Dear Editor,In an earlier article, we had posited that the nature of the present APNU/AFC regime is one of bureaucratic capitalist elite. It was noted that such a regime uses the state apparatus to enrich itself. This is a throwback to the PNC days in power from 1964 to 1992.During this period, the PNC practised similar methods. Super salaries and allowances, coupled with huge corruption scandals like Global Agri, Greenland Crop and others were the order of the day. Eventually, their greed became so great that under the guise of building socialism, the regime “nationalised” 80 per cent of the country’s economy.They did that to further enrich themselves and to control the livelihood of the vast majority of people in the country. This allowed them to lord it over the people. One had to join the PNC to get a job and when the economy deteriorated, they had to join the PNC for basic items, including toilet paper.They even practiced forced labour at Hope Estate. They forced public servants and employees of public corporations to give free labour on weekends.The PNC regime used those same workers and the army to break strikes, which they branded as political.Such a regime, by nature, suppresses criticism. They do not like transparency and accountability. Those methods of management go against their intentions. They want to run the state as if it was their private property, not caring about the welfare of the people.In a word, by its nature, such a regime is considered to be anti-democratic.Of course, defenders of this regime would argue that that was a long time ago and much has changed. Some would even say that it is impossible for them to return to such practices. It is true that a lot has changed. What has not changed is the nature of the regime. That is the constant.It means that they would continue their practice in these new conditions. They work systematically to undermine the democratic gains we have made since 1992 and eventually will take us back to a dictatorship – a la PNC.It is apposite to recall that the PNC took from 1964 to 1973 to complete their strangle on power and to really earn the title as a dictatorship. This shows that the establishment of a dictatorship by the bureaucratic clan is a process.An examination of this PNC-led APNU/AFC regime would show that the contours of such a regime are already distinguishable. This trend is bound to continue.Already, we see that the Parliament is being undermined. Many complaints are being made by the Opposition on how the Speaker is conducting the business of the Assembly. He is not using his authority to facilitate deliberation and debates. Instead his conduct puts him as a partisan operator mainly concerned with defending and protecting government MPs.Already questions begging to be answered are piling up in the National Assembly.Since the regime took power we have noticed the trend – settling of cases, including tax cases. These settlements have cost the economy billions of dollars. The BK International case is one such disturbing matter. This matter did not even reach the court, but settlement of more than a billion dollars was done.In all of these cases, one is hard pressed not to believe that some persons may be getting kickbacks.This is after they have given themselves huge increases in salaries and allowances. This is after they have given their friends super salaries in many public entities. They have also overloaded the system with advisors.The drug bond fiasco is the latest case to show that they are setting up companies to do business with the Government. Minister Norton, in the case of the bond fiasco, is just the fall guy. This stench goes high up in the administration.Many established contractors are already complaining that they are not getting jobs, they have become sub-contractors to persons who were given projects but have no equipment.Already, we have seen the disregard for the tender process and the use of sole sourcing. This is the beginning of the undermining of transparency and accountability.The most worrying factor of this Granger regime is the process of militarisation of the State. Some glimpses of these actions are of great concern.The taking over of the Walter Roth Museum to house the growing bureaucracy is a case in point. Reports have it that army personnel just turned up and told the staff that they will have to move, to start packing.This is an ominous sign of things to come. While we may have some dismissals, as we have seen at GWI, this situation will not get better, it will further deteriorate. This is because of the nature of the regime.The democratic forces in our society must come out and oppose this trend, tomorrow may be too late.Sincerely,Donald Ramotar,Former President
BALURGHAT: There was complete pandemonium as around 100 people fell ill and several got hurt at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in South Dinajpur’s Buniadpur on Saturday. Modi had come in Buniadpur to address a public rally for party candidate Sukanta Majumdar.A stampede-like situation broke out when a section of supporters tried to barge into the inner ring of the rally and the barricades were almost broken. Several women and children fell ill due to the afternoon heat. However, local BJP leaders and workers were seen inactive regarding the issue. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”There was total chaos in the rally. Around 100 people including women and children fell ill due to the heat. They were lying in the field without any medical assistance,” said an irate local resident. According to a source, there was a lot of initial enthusiasm in the area to see a Prime Minister for the first time during poll campaign, since Independence. There were several people standing outside the venue but it was alleged that no BJP leader was seen actively managing the crowd. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe state government had, however, deployed sufficient policemen to tackle any untoward situation. A police officer said there was huge traffic congestion after the rally. Heavy vehicles including buses and lorries, along with cars and autos were seen standing for about two hours on both sides of National Highway 512. “The situation was the worst today. Policemen faced a tough time in managing the situation. Several were found missing following the pandemonium,” a police officer said. The saffron party has likely targeted the Balurghat seat, speculating defeat in other parts of the country.
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