West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee says there is no place for jobless growth, and now that the communists' radical land reform, which broke up large zamindar land-holdings among small and marginal share-croppers, has nearly run its course, the logical next step is industrialisation. This is not music to the ears of the CPI(M)'s allies in the Left Front coalition that has ruled the state, unchallenged, for the past 30 years.
"I am very clear in my mind. This is capitalism. I just cannot build socialism in one part of the country. They (leftist critics) theoretically cannot accept this position. Academically they cannot accept this position. I cannot build socialism in one state of India. I have to follow capitalism. But we have to protect against the negative effects of a capitalist society," Bhattacharjee told the Hindustan Times in an exclusive two-hour interview.
"The world is changing, Communists are also changing. We can't stick to our old dogmas. Deng Xiaoping used to say 'Learn truth from the facts, not from dogmas'."
He admitted that there has been opposition from the CPI(M)'s Left Front partners. "We are still debating among ourselves the need for manufacturing investment in West Bengal. If we sit content with what we have done in agriculture, it will not help us. We have to move from agriculture to industry."
"Some economists think that the market economy is omnipotent. We don't think so. We live in a market economy, but it marginalises a section of the people. Who will take care of them?" asks Bhattacharjee.
As an example, he said of the 38,700 villages in West Bengal, the government has identified 4,612 that are the "poorest of the poor." "We have to take care of them. This is the Left alternative," he said. "We have to protect people against the negative effects of a capitalist society…We have enrolled more than one million workers in the unorganised sector for provident fund."
Thirty years in power -and still haven't 'taken care' of all those thousands of villages? Thirty years of the Left rule could not remove poverty? Didn't the communists have all the answers? What went wrong? Perhaps some unknown bug in the theories of Karl Marx? The ideological experts of the left are working on a patch.