Social Scientist. v 6, no. 66-67 (Jan-Feb 1978) p. 3.


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ASHOK MITRA

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This Opportunity has to be Converted into a Challenge..."

SUDDENLY the people of West Bengal find themselves in a position where they can act as pace-setters for the rest of the nation. Must one even pause to ask whether this situation Is an instance of serendipity^or the culmination of an historical process? The role of the latter can scarcely be ignored. The restoration last year of democratic rights in the country as a whole is of course the outcome of the striving for freedom on the part of the Indian population in all regions, and practically of all strata. The toiling masses of West Bengal can however lay claim to a specificity. For they went on to use the opportunity thereby opened up to install a left-wing government in the State. This was no happenstance. The sweeping victory which the Left Front registered in West Bengal in the Vidhan Sabha elections last June w^s n%l an accidental flash in the pan. It merely confirmed, in the form of an external evidence, a truth which the quasi-fascist tw?or of the past half-a-dozen years had succeeded to blur, but couM not obliterate. It was reflective of the mood and emotions of a majority of the West Bengal electiprwte, particularly those in the countryside and in areas where the working classes predominate. And it has set its own multiplier effects at work. Democratic-minded people elsewhere in the country sat up when the Left Front was able to capture as much as 64 percent of the total votes



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