A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 | No. 43 | 21 – 27 OCT 2014
The Maharashtra-Haryana Verdict: Implications and Challenges
That Maharashtra and Haryana were ripe for a change of government was clearly a foregone conclusion. Both dispensations were seriously discredited and had lost all legitimacy in general public perception. Sure of the ouster of the Congress-led governments in both states, the BJP took the risk of going it alone in a bid to maximise its gains. With the BJP now all set to head the state governments in these two states for the first time, the calculated risk, it must be said, has been amply rewarded. But once again the BJP’s gains got disproportionately amplified because of the inherent imbalance of the first-past-the-post electoral system – its vote share is still less than 30% in Maharashtra and about 33% in Haryana.
Significantly enough, the BJP’s gains came at the cost of not just the Congress but also major regional players like the NCP and MNS in Maharashtra and INLD and Haryana Janhit Congress in Haryana. Despite managing to marginally increase its own tally in the state and effectively decimate the MNS, even the Shiv Sena found itself overshadowed by the BJP in virtually every region of Maharashtra, including the traditional Sena stronghold of Mumbai. The BJP’s real gain in Maharashtra lies in its success in reversing the terms of its ties with the Sena – in a revived post-poll alliance, the Sena will now be the junior partner with much less negotiating power vis a vis a BJP which now has a presence twice as big as that of the Sena in the Assembly. The unsolicited and unconditional support offered by the NCP to the BJP has further weakened the Sena’s bargaining capacity.
The Maharashtra election campaign had witnessed an interesting propaganda war among the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP and MNS. The Congress sought to attribute the corruption and mess in Maharashtra primarily to the NCP, the BJP too targeted the NCP as the ‘Naturally Corrupt Party’. The NCP hit back at the BJP for its authoritarian design, likening Modi to Hitler. The Shiv Sena and MNS, having all along directed the firepower of their ‘Maratha pride’ against the job-seeking youth and working people from North India, suddenly found themselves pitted against the growing ambition and influence of Gujarati capitalists. Elections over, the NCP has been the first to offer support to the BJP – thereby simultaneously exposing the ‘anti-communal’ posturing of the NCP and the ‘anti-corruption’ rhetoric of the BJP. Whichever way the government is now configured in the state, the post-poll realignment will be no less revealing than the pre-poll break-up.
The remarkable success of the BJP in Maharashtra and Haryana elections will reinforce the grip of the Modi-Shah duo over the government and the party and embolden the BJP to attempt more vigorous forays not only in states like Jharkhand and Bihar where the BJP has shared power in the past but also beyond the Hindi belt, whether in West Bengal and Assam or in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where the BJP is yet to secure any major presence. And on the plane of policies and legislations, the government will now surely try to bulldoze every opposition and go the whole hog to enforce its pro-corporate agenda in every sphere. The people too will have to be prepared to confront the BJP-led corporate-communal offensive and defend their livelihood and liberties with all their might.
For long, bourgeois opposition politics in India had evolved and revolved around the axis of anti-Congressism. Following the rise of the BJP as a powerful national contender since the 1990s attempts were made to carve out an anti-Congress anti-BJP opposition space. Now with the BJP emerging as the pre-eminent party of the ruling classes across the country, the opposition logic may well shift to anti-BJPism. But with the Congress still in a state of free fall and regional parties having no ideological-political inhibition to do business with a resurgent BJP, it is not easy for anti-BJPism to evolve as a uniting formula for a fragmented opposition.
In any case, the narrow frames of anti-Congressism or anti-BJPism can never be suitable for the Left’s agenda of radical social transformation, comprehensive democracy and alternative politics of the non-ruling non-exploiting classes. The unprecedented rise of the BJP signals an ideological consolidation and resurgence of the rightwing in Indian politics, and the Left must get ready to combat it by re-emerging as the ideological pivot of a bold and broad popular opposition to the BJP’s disastrous model of pro-corporate economics, authoritarian governance, majoritarian nationalism and retrograde-patriarchal social agenda.
Towards a Democratic Platform of People’s Struggles
On 11th October 2014, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Yuva Kendra in Delhi, representatives of several organizations and concerned individuals met to discuss the need and possibility of forging a broad democratic platform – both to take on the intensified offensive on people’s movements and rights in a united way, and to powerfully assert an alternative vision for India.
