ML Update | No.10 | 2015

March 4, 2015


MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 10, 03 – 09 MARCH 2015

Budget 2015: Bonanza for the Rich, Bitter Austerity Pill for Others

Whichever way one looks at the first full-fledged budget of the Modi government, three features would stand out in bold relief. The budget has certainly handed out a big bonanza to the corporate sector – may not be as big a bonanza as would make the share market jump in joy, but a substantial bonanza nevertheless. That there are sharp cuts in social spending is another fact that stares everybody in the face. MNREGA may have escaped the kind of cut many had apprehended, but the axe has fallen heavily on every other item. But if the budget has added to the disappointment of one section of the people, it is the section which had voted in a big way for the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections – the burgeoning Indian middle class. It is the middle class that along with the poor and the deprived will bear the burden of the 2015-16 budget – the 1.5% hike in service tax will pinch the middle class in every step of life.

Let us take a closer look at all these three defining features of the budget. In one fell swoop, the government has done away with wealth tax. The government knows that in a country with such sharp inequality as India, the abolition of the wealth tax cannot be defended as a matter of principle. So we are told the wealth tax is not cost effective, the cost of collecting the tax is higher than the amount of tax collected. In other words, the rich in India have mastered million ways not only to amass massive wealth but also to keep it safe from the taxman. If the government admits to this basic failure of ‘governance’ and wants to use it as a pretext for abolishing the very tax levied on wealth, how on earth does it expect us to take its threats against black money seriously? The 2% surcharge announced on income of above Rs one crore will also suffer on the same count.

The government has of course not stopped with just the abolition of wealth tax. It has also handed out a Rs 200,000 crore tax bonanza over the next four years by promising to lower the corporate tax from 30% to 25%. And this when according to the government’s own calculation, the current tax rate of 30% actually works out to an effective tax rate of only 23%! The exemptions dished out to the corporate houses – in tax as well as customs and excise duties – continue to be staggering, during the first year of Modi government (2014-15), they just increased from Rs 5,500 billion in the last year of the UPA government (2013-14) to Rs 5,890 billion. And with no MAT (minimum alternate tax), inheritance tax or wealth tax, an exemption-laced lowered corporate tax is all that the corporate sector will have to face in the coming years. Add to this the proposed changes in the land acquisition law and labour laws, the disinvestment offerings and the government readiness to bear all risk in PPPs, the size of the corporate cake could not really be any bigger!

Contrast this bonanza to the treatment meted out to the consumers – the service tax has now been raised to a whopping 14% and like every other indirect tax, this too affects the people regardless of their income, making it blatantly disproportionate and regressive. During the Delhi elections, Modi talked of his ‘luck’ that his tenure so far has seen global oil prices crash from $110 per barrel in June 2014 to just about half, $57 per barrel. Far from transferring the benefits to the people, the government has resorted to a steady hike in excise duties on petrol and diesel and now in freight rates in this year’s rail budget, mopping up billions of rupees of extra revenue, and if yet government figures show stagnation on the revenue front, it only shows highlights the dire need to increase taxes on the rich, do away with the sundry exemptions and improve the actual collection of taxes. But the government has chosen the opposite way and the result is an unprecedented squeeze in public spending and that too in the most sensitive social sectors concerning the most deprived sections of the population.

Compared to last year’s budget, total plan expenditure is estimated to decline by a massive Rs 1.1 lakh crore, an unprecedented squeeze of about 20%. The decision to wind up the Planning Commission and replace it with the strange sounding ‘NITI Aayog’ was clearly not just a wordplay, the Modi raj has actually embarked on the dangerous journey of cutting back even whatever little money the government it spends on basic services and people’s welfare. From Sarva Siksha Abhiyan to higher education, mid-day meal to National Health Mission, SC/ST sub plan to women and children welfare, the axe has fallen on virtually every single social expenditure item. Even the allocation for sanitation and drinking water has been reduced, leaving one to wonder if like ‘kala dhan wapsi’ (repatriation of black money), ‘swachchhata’ would also turn out to be just another ‘jumla’ or ‘empty rhetoric’ for the BJP. And contrary to the BJP propaganda of ‘cooperative federalism’, the states do not get any extra resources to make up for the cuts in central expenditure.

Arun Jaitley has advised the middle class to take its own care. What he has not said in so many words is that his government has abandoned the poor. Tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts for the poor and greater cost burden on the working people and middle classes – these are the classic features of a dreadful economic regime that is known as ‘austerity’ to the whole world. Yes, instead of the promised glimpses of ‘achchhe din’, Arun Jaitley’s budget has delivered the first few pills of austerity to the overwhelming majority of Indian people. In the economic realm, the truth of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ has started ringing as ‘minimum responsibility of the government, maximum burden on the people’. The time has come for all sections of the people to rise in unison against this disastrous economic direction.

Reduction in Social Sectors in Budgetary Allocations (BE) of 2014-15 and 2015-16 (BE)

Departments 2014-15 (BE) Rs. Cr. 2015-16 (BE) Rs. Cr. Change
Agriculture (including Agri Research) 28,795 23,323.85 -19%
Drinking Water and sanitation 15,263.15 6,238.87 -59%
Health and family Welfare 34,874.86 29,358.87 -15%
AIDS Control 1,749 1,357 -22%
Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation 5,558.6 5,169.47 -7%
Rural Development 79,999.8 71,593.08 -10%
Women and Child Development 20,900.82 10,084.40 -51%
(In particular ICDS) 18,321 8,471 -53%
School Education 54,8444.18 41,934.50 -23%
Higher Education 27,565.20 26,760.26 -8%

CPI (ML) Statement on Rail Budget

The 2015-16 Rail Budget of the Modi Government is going to hurt the pockets of the citizens, by the back door.

In spite of the fall in international crude oil prices, the Budget has shown no corresponding fall in rail fares. Instead, hikes in freight rates are going to result in hiked prices that will burden various sections of Indian people.

The Budget has hiked freight rates for urea by a whopping 10 per cent – this will undoubtedly put an immense burden of increased fertilizer prices on farmers.

The across-the-board hike in freight prices of groundnut oil, grains and pulses, LPG and kerosene, as well as cement, coal, and iron and steel will have a cascading effect on prices of essential items of household consumption and will also lead to an overall price rise.

This Budget, like previous budgets, has failed to take the safety measures called for to prevent rail accidents, in spite of the fact that 15,000 people die every year in rail-related accidents and fires. The obvious priority measure to prevent accidents would be to fill in the 3 lakh vacant posts in the railways. But instead, the Rail Budget has proposed ‘audio-visual’ warnings to road passengers at unmanned crossings. Why should crossings remain unmanned at all? As long as they remain unmanned, is it really imaginable that mere audio-visual warnings will prevent accidents?

In the name of correcting under-investment in the Railways, the Rail Budget has further opened the doors for private profiteering at the cost of the invaluable public asset that is the Railways.

The move to install surveillance (CCTV) cameras in passenger coaches and ladies’ compartments is extremely troubling. Instead of making women safer, this will in fact increase the vulnerability of women passengers to voyeurism and snooping as well as misuse of the CCTV footage. The CCTVs are also likely to be used to profile and harass women and children from the poorer sections, vendors, transgenders, and other vulnerable sections of the population, for whom the railways are a lifeline but who are at the mercy of corrupt and insensitive rail authorities.

The Modi Government’s Rail Budget has proved once again, that far from the acche din promised, the Government is relentlessly increasing burdens on citizens and offering up public assets for private profit.

Kisan Mahasabha Holds Countrywide Protests against Land Acquisition Ordinance

The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha organized countrywide protest demonstrations against the Land Acquisition ordinance on 23 February 2015. Thousands of farmers took part in these protests held in about 84 districts across states including UP, Bihar, MP, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh. The farmers expressed their outrage and submitted memorandums to the President through the district authorities demanding repeal of this ordinance.

The CPI (ML) and Kisan Mahasabha also resolved to mobilize farmers and rural poor and hold special countrywide gram sabhas between 24 February and 14 March2015, to conduct a signature campaign against the Land Ordinane as well as cuts in MNREGA and Food Security bills. A people’s parliament will be held on 16 March in New Delhi and the memo with the signatures will be submitted to the President and the Lok Sabha speaker, demanding a stop to the anti people attempts of the Modi government.

In Bihar, protests, nukkad sabhas and demonstrations were organized at Gandhi Maidan, Bhagat Singh chowk in Patna city, Nawada, Shekhpura, Ara, Bhagalpur, Jamui, Beguserai, Siwan, Darbhanga, Western Champaran, Buxar, Hajipur in Vaishali. These were very well attended by farmers, rural poor and women. Speakers including Kisan Mahasabha national secretary Rajaram Singh, Rajendra Patel, Pramod Singh, Mahesh Yadav, Manoj Pandey, Jainath Yadav, Vishveshwar Prasad Yadav, and many other leaders pointed out that the 2013 Land Acquisition bill with provisions for 70-80% consent, 4 times compensation social impact assessment, and rehabilitation, etc., was passed after a long struggle by farmers. The Modi government’s 2014 ordinance has thrown out all these provisions in a single blow, increasing food insecurity and displacement, reducing agricultural land, and robbing the farmer of what little relief he had got through the 2013 Bill.

In Uttar Pradesh protests were held in Ghazipur, Balliya Kushinagar,Mhou, Chandauli, Niyamtabad, Saidipur, Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Kanpur, Bareilly, Lakhimpur, Moradabad, Mathura, Jalaun, Pilibhit, Puranpur, Deoriya, Padrauna, Gorakhpur, and other places. Farmers and leaders who addressed the protest meetings vowed to fight against this draconian ordinance and called upon farmers to unite against this land loot.

In Madhya Pradesh demonstrations and protest rallies were held in Bhind district. Kisan Mahasabha leaders addressed the meeting and pointed out that the central and state governments were conniving together to loot land from the farmers. Earlier, meetings and padyatras (foot marches) were organized at 20 villages. A memorandum was submitted to the President through the district authorities demanding the repeal of the ordinance.

In Andhra Pradesh protests were held in Eastern Godavari and Krishna districts. Protest meetings were held in Karnal in Haryana. In Rajasthan demonstrations and rallies were organized in Jhunjhunu and Salumber block in Udaipur. Farmers protested against land grab of 7000 hectares by Birlas without farmers’ consent, and increase in electricity rates by 18%.

In Punjab protests were held at Faridkot, Kot Kapoora, Mansa, Budhlada, Sangrur, Barnala, Gurdaspur, Bhatinda, Rampura Phool, and other places. Protests and dharnas with the participation of about 1500 farmers were held at Puri in Orissa and also Kalahandi district. A huge protest rally and meeting was held at Haldwani in Nainital district of Uttarakhand.

Farmers and rural poor across the country thus protested against the land grab ordinance and vowed to fight for its repeal.

AICCTU in Joint Demonstration all over Tamil Nadu on 26 February

All 11 central trade unions participated in a joint demonstrations held at Chennai Central railway station . More than 1000 workers took part and Com Jawahar state Honorary President addressed on behalf of AICCTU .Com Sekar and Munusamy were present . In Tiruvellore Joint demo was held at main Bazaar While Com A S Kumar Deputy Gen secretary of AICCTU present, Com Anburaj and Thirunavukkarasu addressed on behalf of AICCTU. Demonstration at Dharmapuri district was addressed by Com Murugan of electricity board union and Com Govindaraj state Gensecretary of Civil supplies corporation union also participated along with workers. In Tanjore, Com Rajan , state secretary , In Karur Com Bal raj, state VP of EB union, In Dindigul, state secretary Com Manivel, In Namakkal Com Subramani district secretary along with Com Govindaraj state secretary, In Erode District Tresurer Com Venkatesan along with Com K R Kumarasamy , In Salem Com Viswanathan of Co-optex union along with comrades Natarajan and Velmurugan , In Madurai, Com Mathivanan, In Tirunelveli State leaders Sankarapandian and Ramesh along with district secretary Com Ganesan and In Kanyakumari, Comrades Mary stella and Suseela took part .Demonstration in Coimbatore district was held at 3 places . In Periyanaickan palayam Com Damodharan state VP addressed .More than 100 workers from AICCTU took part. In Singanallur Com Balamurugan Leader of Shanthi gears union spoke on behalf of AICCTU. In Pollachi, Punch of Civil supplies loadmen participated in a joint demo and Com Durai spoke.Apart from AICCTU Leaders of central trade unions viz CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC,INTUC, BMS and LPF addressed the gathering.Workers from almost all sectors were mobilised by the trade unions .

All CTUs Demonstration in Bangalore

Joint Council of Trade Unions of all central trade unions in Bangalore organized a Dharna Satyagraha on 26 Feb. 2015 as a part of all India call.

Protestors demanded a minimum wage of Rs. 15000, withdrawal of pro-corporate, anti-worker amendments to labour laws, scrapping of contract labor system, same work- same payment, regulation of skyrocketing prices, etc.

Com. Shankar, AICCTU All India Vice President called upon workers to prepare for more militant struggles in the comin days to take on Modi led corporate, communal fascist central government and anti-worker Congress government in Karnataka.VJK Nair, CITU, Ananta Subbarao of AITUC, Radhakrishna of AIUTUC, Shivashankar of TUCC addressed the protestors along with other CTU leaders.
All workers were symbolically arrested and released on the same spot.
JCTU delegation also met the Governor and submitted a petition to be forwarded to the central government.

AIPWA Strongly Condemns the Move to Install CCTVs in Railway Coaches and Public Places

The AIPWA strongly condemns the Rail Budget announcement of the move to install CCTV cameras in railway coaches and women’s coaches in suburban railways. We also oppose the ongoing use of CCTV cameras in Delhi Metro as well as the move to install such cameras in public streets and public transport in various parts of the country.

The Budget Speech says that CCTVs will be installed ‘without compromising privacy’. How is that possible?

Already, there is evidence that CCTVs serious compromise women’s safety rather than promote it.

In the Delhi metro, for instance, CCTV footage of women and couples have been leaked as pornography on the internet. This incident should serve as a warning bell as to how vulnerable CCTVs in public spaces can make women.

International studies have shown that there is no evidence that CCTVs or the fear of being watched has reduced crimes. Instead these studies show that the data from surveillance videos are almost invariably misused. This has included systematic misuse by the State to profile and spy on certain sections of the population as well as on activists; and also misuse by individuals monitoring the footage, for personal snooping, stalking, voyeurism as well as leaking onto the internet.

Moreover, on Indian streets and public transport including the railways, it is women, children and transgenders, as well as men from the poorest sections, the homeless and the destitute, who are the most vulnerable to violence, that goes mostly unreported. Instead, this section of people are profiled as the source of danger and subjected to police harassment and violence, in the name of keeping streets and passengers safe. CCTV surveillance will severely increase the insecurity and vulnerability to harassment and violence of this section of people.

CCTVs in public transport and railways are therefore very ill-advised and strongly condemnable.

Instead, what is needed is to improve the sensitivity and accountability of the RPF as well as appointment of trained staff on all trains and stations, available at the press of a button, specifically to offer support and respond promptly and sensitively to women facing harassment and violence.

It should be noted that women’s movement groups have never sought CCTV surveillance. This is because we know that women from their homes to the streets, are most vulnerable to surveillance, to a sense that Big Brothers of various kinds are watching them, judging them, controlling them. Moral policing in the name of ‘safety’ and sexual stalking/snooping are only two different sides of the same coin for women.

Joint Protest Rally by Khemas and Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha in Kolkata

The State committees of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha and Akhil Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Sangh organized a massive joint protest rally and public meeting on 4 February 2015 in front of Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee’s office and submitted a charter of demands to the CM. The anti farmer and anti worker policies of the central as well as state government were exposed through the rally. About 5000 people participated in the rally and the meeting was attended by farmers and workers from different districts. The meeting also saw a good participation from women.

The main issues raised in the rally were: repeal of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, guarantee of 100 days’ work through MNREGA with no cuts, strict implementation of the food security bill, stopping cuts in ration distribution through PDS, and to protest against the West Bengal government’s Agricultural Market bill which facilitates corporate entry into the agriculture market and bodes destruction for farmers’ markets. The meeting was jointly chaired by Kisan Mahasabha State President Annada Bhattacharya, Joint Secretary Suvimal Sengupta, and Khemas state President Sajal Pal and Joint Secretary Babloo Bannerjee. The rally was led by Com. Kartik Pal, Com. Partho Ghosh, Com. Tapan Batvyal and Com. Sajal.

Speakers who addressed the meeting stressed on the anti farmer, anti worker and pro-corporate policies of the Modi government; the series of anti-democratic ordinances, and pointed out the need for subsidies on water, agriculture, fertilizers, and food grains. The speakers also pointed out how the West Bengal government was also pursuing pro-corporate and anti farmer policies as a result of which 100 farmers committed suicide in a single year. A resolution was passed calling for protests at all district headquarters as part of the countrywide protests against the Land Acquisition ordinance on 23 February.

Protest Demonstration for Reinstatement of Contractual Workers Laid off in Chhattisgarh

A protest demonstration was held by Centre of Steel Workers on 24 February 2015 in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh to demand immediate reinstatement of laid off contractual workers and raise other workers’ issues. A memorandum was submitted during the demonstration to the CEO, Bhilai Steel Plant and the Executive Director, HSCL, demanding immediate reinstatement of thousands of workers who had been laid off. They also demanded inclusion of a provision in the contracts to ensure that when the contract changed hands, the workers already employed should not be removed. They also demanded strict implementation of labour laws and safety rules, as well as payment of monthly wages by the 10th of each month along with payment slips.

Speakers addressing the meeting said that the “achche din” promised by the Modi government had brought only loss of jobs and employment crisis for thousands of workers. This action by the management has created widespread outrage among the workers. The speakers called upon all contractual workers to put up a united fight against this injustice. The demonstration was led by Brijendra Tiwari and the meeting was addressed by AICCTU leaders Muktanand Sahu, Shiv Kumar Prasad, Vasuki Prasad Unmat, Ashok Miri, JP Nair, and others. The laid off contractual workers numbering 2500 participated in the demonstration. All the workers who have been laid off are directly involved in the production work of the Bhilai Steel Plant.

CPI (ML) condemns the killing of anti-fundamentalist blogger Avijit Roy

CPI (ML) strongly condemns the brutal murder of Bangladesh born American blogger Avijit Roy who was known to speak out against religious fundamentalists. His wife was also brutally injured in the attack. Last year too, another blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider had been hacked to death by religious fundamentalists for speaking against extremism in religion in Bangladesh. The growing attacks on anti-fundamentalist and rational voices all over the world, including India, are a serious reminder regarding the need for progressive forces to join hands against fundamentalism. In the protests that immediately erupted in Dhaka and other parts of Bangladesh denouncing the murder of Avijit Roy and condemning the failure of the state to protect him, concerns regarding upholding of democracy and freedom of expression were also raised. The spontaneity and mass participation in the protests following the murder of Avijit Roy in Dhaka and of Com. Govind Pansare in India, is a sound reminder to the extremist forces that bullets can kill a people but not their ideas and abilities to influence. CPI (ML) extends solidarity to the protestors standing for democratic and secular values in Bangladesh and salutes the courage of Avijit Roy.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

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ML Update | No.09 | 2015

February 25, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 09, 24 FEB – 02 MARCH 2015

The Exit of Jitan Ram Manjhi and

the Agenda of Assertion of the Oppressed People in Bihar Politics

​A​
fter nine months of professed ‘renunciation’ of office, Nitish Kumar has secured his ‘re-anointment’ as the Chief Minister of Bihar. The much awaited showdown between Nitish Kumar and Jitan Ram Manjhi eventually fizzled out rather tamely, as Manjhi tendered his resignation just a little before the scheduled floor test in the Assembly. The support extended by the BJP remained an unused cheque, with its future validity remaining an open question. Nitish Kumar has time till the middle of March to prove his majority.

Kumar now says his decision to resign and hand over power to Jitan Ram Manjhi in the wake of the rout of the JD(U) in the Lok Sabha election of 2014 was an ‘emotional’ one. Being the calculating and pragmatic politician that he is, Nitish Kumar is not really known for taking ‘emotional’ decisions. Indeed, the decision to install Jitan Ram Manjhi as the stopgap Chief Minister of Bihar was anything but an ‘emotional’ gesture. It was a shrewd political move aimed at killing several birds with one stone.

By making Jitan Ram Manjhi the Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar had insulated both his party and government from the immediate impact of the huge defeat suffered in the Lok Sabha elections. He projected himself as a leader who was ready to shoulder responsibility for the defeat. And most significantly, he wanted to convey the message that he was serious about the mahadalit discourse initiated by his government, hoping to claim every credit for ‘sacrificing’ his own seat of power for a leader coming from the most oppressed and marginalised Musahar caste.

But as Jitan Ram Manjhi began to test Nitish Kumar’s calculations with the steady assertion of his new found authority and unmistakable emergence from Kumar’s shadow, Nitish Kumar began to panic. The BJP, the party that habitually patronised and defended every massacre of mahadalits in Bihar, discovered great political merit in the symbolism of Jitan Ram Manjhi and got ready to outplay Nitish Kumar in the game he had started with the Manjhi card. But more than anything else, it was perhaps the Delhi election outcome which limited the BJP’s options and made sure that the Bihar political drama ended in a rather anti-climactic denouement.

Jitan Ram Manjhi has been a politician of the old Congress school who later switched over to the Janata Dal. He comes from the Gaya-Jahanabad belt of Bihar which witnessed heinous massacres of the rural poor all through the 1980s and 1990s. Manjhi never really spoke out for the dignity, rights and survival of the oppressed people in this turbulent period. Following the political tradition of Jagjivan Ram and Ram Vilas Paswan, and unlike someone like Karpoori Thakur, he never really sympathised with the oppressed poor’s battle for social dignity and emancipation.

As Chief Minister, he had the chance to address the basic agenda of the oppressed people. A CPI(ML) delegation met him and asked him to reopen the massacre cases in which the culprits have all been acquitted by the High Court, reinstitute the Amir Das commission whose disbanding had emboldened the Ranvir Sena to resume its campaign of anti-dalit, anti-women violence and initiate measures to implement the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission. Manjhi did not show any concern for these basic questions of justice, on the contrary he began to hobnob with the BJP, the biggest patron of social injustice and oppression.

Will Manjhi now seek reconciliation with Nitish Kumar to return to the Janata Parivar or will he float a new party and toe the Ram Vilas Paswan line to jump on to the BJP bandwagon? The early indications are he is keeping his options open. Let us leave these speculations to Manjhi who alone can determine his own future political course. What is most important is to reassert the agenda of people’s rights, justice and dignity in this new political juncture. Nitish Kumar must be held accountable for betraying the trust the people had reposed in him over his promises of development and good governance.

Towards the very end of its tenure, the Manjhi government took several decisions addressing some of the long-standing demands of Bihar’s most deprived and neglected sections of workers and employees. Pressure must be mounted on Nitish Kumar to respect and implement all those decisions. Recent developments have made it abundantly clear that whether it is the Janata Dal or the BJP, both are interested in using Manjhi only as a pawn and the real concerns of Manjhi’s community figure nowhere in their scheme of things. The communist banner of class struggle must be held high at this juncture as the real vehicle for the political assertion of the oppressed people.

Red Salute to Comrade Govind Pansare!

Why Are Killers of Pansare and Dabholkar Free?

​V​
eteran CPI leader Comrade Govind Pansare, shot at on 16th February, passed away on 20th February. Two armed men had at him and his wife in front of their house in Kolhapur district when they were returning from their morning walk. His wife Comrade Uma also survived a bullet injury.

Like Narendra Dabholkar, his friend and associate, Comrade Pansare too was a pioneer of the rationalist movement in Maharashtra. Dabholkar too was shot dead on his morning walk in August 2013, following threats by Hindutva terrorist groups. His killers are yet to be caught. Following Dabholkar’s murder, Comrade Pansare had stepped up pressure on the government for the passage of the Anti-Superstition Bill.

Who killed Comrade Pansare and why? To understand that, one would have to know his work.

In 1984, Comrade Pansare wrote a popular book called Shivaji Kon Hota (Who was Shivaji) on Chhatrapati Shivaji where he challenged the communal misuse of Shivaji by the saffron brigade. The book has been translated into many languages. The books says, “If there are any buyers for their hatred for Islam they should sell it on their own merit. They should not sell their commodity in Shivaji’s name. They should not sell that commodity under the brand of Shivaji. At the same time, the Muslims should not equate Shivaji with his image created by these so-called Shivabhaktas. They should look at history; they should appreciate his attitude to Islam religion. Then only they should make their opinion.”

This is how Dhaval Kulkarni summarises the Shivaji who emerges from the book, “Shivaji respected all religions, abolished serfdom, framed pro-farmer policies by doing away with arbitrary powers of local satraps (like Deshmukhs) to collect land revenue, took on established interests, and appointed Dalits and backward classes to prominent positions. In contrast with the modern version of the predatory state, Shivaji also warned his soldiers against ‘touching a vegetable stalk in the farms of the ryots (farmers).”

The Hindutva outfits were incensed by him because he ripped apart their hijacking of the historical figure of Shivaji for their anti-Muslim agenda.

Comrade Pansare helped organise and support the movements of a range of workers, especially in the unorganised sector. He was a vocal opponent of the Modi Government and the Fadnavis Government, and scathing in his criticism of the Sangh-BJP’s two-pronged strategy of appropriating Gandhi’s legacy and celebrating Gandhi’s killer Godse.

Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan observed, “In the week leading to his murder, Pansareji had spoken out against the forces that glorify Nathuram Godse and had also spoken about the need to re-investigate ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s death in light of the fact that Hindutva had targeted Karkare for his indictment of saffron terror and had the most to gain by his death.” Recently, he had been leading an anti-toll tax agitation in Kolhapur.

Hindutva outfits like the Sanatan Sanstha (implicated in Dabholkar’s murder as well as in blasts in Thane and Goa), had filed a defamation suit against Pansare, who had accused these organisations of fomenting terrorism. Pansare had even received a letter threatening ‘Tumcha Dabholkar Karu’ (“We’ll do a Dabholkar to you”).

Modi has assured now that hatred and violence will not be tolerated. But he is yet to say a word against the killing of Comrade Pansare. And he is yet to take any steps to rein in the organisations like the Sanatan Sanstha, which openly incite hatred against activists like Dabholkar and Pansare.

Apart from Dabholkar and Pansare, RTI Satish Shetty is also among the activists who have been killed in the past few years in Maharashtra. Shetty was murdered in Pune for exposing land grab, and the CBI investigation in the murder has made no headway.

Protests were organised on 16th February by left democratic forces all over Maharashtra, including, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Shrirampur. CPIML (Liberation) activists joined the protests in Mumbai and Pune. In both the places, the protests were organised by around 400 people each, despite the last minute call. In Mumbai, a public agitation was held in which CPIML, Lal Nishan Party, Republican Panther, Bigul Majdoor Dasta and AAP participated. In other places, CPI, CPM and Lal Nishan Party attended the protests in major numbers. The CPI(ML) demanded a judicial inquiry on this matter by a sitting Supreme Court judge.

Delhi Police detained a large number of students from various universities and Left groups as they gathered to protest Comrade Pansare’s murder.

Land Grab and the Lie of ‘Employment, Development’

The Modi Government’s Land Acquisition Ordinance nullifies the need for consent and social impact assessment for land acquisition for industrial corridors, security, rural infrastructure, housing and related infrastructure, and social infrastructure including projects under government and PPP models. This effectively opens the flood gate for land grab without consent by any public/private entity under any pretext!

The condition under Section 101 of the 2013 law, which requires that land not used for 5 years be returned to the owner, has been altered thus: “The time limit which has been set for a project or 5 years, whichever is later”. This opens the doors for real estate mafia to acquire land, sit on it, and then sell it when the land prices have shot up.

To justify the urgency of this Land Grab Ordinance, the Modi Government has claimed that land acquisition for industry and infrastructure is necessary to generate jobs and promote development.

The CAG Performance Audit Report on Special Economic Zones exposes the fact that land grab under the ‘public purpose’ clause has resulted in massive diversion of land for commercial real estate purposes, and that the claims of generating jobs and development have been a big lie. The Land Grab Ordinance is only setting the stage for more scams on the lines of the SEZ Scam, that will loot land and impoverish peasants to fill corporate real estate coffers.

CAG Report Exposes SEZ Scam : The SEZ Act 2005 (as well as SEZ Acts in states such as Odisha and West Bengal, enacted prior to the 2005 national act) all claimed to be a panacea for ‘development’. People’s movements resisting land grab for SEZs (at Raigad, Kalinganagar, Nandigram and Jagatsinghpur, and other places) have been met with firing and repression, and been branded as ‘enemies’ of development and employment-generation. The colonial 1894 Land Acquisition Act facilitated such land grab, deeming that farmers’ consent was not needed as long as land was acquired for ‘public purpose’.

The CAG Report lays bare the truth – that the people’s movements were right and the pro-corporate Governments were liars.

The Report observes:

“Though the objective of the SEZ is employment generation, investment, exports and economic growth, however, the trends of the national databases on economic growth of the country, trade, infrastructure, investment, employment etc do not indicate any significant impact of the functioning of the SEZs on the economic growth.

“Out of 45635.63 ha of land notified in the country for SEZ purposes, operations commenced in only 28488.49 ha (62.42 %) of land. In addition, we noted a trend wherein developers approached the government for allotment/purchase of vast areas of land in the name of SEZ. However, only a fraction of the land so acquired was notified for SEZ and later de‐notification was also resorted to within a few years to benefit from price appreciation. In terms of area of land, out of 39245.56 ha of land notified in the six States, 5402.22 ha (14%) of land was de‐notified and diverted for commercial purposes in several cases. Many tracts of these lands were acquired invoking the ‘public purpose’ clause. Thus land acquired was not serving the objectives of the SEZ Act.”

To summarize:

•Vast areas of land were acquired for ‘public purpose’ SEZs. But most of the land remained unused and were later diverted for commercial real estate purposes. This is a scam of massive proportions, and concerned Chief Ministers and the then Prime Minister ought to be criminally prosecuted for this scam.

•The CAG report also notes the environmental violations of the coastal Adani SEZ in Gujarat, in which both the then Modi-led State Government and the UPA Government were complicit, and which fisherpeople’s and farmers’ groups in Gujarat had exposed.

•The Land Grab Ordinance now again aims to do exactly what the SEZ scam achieved – grab land without peasants’ consent in the name of ‘public purpose’, and divert that land for real estate profits. This is why the five-year time limit for using acquired land is also being scrapped.

•SEZs fail to generate economic growth, jobs, infrastructure, investment. Those were just lies to justify robbing peasants of land and India of its food security. The same lies are being peddled in favour of the Land Grab Ordinance now.

•The CAG report also tries to calculate the massive amount spent on SEZs in terms of sops, tax exemptions, and so on (Rs 1.76 lakh crore, according to 83rd Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce

•on Functioning of SEZs, June 2007) but recognizes that tax sops are actually even more massive since they were ‘hidden’ and disguised.

•In fact SEZs robbed India’s poor peasants and adivasis of land, livelihood and jobs on a massive scale. The CAG report indicates the incalculable cost borne by the nation, of this massive loot of jobs, fertile fields, environment villages, lives and food security.

On 23rd February, on the call of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, gram sabhas all over the country met to pass resolutions demanding scrapping of the Land Grab Ordinance and an end to the moves to curtail MNREGA and Food Security coverage. These resolutions will be submitted to the President of India and Lok Sabha Speaker following the Jan Sansad in Delhi by people’s movements on 16th March, following the launch of the All India People’s Forum.

“Demand Fortnight” Observed by Kissan Mahasabha

The Bihar state council of the Akhil Bharatiya Kissan Mahasabha organized protest demonstrations in front of the block headquarters across Bihar between 27 January to 12 February 2015 to demand that the paddy be purchased from sharecroppers and small and medium farmers at Rs 1660 per quintal without having to show the papers of land ownership. Other major demands included- registration, identity cards and kisan credit cards and agricultural loans to all sharecroppers and lease holding farmers, subsidized seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, fixing of farming rates as the level of the government, loan waivers (government as well as moneylenders’), diesel subsidy, crop damage compensation in case of floods or famine, guarantee of a fixed period of farming without fear of eviction, and roll back of the land grab ordinance. Thousands of farmers and sharecroppers joined the protests.

Protests and meetings were held at Daudnagar (Aurangabad) with strong participation by small and medium farmers demanding elimination of middlemen, compensation for loss of potato crop, and parchas for land occupied on the banks of river Sone. At Arwal and Karpi farmers protested along with 3 and 7 tractors of paddy respectively. Similarly at Kurtha block hundreds of farmers protested along with their paddy. Protests were also held at Chakai block in Jamui district. At Beguserai Khemas, Kisan Mahasabha and CPI(ML) jointly protested in front of the Collectorate and put forward the farmers’ demands. On 30 Jan various Left organizations took out a joint protest march in Beguserai. Protests and dharnas were organized at Darauli block in Siwan district, Bairiya block in Western Champaran and Darbhanga district.

“Paddy purchase fortnight” was observed in Patna district in the form of kisan dharnas in front of block headquarters. A 10 point memorandum was submitted through the BDOs to the Chief Minister. Farmers were mobilized through leaflets and village meetings. These programmes were organized at Naubatpur, Dulhin Bazar, Punpun, Bikram, Sampatchak, Paliganj, Dhanrua, Masauri, Fatuha, Bihata, and Maner.

A three day kisan jagaran yatra (farmers’ awareness journey) was taken out in Hajipur, proceeding through Hajipur, Bidupur, Rajapakar, Desri, Sahdei Bujurg, Jandaha, Mahnar and Patepur blocks and encompassing 48 nukkad/village meetings. On 30 Jan 400 farmers and sharecroppers with their paddy protested at the Hajipur block HQ. A total of 2500 quintal paddy was purchased by the administration on this day. Hundreds of farmers protested in Nalanda district on 12 Feb.

The Kisan Mahasabha demanded purchase of paddy up to April 15 and elimination of middlemen. About 500 farmers staged a road block in Dumrao block in Buxar district on 28 Feb. Protests and meetings were organized in Rajpur block on 2 Feb. Between 4 Feb and 11 Feb protests were organized at Nawagarh, Chougai, Kesath, where the speakers pointed out the anti farmer policies of the govt which were responsible for the farmers’ woes.

In Bhojpur, the administration of 9 blocks, namely Jagdishpur, Piro, Tarari, Sahar, Charpokhri, Sandesh, Agiaon, Gadhani and Udwantnagar, had to bow down before the protesting farmers who had come with their paddy, and purchase the paddy at 1660 per quintal. The dhan kharido movement began at Jagdishpur where farmers brought paddy loaded on 37 tractors in a procession from Naykatola crossing to the block headquarters. On 2 Feb around 2000 quintals of paddy was brought to Charpokhri block. On 4 Feb about 225 tractors of paddy were brought to Agiaon block. In Agiaon and Gadhani the farmers stopped all work for 4 days through road blocks and dharnas. In Sahar block sharecropping farmer Mohd. Nasir Hussain sat on an indefinite hunger strike along with his 88 quintals of paddy as the purchase centre in-charge refused to purchase his paddy. On 14 Feb the Kisan Mahasabha organized a huge meeting in support of Mohd. Nasir Hussain. On 15 Feb the BDO gave the assurance of meeting his demands and he ended his hunger strike.

The dhan kharido andolan has created awareness in the sharecroppers and farmers who are now expressing their anger against the government, middlemen, and administration.

Struggle against Gang Rape and Murder of Adivasi Girl in Jharkhand continues

On 15 December 2014, two tribal girls employed as cleaning workers in a hotel were gangraped by the employer in the hotel premises in Ramgarh district. One of the girls died due to the injuries caused during the brutal sexual assault. Soon after the incident was brought to light by the fact finding team comprising of CPI(ML) and RYA activists, CPI(ML) and AIPWA have been engaged in a sustained struggle to help the victims obtain justice even as most Jharkhand parties continue remaine silent on this matter. AIPWA National General Secretary Meena Tiwari along with a 15 member AIPWA team visited the village on 4 February, met and spoke with the rape victim and her parents, the parents of the dead victim, as well as other villagers. The team attempted to meet the Jharkhand Chief Minister, chairperson of the Women’s Commission, and Minister for Women and Child Development, but none gave the team an appointment. On 6 February AIPWA and RYA staged a dharna at the Ramgarh block headquarters. Addressing the dharna Meena Tiwari said that the poor people and adivasis would give a prompt and fitting reply to the BJP Government. Through the dharna a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister was submitted to the SDO, demanding among other things- speedy trial, immediate arrest of the two rapists and investigation of the role of the station in charge in trying to shield the guilty, action against the doctor who wrote a false medical report on the death of the victim and compensation for the victims. On 12 February, the Foundation Day of AIPWA, women in large numbers protested in Deogarh, Kodarma, Rajdhanwar, Garhwa, Dumka, Gomiya, and Ranchi, after which the charter of demand was sent to the Chief Minister. It has been decided that if these demands are not met, a protest will be held in front of the CM on 2 March.

Obituary : Prof. Tulsi Ram

Professor Tulsi Ram’s untimely demise at the age of 65 years took place on 13 February at Rockland Hospital in Faridabad. Till his last breath he continued his fight against the politics, ideology and culture of communal – religious violence, superstition and social and economic inequalities.

Tulsi Ram joined the left movement by associating with AISF and CPI during his days in Banaras Hindu University. Later he joined JNU and after his finishing his PhD in International Politics, got appointment as a faculty in the same university. Besides engaging in research in Marxism, International Politics, in particular the international politics during the period of Soviet Union, he also studied Buddhist perspectives and Ambedkarism, assimilating his understandings of them in his larger understanding of politics.

Besides being very well grounded in Ambedkarite thought, he remained a Marxist till his last breath. He never resorted to rhetoric or non-constructive criticism of the work culture of Communist parties on the issue of caste. Instead, he used the platforms available to him to present his nuanced understanding and analysis of the caste question. He wanted to resolve this question by engaging in criticism and introspection from within the Marxist organizational structure.

Today, when the Dalit movement is undergoing a great crisis and a deep process of introspection and inner struggle is underway, Prof. Tulsi Ram’s absence will be keenly felt. He used to say that one of the most dangerous trends for Dalit movement was the Dalits becoming casteist, and about the politics of BSP he used to say that BSP is making Dalits casteist.

Prof. Tulsi Ram played a significant role in the promotion and development of Dalit literature. His also played a crucial role as the President of Dalit Writers’ Association. He explained Dalit literature as the literature of liberation of the entire humankind. As a left activist he remained anti-imperial till the very end. ‘CIA- Rajnaitik Vidhwans ka Amriki Hathiyar’ (CIA- American tool of Political Demolition), ‘The History of Communist Movement in Iran’, ‘Ideology in Soviet-Iran Relations’, and ‘Angola ka Mukti Sangharsh’ (Freedom Struggle of Angola) are some his prominent works. Prof. Tulsi Ram also edited the magazine ‘Ashvaghosh’. In 2012 he was part of the Citizens for Justice for Bathani Tola platform. His demise is an irreparable damage to the culture of rational and dialectical materialist intellectual traditions and the Left-Dalit movements in India.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

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MLU-18-09.pdf

ML Update | 08 | 2015

February 18, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 08, 17 – 23 FEBRUARY 2015

Challenge Islamophobic and Racist Violence in the US and India

The murder of three young Muslims in the US, followed by the brutal violence by US police on an aged Indian man, Sureshbhai Patel, have once again shone the spotlight on deeply entrenched Islamophobia and racism in the USA.

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a Muslim man Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha were gunned down in their home by a white neighbor. The killer had been reportedly been expressing prejudice and hatred for the hijab worn by Yusor Abu-Salha, and had picked fights before with the Muslim family.

In a familiar pattern, the US police are trying to portray the killings as the consequence of a ‘parking dispute’ rather than an Islamophobic hate crime. This is reminiscent of the Delhi Police chief trying to portray targeted vandalization and desecration of churches in India’s national capital as a ‘robbery’, comparable to ‘robberies’ of temples.

The US media also largely ignored and trivialized the murders, thereby reflecting their own unwillingness to recognize and challenge Islamophobia. But local people, including neighbours, co-workers, and fellow students of the three victims, came out in large numbers to protest the hate crime. On social media also, outrage over the killings spilt over with the ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ hashtag, striking a chord with ongoing protests against racist murders that had used the ‘Black Lives Matter’ hashtag.

Soon after, in Alabama, police officers slammed an old Indian man on the ground, breaking his neck and partially paralyzing him. Sureshbhai Patel was visiting his son’s family to help take care of his baby grandson. Seeing Sureshbhai on a walk in the neighbourhood, a neighbor reported to the police that a “skinny black guy” was wandering about, leading him to fear about his wife’s safety. Sureshbhai communicated to the police that he was from India and could not speak English. But the senior police officer threw Sunilbhai on the ground, grievously injuring him.

Initially the Alabama police put out a press release justifying the police brutality and blaming Sureshbhai for disobeying the police. But following diplomatic intervention by India, the police officer has been sacked and arrested.

It would be a mistake to assume that the police behaviour against Sureshbhai Patel was an aberration. The attack on Sureshbhai is part of a pattern of similar incidents involving police high-handedness and killings of Black and Latina people in the US. In fact, the senior police officer who attacked Sureshbhai was giving the younger trainee officer a lesson in routine racist high-handedness and brutality. Aware that his actions and words were being recorded, he kept up a commentary falsely implying that Sureshbhai was being non-cooperative and violent. And in incident after incident of killings of Black and Latina men, the US police have literally got away with murder. They would have got away in Sureshbhai’s case too, were it not for the diplomatic issues involved.

Indian civil liberties activists in the US have pointed out that it is not enough to respond to the attack on Sureshbhai by ‘educating’ US police officers to distinguish Indian Hindus from Blacks, or from Araband South Asian Muslims. Instead, the effort must be to forge solidarity between Black and Arab communities as well as South Asians of all faiths, to resist the fresh surge in racism and Islamophobia in the US.

At the same time, our outrage over the prejudice and violence meted out to Sureshbhai Patel in the US, must also serve to make us introspect about xenophobia and anti-Black racism in India. When Black people are subjected to mob violence in India, the politicians and police here, too, tend to blame such violence on ‘criminal activities’ by ‘foreign nationals’ rather than on racist prejudice. When people from North Eastern states are attacked in Indian cities, the police try to claim that the incidents are random rather than racist. Violence against Muslim economic migrants and refugees alike tends to be justified, celebrated and promoted as action against ‘Bangladeshi infiltrators’.

Communal hatred and violence, at the hands of Hindu majoritarian groups as well as by police, against religious minorities in India has been systematic and state-sponsored. The BJP continues to systematically use anti-minority hatred and violence to expand its presence across India. Following President Obama’s remarks on the need to curb religious intolerance and by the scathing call by New York Times for Modi to break his silence, the Indian Prime Minister has finally declared his Government’s commitment to uphold religious freedom of all Indians. But these vague statements are mere lip service, given that no action has been taken against members of Modi’s own Cabinet and his team of MPs who have been at the forefront of the hate-mongering. Further, his words ring hollow in the face of the systematic persecution of activists who have been striving to pursue cases of communal violence in which Modi himself is implicated, and the systematic impunity to the BJP President and police officers who staged fake encounters of Muslim men and women in Gujarat on Modi’s own watch.

The Chapel Hill murders and the assault on Sureshbhai Patel have reminded us all that Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic prejudice and violence are no less a problem in the US than in India. The way forward is for movements against communalism, Islamophobia and racism in India, the US, UK and other countries to join hands with each other in closer solidarity and united struggle.

Mid Day Meal Workers Struggles in Bihar

In the workshop organized by the party in Muzaffarpur on 21-22 September 2014, it was decided to intensify and speedup the process of uniting the mid-day meal workers in Bihar. Since of the 1, 86,000 mid day meal workers, nearly 1, 25,000 of them are women, it was further decided that it would be most appropriate to bring them together under the banner of AIPWA under the leadership of AIPWA leaders. In keeping with this decision, efforts were initially started to bring together the women mid day meal workers in four blocks of Patna district- Fatuha, Dulhin Bazar, Punpun and Paliganj. Their main demands are- 1) As per the resolution no. 2401/20.7.07 passed by the General Administration Department of Bihar, pay an honorarium of 15,000/- per month, on a regular basis (at present they are paid merely 1000/- per month); 2) All the cooks should be given the status of government employee and thereafter they should be provided the facilities due to a fourth class employee; 3) All the cooks should be given an identity card and a uniform; 4) All the cooks be provided with the benefits of ESI and EPF; 5) all the cooks should be included in the accident and health insurance policies; 6) Female cooks should be provided with the facility to avail maternity leave, emergency leave and special leave; 7) the pending honorarium of all the cooks should be immediately paid; 8) The honorarium due to all the employees be deposited in their account; 9) The cooks should not be made to job that are not a part of their job profile, such as cleaning school premises, cleaning toilets, washing utensils, etc.; 10) All the mid day meal workers should be treated with dignity and should not be threatened with expulsion threats.

Focusing on the above mentioned demands, demonstrations were held in Dulhin Bazaar on 28 January, in Paliganj on 29 January and in Punpun on 4 February. Prior to the demonstration in Punpun, a convention was also held on 1 February in which 45 mid day meal workers were also present. Nearly 150 mid day meal workers participated in the demonstration in Dulhin Bazar, 100 in Paliganj and about 200 in Punpun. The state AIPWA President, Com. Saroj Dubey was present in all the demonstrations and after each demonstrations, the charter of demands was presented to the block officers.

On 1st February, 2015, a unit of State Midday Meal Workers’ Association was also established in a convention held in Fatuha in which nearly 225 mid day meal workers participated. They shared their difficulties and problems. The convention ended with the formation of 23 member committee and by a passing a resolution to ensure the success of the programmes undertaken for 12 February and 24 March 2015, in continuation of the early initiatives.

On 12 February 2015, thousands of midday meal workers under the banners of State School Midday Meal Workers’ Association and AIPWA staged demonstrations in different districts in front of the district officials. In the state capital, Patna, the protest demonstrations were led by state AIPWA President Com. Saroj Chaubey, state AIPWA Jt. Secretary Com. Anita Sinha, Patna AIPWA Vice President cum Sinhi Panchayat head, Com. Asha Devi along with several other state and district level AIPWA leaders. In Bhojpur district, the protests demonstrations were led by AIPWA General Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari and in Nawada, they were led by the Com. Shashi Yadav, AIPWA Secretary. In Gaya, the protest demonstrations were led by Comrade Reeta Baranwaal and in Siwan, Comrades Sohila Gupta, Malti Ram, Kumanti Ram led the protests along with other leaders.

In the protest demonstrations held in Patna, the speakers pointed out how in Bihar, the mid day meal workers were being paid only Rs. 33/- day for only ten months in a year, despite working for nearly 8 to 8 ½ hours every day. This was in clear violation of resolution no. 2401/20.7.2007 of the Bihar government’s Common Administrative Department according to which the workers were to be paid an honorarium of Rs.15,000/month. In protest demonstrations in different states, the workers pointed out how even the current wages were paid after considerable delays and not deposited in their accounts. The charter of demands of the mid day workers were submitted to the district officials of the different districts.

First State Convention of the Insaaf Manch in Bihar

The ‘Insaaf Manch’ (Platform for Justice) was formed an year ago in Muzaffarpur to raise the voices of minorities, dalits and women. In one of its major initiatives, the Insaaf Manch had organized successful movements against witch hunting of minority youth who were falsely implicated by NIA in terror cases. In some of the cases relating to the Patna bomb blasts, the NIA had been forced to release boys whom it had initially picked up and tortured, and in one case, mass protests by villagers themselves had prevented NIA from being able to abduct and torture a young man.

The Insaaf Manch has also made significant interventions in the cases involving mass killings of Dalits. The Insaaf Manch held its founding Bihar State convention on 15 February 2015. The convention was held at the Gate Public Library in Patna. CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, President of the UP unit of Rihar Manch, Mohd. Shoaib Inqualabi, Convenor of the Inquilabi Muslim Conference, Com. Salim, and others participated in the conference.

Addressing the convention, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that it is not the ruling class but the common masses who will set the political agenda of the country. The slogan of ‘sabka saath-sabka vikas’ (support of all- development for all) has been proved to be a lie. The issues of the common masses included- home, food, employment, land, peace and harmony and these were the agenda for people’s struggles. After coming to power with a clear majority, BJP has speeded up the economic policies introduced in the 90’s, is running the government mainly by way of ordinances and instead of fulfilling the promises it made to people, it has started working for the benefit of a handful of rich corporations and imperialist interests. Meanwhile the RSS has started showing its true colours and its cadre is enjoying complete support from the central government. The BJP government had not only compromised the sovereignty of the country by signing the nuclear deal but had also endangered the life of the citizens. However, the Delhi elections had shown that people were not pleased with the policies of the BJP government. He also spoke about how the youth from minority communities were being targeted in the name of fighting terrorism. The Insaaf Manch, he said, had proved to be a platform reflecting the concerns of democratic citizens for the young boys and men who are picked up and tortured by security agencies to falsely accuse them of terrorism.

Referring to the current political situation in Bihar, Com. Dipankar pointed out that while on one hand, Nitish Kumar who had initially made Jitan Ram Manjhi the CM of Bihar was now bent on having him removed. On the other hand, BJP which had over the years provided political patronage to those responsible for the numerous mass killings of Dalits and had compared Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Mukhiya to Gandhi, was now trying to prove itself as a well wisher of the Mahadalits by supporting Jitan Ram Manjhi. The attitude of both the JD (U) and the BJP towards Mahadalits is evident from their own actions.

Com. Salim, the national convenor of the Inquilabi Muslim Conference, in his speech said that in times when the fascist forces were trying to run their dictatorship in the country and the secularism and democracy were under threat, the struggles fought by the Insaaf Manch in Bihar were indeed laudable. He cautioned that the attempts of the BJP to destroy the secular fabric of the country and compromise it’s sovereignty for the benefit of handful of individuals and the US, will be strongly resisted and defeated.

Prof. Jameel Saheb, Anwar Hussain, Islamuddin, Neyaz Ahmad, Shahid Muzaffarpuri, Manoj Manzil and several other leaders also addressed the convention. In their speeches, they all pointed out that the minority communities had now understood how the ruling parties assumed silence on the question of justice be it in the case of witch hunting of Muslim youth in the name of terrorism or on the issue of justice to the victims of mass killings of Dalits in Laxmanpur Bathe and Bathani Tola. They spoke about the hope of justice that the Insaaf Manch had been able to inspire among the minorities and the Dalits through their various initiatives and interventions.

Towards the closing of the convention, a 57 member state level committee was formed with Mohd. Iftekhaar Aalam as the President and Suraj Kumar Singh as the Secretary.

Workshop for women workers in Uttar Pradesh

A workshop for women workers was jointly organized by AIPWA and AICCTU in Kanpur on 25 January 2015. The women workers who participated in the conference included women working in factories, nursing homes and laundries in Kanpur and also the mid day meal workers in the state primary schools. Addressing the participants, state Jt. Secretary of AIPWA Com. Kusum Verma said that in the present times when the current government was planning to introduce several anti-workers’ policies and laws, it was important that the workers working in different areas unite to resist and defeat such moves. She added that women workers had to put with double oppression. From home to work, they had to face insecurity and discrimination. She pointed out that provisions like day care facilities at work places for children of working women, double wages for overtime and secure transportation service for women working in night shifts were integral parts of labour laws and that AIPWA and AICCTU would unite working women to assertively raise these demands and ensure equal wages and dignified working conditions for women. Addressing the workshop, the district president of AIPWA, Com. Shivani Verma said that under the present system, working women have to play a dual role in societal development. One hand they have to take up the responsibility of raising their children and on the other hand participate in the production process. However given the patriarchal structures, they have to face oppression on both fronts. During the workshop, the honorary President of AIPWA, Com. Vidya Rajwar that there were provisions for providing free education to the children of working women and for providing them with cycles for the purpose of commutation under the ‘U.P. Buildings and other construction workers welfare ordinance’ and these could be availed only by mobilizing and uniting with organization’s struggles.

Construction Workers’ Protest in Lucknow

On 22 December 2015, nearly 300 construction workers demonstrated outside the office of Deputy Labour Commissioner under the banner of the AICCTU affiliated Construction Workers’ Union, to protest against the obstacles being posed in the registration and delivery of benefits to the workers and in support of their basic rights. Secretary of the Construction Workers Union, Nomi Laal, other leaders of construction workers- Kaamta Prasad, Bhanumati, Keshav Mishra, Geeta ji, District in charge of CPI (ML) Com. Ramesh Singh Sengar, leader of Railway Workers’ Union, Com. Magan ji and Scooter India Workers’ Union Aarbi Singh addressed the protest demonstration. The leaders pointed out the big scale rigging that was taking place and also that for long they had they been demanding that the opinions of the registered workers’ unions be taken into account. However no heed was being paid to these demands. Our union has been demanding that basic provisions such as night shelters at labour sites, toilets, tin shades for resting purpose and safe drinking water facilities be provided to the construction workers. However, neither has any action been taken so far by the concerned authorities, nor have they even bothered to provide any updates regarding the progress on the aforementioned demands. Several speakers also raised the demands of providing identity cards and ration cards to all the workers who had come from the outside states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh or even from districts in UP outside Lucknow. They also demanded that the names of these workers, who had given their sweat and blood for the development of Lucknow, be added in the BPL list and they should be given places to stay. The speakers also pointed out that while certain provisions did exist for the registered workers such as provision of Rs.1,00,000/- for building house for workers who have land, it was unlikely for a construction worker to have land in Lucknow. During the protests, list of demands were submitted to the concerned authorities which included- 1) Camps be organized on construction sites on specified dates and time for the registration of construction workers; 2) Provisions such as toilets, tin shades for taking rest and drinking water facility, be made available on construction sites; 3) All construction workers be issued red ration cards and their names be included in the BPL list; 4) Colonies should be established for providing housing facilities to construction workers; 5) There should be effective mechanisms to ensure that wages usurped by the building owners or builders be paid to the workers; 6) There should effective mechanisms to ensure that the provisions and benefits guaranteed to the workers through various laws are made available to them.

Protest against Hindu Mahasabha’s threats on valentines day

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha had issued threats prior to 14 February that couples seen holding hands or displaying any other form of affection publicly on the Valentine’s Day would be forcibly married off. The Hindu Mahasabha had further warned of conducting ghar waapsi in case of inter-religious couples. Responding to such anti constitutional diktats that reflect utter disdain towards individuals’ freedom to choose and express, several progressive organizations including AISA and JNUSU, called for a protest outside the Hindu Mahasabha office in Delhi on 14 February 2015. In a creative form of protest, the students and youth had come with garlands and musical instruments daring the Hindu Mahasabha cadre to carry out their threats of marrying them. The protestors included couples belonging to different religions, castes and sexual identities. They raised slogans on the lines of “Fall in love, not in line”; “No Man shall be discriminated for wearing a sari and no woman shall be violated for a short skirt”; “In love, our consent is all that matters, we neither fear your threats, nor your fetters”! However, the Delhi police instead of protecting the rights of common citizens and taking actions against those who had issued threats chose to cordon off the area outside the Mahasabha office and detain the protestors who were only asserting their right to choice and expression. While the political patronage accorded to the threat issuing cadres of saffron brigade was clearly evident, the students and youth demonstrated that they were not the ones to bow done in face of such right wing threats.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

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ML Update | No. 07 | FEB 2015

February 12, 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 07 | 10 – 16 FEB 2015

Delhi Gives Modi His First Big Jolt
Just nine months after the BJP’s sweeping Lok Sabha victory under Modi’s stewardship, Delhi has handed out the BJP a crushing defeat in the elections to the Delhi Assembly. In May 2014, the BJP had bagged all the 7 LS seats in Delhi with a lead in 60 of the 70 Assembly segments. In February 2015, the outcome stands spectacularly reversed with the BJP reduced to just three seats and the AAP securing way above half of the polled vote and an astounding seat tally exceeding even the 95% mark.

The Delhi verdict stands out for its unprecedented intensity and sharp clarity. To be sure, the verdict must be seen primarily in the specific context of Delhi where the AAP had struck a popular chord with its brief stint of 49 days before Arvind Kejriwal had dramatically resigned. This time round, Delhi has voted overwhelmingly to give AAP the strongest possible mandate and the fullest opportunity to translate its promises into reality. The urban poor and every deprived neighbourhood of Delhi voted overwhelmingly for the AAP as did large sections of Delhi’s middle class voters.

The BJP must have sensed it coming and so it pressed all it had into service. Modi led the campaign from the front with all the might of his government; Amit Shah applied all his vote-gathering acumen while the RSS brought its fabled organizational network into play. But this was one election in which almost every move of the BJP backfired and contributed to this spectacular electoral rout of the party. And having made it into a huge prestige battle for the Modi government and personally for the Modi cult, there is no way the BJP can now trivialize the defeat and attribute it to some local factors.

Two unmistakable messages emanating from the Delhi elections will keep resonating beyond the borders of Delhi in the coming days. The assertion of the urban poor and working people and young people of Delhi is a reassuring phenomenon in the ongoing battle against corporate plunder and mass deprivation and denial of rights. Instead of talking about migration of voters from this or that party to AAP, one must recognize and respect this decisive assertion of the people. The second feature that stands out is a distinct rebuff against the communal agenda unleashed by the BJP and the growing authoritarian overtones of the Modi regime.

There is also a deeper message about the AAP model of politics. The BJP had sought to discredit and target the AAP as a party which advocated and practiced anarchy. The emphatic victory of the AAP clearly shows that the people of Delhi did not think so. The people were clearly upset and angry with the ill-advised resignation of Arvind Kejriwal, but the AAP attempt at charting a new course combining governance and agitation and shedding trappings of ‘VIP culture of the political establishment’ has the backing of the people as long as the AAP stays true to its basic promises.

The political evolution of the AAP will continue to evoke interest and attention beyond Delhi. Buoyed by its tremendous initial success in its debut elections to the Delhi Assembly in December 2013, the AAP had tried to spread its net far and wide in the 2014 LS elections with Kejriwal himself taking on Modi in Varanasi. Kejriwal came back apologizing for his resignation and the AAP adopted almost an exclusively Delhi-centric approach, concentrating all its resources and energy in Delhi. It now remains to be seen how the AAP combines its role as the ruling party in Delhi and its attempt at expanding its political presence and role on the national plane.

The post-poll analysis of the Delhi vote makes it abundantly clear that the biggest proportion of AAP votes came from Delhi’s urban poor and deprived areas and from dalits and Muslims who traditionally voted for the Congress. Some observers and activists naturally feel tempted to see the rise of the AAP as a sign of ‘class war’, but it must be remembered that AAP describes its own politics as ‘class politics without class struggle’ and the economic vision outlined by Kejriwal fully endorses the free market thrust of neo-liberalism while disapproving of the corruption it invariably engenders.

Regardless of how the AAP evolves as a political formation, the Delhi verdict will definitely inspire the people across the country in their ongoing battle against the corporate-communal offensive spearheaded by the Narendra Modi regime. If all the 2014 elections had gone the BJP way, 2015 has begun on a different note. It is now time for the voices of resistance and change to resonate louder and clearer across the length and breadth of India.

All India Conference of Contract Workers in Bangalore

All India Conference of Contract Workers, organized by AICCTU, was held in Bangalore on 1-2 February 2015. More than 5000 contract workers from across the country participated in the conference. On the first day of the conference, workers marched from Freedom Park to Banappa Park in a massive rally organized in support of their demands. The rally saw huge participation of thousands of contract workers that included contract sanitation workers of Bangalore Municipal Corporation (BBMP), contract workers of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), workers from the NIMHANS Hospital, workers employed in public sector undertakings such as HAL, BHEL and BEML, workers from the Bangalore Race Course and MICO-BOSCH, workers in the Ready Mix industries such as RMC, Prism Cements, RDC Concrete, Lafarge and Kennametal WIDIA. Contract workers from Koppal, Davanagere, Mysore and Kolar also joined the rally. Delegates from across the country came to attend the Conference, and took part in the rally.

The rally was followed by a public meeting which was presided over by All India Vice President of AICCTU Com. Shankar. AICCTU general secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee delivered the inaugural speech. The meeting was addressed by Karnataka State President of the AICCTU Comrade Balan, Bihar State President of AICCTU Comrade Rambhali, Karnataka State Secretary of the CPI(ML) Comrade Bharadwaj, AICCTU State Organising Secretary Clifton D’ Rozario, Deepa Pathak from Uttarakhand among others. At the meeting, speakers condemned the increased contractualisation of labour in both the private sector, the public sector and in the government itself. They came down heavily on the Modi government for its pro-corporate and anti-labour policies and its proposed amendments in labour laws. The Modi government’s move to amend the Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act in a way that will exclude most establishments from the ambit of the laws came under sharp criticism from the delegates. The delegates also spoke of how the Congress and the BJP are no different on this issue and how the Karnataka state Government, in spite of claiming itself to be an opposition party led government, was pursuing anti-labour policies.

An open session on ‘Contract Labour , Law and Politics’ was held in the evening of 1 Feb, where the Keynote Address was delivered by Com. Rajiv Dimri, All India Secretary of AICCTU. The session was also addressed by leaders of other Left trade unions including CITU, AIUTUC and TUCC. All the speakers called for a broader Left coalition to take on the challenge of increasing contractualisation of the workforce.

All India Contract and Other Workers Federation was launched during the course of the conference to guide and lead the struggles of contract workers across the country.

Com. Balan, from Karnataka was elected as the All India President while Com. Rambhali from Bihar was elected as the All India General Secretary. A resolve was undertaken to march to the Parliament to press for the demands of contract workers. The conference ended with a call for a strong, militant and powerful struggles of contract workers to resist the joint onslaught of the government, industry and the judiciary on the workers of India.

CPI(ML) in the Delhi Elections

In the recently held assembly elections in Delhi, CPI(ML) fielded Com. Surendra Panchal, a veteran activist of the communist workers’ movement, from the Narela assembly seat; Com. Ajay Kumar Singh, a trade union activist, who had recently lost his job while fighting for the workers in SMA industrial area, from the Wazirpur assembly segment; and Com. Mala Devi, active among women working as domestic help, from Kondli assembly segment. In all these three assembly segments, CPI(ML) had been running an intense campaign amongst the working class and employees. The campaign included several processions, rallies and street corner meetings. Sangwari, a cultural group, held several street plays in support of party candidates in all the three assembly areas. These plays highlighted and critiqued the anti-people policies of the Modi government, while strongly raising the demand for an urgent change in the government as well as policies in order to guarantee rights to the common people and especially the working class in Delhi.

7 left parties – CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), Forward Block, RSP, SUCI(C) and Socialist Party(India) – brought out a united appeal urging the people to vote and support the candidates of these parties on the 14 seats contested by them. In order to prevent BJP or Congress from coming to power, the CPI(ML) also issued an appeal requesting people to support AAP candidates in remaining seats, while remaining critical of AAP on several issues.

CPI(ML)’s Statement on
Detainment of South Gujarat Tribal Activist Jayram Gambit under PASA

CPI (ML) strongly condemns the detainment of South Gujarat tribal activist Jayram Gambit under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) following the campaign led by him and his associates against the attempts to hand over tribal lands to non tribals largely for mining purposes. In past several years, Gujarat has witnessed severe assaults on the rights and livelihoods of the tribals and increasing instances of land grab by the state for the profit of corporate houses. Additionally, the use of draconian laws like PASA on activists fighting for the oppressed and marginalized, have become a mainstay of the BJP governments in state and the centre. CPI (ML) demands immediate release of Jayram Gambit and an investigation into his unconstitutional detainment. CPI (ML) also extends its support to all the progressive sections fighting against the anti-people policies of the BJP led governments in state and at the centre.

Seminars in UP Against BJP-corporate Control over Media and
in Defense of Freedom of Expression

In the wake of several assaults on freedom of expression and dissent, and the ouster of journalist Pankaj Srivastava for complaining against biased media coverage, AISA organised seminars in Lucknow University and Allahabad University on freedom of expression and the current state of the electronic media respectively. On 2 February, a seminar was organised in the Students’ Union building of Lucknow University on ‘Freedom of Expression and the Present Day Context’, in which Dr. Pankaj Srivastava, senior journalist and former associate editor with IBN-7, was invited as the main speaker. Addressing the seminar, Pankaj Srivastava pointed out that a handful of corporates are controlling the entire media and all the natural resources and hence they are fearful of peoples’ movements and any expression of dissent. In such times, only that amount of ‘freedom of expression’ is allowed space which does not harm the interests of these corporates and the governments nurtured by them, and therefore the voices of all who try to highlight peoples’ resistances are being silenced. He said that the cameras of the media persons remain focused only a select few, and reports on farmers’ suicides, displacement of tribals and genocides of dalits never become the breaking news. AISA state president, Sudhanshu Bajpai said that even as some in India raised slogans of ‘freedom of expression’ post the Paris attacks, when it comes allowing similar tolerance for freedom of expression in India, it is allowed only if it does not pose a threat to the agenda of the ruling establishment and the affluent sections. UP state AIPWA president Tahira Hasan added that the corporate houses were not merely looting our natural resources, but also our freedom of expression, our human rights and our democracy. She emphasized the need to strengthen the people’s movements against such onslaughts and said that campus premises could be strongholds of such movements.

The other seminar on the ‘current state of electronic media’ was organised in the students’ union building of the Allahabad University, in which once again Pankaj Srivastava was one of the main speakers. Pankaj Srivastava shared his experience of protesting to the IBN-7 management against the channel’s biased coverage on the eve of Delhi assembly elections, for which he has was sacked. He said that not only the was the channel propagating the BJPs communal agenda, it had categorically refused to carry news on farmers’ suicide and on the acquittal of all the accused of the Dalit massacre in Shankar Bigha (Bihar) by the Jehanabad district court. Addressing the seminar, Prof. Lalbahadur Verma stressed on the need to find alternatives to the practices of monopolization in media. Sunil Yadav, former editor of Samkaleen Janmat cautioned that the Central government was using the media as a medium for its own campaigns as was evident during the recent Obama visit, where the entire media kept highlighting the irrelevant and non-serious aspects of the Obama visit while maintaining a silence on the dangerous Indo-nuclear deal. Journalist Ranvijay Satyaketu pointed towards the use of media by the government in creating a false illusion of development, while no actual development was actually happening. The seminar was moderated by Comrade Ramayan Ram.

Road Block in Gopalganj to free a primary school land

For a long time, the construction work of Pakhopali primary school in Bhore block of Gopalganj district had been stalled by some local goons and anti-social elements working in collusion with the local administration. The students were forced to sit in the open and study. The CPI (ML) took the initiative to organise demonstrations in front of the block office, and issued an ultimatum that the construction work be started within 15 days. However, bribed by the goons with huge amounts, the officials once again refused to take any action. In light of the continued inaction by the authorities, on 13 January 2015, the road from Bhore to Mirganj was blocked. Initially, the officials refused to either remove the road block or meet the protestors, but by the evening when vehicles had lined up for 2 kilometres on either side of the jam, the authorities were forced to declare that the construction would begin from the following the day. After obtaining the report from JEE, the construction work has since been started.

Protest Demonstrations by Workers in Bhilai

The AICCTU-affiliated Union Centre of Steel Workers organised a protest demonstration on 23 Janaury 2015, outside the service department of the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) to highlight the residential problems such as seepage, sewerage, sanitation and maintenance. The protest demonstration was addressed by local AICCTU and CPI (ML) leaders, following which a delegation went to meet the general manager of the of the City Service Department of the Bhilai Steel Plant to hand over the list of demands. However, the General Manager refused to meet the protestors. The protestors continued to raise slogans against the head of the department and submitted their list of demands to the Deputy General Manager.

While addressing the protestors, the speakers pointed out how the BSP management had failed to provide proper accommodation facilities to its workers. Of the 35,000 quarters in the township, nearly 25,000 have been allotted to BSP staff and other people. Of these quarters, while a few have been demolished after being termed damaged; the remaining have been either illegally occupied or with the collusion of the officials are in the possession of the close associates of the officials. This has caused BSP a loss of several lakhs, despite which BSP management has failed to act and the workers continue to be forced to live in unhygienic dwellings. The protestors demanded that if crores could be spent on modernization and expansion of management services, why a similar amount could not be spent on proper accommodation for the workers. Issues of contractual workers such as non-payment of minimum wages, non-issuance of salary slips and provisions of ESI were also raised.

Citizens Protest against Vandalism of Churches in Delhi

Following a spate of incidents of vandalism in Churches in Delhi, a citizen’s protest was called to demand action against those responsible for the acts of vandalism. Kavita Krishnan, PB member of CPI(ML) along with several AISA leaders and office bearers of AISA led JNUSU also joined the protest. The protestors were to march peacefully to the office of the Home Minister Rajnath Singh. However, the Delhi police which so far had failed to prevent these repeated acts of vandalism and even act against those responsible was suddenly seen to be actively assaulting the protestors. The police began to beat up peaceful protestors and tried to prevent them from marching to the Home Ministers’ office. The sudden action of the police against the protestors which chosen to remain mute spectator to acts of vandalism is highly condemnable and this reflects a clearly partisan attitude. CPI(ML) strongly condemns the high handedness of Delhi Police and its brutal victimization of the protestors. The growing instances of targeting of the minorities in Delhi and the unabated issuing of statements aimed at communal hate mongering by BJP leaders and Hindutva groups supported by the BJP must be strongly opposed and resisted. CPI(ML) demands a probe into the police brutalities on the protestors and the growing attacks on Delhi Churches.

Resist the appropriation of Gandhi by his killers

Mahatama Gandhi’s assassination on 30 Jan 1948 merits to be the first terrorist act and political murder of independent India. Ironically, while the image of Gandhi is being used as mascot of the government’s Clean India camapign (a crafty ploy that is intended to capitalise on the public stature of Gandhi), these efforts are accompanied by resurgent moves to legitimise Gandhiji’s assassin by building Godse temples with calibrated indulgence by those in power. During last many decades most Hindu nationalists have kept the appreciation of their hero, Nathuram Godse under wraps. With the new dispensation coming to power (Modi Sarkar, May, 2014), it seems these acts are being silently appreciated by those in power. This inference is logical as none in the positions of power have either reprimanded or opposed these Godse acolytes. The latest in the series of acts-statements by this Godse appreciation club is the bhumi pujan by Hindu Mahasabha for Godse temple in Meerut (Dec 25 2014). There are several demands from the Hindu Mahasabha offices to install his statues and they have requested land from the Centre to erect a statue of Godse in the national capital. In light of these developments, on 30th January 2015, a public meeting and a film screening was organised by AISA led JNUSU to bring out the many underplayed suppressed aspects and facts about the assassaination of Gandhi. The programme was attended by Rajesh Ramachandran, noted Journalist and Researcher, R. Prasad, noted cartoonist and activists of several other left student groups.

Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta

The Other Name Of Commitment

After a long battle with cancer, Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta—popularly known as Pushanda to his comrades—breathed his last at a private hospital in north Calcutta on 7th February, 2015, at 8.05am. With his condition deteriorating he was hospitalized on 24th January.

Born on 16th August, 1950 to Sephali Dasgupta and Sashanka Bhushan Dasgupta, a freedom fighter, he was a tireless fighter. His entire life was dedicated to the advancement of the cause of the revolutionary struggle, for the transformation of the society. He passed the higher secondary examination from the Hindu School at Calcutta and was admitted in the St. Xaviers College for graduation. But his association with revolutionary politics drew the ire of the college authorities and he was rusticated. Later he got admission in the Ashutosh College, Calcutta from where he obtained his graduate degree. His service life began with the land revenue department under the West Bengal government. He subsequently joined the central government as an income tax officer and retired in 2010 as a joint commissioner. During his service he developed intimate bonds with colleagues and employees of all strata, and became a companion and leader of their struggles. He was co-convenor of the Council of Action of Income Tax. At the all-India level he served as the secretary of the Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Federaton. Alongside his service life, Com. Rajarshi Dasgupta was integrally associated with revolutionary politics and a committed worker of CPI(ML) Liberation. He contributed regularly to the state organ of the party Ajker Deshabrati and also occasionally to the central organ Liberation under the pen-name Sukanta Mondal. His socio-economic analysis won him great compliments. His writings inspired as well as enriched the party workers.

A dedicated organizer of the working class movement, he served on the state committee of the West Bengal unit of the party, and was also a member of the working class department and the Calcutta District Committee. His commitment to the party was so complete that even while battling the cancer, he took it upon himself the task of joining the ninth party congress held at Ranchi in April, 2013. And even in his failing health, a few days before he took leave of us, he, taking great pains, duly made his final contribution, a write-up on the privatization of the state sector, to the special issue of the state organ to be published shortly. In his multifarious activities he was an active member of an organization devoted to the treatment and help of the people suffering from cancer, the terminal disease that took his life. And according to his will, his body was donated to the Calcutta Medical College for the benefit of medical research.

Com. Rajarshi Dasgupta was steadfast in his communist ideals and never compromised with his beliefs. His honesty, humanitarian concerns, duties to his family and other near ones and the party were exemplary. Always amiable and warm-hearted, no one could ever think of harbouring any bitterness against him. His is a great loss to us. The Central Committee and the West Bengal State Committee express deep condolence to the family and friends of the departed comrade.

Red salute to Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta!

ML Update | No. 06 | 2015

February 4, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 06 | 3-9 FEB 2015

Covert Attack on the Constitution

On the occasion of Republic Day, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the Modi Government issued an advertisement, with an image of the Preamble of the Constitution minus two key words – ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’. The Preamble of the Constitution declares that “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; And to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”

Scrambling to defend itself on the intent behind the omission of ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from a 2015 Republic Day advertisement, the Modi Government – as well as the BJP and its allies – found themselves speaking in many contradictory tongues.

First, the I&B Ministry explained that they had merely used a watermark of the original 1950 Preamble, which at the time only had the words ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’. What is wrong in commemorating the original Preamble, they asked innocently? Had the mater remained there, perhaps the apprehensions of India’s concerned citizens would have subsided.

But soon enough, Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP, hailed the ‘accident’ by which the two words were excluded, and called for the accident to be turned into a ‘reality’. And soon after, the Telecom Minister of the Modi Government, senior BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad, called for a ‘national debate’ on the need for those two words in the Preamble! In support of these calls for outright deletion on the one hand and ‘debate’ on the other, it was argued that the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ had been introduced by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. These words carried the Emergency taint, it was argued in saffron quarters, and therefore should be deleted.

The Shiv Sena and Ravishankar Prasad revealed the real ‘Mann ki Baat’ behind the omission of the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from the Preamble as displayed in the Modi Government advertisement. That ‘Mann ki Baat’ is nothing but the agenda of eroding secularism to head in the direction of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in which minorities will not enjoy equality and freedom. It is extremely significant that throughout, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi maintained a calculated silence on the subject, allowing his Government and party to speak in many voices.

Many offensive amendments made by Indira Gandhi to the Constitution were deleted by subsequent amendments by the Janata Government as well as by Supreme Court intervention. But no Government in the four decades since the Emergency has ever yet felt the need to ‘debate’ the inclusion of the words ‘secular’ and socialist’, and there is good reason for this.

The main reason is that those words simply underlined or amplified the assurance present in the rest of Preamble, as well as in many Articles of the Constitution. The word ‘Secular’ only reflects the spirit of the Preamble’s guarantee of ‘liberty of faith and worship’, of equality, and of fraternity based on the ‘dignity of the individual’. And this spirit is fully reflected in several Articles of the Constitution.

What about ‘socialist’? It may be argued that with the passing of the ‘public sector’ regime and the establishment of liberalization as a policy framework, is has become anachronistic to call India ‘socialist.’ Others can argue, rightly, apart from the outward trappings of five-year plans and public sector, the Indian State was not socialist in any sense of the term. India was never even a welfare state, let alone socialist in the revolutionary sense. The failure to carry out land reforms and democratise agrarian relations, and the growing subordination of the public sector to the interests of crony capitalism are the two biggest negations of any kind of socialism.

But what these arguments forget is that the term ‘socialist’ is important in as much as it reflects the spirit of ‘social, economic and political justice’ promised in both the Preamble and the directive principles of state policy. At a time when Governments are trying to step back from their duty of ensuring basic entitlements of food, shelter, water and so on to the people, the Constitutional commitment to that duty is important. At the present juncture, any move to drop the word ‘socialist’ is nothing but a ploy to claim Constitutional ‘approval’ for the rampant flouting of the principles of social and economic justice by Governments.

In a recent interview, BJP President Amit Shah has reiterated that his party sees no need to remove the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ from the Preamble. But it is significant that in the same interview, Shah refused point blank to comment in any way on RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s declaration that India is a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation). If the BJP is indeed committed to the secular spirit of India’s Constitution, why is it unwilling to outright condemn the RSS’ ‘Hindu Nation’ claim that is the worst possible attack on that spirit? In the same interview, Amit Shah defended what his party calls ‘ghar wapsi’ and called for a ‘law against conversions’ – both of which fly in the face of the Constitutional guarantee of the freedom to practice and propagate one’s faith.

Ravishankar Prasad and others may ask, rhetorically, if Ambedkar was less secular because he saw no need to include the word ‘secular’ in the Preamble. But can there be any doubt whatsoever that Ambedkar was deeply opposed to the notion of India being a theocratic ‘Hindu Rashtra’? Ambedkar himself organized mass conversions to Buddhism and declared, ‘I may be born a Hindu but I will not die a Hindu’. Can there be any doubt that Ambedkar would find a ‘law against conversions’ opposed to the basic spirit of India’s Constitution as he drafted it?

A ‘Hindu Rashtra’ is not just deeply dangerous for India’s religious minorities. It also spells an end to the Constitutional promise of equality and freedom for India’s Dalits, adivasis, oppressed castes and women. At the time when India adopted the Constitution, the RSS had opposed it and had called for the Manusmriti to be the Constitution of India as a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The RSS organ Organiser, on November 30 1949, had complained that the Constitution had no mention of the Manusmriti – the same Manusmriti that is full of horrific decrees against the basic dignity and freedom of Dalits and women, the same Manusmriti that Ambedkar had publicly burnt.

It is precisely as a rebuff of and safeguard against these forces that seek to turn India into a Hindu nation that India’s Constitution and Preamble must continue to declare India’s secular character without any room for ambiguity.

Landless Poor Demonstrate in Bihar

Nearly one lakh landless poor demonstrated at over 200 regional centres in Bihar on the issue of dwellings and land for farming, following the call given by All India Agricultural Labour Association (AIALA) and Shehri Gareeb Morcha (Urban Poor Front). Angrily raising slogans of ‘Give us land not announcements’, the protestors demanded that they be given homestead land, papers for land occupancy, and occupation of the land for which they have been issued papers. In the course of the demonstration, nearly 1 lakh applications were given across the state in which the question of allotting nearly tens of thousands of acres of land for which papers have been issued. Once again the Manjhi government is offering false assurance of homes and farming lands to the poor. While several announcements pertaining to land distribution are being made on papers, in actual the situation is the exact opposite where on an increasing rate the poor are being displaced even from whatever little land they do have for living and agriculture. In the survey report brought by CPI (ML) it had been revealed that nearly sixty percent of people in Bihar were landless. Had the JD (U) government implemented the land reform recommendations then nearly 21 lakh acres of land marked by the committee could have been recovered by the state government and distributed to the landless for accommodation and doing agriculture. Protesting against the false promises of the state government, thousands of people even demonstrated in the cities on the question of land reforms.

The various AIALA leaders leading the demonstrations declared that they will continue to expose the false assurances of the government and intensify the movement to force the government to implement its announcements.

Protest against Exploitation of Women

In the past few days several instances of exploitation of women have been reported in Bihar. In one incident, a minor girl hailing from West Bengal was gang raped on 5 February in Muzaffarpur district collectorate. In yet another case of brutal exploitation, a woman named Geeta Rani, residing in a posh locality of the capital city tortured her 11 year old domestic help, inserting hot rods inside her private parts and had her sons send the dead body to the girl’s home. All the accused in this case are absconding.

Amidst all these instances, PMCH nurses continue to protest in order to be regularized. They had started an indefinite hunger strike on 3 January 2015 that had lasted two weeks and during which the health of several nurses had deteriorated.

In light of these increasing occurrences of violence against women and their continued exploitation, protests marches were taken out under the leadership of AIPWA leaders and activists in Patna, Bhojpur and Muzaffarpur on 8 January and organized. The protestors demanded that the district administration of Muzaffarpur take responsibility for the gang rape of a minor and that Geeta Rani, who had brutally tortured a minor help, be arrested along with the other co-accused. In the rallies conducted following the protest marches, it was also demanded that the state administration guarantee safety of women and fulfill the demands of the protesting nurses. In Fatuha, besides the aforementioned demands, the AIPWA led protestors also demanded that the concerns of women working for the midday meal programme be immediately addressed. The protest march in Fatuha was led by State AIPWA President Saroj Chaubey.

Mahapanchayat by All India Kisan Mahasabha in Uttarakhand

On 28 January 2015, thousands of people took part in the mahapanchayat called by the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha in Bindukhatta in Nainital district, demanding the status of a revenue village for Bindukhatta and protesting against the state’s decision to make Bindukhatta a municipality. The residents of Bindukhatta have been demanding the status of village since 1970’s under the leadership of CPI (ML) and its mass organizations. Though, for a considerable period, no other political party was willing to support this demand, of late the demand for a village hood has become a part of the manifestos of most parties in the state. However, despite this, ignoring the long standing demand of the residents of this forest land, Bindukhatta was made into a municipality and the anger of the people could be clearly seen in the streets of Laalkuan. It is important to note that though members of bureaucracy had cautioned the state government against making Bindukhatta a municipality and pointed out several legal hurdles, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat chose to ignore people’s genuine demand along with the suggestions of his own bureaucratic advisors. CPI (ML) believes that the decision to make Bindukhatta a municipality is solely guided by the motive to enable some Congressmen become councilors, chairmen and also find employment for several Congress contractors. This is a conspiracy to deny to the common people of Bindukhatta ownership rights to their land.

Flustered by the participation of thousands in the protests organized by the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha, the Congress workers burnt the effigy of those who participated in the demonstrations. The burning of effigy of protesting masses only exposes the political bankruptcy of the Congress.

Movement in Ramgarh against Gang Rape and Murder of Tribal Women

On 15 December 2014, two minor tribal women were gang raped in Vasundhara Vatika hotel, located in Rajrappa Road in Chitarpur (district Ramgarh, Jharkhand). One of the victims had to be referred to Ranchi following excessive bleeding, however, her life could not be saved. On 27 December 2014, a team led by CPI (ML)’s Bigendra Thakur, Jaglal Soren, Mahadev Manjhi, Heeralal Mahto and RYA’s Amal Kumar Ghoshal and Krishna Munda, went to Tikahara Tola in Bokaro to meet the families of the parents. The information gathered by them revealed that one of the girls, aged 16, was working as a sweeper in hotel named Vasundhara Vatika owned by Dilip Saav for a wage of Rs. 3000. Within a few days of joining work, Dilip began to sexually assault her and also forced her into sex work with other guests in the hotel. On 15 December, when the victim and another 14 year old girl from the same village who had joined work were sleeping in the same room, Dilip along with two other men came to their room and gang raped them. After FIRs were filed by surviving victim and the father of the girl who died, Dilip was arrested, however, the issue of a sexual exploitation racket was thrown into cold storage. The report prepared by CPI (ML) and RYA team revealed that several girls from outside areas were brought and forced into sex work and also that the incharge of Rajrappa Police station, Lileshwar Mahto had been staying in one of the hotel rooms for nearly four months.

After returning, a press conference was called in Ramgarh office in which the district secretary Com. Bhuvneshwar Bediya, Com. Saryu Bediya and the members of the fact finding team exposed the rape incident and demanded that the culprits be arrested, the hotel premises be sealed, the rapists be charged for murder and Lileshwar Mahto be suspended. On 28 December 2014, thousands of women and youth took out a protest march under the leadership of AIPWA leaders Rupa Besra and Jhuma, RYA leader Amal Kumar Ghoshal and several other CPI (ML) leaders. On 29 December 2014 again thousands of people marched from Chitarpur bazaar to Rajrappa Mod, under the joint leadership of CPI (ML), AIPWA and RYA leaders demanding immediate action on the culprits and Lileshwar Mahto and compensation for the survivor and the family of the dead victim. The administration is still attempting to cover up the issue exposing BJP government’s view on security of rural tribal women. The movement led by CPI (ML) has resulted in several people from rural and urban areas coming out on streets in protest.

Demonstrations by Footpath Shopkeepers in Jehanabad

On 29 December 2014, all the footpath shopkeepers of Jehanabad carried out an angry demonstration outside the district council office under the banner of the ‘Footpath Shopkeepers Association’, led by CPIML activists. The demonstration followed a massive procession from Unta Sabzi Mandi to the district council office. The programme was led by district councilor Upadhyaya Yadav, AICCTU leader Dheeraj Gupta, ML city incharge Santosh Keshri and Footpath Shopkeepers Association leaders Arvind Kumar Chopra, Bablu Kumar and others. Through the programme, demands were raised pertaining to – permanent arrangement for footpath shopkeepers, provision of pukka shops, drinking water and toilets for shopkeepers, entry of footpath shopkeepers in BPL list and immediate vacation of shops by those not involved in business. While there has been a long standing movement on these demands, no concrete steps have yet been taken by the district authorities. A delegation of leaders handed over a four-point demand letter and pressurized the district administration to assure that immediate action will be taken, failing which the movement would be intensified.

CPI (ML) Ensures Return of Land to a Tribal Family in Maharashtra

About 100 km away from Mumbai, in a Dhabon village of Palghar district, some non tribal hooligans had snatched the land of a tribal family. On 16 January 2015, under the leadership of CPI (ML), the land was recovered from the goons and restored to the family. On the instructions of a goon, Chaubey, the family was told by some of the local tribal leaders working as brokers for Chaubey that the family had no ownership over the land and they must take accept Rs. 25,000 and vacate the land. Having no knowledge about ownership rights of the tribals, the family vacated the land. When the local CPI (ML) leadership came to know about the incident they obtained the property documents on which it was mentioned that land belonged to the family that had been forced to vacate. On 16 January 2015, the party cadre along with the family launched the occupy movement and captured the land by putting red flags on it. At the start of the movement, Com. Mahendra Singh was remembered on his 10th martyrdom day.

Protest against Suspension of AISA Leader from Lucknow University

AISA activists organised a protest rally in GPO, demanding the revocation of the expulsion of their leader Sudhanshu and re-establishment of the women’s cell in Lucknow University. Earlier this month, in a shameful assault on campus democracy, the Lucknow University (LU) administration had expelled comrade Sudhanshu Bajpai, UP state president of AISA, from LU for the ‘crime’ of organizing a seminar on LU campus on the Love Jihad bogey and for burning the effigy of the UP Chief Minister at a subsequent protest held by AISA. The seminar against ‘Love Jihad’, which was to be addressed by AIPWA national secretary comrade Kavita Krishnan, was disrupted by ABVP.

Addressing the protest rally, AISA leader Puja Shukla said that the actions of LU administration show that there is no space or permission in the University for discussing the rights of women to exercise their choices. AISA Jt. Secretary, Sandeep Sen said that the expulsion was an outcome of AISA’s attempts to expose the corruption in the university and raise questions about the mismanagement. Protest was held by AISA activists in Delhi in front of UP Bhawan.

Unveiling the Statue of Mohan Singh

On 31 December 2014, in Bahedi village of Bareily district, the statue of Comrade Mohan Singh was unveiled. Com. Mohan Singh was a leader of CPI (ML) and the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha. He had died in an accident on 31 December 2013 while he was leading an indefinite hunger strike by the farmers fighting for the outstanding payment of 44 crore for sugarcanes. On the initiative of the party and the local farmers, it was decided that his statue would be established in the Kisan Bhawan, Bahedi on his first death anniversary. The statue was unveiled by the CPI (ML)’s central committee member and the general secretary of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, Com. Rajaram Singh.

On this occasion a pledge-taking rally was also organized for the farmers. Addressing the gathering, Com. Rajaram Singh said that when the communal forces were busy breaking the unity of farmers and killing many in Muzaffarnagar last year, and the farmer’s unions instead of coming to their rescue had chosen to ally themselves with the saffron brigade, it was the Kisan Mahasabha under the leadership of Com. Mohan Singh that sent a strong message of united farmer’s movement. He added that in current times when Modi Government has launched an unprecedented attack on the farmers, the legacy of Com. Mohan Singh will help in providing the direction. The rally was chaired by veteran Communist leader Com. Atri Kumar Rishi and was moderated by Com. Javed Akhtar.

More than 300 people including late Com. Mohan Singh’s wife Rachna Singh, participated in the programme.

ML Update | No. 05 | 2015

January 28, 2015

​ML UPDATE

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 05 | 27 JAN – 2 FEB 2015

Republic Day Pointers Beyond the ‘Namobama’ Hype

As Prime Minister, he devoted his first Independence Day speech to inviting foreign capital to come and ‘make in India’. Now Narendra Damodardas Modi has used the first Republic Day celebration of his government to demonstrate his government’s readiness to accommodate US demands and blandish his million-rupee pinstripe suit, tailored in UK, that had his name embroidered all over. It seems Modi is however not the first to set a precedent by wearing such a suit. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s ousted President, had apparently already worn his name on his sleeves to deny Modi the opportunity to create a world record. Unfortunately for Modi, narcissism and megalomania are also subject to competition.

Observers of Indo-US relations have noted all the ‘right steps’ the Modi government has been taking from day one to impress the US. From decontrolled pharmaceutical prices and US-friendly patent norms announced before and during Modi’s US trip to increased FDI in insurance, easier land-grab policy and vastly reduced food security cover and all such steps taken or recommended on the eve of Obama’s Republic Day visit to India, the Modi government has gone all out to satisfy the Americans. Freeing American suppliers of liabilities in case of any damage inflicted by their reactors on the Indian people has been the latest concession offered during Obama’s R-Day visit. Modi and his men now hope that US will now expedite nuclear and military supplies to India.

Modi and his propagandists would like us to believe that foreign policy is more about the ‘personal chemistry’ among leaders of different countries than about dealing with the global economy and geo-political pulls and pressures. Modi went so far as to say that we need not bother about the text (commas and full stops, in his words) of agreements and joint statements, for the personal chemistry of leaders can obviate or transcend the limits set by such texts. India’s experience from the early Nehruvian years of non-alignment through the Indira era of Indo-Soviet friendship to the current phase of strategic subservience to the US, clearly shows that the text and the fine print are of decisive importance in matters pertaining to the foreign policy, no matter whether the policy is conducted with the near-robotic manner of a Manmohan Singh or the melodramatic exuberance of a Narendra Modi.

As the hype over the so-called Modi-Obama ‘personal chemistry’ dies down, what will really matter are the concessions granted and promised to the US in the nucIear deal and other agreements and the implications in India’s neighbourhood of the growing convergence between Washington’s Asian design and New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ policy. By making Indian insurance companies subsidise US and other Nuke MNCs in case of an accident, and insulating these suppliers from the risk of being sued by victims of a disaster, the Modi Government has rendered Indian citizens more at risk of such disasters. This is because Nuke Corporations that are confident that burdens of accidents will be borne by the Indian taxpayer, are likely to cut costs on safety provisions in reactors.

In the sixty-six years of India’s republican existence, this was the first time an American President was present as the guest of honour at the Republic Day parade. Ram Madhav, the RSS spokesperson turned BJP General Secretary, says that having watched the military parade dominated by old Russian supplies Obama would now feel an urgency to step up American military imports to India. This is the comprador mindset hiding behind the ‘make in India’ slogan that redefines ‘national dignity’ only in terms of US certificates and ‘national interest’ only through the prism of so-called ‘natural’ alliance with the US.

As far as the Indian people are concerned, the Republic Day marks, first and foremost, the anniversary of the adoption of India’s Constitution. Hence it should be an occasion to assess the country’s progress in terms of the rights and liberties of the citizens rather than in terms of the power and achievements of the state. Over the years, successive governments have made it more into a show of the state – marked by a military parade with some civilian adjunct in the form of officially approved glimpses of ‘Indian culture and public life’ – rather than a celebration of common citizens. With the RSS at the helm, the cultural display in this year’s Republic Day parade acquired unmistakable religious overtones, with even a state like Jharkhand represented by temples than its rich history and diverse heritage.

Heightened assault on constitutional rights and liberties of the working people, systematic suppression of dissent and attempted homogenization of India’s pluralist cultural legacy pose serious threats to the essence of the secular and democratic republic proclaimed in the Constitution. Defying the hype and fiction of the ‘Namobama’ chemistry, the time has come for all of us join and win the battle for the essence of the Indian republic defeating the forces of communal division, corporate plunder and comprador capitulation.

Nationwide protests against US President Obama’s India Visit

On 24 January 2015, there were nationwide protests against the visit of US President Barack Obama as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade celebrations in New Delhi. In New Delhi, Left parties – CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C), AIFB, RSP and the Communist Ghadar Party of India – jointly held a protest march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. The protestors raised slogans against US imperialism, dilution in the liability clauses in the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, enforced changes in the drug manufacturing regime in India to facilitate corporate greed and sell-out of India’s sovereignty, and the protest march culminated in a protest meeting at Jantar Mantar. The meeting was addressed by leaders of all the participant Left Parties, including CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan and others.

Addressing the protest, comrade Kavita Krishnan detailed the reasons for the protest. Reminding the gathering of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the manner in which both the US and the Indian governments had conspired to allow the Dow Chemicals to escape liability for the massive loss of lives and livelihoods, comrade Kavita pointed out that Obama was coming to India to seal a deal which weaken and dilute the liability of US companies in case of industrial disasters in India. Even prior to this visit of Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry had visited India during the Vibrant Gujarat summit, along with an entourage of US corporate leaders, in order to push for a more ‘business and investment-friendly’ atmosphere in India. And this, is nothing but a euphemism for cheap land, water and electricity, tax breaks, sops for corporates and a weakened labour rights’ regime. In fact, farmers protesting against the Vibrant Gujarat meet were arrested, in a sure signal to the US that the Modi government was more than willing to know-tow to US business interests and that no protests against the regime of corporate profiteering would be tolerated. Various speakers at the protest meeting also pointed out that the protest march was being called against US aggression, racist attacks in the US, and US’s interfering in India’s economic and foreign policy matters to further its own interests. The protest ended with a burning of Barack Obama’s effigy.

Joint protests were also held in various districts of Bihar, in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere. In Patna, a protest dharna was held at the Bhagat Singh Chowk, Gandhi Maidan. The dharna was led by CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, and leaders of CPI, CPI(M), AIFB and SUCI(C). Joint protest marches and dharnas were also held in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh and Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. In Bhilai, a protest meeting was held at the JP Chowk in Sector 6, which was addressed by CPI(ML) Chhattisgarh state secretary Brijendra Tiwari and comrade JP Nair, CPI leader C.R. Bakshi, CPI(M)’s S.P. Dey, SUCI(C)’s comrade Vishwajeet and others.

In Uttar Pradesh, six Left parties, including CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C) and AIFB held protests at various district headquarters. In the capital Lucknow, a protest was held from Parivartan chowk, via Hazratganj to the GPO. The protestors pointed out the US’s horrific track record of imperialist aggression, wars, occupations, human rights’ violations and imposed dictatorships across the world. The recent undemocratic Ordinances passed by the NDA to undermine peoples’ rights and facilitate corporate profits were also the result of US diktats which the Modi government was more than ready to heed, pointed out the protestors. The protest was led by the district secretaries of various Left parties. The protest in Allahabad was addressed by CPI(ML) UP state secretary Ramji Rai. Protests were also held in Gazipur, Balia, Bhadohi, Chandoli, Kanpur, Mau, Devaria, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkarnagar, Lakhimpur Kheri, Pilibhit, Jalaun, Muradabad, Mathura and Sonbhadra.

Historic Strike Against Coal Ordinance

(India’s coal mine workers held a historic two-day all-India strike against central government’s move of denationalization and privatization of coal industry through the Coal Ordinance. This was the first major resistance put up by organized workers in the last seven months of the Modi Government. This government, which has been launching an all-out attack on the rights of working class through amendments in labour laws and policies of privatization, disinvestment and FDI, was forced to talk to workers’ representatives. The government was forced, in a written agreement, to form a committee comprising of coal ministry officials and trade unions to look into the matter of privatization and other issues raised by the strike. AICCTU affiliate, the Coal Mines Workers’ Union (CMWU), participated actively in the Strike. AICCTU leader Sukhdev Prasad reports from Dhanbad.)

The countrywide hartal on 6-7 January 2015 by 5 lakh coal workers of CIL and Coal Outsourcing was extremely effective and successful. After the 1 lakh 86 thousand crore coalgate scam through the coal block allocations came to light, the Supreme Court cancelled 214 allocations. With the exposure of this huge scam the corrupt officials and companies should have been punished but the Modi govt, instead of punishing them, gave these 214 companies compensation for losses and with shameless haste brought an ordinance through which all the coal blocks were re-auctioned and the concerned companies were given free rein to sell coal and the concerned lands were also made over to those companies.

On 24 Nov 2014 all the 5 unions in the JBCCI called for a hartal. 4 out of these 5 unions postponed their hartal after an assurance from the coal minister, but the coal workers stood up against this decision. As a result the above 4 recognized unions called for a 5 day hartal from 6-10 Jan 2015. CITU and AICCTU, supporting the 5 day strike call, decided on 13 Jan as their hartal day and gave a strike notice to this effect, closing any possibility of the 4 recognized unions taking back their strike call.

When the hartal started on 6 Jan, AICCTU and CMW came out in full force in ECL, BCCL, and CCL, i.e the entire coal belt of Jharkhand. The coal workers joined the strike with a voluntary energy fed by years of anger and injustice. Generally, a hartal sees a bigger strike in the morning shift and average strike in the afternoon shift. Work starts again in the night shift. But this time on 6 Jan there was such total strike in all the 3 shifts that the hartal was prolonged and carried over to 7 Jan. Generally in a one day hartal a few workers report for work, but this time this did not happen. All processes of coal transportation, whether truck loading or wagon loading, were totally closed for 2 days.

Some emergency services of the coal industry had been kept out of the hartal but even in these cases the management had to first get the permission of the striking workers. This was the scenario throughout the entire coal belt of Jharkhand. All attempts to break the hartal by influencing sections of the striking workers through TMC in Bengal, JMM, Dadai group (INTUC), AJASU etc in Jharkhand proved unsuccessful and the workers refused to go to work. Another unique feature of the hartal was the solidarity shown by the local rural people with the coal workers.

The ruling parties as well as the media tried propaganda to break the hartal—claiming that only 4 days’ coal was left in the power houses and the entire country would be plunged into darkness due to the hartal. The Congress backed Dadai group in Bermo coal belt, AJASU in Ramgarh coal belt, and JMM in other areas of CCL tried to break the hartal by use of force but the CMW opposed them strongly and kept the hartal unbroken.

An additional achievement of the hartal is that during the negotiations the coal minister was forced to give in writing that CIL would not be privatized. It was also decided during the negotiations that a review committee would be formed to review the terms and conditions of 42 coal block allocations, and this review committee would include trade union representatives.

The striking workers submitted a 10 point list of demands including stopping of privatization of CIL, scrapping the coal block auction ordinance, guarantee of security of jobs of all workers in CIL, and stopping of dissolution of CIL in the name of reorganization.

Rapists of Dalit Girls in Kurmuri Convicted

All 3 rapists of the 6 Dalit teenage girls in Kurmuri village, Bhojpur, Bihar, have been convicted in a remarkably short time, within three months. This verdict is a tribute to the courage of the survivors and the prompt and sustained efforts of the CPI(ML) Liberation and AIPWA.

It may be recalled that the main accused in the case, Neelnidhi Singh is a former Ranveer Sena area commander and known to be close to Ara MP RK Singh (from the BJP) and Tarari MLA Sunil Pandey from the JD(U). As a result, the police officials in Tarari as well as the Ara district administration dilly-dallied in taking any action against him. Right from getting the FIR filed, it was CPI(ML) and AIPWA activists who struggled for justice, every step of the way.

Leftist SYRIZA Registers Emphatic Electoral Win in Greece

The Left has registered an emphatic win in Greece in the recently concluded elections, with the SYRIZA winning 36 per cent of the votes and 149 out of the 300 total seats. The SYRIZA, a coalition originally comprising of a broad array of forces – including democratic socialists, green Left as well as Maoist and Trotskyist groups in Greece – became a unitary party in 2013. In the elections this year, SYRIZA has conclusively defeated the previous center-right New Democracy party, which was reduced to a distant second. Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi, far-right, anti-immigrant came third in the elections after polling 6.3 per cent of the votes.

The election results in Greece are hugely significant, considering that the SYRIZA ran its entire election campaign on an anti-austerity plank. As several political commentators have pointed out, it is the working class of Greece, the poor, the unemployed and the retrenched workers who have powered this victory – thus delivering a huge blow to the EU-IMF dictated austerity measures that have plunged Greece into a chaos of debt and humanitarian crisis. Moreover, this is the first time since the Spanish revolution of 1936 that a Left party has won general elections in Europe.

Over the years, SYRIZA which started mobilizing support against the disastrous liberalization-globalization regime dictated to Greece, has been steadily increasing its support base. It climbed from 4% to 27% in the 2012 elections, when it managed to represent the social dynamics of the massive social movements rocking Greece. After 2012, when the New Democracy-PASOK coalition government pushed harder on the neoliberal ‘restructuring’, SYRIZA captured the growing discontent and disillusionment in Greece. As Owen Jones points in the Guardian, it is the middle-aged working class women who have played a major role in this victory. He reports: “Outside the Greek finance ministry are cleaners who used to work there, until 16 months ago – like so many Greeks – they lost their jobs. ‘We were just numbers, not human beings,’ one tells me. Ever since, they’ve camped outside, battled riot police, and become iconic figureheads of the struggle against austerity. Plastered around their camp are defiant posters: a clenched fist in a kitchen glove, a cleaner sweeping away Greece’s discredited, despised political elite. ‘We hope to take back our lives, our jobs,’ I’m told. ‘After so many years, to be happy again’… Greece is a society that has been progressively dismantled by EU-dictated austerity. Outside one polling station, I speak to Georgia, who works at a hospital clinic manned by volunteers which caters for the impoverished. For unemployed Greeks denied access to the public healthcare system, such clinics are lifelines. Georgia has one clear ambition – that after a year or two of a Syriza-led government, her clinic will no longer be needed and will close. Syriza supporters speak often more as though they are in a disaster zone than competing in an election. Dealing with the “humanitarian crisis” is described as the new government’s number one priority.”

SYRIZA has won the elections on two specific proposals: (1) a social salvation plan to ameliorate the consequences of the neoliberal onslaught on the lower classes, and (2) a plan to re-negotiate the Greek public debt with the EU and the IMF, in order to make it sustainable. The emphatic win to these proposals is surely a mandate for the massive anti-austerity protests in Greece and Europe. Moreover, this mandate is an inspiration for movements in India and the rest of the world against anti-people, neoliberal policies. After Latin America, now Europe too is challenging the ‘There is No Alternative’ (TINA) narrative, and is reasserting the Left, defying those who had announced the demise of the Left and victory of capitalism long ago. No wonder then, that the IMF, as well as the powerful elite in Europe, have already stated that the victory of SYRIZA might have a huge ‘destabilizing’ effect in the whole of Europe.

Obituaries

Rajni Kothari

Veteran political scientist and civil libertarian, Rajni Kothari passed away on 19th January 2015. He was 87. He was among the founders of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and later its President. He was also the founder of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, an institute that continues to produce important and original research in the social sciences. He set up the Lokayan as a forum for dialogue between activists and intellectuals.

Rajni Kothari helped draft the manifesto of Jayprakash Narain’s Janata Party. However, he became critical of the Janata experiment. In the wake of the anti-Sikh massacre in 1984, he was among the authors of the meticulous and damning fact-finding report by the PUCL and PUDR, titled “Who are the guilty?”, that named the guilty Congress leaders.

He was a close observer and friend of the Indian People’s Front; especially of the IPF’s rise in the Hindi belt, its opposition to the draconian press bill, and the powerful peasant movement led by the CPI(ML) and IPF in Bihar that also blazed the trail for social justice. After the Bathani Tola massacre in Bihar in 1996, he was part of a committee to pursue justice. Rajni Kothari will be remembered as a path-breaking social scientist and political commentator, who inspired and influenced many political scientists and activists.

Jasodhara Bagchi

Veteran academic and women’s movement activist, Prof Jasodhara Bagchi passed away on January 9 at the age of 77. She taught English Literature at Jadavpur University in Kolkata since 1963, till her retirement in 1997. She was a Left activist, close to the CPI(M), and a dedicated activist of the Left women’s movement. She helped found the discipline of Women’s Studies in Jadavpur University and India. She initiated the publication of the Bengali Women Writers Reprint Series, to safeguard and showcase women’s writings that might otherwise be lost. She wrote extensively on women’s struggles.

The launch of her latest book, Parijayee Nari O Manabadhikar (Migrating Women and Human Rights), at the Kolkata Book Fairwas stalled by the Mamata Banerjee Government which termed it as “politically controversial”, presumably for its Left perspective.

She served as the Chairperson of the West Bengal State Commission for Women from 2001 to 2008. Salute to Jasodhara Bagchi, whose legacy will inspire the Left movement and women’s movement in India.

Mike Marqusee

Mike Marquesee, academic, writer and activist, passed away on 13 January 2015, after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Mike, an American school student of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry had been influenced by Malcolm X and black resistance. He shifted to England in protest against the Vietnam War, and ever since lived primarily in Britain. He raised his voice against various forms of religious fundamentalisms – opposing the diktats against Salman Rushdie, and the communal campaign to destroy to Babri Masjid in India.

In Britain Mike was known for both his writings and his activism – he was the main Press Officer for the Stop The War Coalition that organized the over a million people march in London against the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. At a time when Israel racist genocidal assaults on Palestine continued, Mike Marqusee was a refreshing secular, anti-Zionist voice committed to the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people. He contributed a fortnightly column to The Hindu and was a regular columnist for Britain’s largest circulation leftwing magazine Red Pepper. Salute to Mike Marqusee!

ML Update | No. 04 | 2015

January 22, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 04 | 20 – 26 JAN 2015

Defeat the Modi Design of Governance by Ordinance

One of Modi’s pet pronouncements after coming to power in May 2014 was ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. By the end of the year, the meaning of the slogan became quite clear: ‘Minimum Parliament, Maximum Ordinance’! Modi scarcely attends Parliament and his cabinet prefers to take the ordinance route to amend key laws passed by Parliament. Ahead of the budget session, the Modi government has already promulgated more than half a dozen ordinances, a measure that, according to the Supreme Court, should only be resorted to in extreme emergencies. The President of India, despite reports of discomfort with the flurry of ordinances, has chosen to go with the government and give his assent to the controversial measures.

Three of these ordinances have already evoked widespread protests in the country: the decision to raise FDI limit in insurance sector from 26 to 49, a gift to US insurance companies before Obama’s Republic Day visit; the ordinance opening up the coal sector for private commercial mining; and the most autocratic and pro-corporate diktat of them all, the land acquisition ordinance that overturns the amended land acquisition law of 2013. While in opposition, the BJP had been opposing FDI in insurance and had supported the 2013 legislation replacing the widely resented colonial era Land Acquisition Act of 1894. Now at the helm of a government in which the BJP enjoys absolute majority on its own, the BJP is brazenly rewriting the laws showing utter contempt for the people’s voice, both within and outside of Parliament.

The land acquisition ordinance has exempted several sectors from the mandatory consent and social impact assessment clauses, paving the way for wholesale acquisition of fertile multi-crop land for a pittance in the name of compensation and resettlement. Land remaining idle after acquisition will no longer be returned to the original owners. Along with this draconian ordinance, the government is also busy finding ways to restrict, dilute and deny the powers enjoyed by gram sabhas in tribal areas under the Forest Rights Act and the Fifth Schedule so that tribal communities have no say in regulating land acquisition and mining and construction activities in their traditional habitat. Laws like Chhota Nagpur and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Acts in Jharkhand are also being sought to be amended to deprive tribal communities of whatever legal protection they have been traditionally enjoying over their land.

The thrust of the Modi government’s agenda of development has thus become crystal-clear – wholesale acquisition of agricultural and tribal land whether in the name of industrial corridors or mining or urbanisation or private universities, engineering colleges, hotels and housing projects. The other pet slogan of Modi – “Make in India” – relies and revolves completely around FDI. When Modi woos FDI with his favourite formula of 3Ds – demand, demography and democracy – he places the purchasing power of Indian consumers, skilled labour of educated Indian youth and the legislative system of India, all at the disposal of foreign capital, thereby promising it maximum operating freedom and profits. This land-grabbing FDI-dependent model of development means nothing short of a war on the rights and resources of the Indian people – peasants, workers and job-seekers in particular.

The ordinances will have to be subjected to parliamentary debate in the forthcoming budget session. While resisting every act of forcible acquisition on the ground, pressure must now be mounted in every possible way on the government and Parliament for withdrawal of the ordinances and defeat of legislative attempts to turn these ordinances into laws. The first budget of the Modi government signalled systematic cuts in social sector spending and attempts to abandon whatever welfare measures were legislated in the last few years in the spheres of forest rights, employment guarantee and food security. By all indications the forthcoming budget will only seek to intensify this assault on social welfare and people’s rights. The working people and their fighting organisations must get united to resist these attacks and push back the government.

CPI(ML) statement on Muzzafarpur Riots

The communal frenzy orchestrated in Azizpur village, which comes under the Saraiya police station in Muzzafarpur in Bihar is a shame on humanity. This communal frenzy in Muzzafarpur was planned and organized on the lines of the Muzzafarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh in 2013. On 11 January 2015, an FIR was filed by the police regarding the abduction of Bharatendu Sahni. However, instead of investigating this matter with the seriousness it required, the administration adopted a careless attitude. As a result, communal forces in the area got sufficient time in which to create a communal frenzy. At a time when a dangerous communal atmosphere exists all over the country, this slack attitude of the local administration in a sensitive matter of an interreligious relationship raises several questions.

On 18 January 2015, a mob openly indulged in looting, arson and murder in broad daylight, between 12 pm and 3 pm, while the local police merely watched the entire horrific proceedings from a distance of a just 1 km away. When riots were being orchestrated in Azizpur village, the local BJP MLA as well as the DSP, the SHO and other police personnel were present. They however allowed the violence to continue and the village to burn. The police and the BJP leaders entered the village only after the frenzied crowd had dispersed after the violence and arson. These facts were highlighted by CPI(ML) leaders at a press conference in Patna, after a CPI(ML) team visited the area and investigated the issue. The CPI(ML) fact-finding team consisted of CPI(ML) politburo member comrade Dhirendra Jha, AIPWA general secretary Meena Tiwari, Iftikhar Alam of the Insaaf Manch, Aftab Alam, Suraj, Prof. Arvind De and Prabhat Bharadwaj.

CPI(ML) leaders stated at the press conference that five people had been killed in the communal frenzy, more than thirty houses had been completely burnt down, and all houses belonging to members of a particular community were looted. The village is now practically deserted; only a few elderly people have been left behind. Women and children have taken refuge in the neighbouring villages. An atmosphere of fear prevails in the entire area. Property worth crores has been looted, and property worth many more crores has been burnt and destroyed in the arson. There are also apprehensions that several people in the village are missing. However, many Hindu families in the village risked their own lives and the safety of their families in order to provide protection to the Muslims of the village. This indeed highlights Bihar’s syncretic culture and the strong communal harmony that prevails.

The evidence of looting, violence and arson clearly shows that several weapons such as hammers and spades were used in a large scale. According to eyewitnesses, the mob consisted of only around 500 people – the local administration is claiming a figure of 2000 in order to hide its incompetence. The nature and character of this incident appears to be very dangerous. A united response to such communal forces is the need of the hour. CPI(ML) appealed to all people to maintain peace and harmony in this situation.

CPI(ML) has also demanded the immediate suspension of the DSP and police station incharge, who are responsible for the incident. Moreover, CPI(ML) has demanded an enquiry against the SP and the DM of the area. Moreover, the local administration must not just ensure the safety of the residents of the village, but should also provide compensation for the loss of life and property. Bharatendu Sahni’s family should also be provided compensation. CPI(ML) has demanded a time-bound judicial enquiry to look into all aspects of the incident, which will submit its report within three months. This enquiry should also cover the role of the Paru BJP MLA Ashok Singh. CPI(ML) also demanded that the Bihar government apologise to the people of Bihar for its inability to prevent this incident.

(A more detailed report on the entire Muzaffarpur incident will be release later)

Protests against the acquittal of all the accused in the Shankarbigha massacre case

After shameful verdicts acquitting all the accused in the Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe and Miyapur massacres, last week all the accused in the Shankarbigha massacre too were acquitted by a lower court. CPI(ML) launched massive protests in Bihar against this travesty of justice. The Party called for a Bandh in Jehanabad and Arwal on 16 January 2015 – and subsequently, normal life was completely disrupted in both these districts as a result of the CPI(ML) bandh. In Jehanabad, thousands of CPI(ML) activists flooded the streets from the morning itself, and blocked rail traffic in the area. Several trains including the Intercity Express were halted for some hours. As a result the traffic on the Patna-Gaya rail route was severely disrupted.

In Arwal, thousands of CPI(ML) supporters participated in the protest led by CPI(ML) district secretary comrade Mahanand, demanding action against the perpetrators of the Shankarbigha massacre and justice for the victims. Addressing the protestors at the Bhagat Singh crossing in Arwal, comrade Mahanand pointed out that the very same government and administration which never tires of claiming that it stands for Dalits and deprived communities in the state, is one by one acquitting and releasing all those accused of orchestrating feudal massacres of the rural poor in Bihar. These massacres had been orchestrated during Lalu Prasad’s RJD regime, and when the JD(U)-BJP was in power, these murderers of the rural poor were acquitted and released in a well-organized manner. One of the first decisions taken by the Nitish Kumar government was to disband the Amir Das Commission, set up to investigate the political connections of Ranveer Sena and the feudal caste militias in Bihar. Now, even though BJP is no longer in power in the state, and the so-called social justice parties are running Bihar, rural poor in the state are being denied justice. Their struggle and battle for justice continues. The murderers in the Laxmanpur Bathe, Bathani Tola, Miyapur, Narayanpur and Nagari massacres, and now in the Shankarbigha massacre, have been acquitted. This shows clearly that the government in Bihar is a government which protects feudal-criminal forces, and which betrays the poor in the state after seeking their votes.

In Jehanabad, a protest meeting was also organized at the Arwal crossing. This protest meeting was attended by Party district secretary comrade Sriniwas Sharma, AIKM leader comrade Ramadhar Singh, AIPWA leader comrade Kunti Devi and others. Protests were also held in Agiaon, Sahar, Piro, Charpokhri, Gadhani and other parts of Bhojpur, where effigies of the Bihar Chief Minister were burnt. Protests against the acquittal of the Shankarbigha accused were also organized in Aurangabad, Bhabua, Nalanda, Siwan, Darbhanga and other districts.

Public Hearing in Tamil Nadu on the impact of BJP and AIADMK’s economic policies

A public hearing was organized by the CPI(ML) Madurai district committee on 10 January 2015 in Madurai. Comrade T.N. Gopalan, Dr. Vijaya Baskar from MIDS Chennai and Mr. Karunanidhi who is an advocate in the Chennai High Court Bench in Madurai were part of the panel which examined the witnesses at the public hearing. These witnesses included rural poor who had travelled several miles to depose their plight due to cuts in government expenditure on rural development programs.

Several facts were highlighted at the public hearing. The people of Tamil Nadu are being denied jobs under the MGNREGS. Card holders lucky enough to get jobs are waiting for almost 3 months to get wages. The AIADMK Government on its part has affected drastic cuts in social welfare assistance. Around 20,00,000 people were removed out of the total of 35,00,000 people who were getting welfare assistance under various schemes such as the Old Age Pension (OAP) scheme, schemes for assistance for handicapped, widows, destitute women and so on. These curtailed lists was prepared by the Revenue Department without informing the beneficiaries and got ‘approved’ by Gram Sabha meetings, which were never really held but were nevertheless recorded on paper.

Ninety nine percent of witnesses who deposed at the public hearing were women. Most of them were destitute or widows. They also shared their experiences of denial of ration card/ MGNREGA jobs as one cannot get ‘double benefits’ from the Government. They stated that ‘direct to the beneficiary’ clause is actually causing fraud and delayed payments. The biometric method to identify the person has failed many a time, resulting in people having to wait in front of rural bank counters for days. The cut in lists was arbitrary; while many landowners and supporters of ruling parties earn Rs. 1000 per month under various social welfare schemes, the poor and weaker sections are left high and dry.

Members of AISA had worked for several days to record cases, which were presented to the panelists. The facts were then verified by the panel by cross examining the persons who deposed. Many of the witnesses stated that the Government that they had voted for had vetoed their right to life.

The panelists concluded that the actions of the state and Central governments were arbitrary, and denied the welfare of the rural poor. The panel said that they would come out with a report soon and make all efforts to lobby in favor of the people. Comrade Balasundaram spoke at the public hearing and said that we need to conduct a ‘clean India’ campaign to remove the rulers’ loot and pro-corporate, anti-people policies.

Demonstrations against the arrest and imprisonment of NVH workers in Tamil Nadu

NVH is the South Korean auto ancillary of Hyundai, situated in the auto hub of Sriperumputhur. It employs about 150 permanent and 500 contract workers. The permanent workers formed a union under the banner of the United Labour Federation, but the Management has not yet recognised it. The workers subsequently went on a warpath demanding recognition, basic amenities, revision of wages and against the practice of employing workers under contract.

As a punishment for the protests, 10 workers were suspended and another 5 workers were terminated for demanding drinking water and water in the toilets. The workers’ movement then demanded the reinstatement of those suspended and terminated; workers went on a strike by assembling inside the factory premises. State leaders of the Federation and workers who were thrown out by the management gathered at the gate of the factory in support of the strike. Irked by the action of workers, the South Korean officers attacked them violently. This was videographed and the video subsequently went viral in many social media networks. Around 40,000 people watched this video on the day it was uploaded.

The police went into the factory by midnight on 1 January 2015, and arrested the striking workers including 3 women. They also arrested the workers assembled at the gate. While hundreds of workers arrested were released by the evening, 28 workers who had spearheaded the movement were sent to the Vellore prison. But the Korean officers who had attacked the workers went scot free. Condemning the incident, AICCTU and RYA jointly organised a demonstration on 5 January 2015 at Sriperumputhur, on 6 January in Coimbatore and on 8 January in Ambattur.

Massive Rally Marks A Decade of Comrade Mahendra Singh’s Martyrdom

A massive rally on 16 January 2015 at Bagodar marked ten years of Comrade Mahendra Singh’s martyrdom. The entire Central Committee of the CPI(ML), as well as people’s movement activists including Dayamani Barla attended the rally. Comrade Mahendra was assassinated in 2004.

In the morning, Central Committee members of the party went to pay respects at Comrade Mahendra Singh’s ancestral village Khambra. Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, people’s movements leader Dayamani Barla, CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav and former MLA Vinod Singh as well as other central leaders of the party were among those who joined the village people in offering flowers at the bust of Comrade Mahendra Singh. Schoolchildren lined the road to Khambra, with flowers and red flags in their hands, in memory of the man who had pioneered the setting up of schools in the village.

Back at Bagodar, the CPI(ML) leaders and people’s movement activists paid tributes at the bust of Comrade Mahendra outside the CPI(ML) office. Speaking here, Politburo member Comrade Ramji Rai said that Comrade Mahendra was a true people’s representative, in a much more profound sense than just an elected member of the Legislative Assembly. Falsely accused of violating Assembly norms, he had made history by resigning in the House itself; it was the Assembly which had to expunge the accusations and take him back. He was the one fearless voice of people’s movements inside the Assembly.

Speaking at the Rally, the newly elected CPI(ML) MLA from Dhanwar, Rajkumar Yadav said that Amit Shah and Modi failed in their bid for a ‘CPIML-free Jharkhand’ because they can never succeed in creating a ‘struggle-free Jharkhand’.

Comrade Vinod Singh addressed the Rally, underlining the many issues that face the youth and people of Jharkhand. AIPWA GS Meena Tiwari and AIKM GS Rajaram Singh also addressed the Rally. Dayamani Barla spoke of the great pillar of support that Comrade Mahendra Singh was to people’s movements, and how the CPI(ML) continued that legacy.

CPI(ML) GS Comrade Dipankar said that the CPI(ML) was a party of struggle on streets, fields, factories – when given a chance, the party would also represent those struggles inside the Assembly, but even when we fail to win the seat, the struggles would continue undaunted. He saluted the coal workers for their historic strike against the Coal Ordinance and farmers’ struggles against the Land Grab Ordinance. He said that the people of Bagodar had proven wrong those who imagined that they could wipe out the CPI(ML) by killing Comrade Mahendra Singh. He said that the BJP Government wanted to hand over the country and Jharkhand over to ‘company Raj’ and foment hatred between communities. The JVM had proved to be the B-Team of the BJP. It is the time of the hour to raise high the red flag and join hands with people’s movements to defend democracy and people’s rights.

Several resolutions were also passed, condemning the anti-democratic manner in which Ordinances are being promulgated by the Modi government by bypassing all forums of debate, condemning the Land Acquisition Ordinance which seeks to facilitate corporate land grab by doing away with the need for social impact assessment and peoples’ consent in several projects and expressing solidarity with the coal miners’ ongoing struggles against the recent Coal Ordinance. Resolutions were also passed against the growing saffronization of education and institutions of the State and against growing communal fascist assaults and threats and intimidation of religious minorities. The Rally also condemned the brutal assault on Krishnadev Verma in Birni, and demanded a CBI enquiry in the matter as well as justice and compensation for the victim’s family. The Rally demanded that the state government take active steps to increase employment opportunities in the state, and also ensure unemployment allowance for the unemployed youth.

Anti-communal campaign in Jehanabad

On 12 January 2015, CPI(ML) held protests all over Jehanabad town against the communal assaults launched by BJP and Bajrang Dal activists on a prayer meeting in a church in Madhavnagar in Jehanabad. On 11 January, a group of BJP activists had entered a Protestant church during a routine prayer meeting. They abused those present, looted the church and the organisers of the meeting, vandalized the premises, and broke chairs, mikes and other property in the church. A CPI(ML) team which investigated the whole incident, also came to know that the DM and SP of the area refused to take any action during the assault – even though the Christians in the church kept calling them for help. The police arrived only much later, and even then refused to arrest or any action against those who had perpetrated the violence. In fact, the BJP and Bajrang Dal activists abducted two of those present in the church, falsely accused them of conducting ‘conversions’ under ‘coercion’ and handed them over to the Police after beating them up.

The CPI(ML) protest march, which was held on 12 January began from the CPI(ML) district office, went through the town and culminated in a public meeting at the railway station campus. The protest march demanded action against those communal forces which had attacked a prayer meeting of Christians in Jehanabad. The protest was led by CPI(ML) central committee member comrade Ramjatan Sharma, district secretary Sriniwas Sharma and others. Addressing the protest, comrade Ramjatan Sharma pointed out that ever since the Modi government has come to power, the emboldened communal fascist forces in the country are increasingly indulging in communal hate mongering, violence and intimidation of religious minorities.

ML Update | No. 03 | 2015

January 14, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 03 | 13-19 JAN 2015

Modi Model of Governance:

Repression on Indian Farmers and Activists, Wooing Foreign Corporations

As India approaches Republic Day, the corporate-communal shadows over the Indian Republic and Indian democracy become darker. The Modi Government, even as it dilutes protections for India’s workers, farmers and citizens to woo US corporations and other MNCs, is branding protesting farmers and activists as ‘foreign agents’ to jail them and prevent them from traveling.

The Vibrant Gujarat jamboree held recently was attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry as well as a range of US corporations and other MNCs, along with Indian CEOs like Mukesh Ambani and Kumar Mangalam Birla. Addressing this gathering, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited them to ‘Make in India’, promising them ‘low-cost manufacturing’ thanks to ‘India’s low-cost and high quality manpower’; and highlighted his Government’s initiative in ensuring FDI in construction, railways, defence, and insurance as well as labour law reforms.

‘Low cost manpower’ is nothing but a euphemism for under-paid and over-worked workers, and lax safety norms at the workplace. In India’s factories, labour laws – especially those ensuring payment of minimum wages, equal pay for equal work, and the right to form unions – are already being widely violated. Modi’s contribution has been to declare that manufacturers can now ‘self-certify’ their compliance with labour laws – effectively telling them that the Government has shrugged off any responsibility to enforce labour laws. Recent revelations of women being made to clean spit as punishment for being found with a mobile phone on textile factory premises, and 45 women being strip searched in an SEZ to check for sanitary napkins, are just a small indicator of how workers ‘Make in India’ in conditions of virtual bondage. Deaths on construction sites, in factories, mines and in sanitation work thanks to lax safety regulations, are extremely common. The Bhopal disaster, as well as countless farmers and adivasis killed in police firing on protests against land grab, are a reminder that not only is labour ‘low cost’, lives in India are also kept ‘low cost’ in order to attract and appease Indian and foreign corporations. Kerry has stated that what Obama would like to achieve in the course of his Republic Day visit, is to further dilute the Civil Nuclear Liability law, in order to make India foot the bills for any Bhopal- or Fukushima-style disasters by US nuclear corporations on Indian soil.

Strangely, while foreign corporations are being given a red carpet welcome and carte blanche to grab land, pollute the environment, poison people, violate labour laws and exploit labourers, it is protesting farmers and activists who are being branded as ‘threats’ to India’s development and internal security!

During the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Gujarat’s farmers were detained to prevent them from protesting against the land acquisition ordinance. A Greenpeace activist was prevented from boarding a plane – on the pretext that the Intelligence Bureau had recommended a ban on her travel. The Government itself has as yet been unable to provide any reason for a ban on the activist’s travel, except some shadowy IB recommendation.

BJP representatives have been defending the ban on the activist’s travel, citing her role in protests against violations of the Forest Rights Act by the corporation Essar. Essar being a UK-listed company, the activist was planning to apprise lawmakers in the UK about the company’s role in violating Indian laws protecting indigenous people’s rights to forests.

The ban on the Greenpeace activist’s travel can be traced back to the IB report submitted to the PM on June 2014, that had claimed a threat from ‘foreign funded NGOs’ to India’s national economic security.

The ironic part is that the same Government is promoting foreign funding in every aspect of India’s economy – at a considerable cost to India’s workers, peasants, and environment. The Chief Economic Advisor to the PM – like the Planning Commission Chief and the PM himself in the previous Government – are associated with the IMF. Thanks to these ideologically motivated persons, India’s economic policy is being tailored to suit the interests of global capital rather than the priorities of India’s people.

The sheer hypocrisy of the Government is apparent from the fact that even a Modi Cabinet Minister – the Railways Minister Suresh Bharadwaj, heads a foreign-funded environmental NGO. Many global corporations also float NGOs to ‘greenwash’ their assaults on the world’s environment. Clearly, these NGOs escape the IB radar because they tend to toe the Government and corporate line in terms of policies! Only those that are voices of dissent are branded as a ‘threat’ and face curbs on their freedom of speech, travel, and protest.

It has been rightly pointed out that Modi, when he was Gujarat CM, had signed an MOU with an NGO ‘The Climate Group’, that is linked with the former UK PM Tony Blair. Modi’s book on climate change has a foreword by the head of this same foreign-funded NGO! In 2009, a cabal of senior Indian ministers, bureaucrats, diplomats and corporate CEOs were exposed having secret conversations with MNCs and US Government officials about how to save Dow Chemicals from its liabilities of clean up and compensation in the matter of the Bhopal Gas Disaster. Clearly, Indian Governments allow their own leaders to have secret conversations and deals with foreign corporations and foreign governments to protect MNCs that have the blood of Indian citizens on their hands! Yet they deplane an environmental activist on the pretext that she has no right to brief UK lawmakers about crimes committed by the UK-listed corporation!

As we approach Republic Day, let Indian citizens rise up against the ‘company Raj’ regime of the Modi Sarkar – and tell Modi and Obama alike that it is their policies that endanger the security of India and the globe!

Condemn the Paris Attacks, Resist Islamophobia and Expose ‘Free Speech’ Hypocrisy

The massacre of the journalists and cartoonists at the Paris-based magazine Charlie Hebdo is heinous and condemnable. Terrorist actions like the Paris massacre can only become fodder for the global campaign of Islamophobia that is being used to justify wars, occupations, and torture.

Along with the Paris massacre, the Norway massacre by the Islamophobic Anders Breivik; threats against Salman Rushdie; the persecution of Taslima Nasreen in Bangladesh and in India; the Peshawar massacre; the harassment of MF Hussain, forcing him to leave India; the pulping of Wendy Doniger’s book under threats from Hindutva groups; the recent vandalisation of theatres showing the film PK, and the hounding of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, forcing him to announce his ‘death as an author’ – all are instances of violence and terrorism in the name of religious fanaticism and xenophobia. There are countless other instances of Governments (from the USA to Israel to France to India) hounding dissenting political journalists, whistleblowers, writers, filmmakers and so on.

Violence or demands for bans against cartoonists, writers, filmmakers or artists who are irreverent to one’s faith, cannot have any place in a democratic world. Undoubtedly everyone has a right to take offence to or express dissent or protest against writings, art or films. But such opposition should be expressed in words, in art, in films, or in peaceful protest. Threats, actual violence or bans stifle the very spirit of democracy.

Condemnation of the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo staffers, however, cannot mean condoning the content of their cartoons. It is true that Charlie Hebdo did carry cartoons that sought to ‘offend’ other religions too, including Christianity. The use of images of the Prophet in defiance of religious prohibitions, in itself, is not what makes the Charlie Hebdo cartoons offensive. The fact is that the bulk of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons since 2001 have been of a coarsely racist, misogynist, Islamophobic variety. Steeply rising Islamophobia the world over took the form of anti-immigrant xenophobic politics and hate-inspired violence in France in those years. In this backdrop, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons caricaturing Muslims for wearing beards and veils, displaying humiliating sexual violence against Muslim men and women, and sexist comments on Muslim women getting welfare benefits, are indistinguishable from garden-variety racism and xenophobia. Contrary to their claim, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons cannot be celebrated as Leftist iconoclasm or atheist irreverence. A former staffer of the magazine, Oliver Cyran, had in an article written before the massacre, scathingly criticized Charlie Hebdo for its racist, Islamophobic turn post 9/11.

The official ‘secularism’ of the French State also is beset with much the same problems as the Charlie Hebdo magazine. France’s ban on the hijab or the display of ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols (which can be interpreted to mean bindis or turbans also) – which France claims is in the best tradition of French secularism – coincides with the xenophobic slurs and attacks on those same symbols. When wearers of bindis, burqas and turbans are vilified as ‘pinheads’, ‘ragheads’ and so on in many European countries and USA, the wearing of those symbols becomes a defence of identity and dignity. To ban those symbols amounts to serving the cause of racism, under the cloak of secularism and feminism! A recent article on Charlie Hebdo in a prominent Indian daily, that claimed the magazine was ‘anti religion not anti Islam) commented that increasing immigration and “people of colour from former French colonies moving in as citizens of France” has caused “considerable strain on French identity.” But if French ‘secular’ identity comes under “strain” thanks to diversity and immigration from the countries France itself colonized, then surely there is something deeply flawed about such ‘secularism’? Can it be called ‘secularism’ at all if it cannot accommodate the social, cultural and religious self-expression of the ‘Other’ who are its former colonial subjects?

The claim that freedom of expression is absolute – in France in general as well as in the Charlie Hebdo magazine – is false. France and other European countries have laws against anti-Semitic hate-speech. Charlie Hebdo sacked a staffer who was misleadingly accused of anti-Semitism on the grounds that he mocked at a French politician for marrying a Jewish heiress for money. Yet the same magazine saw nothing racist or Islamophobic in content mocking at Muslims or immigrants for their clothes or colour, with crude images of sexual violence. The problem seems to be France’s inability to recognize Islamophobia and anti-Arab xenophobia as hate-speech at all.

It is no coincidence that France is the first country in the world to ban pro-Palestine protests. It is no excuse that some of those protests were violent or anti-Semitic. After all, innumerable instances of Islamophobic violence has not resulted in any bans or curbs on Islamophobic ‘self-expression’ in France! The French State could and should have acted to prevent and punish any anti-Semitic violence, as also Islamophobic and xenophobic violence. But banning pro-Palestine demonstrations smacks of high hypocrisy on its claims of holding high the standard of ‘Liberty’ and ‘free speech.’ In France, sociologist Said Bouamama and rapper Saidou have been put on trial, under pressure from a far-right group, for a book and song they brought out in solidarity with French working class youth, and in protest against racism. In a statement after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Said and Saidou have called out the hypocrisy of the French State and warned against an explosion of racism and Islamophobia against working class immigrants.

The response of most ruling regimes to the Paris Attacks has been marked by hypocrisy and a self-serving agenda of boosting Islamophobia. One article exposing such hypocrisy notes, “The only person in prison for the C.I.A.’s abominable torture regime is John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower. Edward Snowden is a hunted man for divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a thirty-five-year sentence for her role in WikiLeaks.” A cartoon on the internet points to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s hypocrisy, with a caption saying “I assassinated 17 journalists, among 2143 other Palestinians in Gaza, only last summer. Today I walked in the first line in the Paris Rally, protesting terrorism and assuring freedom of speech is a basic right.”

The instances of hypocrisy from India also abound. The Sangh Parivar is trying to use the Paris massacre as a pretext to spread hatred against Islam and Muslims. It must be remembered that the Sangh Parivar and other Hindutva groups are the ones responsible for acts of horrific violence in the name of ‘defending’ their faith. These acts of violence include the assassination of MK Gandhi, the burning alive of Graham Staines and his two little sons, and numerous communal pogroms targeting Muslim and Christian minorities, as well as the organized intimidation against writings of Wendy Doniger, Perumal Murugan, Rohinton Mistry, AK Ramanujam; Anand Patwardhan’s films; Facebook posts by Mumbai girls; MF Husain’s art, to name just a few. Anders Breivik who massacred many young people in Norway, was inspired in part by the ideology and violent actions of the Sangh Parivar in India. The Modi Government is treating protests against land grab or destruction of forests as a form of ‘blasphemy’ against pro-corporate development, and has just prevented an activist from flying out of the country on these grounds.

Any attempt to frame the Paris Attacks – as 9/11 was framed – as an attack by Islam on Western values of ‘democracy’ and ‘free speech’ and to stoke Islamophobic panic and hatred, must be firmly resisted. Yes, the attacks are a heinous, terrible, unconscionable crime. But this crime cannot be used to shield and justify the crimes against humanity and freedom committed by the very same powers that masquerade as defenders of ‘democracy’ now. Racism, Islamophobia, communalism, wars and occupation, as well as repressive muzzling of critics of capitalism and imperialism, are real and present dangers to democracy as much as are the ISIS, the Taliban, the Boko Haram and other such outfits.

Excerpts From Statement by Said and Saidou

Our book and song came about in the middle of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to impose a racist definition of national identity.

One spontaneous response from young people in working class areas was to write graffiti on the walls saying “Nique la France”—“Fuck France”.

This graffiti was political, and showed the youth’s opposition. Of course, the mainstream media presented it instead as a danger to the republic.

Our book and song were intended to make sure this youth wasn’t left isolated, by bringing the visible support of a sociologist and a musician.

They highlighted the France that we don’t and can never love. The France of the counter-revolutionaries that put down the Paris Commune in 1871, Nazi collaborators, police searches, racist crimes, Islamophobia and Zionism.

A far right group attacked us for racism against “white people”—and the court decided to take their complaint seriously.

Apparently the book’s tone is unforgivable. It is a call for the mobilisation and self-organisation of people in working class areas.

What’s also unforgivable is that we’ve linked together different fights in one common denunciation of the global system.

In France’s crisis-stricken society, the mere expression of revolt is considered dangerous.

Our trial is an attempt to intimidate activists in the hope that they stop expressing the anger that’s present in the poorer classes and especially among young people from migrant backgrounds.

Now politicians and the media have captured the emotion that people feel at the Charlie Hebdo attack.

They are sending out a message of fear to justify repressive measures against working class areas that are living through massive impoverishment and racial discrimination.

The debate in the media is already focusing on the need for a French equivalent of the US Patriot Act passed after 9/11.

The calls for national unity are actually an attempt to divide ordinary people according to their religions—or their assumed religions. To do this, the state has to present young Arab and black people as a danger to safety.

In three days 50 Islamophobic acts have taken place in France.

The anger is great among people from migrant backgrounds. But the media hype is drowning it out.

Thousands of school and college students refused to take part in the minute’s silence of the “I am Charlie” campaign.

Others put up their own posters, graffiti or tweets such as “I am Palestine” or “I am against Islamophobia”.

We need to bring together these forces to refuse national unity and respond to the official campaign.

We want to send a message to working class areas of refusing to be intimidated, cowed or afraid. And it’s a call for self-organisation and solidarity against the unprecedented repression that is on its way.

Nationwide protests against Land Acquisition Ordinance

After announcing the closure of the Parliament session two days before schedule, the Modi government, sensing all-pervasive opposition within as well as outside Parliament, issued an ordinance to amend the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, putting an end to the provision for farmers’ consent before land acquisition. Immediately after this ordinance was issued, the All India Kisan Mahasabha strongly condemned this undemocratic and anti-farmer step of the Modi government and called for nationwide protests on 2 January 2015 demanding the repeal of this ordinance. Responding to this call, AIKM units across the country organized various protests.

In Uttar Pradesh, protests were held in the capital Lucknow, at Ghazipur district HQ, Jamania, Bhadora, Mhow district HQ, and Bareilly and at Moradabad, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur, Mirzapur, Kanpur, Banaras, Bhadouri, Sitapur, Kushinagar, Azamgarh and Mathura. Public meetings and protest marches were held in Giridih, Bagodar, Deori, and Ramgarh. In Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan), Bhind (Madhya Pradesh), Odisha, and in Durg (Chhattisgarh), memorandums were submitted by CPI(ML) demanding repeal of the ordinance.

In Andhra Pradesh, kisan marches, meetings, and effigy burnings were organized at several places including at the Eastern Godavari HQ Kakinada, in Karnool district, Krishna district, Srikakulam and Palasa, attended by farmers in large numbers. In Bindukhatta (Uttarakhand) farmers took out a protest march and burnt effigies of PM Modi. In West Bengal, protest marches, meetings, and effigy burnings were held at Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Nadiya and Bardhman.

In Punjab, 2 to 7 January 2015 was observed as protest week against the Ordinance, as well as against the Punjab government’s “sarkari, gair sarkari, niji sampatti nuksaan rok” Bill. Protest rallies and meetings were held at Mansa, Bhikhi Bazar, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Bhatinda, Ferozpur and Karnal.

In Bihar, protest marches and effigy burnings were held at 9 block HQs in Patna district. During the rally in Patna city, it was announced that 27 Jan to 12 Feb 2015 would be observed as “statewide Kisan fortnight” to protest against the ordinance and to demand purchase of paddy from sharecroppers at purchase centres across the state. Protests were also held in different parts of Bhojpur as well as in Aurangbad, Arwal, Bhagalpur, Jehanabad, Vaishali, Rohtas, Western Champaran, Jamui, Siwan, Samastipur, Nalanda, and Buxar districts.

Convention in Coimbatore in support of Perumal Murugan

CPI(ML) Coimbatore city unit organised a convention on 11 January 2015 in Goundampalayam, Coimbatore, against the attacks on Tamil novelist Perumal Murugan and against the growing dangers of fascism. Speakers at the convention included CPI(ML) Politburo member comrade Kumarasamy, PUCL Tamil Nadu’s general secretary comrade Balamurugan (who is also the author of the Tamil novel “Solagar Thotti” describing police atrocities on tribal people), author of the Tamil novel “Milirkal” comrade Murugavel, district executive committee members of CPI and CPI(M) comrades Subramanian and Arumugam, as well as state committee members of CPI(ML) comrades N.K. Natarajan and Chandramohan. The convention strongly condemned the call for a ban on Perumal Murugan’s Tamil novel “Madhorubagan” (One Part Woman in English) by communal castiest forces and barons of private educational institutions. Though this book was written way back in 2010, the demand for its ban was raised in 2014 after the BJP came to power. The convention condemned the attitude of the state government, which is choosing to remain a silent spectator even as this fascist assault is being orchestrated.

Issues related to workers’ rights in Tamil Nadu were also raised – the convention demanded that the state government protect the rights of the workers in the Foxconn factory in Tamil Nadu, and also take necessary steps to curb the rampant retrenchment in the IT sector. The convention demanded the arrest of the Korean officer of the Huyndai ancillary factory in Tamil Nadu, who violently attacked striking workers. The convention condemned the harassment and arrest of RTI activist and President of the Satta panchayat Siva Ilango based on a dubious complaint filed by the State Information Commission, and demanded the resignation of K.S. Sripathi, the State Information Commissioner.

Students’ movement in Jadavpur University forces JU VC to resign

In a massive victory for the student movement the Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University (JU) has had to resign following unrelenting students’ protests against the JU administration. The Hokkolorob movement has battled lathi charges and massive repression, as well as threats from the JU administration and from the West Bengal government, to constantly evolve fresh modes of resistance. In November 2014, a Referendum was conducted in JU – where students voted overwhelmingly in favour of the demands raised by the Hokkolorob movement. More than 90 per cent of the students demanded the resignation of the JU VC, the reconstitution of the ICC in order to ensure more democratic participation of students and gender justice, and against surveillance in the name of women’s security. Subsequently, when the JU administration refused to respect the democratic mandate of the student community, students boycotted JU’s annual Convocation ceremony as a mark of protest.

Given the continuing refusal of the JU administration to listen to students’ voices and demands, JU students began an indefinite hunger strike in JU this January. When all means of repression and intimidation failed, the Vice Chancellor of JU finally had to resign. AISA and the JU student community are now preparing for the next round of battle to take forward their demands. They are planning to press very strongly for their demands to restructure the existing ICC in JU in order to democratize it and ensure gender justice. Moreover, the movement is also demanding strong action against one of the JU faculty members in the History department – who has a track record of sexual harassment and molestation complaints against him.

Expulsion of AISA UP State President for Organizing a Seminar Exposing ‘Love Jihad’ Bogey

In yet another shameful assault on campus democracy, the Lucknow University (LU) administration has expelled comrade Sudhanshu Bajpai, UP state president of AISA, from LU for the ‘crime’ of organizing a seminar on LU campus on the Love Jihad bogey and for burning the effigy of the UP Chief Minister at a subsequent protest held by AISA. The seminar against ‘Love Jihad’, which was to be addressed by AIPWA national secretary comrade Kavita Krishnan, was disrupted by ABVP.

LU is a UP state-run university, and even as the SP government in UP tries to claim its secular credentials, it exposes its real face by expelling a student for organizing a campaign against the Love Jihad lies. Even though the LU administration had initially given permission for AISA’s seminar against the BJP’s Love Jihad campaign, they yielded to ABVP’s demands and on the day of the event, they orally claimed they had never given permission. In the days to come, AISA will be organizing sustained protests in UP, Delhi and elsewhere against Comrade Sudhanshu’s expulsion.

ML Update | No. 02 | 2015

January 7, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 02 | 06 – 12 JAN 2015

Rajasthan Ordinance on Educational Qualification for Panchayat Candidates:

Disenfranchising the Poor and Marginalized

The BJP Government in Rajasthan has, days before panchayat polls in the State, introduced an ordinance mandating minimum educational qualifications for Panchayat candidates. According to the ordinance, a candidate should have passed Class 10 to contest the Zila Parishad or Panchayat Samiti polls; be Class 8 pass from any school to contest the Sarpanch elections on general seats and have passed Class 5 from a school to become a Sarpanch in the scheduled seats. The BJP Government has chosen to use the ‘ordinance route’ – bypassing any debate or vote in the Assembly, in spite of the fact that ordinances are meant only for emergency measures. What was the pressing emergency to deprive nearly 80% of the state’s citizens from contesting the panchayat polls?

According to the Census 2011, rural literacy levels in Rajasthan are abysmally low – 61% for men and 45% for women. In the 2010 Rajasthan Panchayat polls, more than 70% of elected Panchayat Samiti members and 77% SC Panchayat Samiti representatives; 55% of Zila Parishad members; 61% of the Scheduled Caste and 63% of Scheduled Tribes representatives fail to meet the criteria specified by the ordinance. With this ordinance, the Rajasthan Government is punishing women, SC/ST persons, and the vast majority of rural Rajasthan for the failure of the State to ensure education for all!

The educational criterion imposed by the Ordinance is Class 5 pass for SC/ST reserved seats. But the fact is that STs have held even unreserved panchayat seats in some parts of the State – and may now be debarred by the Ordinance from doing so. Till now, a large number of the 27 panchayats of Shahabad block and 32 panchayats in Kishanganj block of Baran district have been held by Sahariya adivasis, beyond the seats reserved for STs. Now, the ordinance imposing and educational bar have ensured that very few among the Sahariyas will be able to contest.

The ordinance becomes even more absurd when considered alongside the fact that 23 BJP MLAs and 2 BJP MPs in Rajasthan are below 10th pass, and 20% of the Modi Government’s Cabinet Ministers are below 12th Pass. This means that Sarpanches in rural Rajasthan are required to meet educational criteria that MPs and MLAs, who enact laws for the country and the State, are exempt from.

The BJP Government’s claim that this is a move to curb corruption is shockingly elitist, implying that those deprived of education are likely to be more corrupt. Local self-governance in rural areas is mandated by the 73rd Constitutional amendment that did not stipulate any minimum educational qualifications.

The Supreme Court refused to entertain petitions against the ordinance, saying that the Rajasthan High Court was the correct forum to raise the issue. By failing to at least extend the deadline for filing nominations until the High Court can take up the matter, the Supreme Court has been remiss in its duty to protect Constitutional rights of citizens.

Rural Rajasthan and much of rural India are deprived of education. Levels of literacy and education among the Dalits, adivasis and women are especially low in India. The only criteria that need concern us about Panchayat representatives are their incorruptibility and their commitment to leading people’s struggles for their rights. These criteria, needless to say, cannot be enforced by Governments but can only be pursued and enforced by the rural people, by demanding transparency and accountability from elected representatives.

The silence of the Modi-led Central Government on the Rajasthan ordinance disenfranchising the poorest and weakest of the rural population is yet another danger signal for India’s democracy.

Press Statement issued by Left Parties on Upcoming Visit of US President Barack Obama

Obama Visit: Observe Protest Day on January 24

The Modi government and the BJP have unleashed the forces of Hindutva which threatens the secular and democratic values of the Indian Republic. It is at such a juncture that the Government has invited President Obama of the United States of America to be the Chief Guest of the Republic Day on January 26.

It is a supreme irony that the day which symbolizes India’s independence and sovereignty is being graced by the head of a country which has done the most to assault and destroy the sovereignty of many countries around the world. President Obama himself is responsible for the aggression in Libya and for the rerun of bombing and sending troops back to Iraq. The US is doing everything to destroy Syria as a national entity.

The Left parties protest the visit of President Obama because:

1. The United States is targeting and destabilizing governments and countries in West Asia by military interventions like in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

2. The United States is the patron and staunch supporter of Israel which occupies Palestinian land and Arab territories and subjects the Palestinian people to colonial oppression.

3. The United States has shifted a substantial part of its naval and military resources to Asia as part of the pivot of Asia and is creating new military bases and tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

4. US intervention in Afghanistan and role in Pakistan have nurtured fundamentalist forces, the disastrous consequences of which serve as a warning to India.

5. US which wages wars in the name of defending democracy, is facing massive protests at home against racial murders by its police force. Further the terrible record of torture and Islamophobic profiling by the CIA with the approval of the US government has recently exposed the US as amongst the worst violator of human rights and democracy in the world.

The BJP government is pursuing a pro-US foreign policy which is contrary to an independent non-aligned foreign policy. This is being done in the interests of Indian and foreign monopoly capital.

The Left parties strongly protest:

1. The decision to renew the India-US Defence Framework Agreement for another ten years. This is a pact which will yoke India to American military strategy in Asia.

2. Seeking to pressurise India to change its foreign policy orientation vis a vis Palestine, Israel and Iran to suit US interests

3. The relentless pressures exercised by the Obama administration on India to open up the financial sector to US capital, as a result of which the Modi government has promulgated an ordinance to allow 49 per cent FDI in the insurance sector.

4. The strong pressure of the US to weaken the patents regime in India to benefit the US drug companies, so that they can sell drugs in India at high prices.

5. America’s pressures that India to give up its food security programme by undermining public procurement and the public distribution system.

6. US pressuring India to weaken laws that protect labour rights and environment, to benefit US corporations.

7. The Obama-Modi efforts to dilute the civil nuclear liability law to favour US nuclear companies.

The Left parties call for a Protest Day against the visit of President Obama on January 24.

Halt US aggression !

Stop interference in India’s domestic matters !

Stop US-India strategic collaboration !

Sd/-

Prakash Karat, General Secretary, CPI(M)

Sudhakar Reddy, General Secretary, CPI

Dipankar Bhattacharya General Secretary, CPI(ML)-Liberation

Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, SUCI(C)

Debabrata Biswas, General Secretary, AIFB

Abani Roy, General Secretary, RSP

Successful Bihar Bandh by Niyojit Sewakarmi Samyukta Morcha

A state-wide bandh was organized on 22 December by the Bihar State Contractual-Honorarium Employees’ United Front (Samyukt Morcha) pressing for an 8-point charter of demands, including scrapping of the contractual/honorarium based planning policy, ensuring permanent appointment and equal pay for equal work for all such employees, strict implementation of the Bihar government’s resolution No. 2401 dated 18.07.2007, protection of trade union rights, repeal of oppressive actions and prompt appointments to fill vacant teaching and other posts. Organizations associated with the Samyukt Morcha demonstrated in large numbers in districts, blocks and tehsil HQs across Bihar and ensured that the call for Bihar bandh was a big success.

In the capital Patna, a march from Gandhi maidan was organized by the Samyukt Morcha. It was led by chief patron Rambali Prasad, President Ranvijay Kumar, Gen. Secretary Shiv Shankar Prasad, AICCTU Gen. Secretary RN Thakur, Aasnarayan Singh, Devanand Thakur, Ravishankar Sinha, Binda Prasad, Shyam Prasad Sao, Upendra Prasad, Chhattu Prasad, Shatrughan Sinha, Premchand Sinha and others. Thousands of people participated in the march, including the Special Police Personnel Union, the Midday Meal Workers’ Union, the Samvida (contractual) Ameen union, AICCTU and Mahasangh (Gope faction). The protest march proceeded from Gandhi maidan to the Dak Bunglow crossing. Several people who have passed the TET and STET exams also proceeded in a large procession from Gandhi maidan and reached the Dak Bunglow crossing, led by Markandey Thakur. Protestors and participants in the march gheraod the Dak Bunglow crossing. Thousands of protestors were arrested.

CPI(ML) activists came out on the streets throughout Bihar in support of the bandh and obstructed road and rail traffic at several places. About 500 Party activists marched from Gandhi maidan and courted arrest at the Dak Bunglow crossing, led by State secretary comrade Kunal, Politburo member comrade Amar, AIPWA Gen. Secretary Meena Tiwari, AIPWA State President Saroj Choube, comrades Shashi Yadav, Santosh Sahar, Rambali Yadav, Anita Sinha, AISA national secretary Abhyuday and RYA leader Naveen Kumar.

Addressing the protest meeting at the Dak Bunglow crossing, various speakers pointed out that the attitude of the government towards contract/honorarium workers is one of total neglect. These workers frequently come out on the streets to agitate on issues like planning and wages, but the government answers them only in the language of repression, lathis and bullets. This attitude and injustice was strongly condemned. The speakers also pointed out that whether it is the Modi government at the Centre, or the JD(U) government in Bihar, both implement neo-liberal policies and want to run the country on the basis of temporary planning through contract/honorarium where workers get no guarantee of either dignity or social security. Therefore, the policy of contractual planning must be totally reversed and the struggle for the implementation of permanent appointments must be strengthened. On the one hand, peoples’ rights are being attacked and reduced, and on the other hand price rise and corruption are increasing. The Modi government has deeply betrayed the people of the country.

Addressing the meeting, AIPWA and AISA leaders said that a substantial number of women today labour as ASHA workers, midday meal workers, anganwadi workers and nurses, but they are not getting even minimum wages to take care of their families. The government has made their lives a veritable hell. The Delhi and Bihar governments sell dreams of employment to the unemployed, but they have no concrete policy for the youth. AISA and AIPWA leaders stressed that workers do not want contractual or honorarium jobs; their demand is for permanent, regular employment with dignity. Until the government can provide this, they should give unemployment allowance. If the government does not accede to these just demands, this agitation should be further escalated. After the meeting, the protesters marched on towards the kotwali and were arrested and kept inside the kotwali thana.

The bandh had a widespread effect in Patna rural district. About 800 Party supporters took to the streets in Paliganj, while 600 were arrested in Arwal and another 125 were arrested in Fatuha. The bandh was very effective in Ara, Sasaram, Buxar, Motihari, western Champaran, Siwan, and Bhagalpur. In Nawada, CPI(ML) and AIPWA participated in large numbers – and 234 women were arrested for participating in the protest. Beguserai and Darbhanga also saw large numbers of protesters out on the streets, as did Samastipur, where 200 activists were arrested. In Vaishali AICCTU, Mahasangh (Gope faction) and CPI(ML) launched a strong agitation to make the bandh a huge success. Hundreds of workers from the Bihar Shiksha Pariyojana Parishad Employees’ Union protested on the Patna-Hajipur National Highway and kept it blocked for about 2 hours. People who have passed the TET and STET exams turned out in large numbers to protest and sat on a dharna in Hajipur. On the eve of the bandh, on 21 December, over 150 contractual workers held a mashal juloos and protest meeting. Protest marches were also taken out at Shekhpura, Madhubani, Saharsa, Supoul, Chhapra, Kaimur, Lakhiserai, Banka, Sitamarhi, and other districts.

AIKM Protest in Uttarakhand

The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) held a protest at Lalkuan tehsil, against the state government’s moves to declare Bindukhatta a municipality. The protest demanded that Bindukhatta should be declared a revenue village. The protesters gathered in hundreds and made their way, shouting slogans, through Lalkuan bazaar to the tehsil headquarters, led by Kisan Mahasabha National Secretary comrade Purushottam Sharma, senior AIKM leader Bahadur Singh Jangi, CPI(ML) district secretary Kailash Pandey, Bhuvan Joshi, Anand Sijwali and others. Following the protest, a memorandum of objection, signed by several people, was submitted to the Director, Urban Development (Uttarakhand) through the tehsildar.

Addressing the protest meeting at Car Road, comrade Purushottam Sharma pointed out the various reasons behind the opposition to making Bindukhatta in Nainital district a municipality. Bindukhatta is a fully rural area, and its residents are dependent for their livelihood on rural occupations such as farming, animal husbandry, and associated occupations. Therefore, the appropriate step towards development of Bindukhatta would be to declare it a revenue village. If it is made a municipality, these traditional occupations will not only be badly affected, they actually stand in danger of being completely annihilated. Comrade Sharma pointed out that Bindukhatta is situated entirely in forest land, and the people here have long been demanding its transfer from the forest department to the revenue department. They have also been demanding that residents be given ownership rights of the land. All political parties and all ruling governments had promised to fulfill this demand. But the present government’s decision to make it a municipality rather than a revenue village means an effective death of all aspirations of the local residents to get ownership rights to the land. Comrade Sharma stated that the government must answer the peoples’ question: why can’t the government transfer the forest lands in the name of the poor people instead of handing over land to companies such as Birla, Indian Oil, and sleeper factories as well as to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)?

Comrade Kailash Pandey pointed out that the interim notification of the government in this regard was not even published in the public domain, thereby not informing the public in time and not giving enough time for the people to register their protest. This proves that there are hidden political and economic ulterior motives behind the declaration of Bindukhatta as a municipality.

Senior leader Bahadur Singh Jangi said that we reiterate our long-standing demand for making Bindukhatta a revenue village and we demand that the proposal of forming the municipality be immediately taken back, so that the local residents can get ownership rights to their land and get all the constitutional rights under the Panchayati Raj law. Hundreds of protesters, including Pushkar Dubadiya, Vimla Raunthan, Nirmala, Basanti Bisht, Gangaram and Kamlapati Joshi were present at the meeting.

Dharna Demanding Relief for Cyclone Victims

On 28 November 2014, Left parties held a massive dharna at the Vishakapatnam collectorate, demanding relief and rehabilitation for the Hududh cyclone victims in Andhra Pradesh. CPI(ML) state committee member comrade B. Vasudeva Rao addressed the dharna on behalf of CPI(ML). Party leader comrade M. Ramachandra Raju and Visakha Building Construction Workers’ Union Leader K. Ramana also participated. The dharna was addressed by leaders of various Left parties. A detailed memorandum was also submitted to the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and to the Inter-ministerial Central team for assessment of the Hudhud cyclone.

It was demanded that the government should immediately survey, enumerate and register all the effected dwellings. Moreover, housing schemes should also put in place to address the needs of slum dwellers as well as tenant residents who live in rented spaces. It was also demanded that the government should fully compensate the agricultural losses, including losses incurred by tenant farmers. All industrial units – both large factories and public sector units, as well as small units – must be adequately compensated. The fishing industry, which suffered huge losses, should also be compensated, and relief should be provided to fishermen, fish vendors and fishing workers. Moreover, efforts should be made to immediately address the losses suffered in tribal areas due to loss of food crops and plantations. The memorandum of demands was signed by leaders of CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) New Democracy, SUCI(C) and MCPI(U).

Network Professionals in Karnataka Seeking Justice

Network Professionals of Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN), under the e-governance department of the Karnataka state government, and organized under the KSWAN Employees’ Union affiliated to AICCTU, organized a protest march in Bangalore on 29 December 2014. Employees from various taluks and districts in Karnataka marched to Bangalore to meet the CEO of the e-govenrnance department, seeking justice.

The government has employed a contractor and a corporate company, United Telecom Limited to handle the services of video conferencing, internet telephony, data transmission, etc., that connect the state administration in various districts with the state administrative headquarters in Bangalore. These workers are maintaining the government’s nerve centre of e-communication. However, the company has not even paid notified minimum wages to the workers. The backlog runs into two crores and more, including non-payment of PF dues. When the workers formed their union, affiliated to AICCTU, and sought legitimate demands, the management resorted to witch-hunting and unfair labour practices.

When workers and their leaders met the CEO Mr. Rathan Kelkar in Bangalore, he immediately convened a meeting of the Additional Labour Commissioner Mr. Jinkalappa, Union leaders Comrades Balan, Clifton and Shankar along with representatives of the company, UTL. The union demanded:

1. Regularisation and Absorption of all employees under government services.

2. Continuation of services of all employees in the government irrespective of change in contractor.

3. Clearing the legally due arrears as per government notification, the proceedings of which are pending before the Additional Labour Commissioner.

4. Immediately stopping unfair labour practices, including threat, intimidation and coercion of all employees.

The following decisions were also agreed upon:

1. Services of workers will not be terminated unilaterally. Workers will not be removed as per the whims and fancies of the management of UTL and due procedures of law, including consideration of seniority and compensation, etc., will be followed upon.

2. Legally due wage arrears will be cleared at the earliest as a part of labour department proceedings.

3. The company will continue the services of employees till they continue with the contract and also explore options to accommodate the employees becoming surplus because of closure of Government Business Centers (GBCs) by the state government. All employees will be retained by the company in some form or other through mutual discussions.

4. The government will positively consider options of engaging the services of all employees, including engaging them under KSWAN II and other government operations.

The union has decided to take up the issue of regularization of all employees under government services and continuation of their services even when the contractor is changed. This issue has to be pursued at appropriate levels, including approaching the Chief Minister of Karnataka, as the closure of GBCs is a decision by the state government.

March in Darbhanga demanding Justice for Baleshwar Paswan

A protest march was held in Darbhanga on 22 December 2014, demanding a speedy trial and action against the murderers of comrade Baleshwar Paswan. Despite widespread protests, all those involved in the murder of comrade Baleshwar Paswan have not yet been brought to book. The protest march started from the polo grounds and culminated at the IG office in Darbhanga. A charter of demands was submitted at the IG office.

Addressing the protest march, CPI(ML) politburo member Dhirendra Jha called for unity of all progressive and democratic forces to fight political assassinations and feudal violence. In order to counter the growing communal fascist forces and the RSS-BJP combine, CPI(ML) is initiating a national platform of democratic forces while simultaneously strengthening all efforts at a united Left resistance. Comrade Satyadev Ram pointed out that several instances brutal murders, rapes and feudal casteist violence have come to light in Bihar in the past few months – with no action being taken by the Bihar government. If arrests in the Baleshwar Paswan case do not happen within 15 days, the movement for justice will expand and reach Patna, he declared. The protest meeting was presided over by Ashok Paswan and conducted by comrade Abhishek Kumar. At the end, a 5-point political resolution was passed.

AIALA protest in Devaria, UP

The All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) held a protest in Devaria, UP, on 10 December 2014. After a 500-strong protest march which began from the CPI(ML) office in Devaria town and culminated at the district headquarters, a memorandum of demands against the policies of the Modi government in the Centre and the Akhilesh Yadav government in the state was submitted to the district administration. Moreover, for the time in the Bhagalpur block of the same district, a protest under the AIALA banner was held. Around 400 people participated in this protest which was led by AIALA district coordinator Sriram Kushwaha. A 5-point charter was submitted to the President, via the district administration and a 9-point charter of demands was submitted to the block development officer of Bhagalpur block.

The charter included the following demands: immediate rollback of all efforts to dilute MNREGA and reduce its funding, linking of MNREGA with agriculture, guarantee of year-old employment and payment of a minimum of Rs 300 per day, inclusion of families with monthly income of Rs 10,000 in the BPL list, implementation of Food Security Act in UP and provision of at least 15 kgs of food grains every month, inclusion of right to employment as a fundamental right, payment of pending dues to workers under the MNREGA schemes and end of corruption in the distribution of ration cards.

Midday meal workers’ protests in Fatuha, Bihar

On 24 December 2014, AIPWA organized a protest of midday meal workers at the block headquarters of Fatuha in Bihar where several midday workers participated. Several demands of midday meal workers were raised including payment of the mandated Rs 15,000 per month, end to contratualisation in midday schemes, regular and timely disbursal of payments and end to exploitation of women. The protest was addressed by AIPWA stat secretary Saroj Choubey, Fatuha block Party secretary Shailendra Yadav, Deena Sav, Munna Pandit, Chandravati Devi, Sona Devi and others. At the end of the protest, a memorandum detailing these demands was submitted to the Fatuha block development officer.

ML Update | No. 01 | 2015

January 1, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 01 | 30 DEC 2014 – 5 JAN 2015

Modi’s ‘Good Governance’

Authoritarian Pro-Corporate and Communal Offensive

In an ominous sign for India’s democracy, the Modi Government is displaying contempt for all democratic structures and bodies, to ram through its pro-corporate policies and its ‘Hindu Rashtra’ at one and the same time.

On the one hand, the RSS and its outfits, backed by prominent MPs of the ruling BJP, are intimidating the minorities with the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign. The HRD Ministry, and then the Prime Minister himself, systematically undermined Christmas by declaring that it would not be a holiday. Instead, Christmas Day was hijacked and turned into a sarkari celebration of the birthday of BJP leader Vajpayee and Hindutva ideologue Madan Mohan Malviya. There are moves afoot to make statues and temples for Godse, even as a BJP MP declared Godse to be a patriot. BJP leaders including a Cabinet Minister, and Ramdev, Modi’s most prominent Godman campaigner, issued warnings and threats against the film PK, even as RSS outfits vandalized movie halls. The systematic RSS infiltration of educational institutions is happening at a fast pace.

There is no room any more for the illusion that Modi himself is ‘distanced’ from the communal campaigns of a ‘saffron fringe.’ With Modi at the helm, the so-called ‘fringe’ is now in the driving seat and is pursuing its aggressive agenda of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ minus any brakes. The Hindu Rashtra agenda of intimidating minorities and dissenting voices is very much part of Modi’s ‘governance’ package.

Meanwhile, the Modi Government is bypassing Parliament and taking the ‘Ordinance’ route to push through all kinds of controversial pro-corporate decisions minus any debate or discussion. The Opposition is kept engaged in fire-fighting the Hindutva muscle-flexing, while the Coal Ordinance, Insurance Ordinance and now Land Acquisition (Amendment) Ordinance are passed without a minute’s debate.

The Coal Ordinance has opened up unbridled commercial coal mining for private players, who can now mine coal and sell it in the open market. The Insurance Ordinance will be a boon for beleaguered US insurance companies, which were responsible in great measure for the 2008 economic crisis, and which can now enter and exploit India’s insurance market and jeopardize India’s economy.

The Land Acquisition Act 2013 was passed by the UPA Government following massive agitations by farmers against land grab all over the country. Now, the Modi Government’s Ordinance is undermining key provisions of the Act, to remove the protections to farmers and facilitate land grab for corporates. For a Government to overturn and undermine a law that was enacted in Parliament, by an Ordinance, is a brazenly authoritarian move. Ordinances are meant to be for very sparing use in urgent situations. What was the urgency to pass ordinances now in these crucial sectors? Clearly, an undeclared Emergency is in place, where democratic processes are being subverted to appease corporates’ urgent demand for unbridled plunder.

The Government that is feeling urgency to facilitate corporate grab of farmers’ land, feels no urgency to curb the rising spiral of farmers’ suicides all over the country. Instead, a BJP MP in Maharashtra has declared, ‘Let the farmers die, if they cannot afford farming.’

Further, the Modi government ordered a cut of nearly 20 percent in its 2014-15 healthcare budget. India’s public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world, and Modi has now slashed it even further. This means that key disease control initiatives will lose funding – leaving India’s poor people more vulnerable to killer diseases.

Modi’s trademark Governance model is also displayed in its blatant manipulation of the CBI to protect the BJP President Amit Shah – who was accused in the heinous triple murder of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati. In an unprecedented move, a CBI court has decreed that Shah has been exempted from facing a trial in these murders! For a lower court to summarily declare that an accused is innocent, even before evidence is examined carefully in a trial, is a travesty of the justice system. And the CBI itself presented a weak case, and has yet to challenge the ruling – making it clear that they are in on the game of saving Shah.

The New Year is going to be a challenging one for all Left and progressive forces and people’s movements. Onwards to a New Year of determined, united, people’s resistance against the communal and corporate offensive that is threatening to overwhelm India’s democracy!

AIKM statement on Modi Government’s ordinance

​A​
mending the Land Acquisition Act 2013

The All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) strongly condemns the recent decision by the Modi government’s Cabinet to approve an Ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act 2013. It is to be noted that the 2013 law, which the current Ordinance seeks to amend, was itself the result of farmers’ agitations and a widespread recognition that farmers and peasants across the country have been bearing the brunt of forcible land acquisition, corporate land grab, displacement and state repression. The 2013 law on land acquisition provided for some rights to landholders, by bringing rehabilitation and compensation into the ambit of land acquisition and by somewhat expanding the scope of peoples’ and landholders’ consent before land acquisition is permitted. The recent amendments in this law put in place by the Modi government’s Ordinance are a direct assault on any democratic content within the 2013 law.

The Ordinance seeks to do away with two crucial features of the 2013 Act – which had mandated conducting Social Impact Assessments (SIAs) before land acquisition in certain cases, and which also mandated consent of a certain percentage of project affected people. The Ordinance, in removing and diluting these clauses, is clearly delivering yet another death blow to farmers’ rights and democratic decision-making. The Modi government is trying to justify these crucial dilutions by claiming that the Ordinance will not affect the ‘compensation’ package available to landowners. The fact of the matter is that not just the ‘legal’ landowners, but several others depend on land for their livelihood. When the consent clause is diluted or done away with for PPP and Private projects in certain sectors, this not just makes land acquisition almost a fait accompli in a most undemocratic fashion, it moreover affects several people dependent on the local economy who are not even eligible for compensation since they do not own the land acquired.

The Ordinance also reportedly removes the 2013 law’s provisions for retrospective application of the land acquisition act, which could provide some relief to farmers who had been displaced without being adequately compensated, or whose land were not utilised after acquisition. Removing the provision for retrospective application in effect leaves several crores of people displaced by various projects without any recourse for justice.

Moreover, the Modi government’s choice of taking the undemocratic Ordinance route, and bypassing discussions and deliberations in the Parliament is highly condemnable. Such authoritarian moves of bypassing democratic decision-making structures – clearly dictated by the needs and greed of the corporate sector – are deeply dangerous to participative democracy. Clearly, through this Ordinance, the Modi government has chosen to facilitate corporate land grab of farmers’ land, through hook or crook. It has no intention whatsoever of addressing the urgent needs of farmers, even as farmers continue to commit suicide every single day all over the country, as a result of the government’s economic policies. AIKM has called for nationwide protests on Jan.2, 2015 to oppose this Ordinance on land acquisition, and to press for farmers’ rights in face of the pervasive forced land acquisition and displacement.

Sankalp Diwas observed on 16th anniversary of Com. Vinod Mishra

18 December, the 16th anniversary of Com. Vinod Mishra, was observed as Sankalp Diwas in different parts of the country. In Delhi, a cadre convention was organized at the CPI(ML) headquarters Charu Bhavan. Com. Sanjay Sharma presented a report on the Party’s work in Delhi. The duties and campaigns discussed by the Central Committee in its 28 July meeting were reviewed.

In Haryana, a symposium was organized at Asand to observe Sankalp Diwas. It was conducted by Com. Prem Singh. In Bihar, Sankalp sabhas were held across the State and it was resolved to strengthen the Party by fighting against pro-corporate feudal, communal forces. At the Party office in Patna, a Sankalp sabha was organized. Sankalp Diwas was also observed in different parts of Patna city, in Digha, Ashiyana, Malsalami, City chowk, Gulzarbagh, Kankarbagh and Chitkohra. Com. VM’s anniversary was observed in Beur jail under the leadership of Sudama Paswan. The Sankalp sabha in Fatuha was in the form of a workers’ convention in Fatuha, where the need to increase Party membership and to strengthen the Party at the booth level was stressed. 27 new members took Party membership at the convention.

Memorial meetings were organized at various places in Darbhanga district and public meetings were held at Alinagar and Viraul. Arrest and speedy trial of the guilty in the Baleshwar Paswan murder case was demanded and a call was made to work for the success of the 22 December bandh against the contract and honorarium system of employment.

In Uttar Pradesh, programmes and general body meetings of cadres were held in the capital Lucknow, as well as in several districts of the state. Party classes as well as public meetings were also held in some places.

AISA Statement on Resignation of IIT-Delhi Director

Another Instance of Modi Govt Intimidating Academics and Infiltrating Institutions!

Resist this Dangerous Trend of Subverting the Autonomy of Academic Institutions for Partisan Ends!

Subverting every educational institution and education itself is one of the pet agenda of the RSS brigade wherever and whenever they are in power. We have seen it during the last NDA regime and the present Modi regime is continuing with the trend with far greater arrogance and belligerence.

In the latest incident, IIT-Delhi director Prof. Shevgaonkar resigned on 26 Dec, with still two years to complete his tenure.

While Prof. Shevgaonkar, so far, has not spoken out and cited any reason for his resignation, there are enough indications, provided by the BJP and govt sources, to draw conclusions from. On the one hand, the HRD Ministry denied widespread media reports that Shevgaonkar resigned under the alleged MHRD pressure to accede to two demands–to provide the IIT ground for a cricket academy and to pay nearly Rs 70 lakh to former IIT-D faculty and now BJP leader Subramaniwan Swamy as his “salary dues” between 1972 and 1991. On the other hand, the BJP spokespersons, Swamy and the ministry have gone on an overdrive to allege that IIT director must have resigned on being questioned for signing an MoU to set up an extension campus of IIT-Delhi at Mauritius keeping the Ministry in the dark.

Diversionary Tactics

But how credible are these ‘explanations’ from the BJP and the govt? Firstly, the allegation of IIT-D director acting unilaterally on the Mauritius MoU and keeping the ministry in the dark does not hold any water, as is evident from the 21 Nov 2013 MHRD statement(http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=100779), which proudly announced “India-Mauritius Sign Two MOUs to Boost Educational Ties” during the Mauritius visit of MHRD Minister Pallam Raju during19-20 Nov, 2013. One of these MoUs was the onebetween IIT-Delhi and Mauritius Research Council for setting up of an International Institute of Technology Research Academy (IITRA) in Mauritius, signed during the Mauritius visit of the then HRD Minister!

Secondly, so far MHRD pressure for settling Mr. Subramanian Swamy’s ‘dues’ is concerned, it has been put on record, by none less than Mr. Swamy himself, that the new HRD ministry indeed held a meeting with Mr. Swamy and IIT-Delhi director to settle his dues anda move was on for an out of court settlement! (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/subramanian-swamy-40-years-later-hopes-to-beat-iit-delhi-with-hrd-help/1/405850.html). Well, if only views of DoPT and Finance Ministry were being sought by the MHRD to clear Swamy’s dues, why was a meeting organized between IIT officials and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and the Ministry?

It has also emerged that Vijay Dahiya, Delhi Ranji Trophy coach and assistant coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders, had proposed a cricket academy on the IIT grounds. “Institute sources alleged the Centre had pressured a reluctant Shevgaonkar to accept the proposal.” (The Telegraph 30 Dec, 2014)

A senior member of the board of IIT-Delhi said, “Whatever be Shevgaonkar’s alleged involvement with off-shore campus in Mauritius, there is no denying that he was under tremendous pressure from the HRD ministry. Such pressure does not come in writing. He had told us a lot about what happened to him when he went for a meeting to the HRD ministry…” (TOI, 30 Dec 2014)

It is obvious, the Mauritius MoU is a classic sarkari spin to confuse people and the media on IIT-D director’s resignation and deflect the focus from the high-handed interference by the MHRD with regard to the Swamy’s ‘dues’ and IIT grounds for the Cricket Academy.

If the Director really acted ‘illegally’, what stopped the govt from actual enquiry and action? It must be noted that both IIT-Delhi Alumni, IIT Board members have strongly spoken out against MHRD’s interference and attack on institution’s autonomy.

A Tell-All Contrast

Contrast MHRD’s attitude towards IIT-D director with their attitude towards the DU VC. For years now, the teachers and students of DU had been demanding action against the DU VC and have submitted voluminous records of financial irregularities, administrative wrong doings, diversion of OBC funds and corruption in Gyanoday Express by the DU VC. But the MHRD has refused to act as the DU VC after the FYUP fiasco has promptly switched his loyalty and is implementing every diktat and whim of the new MHRD !

Message from the Modi sarkar’s MHRD is clear: If the institutional heads agree to surrender and kow-tow the MHRD diktats, they will be allowed a free run, while upright academics who refuse to kow-tow MHRD diktats, will be defamed and shunted out.

Intimidation, Infiltration, Indoctrination

Indeed in the last seven months the saffron regime has wreaked havoc with all premier educational, professional and research institutes in the country.

The Chief Vigilance Officer of AIIMS was removed at the behest of a BJP MP Nadda, who subsequently became the Union Health Minister!

A few months ago, NCERT chief Parvin Sinclair had quit with two years left to complete tenure. IGNOU V-C M Aslam has gone on ‘leave’ pending the outcome of an inquiry against him regarding irregularities in his conduct.

Persons like Y S Rao, who has no worthwhile academic record to his credit but believes caste system worked well in ancient India, was made the ICHR Chief!

The bizzare and communal books of the RSS cadres like Dinanath Batra are being made official text books in govt run schools of Gujarat!

Not just this, by February, three Indian universities-Kalidas Sanskrit University in Nagpur, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University in Bhopal, and now Punjab Technical University (PTU) will be teaching Vedic mathematics, by signing MoUs with none other than the RSS-backed Shiksha Bachao Andolan of Dinanath Batra, who authored utterly absurd, obscurantist and communal-racist textbooks! (HT, 29 Dec 2014)

Sanskrit being foisted as the compulsory third language in the Kendriya Vidyalayas!

Educational institutions have been forced to observe the birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malviya as ‘Good Governance day’ on Christmas Day!

The pattern is unmistakable: by manipulating appointments, shunting out upright academics, and eroding institutional autonomy and imposing obscurantist, majoritarian communal agenda, the RSS driven Modi sarkar and its MHRD are using govt machinery to destroy the fabric of plural, rational, democratic education and autonomy of educational institutions. It is a mission of triple ‘I’ – INTIMIDATE academics, INFILTRATE institutions, INDOCTRINATE young minds.

AISA calls upon students and teachers of IIT Delhi as well as the concerned citizens to resist these bizarre attempts of subverting institutional autonomy to further partisan goals. Autonomy of institutions and content of our curriculum cannot be allowed to be subordinated to the whims of the political regime. While the MHRD should be taking steps to ensure that constitutional principles are followed by academic institutions, ironically, it has always been seen that the MHRD itself is promoting the violations of constitutional obligations of the institutions. It is high time that educational institutions of the country are saved from being used for promoting sectarian political ends.

Protests against MHRD’s ‘Good Governance’ day diktats

AISA as well as the AISA-led JNU Students’ Union protested against the MHRD’s diktats to observe 25 December as ‘Good Governance’ day. Even during winter vacations in the University, several students participated in the protest organized by JNUSU, AISA and other student organisations outside the Convention Centre in JNU, where the JNU administration was holding programmes on ‘good governance’. Addressing the protest, JNUSU President Ashutosh said that the students, teachers and karamcharis of JNU will not compromise the academic autonomy of the University to suit the partisan political interests of the ruling party. JNUSU General Secretary Chintu also pointed out that the decision to forcibly impose good governance day on educational institutions comes as part and parcel of the communal package to try and scrap 25 December as a holiday and to threaten and intimidate Christians and other minority communities.

The JNUSU also organised an exhibition named “Glimpses of Good Governance”, consisting of photos and cartoons showing the reality of ‘good governance’ by the BJP government – on the farce of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, demolition of slums, attacks on minorities, price rise etc. Later, JNUSU, JNU Teachers’ Association and JNU Staff Association jointly held a convention which was also attended by DUTA president Nandita Narain, several other teachers and office bearers of the JNU Staff Association. A resolution was unitedly issued at the convention, critiquing the imposition of Good Governance Day program on academic institutions.

Campaign against slum demolition in Delhi

This winter, in the biting cold, yet again there were attempts to demolish slums in Delhi – but the attempts at demolition in Wazirpur were stalled by the timely intervention and struggles by CPI(ML) and other democratic forces. Early in the morning on 16 December, the Delhi Police came with bulldozers to the Wazirpur area and started demolishing slums, destroying homes, and physically throwing people (including old residents and children) out of their homes. The Northern Railway, which ordered the demolition, did not even give the mandatory notice to the slum dwellers before starting the demolition.

As CPI(ML) activists received news of this demolition, AISA and AICCTU comrades went to the Northern Railways office. Meanwhile, the bulldozers were physically stopped by CPI(ML) activists and slum dwellers in Wazirpur. A case was also filed in the Delhi High Court against further demolition of the slum. Despite the fact that the demolition had been physically stalled on 16 December, there were indications that the Police would come once again on 20 December to enforce the demolition. Therefore, CPI(ML) called for a protest at the Wazirpur slum on 20 December, to collectively oppose any demolition drive. The unity of the slum dwellers and the consistent struggles of CPI(ML) in the area ensured that the Delhi High Court finally puts a stay order on the demolition, thus staying any immediate displacement of the slum dwellers.

Agitations for farmers’ rights in Vaishali

After the complete failure of crops due to spurious seeds and kits provided by “Shri Vidhi” for paddy cultivation, the AIKM has been spearheading farmers’ struggles for compensation and justice in Vaishali. 200 farmers staged an angry demonstration in front of the District Magistrate’s office on 20 November, demanding a compensation of Rs. 50,000 per acre. They also demanded that legal cases be filed against the suppliers of the fraudulent seeds and also against the district agricultural officers who procured them. After the agitation, the DM assured the farmers that they would be paid compensation and appropriate action would be taken.

On the same day, a rally was also held under the Kisan Mahasabha banner against the false electricity bills handed out to thousands of consumers and the bribes taken in the name of correcting the bills. The electricity department officials promised the farmers that camps for receiving applications regarding the false bills would be held on Nov 21, 22, and 23 and the bills would be corrected within a month. Following this agitation, the camps were held on the said dates.

Joint Left Workers’ Protests in Tamil Nadu

In the wake of 1 November call of 6 Left parties, the Left in Tamil Nadu organized several campaigns and protests. On 5 December, State secretaries D. Pandian, G. Ramakirshnan, Balasundaram, Rengasamy of CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and SUCI(C) respectively jointly declared the commencement of the campaign in a well-attended Press Conference held in Chennai. On 8 December, the opening day of the campaign, a protest demonstration was held in Chennai, near Valluvar Kottam.

On 9 December, an impressive roadside Dharna was held in Maduarai. Madurai City Secretary of CPI(M) presided over the program. CPI and CPI(M) legislators comrades Gunasegaran and Annadurai and the CPI(ML) state secretary were the main speakers. On 14 December, a convention took place in Villupuram. District leaders of the CPI(M), SUCI and CPI, as well as Com. A S Kumar, Party state committee member and district secretary M. