When politics in West Bengal has become distinctly murky with diktats from the high command of the Trinamul Congress (TMC) that its members cannot even have social relations with CPI (M) members, development in Lalgarh brings a whiff of freshness. The CPI (M) has extended its support to the TMC to run the Panchayat in the Maoist-affected Lalgarh. Development activities had come to a halt in the area because neither the TMC nor the Left Front has a clear majority on the board. The CPI (M)’s move came at a time when the TMC government allegedly tried to curtail the power of the CPI (M) controlled North-24 Pargana Zilla Parishad and vest financial powers with the District Magistrate. One CPI (M) member of the Panchayat supported the TMC board enabling it to pass the budget. The area had witnessed a bloodbath under the control of the Maoists three years ago. Panchayat Pradhan Ranibala Mahato of the TMC admitted that development work in Lalgarh could not be done without the support of CPI (M) member Ruidas.
The combined effort has in the past three months enabled construction of roads, digging of 20 ponds and sinking of several tube wells. The area had been facing a drinking water crisis. Jobs had been provided to many people under MNREGA. The next step will be removing flaws in the BPL list. What has happened at Lalgarh should be a showcase to other Panchayats in Jangalmahal. Party rivalry should be eliminated to ensure economic development for the backward and poor people in the region, especially tribals. That will drive away Maoist predators more effectively than joint operations of the army and the police.