The resolution adopted by the meeting and endorsed by the participants is as follows:
Representatives of a diverse range of organizations as well as individuals met on 11th October in Delhi, to discuss the possibility of various people’s movements, democratic organizations and concerned citizens coming together on a common platform to assert people’s rights to land, livelihood, education and healthcare, justice, peace, dignity and freedom in the face of the communal-corporate offensive, growing imperialist domination, state repression, social oppression and caste and gender violence and injustice that threatens those rights. We, the undersigned, endorse the concerns and the call issued from that meeting.
The meeting underlined the urgent need for forces of struggle to unite and coordinate their efforts to defend and expand democracy.
The country is witnessing and bearing the brunt of the centralized, intensified offensive on part of the Modi Government and the Sangh Parivar on all hard-won rights and ongoing movements. Communal politics is threatening not only the rights and safety of minorities, but every vestige of existing democracy, diversity and harmony.
Draconian laws like AFSPA or UAPA, continued and intensified militaristic offensive against the country’s own people, the systematic impunity for perpetrators of custodial violence, and the muzzling of voices of dissent are all symptoms of a growing authoritarianism.
Caste violence and atrocities against dalits and adivasis continue to be rampant. Violence against women the offensive on women’s rights and freedom has acquired even more dangerous proportions, with such violence and such an offensive becoming an integral tool, both of state repression as well as of communal politics.
Imperialism, hand in hand with the country’s own rulers and corporate players, is attempting to erode the country’s freedom in all matters of foreign and domestic policy.
The fighting forces face the challenge of combating communal politics, defending people’s land, livelihood, and liberties, asserting and achieving the rights to equitable and affordable health, education and food as well as dignified employment, and asserting an alternative vision of pro-people development.
If times seem dark at present, hope continues to burn bright with the powerful, defiant, vibrant people’s opposition on the streets. We feel that a broad, united, democratic platform of such struggling forces is the need of the hour. Towards forging such a platform, which may simply be called All India People’s Forum in English and Akhil Bhartiya Jan Manch in Hindi, we propose to hold a Conference in Delhi in early 2015. We appeal to all concerned organizations and individuals to actively participate in this endeavour. We shall dream, we shall fight, and we shall win!
[Signatories: ND Pancholi (Citizens for Democracy and PUCL), John Dayal,
Binayak Sen (PUCL/MFC), Anil Sadgopal (AIFRTE), Meher Engineer (AIFRTE), Sumit
Chakravarty (Mainstream), Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Anand Patwardhan,
Anil Chamadiya, Rajendra Chaudhary (academic and activist, Rohtak), Kavita
Krishnan (AIPWA), SP Udayakumar (PMANE), Akhil Gogoi (KMSS), Dipankar
Bhattacharya (CPI-ML Liberation), Vijay Pratap (Samajwadi Samagam), Dr Prem
Singh (Socialist Party (India)), Mangat Ram Pasla (CPM Punjab), Govind Chhetri
(CPRM, Darjeeling), Rohit (Left Collective), KS Hariharan (Revolutionary
Marxist Party (Kerala)), Bhimrao Bansode Lal Nishan Party Leninist
(Maharashtra)), Ambrish Kumar (Samajwadi Samagam), Rajeev (Rihai Manch, UP),
Father T K John, Md Iftiqar Alam and Suraj Kumar Singh (Insaf Manch, Bihar),
Purushottam Roybarman (Secretary, Tripura Human Rights Organisation), Dr
Laxminarayana (PUCL and Karnataka Kaumu Sauhardra Vedike), Gautam Mody (NTUI),
Roma (AIUFWP), Md Salim (Inquilabi Muslim Conference), Anant Prakash Narayan
(JNUSU), Om Prasad and Sandeep Saurav (AISA), Swapan Mukherjee (AICCTU), Ramji
Rai (Samkaleen Janmat), Pranay Krishna (Jan Sanskriti Manch), Dhirendra Jha
(AIALA), Col (Retd) Laxmeshwar Mishra, Radhika Menon (JSM, AIFRTE), Dr. Mongve
Rongpi (United Movement for Autonomous State, Karbi Anglong), Sudhir Suman
(Samkaleen Janmat), Radhakanta Sethi (AICCTU, Odisha), Rafiq Jabbar Mulla
(SDPI), Harminder Singh Ahluwalia (Sikh Youth Forum), Darshana Pathak
(Samajwadi Samagam), Kanwaljeet Singh (RYA), Navkiran Natt (Krantikari Kamkaaji
Mahila Sangathan, Chandigarh), Phoolchand Dhewa (All India Kisan Mahasabha),
Gurnam Singh Daud (Dihati Mazdoor Sabha), KD Yadav (All India Kisan Mahasabha),
Om Dutt Singh (Daman Virodhi Morcha, Allahabad), V Shankar (AICCTU), Amar
Singh, Arun Maji, Nadeem (Sruti), Sanjay Kanojia (Samajwadi Samagam), Trilok
Singh (GIEA-NZ), Amit Srivastav (PUCL Delhi)]
‘Nyay march’ against Escalating Feudal Violence in Bihar
The hopes which the oppressed and marginalised sections of society had placed in Chief Minister Jitan Ram Majhi (who belongs to the mahadalit community) have been belied by the spate of recent atrocities, most recent incident being the burning alive of 12-year old dalit boy Sai Ram in Mohanpur (Karakat, Rohtas district) for the ‘crime’ of letting his goat stray into a landlord’s field. Led by the CPI(ML), the rural poor and women in Bihar have registered sharp protest against this unholy attempt to crush the dignity of the poor and their aspirations for justice and democracy. These protests include a march in Tikari on 10 October against the Pura incident, Bhojpur bandh on 13 October against the Kurmuri gang rape, Nyay march in the capital Patna on 17 October, and a march in Dumariya on 18 October. On 18 October, a protest meeting was also organized at Dumariya village, which is the home of the gang rape victim. Moreover, a bandh was also organized in Rohtas against the burning alive of Sai Ram.
CPI-ML leaders as well as CPI-M, SUCI, people’s rights movements, and journalists participated in the Nyay march held in Patna on 17 October 2014 and called for a united struggle against feudal violence in Bihar. Thousands of people participated in the march which began from Gandhi Maidan and moved towards the R block crossroads, increasing in strength as it proceeded. It was led by CPI-ML General secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Bihar State secretary Kunal, CCW member Com. Ram Jatan Sharma, former MP Rameshwar Prasad, AIPWA General secretary Meena Tiwari, ABKMS national General secretary Com. Rajaram Singh, AIPWA State President Saroj Choube, JNUSU secretary Com. Chintu and others. CPI-M state secretary and block member Com. Sarvoday Sharma, SUCI state committee member Indradev Rai, journalist Nivedita Shakeel, Ashish from NAPM, social activist Sudha Varghese and others also participated in the march. The meeting organized at R block was presided over by Com. Rajaram and conducted by Com. Kamlesh Sharma. The meeting was addressed by former MLA Rajaram Singh, CPI-M’s Com. Sarvoday Sharma, Nivedita Shakeel, JNUSU secretary Chintu, Kisan Sabha leader Com. Sudama Prasad, Gaya district secretary Com. Niranjan Kumar, former MP Rameshwar Prasad, AIPWA General secretary Meena Tiwari, and others.
Various political resolutions were passed at the Nyay march. The resolutions condemned the growing instances of barbaric feudal atrocities in Bihar and demanded that the Bihar government put an immediate end to violence and oppression by taking stringent action against all those responsible including the DM and SP at Pura and Kurmuri who scuttled the process of justice and refused to act on time to protect the lives and livelihoods of the poor and dalits. The resolutions also demanded the reinstatement of the Amir Das Commission so that the convicts in the carnages and their political protectors get their due punishment. The march raised the demand for resettlement of all poor families displaced by feudal forces (such as in Lahsuna (Masaudhi, Patna), Mauri (Paliganj, Patna), Belaur (Udvantnagar, Bhojpur), Bagahi (Jehanabad), Lohanipur and Bhanwarpokhar in Patna Nagar) as well as resettlement of the urban poor displaced with the support of the Patna High Court in the name of ‘beautification’. Even as culprits of several feudal massacres keep getting acquitted, 14 innocent people are serving life imprisonment for the last 13 years under TADA in the Bhadasi (Arwal district) case. The Nyay march demanded that the government release all TADA prisoners without delay.
On 18 October, several people participated in the march from the Ara Party office to Dumariya, protesting against the Kurmuri rape incident. As the march, including hundreds of motorcyclists, proceeded from Ara town, more and more people joined in and the road passing through the district became a sea of red flags. At the Jan Pratirodh sabha (people’s protest meeting) in Dumariya, thousands of mahadalits, poor, and women joined in the demand for immediate punishment to the rapists. The meeting was presided over by Com. Kamta Prasad Singh. Prior to the meeting, ML leaders had also met the victims’ families.
The CPI-ML General Secretary, addressing the Dumariya people’s meeting, saluted the courage of all the rape victims who chose to speak up and fight against their victimisation, a courage which even the Chief Minister of Bihar Jitan Ram Majhi who was persecuted recently could not muster for fear of upsetting the apple cart of votes in the election. He pointed out that the so-called ‘social justice’ parties such as the JD(U) commit injustice, tolerate injustice, and protect feudal-criminals for the sake of votes. He said that the Kurmuri incident had also revealed the true face of all parties in Bihar – while Nitish had been claiming credit for ensuring education and employment for girls in the state, the truth is that young girls have to go rag picking for a livelihood, suffering the hard knocks of life. Carnages were perpetrated in the Lalu regime and the High Court acquitted all the culprits during the Nitish regime, and the Amir Das commission was disbanded thus strengthening feudal forces. Also, the feudal forces had received a major boost with the BJP victory and formation of the Modi government at the Centre and thus they are now attacking mahadalits, poor, women, and minorities without fear. He ended by underlining the need to give a fitting reply to the BJP and the feudal-criminal forces under its patronage.
JNUSU General Secretary Chintu’s Visit to Ara
In the aftermath of the Kurmuri gang rapes in Bhojpur, JNUSU general secretary Chintu visited Bhojpur to express solidarity with the ongoing movement in Bihar against feudal and patriarchal violence. On 14 October 2014, Com. Chintu visited three dalit hostels in the Veer Kunwar Sigh university in Ara, meeting the students and sharing their experiences of feudal and caste discrimination and violence, and their struggles for quality education, infrastructure and rights. On 14 October, Com. Chintu joined an AISA team to visit the Dumariya village, where the victims of the recent gang rape live. On 16th October, a seminar on ‘communal feudal violence and the role of the youth’ was organized at the Veer Kunwar Singh University, where Com. Chintu was the main speaker. She also participated in the Nyay march against the escalating feudal violence in Bihar that was organized on 17 October 2014.
Workers’ protests in Puducherry
On 15th October 2014, the Puducherry State Council of AICCTU held a demonstration in front of the Labour Commissioner’s office, demanding that the All India Namathu Rajyam Congress (AINRC) led government in Puducherry take stern action against employers who fail to implement Labour Court/Industrial Tribunal awards. Braving heavy showers, several workers participated in the protest, including many women workers.
Earlier, an extensive ‘Poster Campaign’ had been conducted throughout the industrial areas of Puducherry, highlighting the demands of the workers. The demonstration at the labour commissioner’s office was jointly led by Com. Janarthanan (Secretary, Jananayaga Cycle Parts Thozhilalargal Sangam) and Com. Subramani (Secretary Puducherry Democratic Brick Makers Union). The protest demanded that the AINR Congress government arrest, initiate criminal action against and confiscate the assets of all defaulting employers.
Com. S. Balasubramanian (State President AICCTU), Com. S. Mothilal (State Secretary, AICCTU), Com. P. Murugan (Working Committee Member, AICWF) and Com. A. Sakthivelu (Joint Organiser AIALA) addressed the protest. Com. S. Balasubramanian, while pointing out that the AINR Congress government was shielding the employers and not delivering justice to the workers, also demanded that the Modi government immediately regularize all contract workers of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (which is a PSU) as per the directives of the Supreme Court of India. At the end of the demonstration, a detailed memorandum was submitted to the Labour Commissioner, Puducherry.
Water Supply and Sewerage Workers of Bangalore on the Warpath
On 15th October, contract workers of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) led by AICCTU held a demonstration in front of the Karnataka Labour Commissioner’s office at Bangalore demanding same pay and service conditions for workers engaged in same and similar kind of works. This parity in wages is mandatory under the existing clauses of the Contract Labour Abolition and Regulation Act (CLARA), 1970. The spirited and impressive demonstration, attended by more than 500 demonstrators, was led by Comrade Balan, Karnataka State President and all India Vice President of AICCTU. Comrades Shankar, all India Vice President and Clifton, State Organising Secretary also addressed demonstrators, among others. Sanitation workers of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) also joined the demonstration expressing solidarity. Mr. Jinkalappa, Additional Labour Commissioner came to the demonstration spot, received the case petition and assured immediate action. More than 500 individual cases were also filed on the same day. Many more applications kept pouring in.
Class for workers’ leaders in Bangalore
AICCTU organised a class for workers’ leaders on 19 October 2014 at Bangalore. Contract workers’ leaders from among sanitation workers of Bangalore Municipal Corporation (BBMP), from Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), public sector units like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), National Aeronautics Ltd (NAL), Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) (Bangalore and KGF), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), from corporate companies such as MICO BOSCH, Kennametal WIDIA, Lafarge, RMC Readymix India, from NIMHANS hospital, from Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) under the Karnataka e-governance department and construction and quarry workers from Kolar district participated in the class. Com. Gopal spoke on "Learning Marxism" and Com. Balan, State President of AICCTU, spoke on "The Need for Revolutionary Politics to Workers". Com. Clifton D’ Rozario, State Organising Secretary delivered his speech on the importance of a revolutionary theory, practice, sacrifice and organisation. Com. Shankar presided over the sessions. The meeting also reorganised the district committee of AICCTU in Bangalore, and made it more representative and broadbased in character. The meeting also resolved to make the All India Contract Workers Conference, scheduled to be held at Bangalore on 21-22 Dec. 2014, a grand success.
Convention against ‘Love Jihad’ lies held in Delhi
In the midst of the BJP-RSS-ABVP’s communal and patriarchal campaigns opposing live-in relationships and the so-called ‘love jihad’, AISA held a ‘Love Azaad’ convention on 17 October 2014 at the Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF) in Delhi, exposing the lies of the love jihad campaign. The convention, which was attended by several students from Delhi University (DU), Jamia Millia Islamia as well as JNU, was addressed by AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan. Comrade Kavita pointed out that through the love jihad campaign, all Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian relationships are being painted as grand communal conspiracies to ‘trap’ women. Filmmaker Nakul Sawhney who has travelled extensively in Uttar Pradesh to document the RSS_BJP’s ‘love jihad’ campaign, talked about the manner in which this campaign is being orchestrated in UP. He also showed several film clips documenting how ‘women’s security’ was being used to curtail women’s freedom, and to carefully create an anti-minority sentiment in UP. Several common students also spoke at length at the convention about the experiences of inter-Religious/inter caste/inter community/relationships in their own families, villages and cities.
AISA has started a campaign in all three universities in Delhi – DU, JNU and Jamia – against the myth of ‘Love Jihad’ that was being propogated by the ABVP and other right wing organizations. In the
course of this campaign, AISA activists distributed pamphlets and campaigned in at least 40 colleges in DU. During the campaign AISA activists exposed the ABVP’s campaign against live-in relationships,
which is an absolutely uncalled for intrusion in the personal lives and relationships of adults.
Com. Ishwarchand (Ratan ji ) was born in Mavana village of Dist. Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. He was active in SFI in his college days. He joined the CPI(M) in the 1960s. He was part of the inner-party struggle against revisionism in the CPI(M), and joined the Naxalbari movementand later the CPI(ML). He remained a Central Committee member and Secretary of the UP State Committee for a long time. When the party was underground, he worked hard and developed the Party organization in different parts of Uttar Pradesh, staying in the houses of landless and developed many cadres.
He organized industrial workers as a trade union leader in Kanpur. In his last days he was staying with his sister in Saharanpur and breathed his last on 2nd September 2014. Long Live Comrade Ratanji!
Freedom Fighter Abbas Ali
Freedom fighter and veteran socialist Abbas Ali passed away on 11 October 2014 in Aligarh. From his early days he was inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Bhagat Singh and joined Naujawan Bharat Sabha, an organization founded by Bhagat Singh and his colleagues. He later became a member of the All India Students Federation. Abbas Ali was a captain in the Indian National Army led by Subhas Chandra Bose. Later he joined the Socialist movement and was a close associate of Ram Manohar Lohia. Long Live Abbas Ali!