In all, till date, more than 18 lakhs of landless peasants have been benefited—and nearly 14 lakhs of adhiyars or bargadars (sharecroppers) have had their rights duly registered. And such figures continue to grow.

Redistributive land reforms have ensured the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. No fewer than 56 per cent of the recipients of ceiling-surplus vested lands belong to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Similarly, 30 per cent of the total number of registered bargardars (sharecroppers) belong to Scheduled Castes whilst more than 12 per cent belong to Scheduled Tribes.

Production of foodgrains has never looked back after touching the all-time record of 103 lakh tonnes in 1987-88. Currently, the State produces the food requirement of 8 per cent of the National population while physically the State represents but a mere 2.7 per cent of the geographical area in India.

Democracy at the grass-root level has been ensured with the holding of regular elections to the three-tier Panchayati Raj institutions (Zila Parishad, Panchayat and Gram Panchayat) on the basis of adult franchise.

Elections are being regularly held in the 116 urban Local Bodies in the State, and principles of participatory democratisation upheld. The principle of reduction of Voting Age to 18 years was introduced by the State Government in 1978, long before the principle was thought as important at the National level.

There has been a cascading down of financial and administrative powers to the elected Panchayati Raj institutions and urban Local Bodies towards plan formulation and plan implementation—in a demonstrative exercise of pro-people decentralisation. 50 per cent of the State plan Budget is allocated to the districts. The two tiers of decentralised planning are the Block-level and District-level Planning Committees and this exercise has been in operation since a



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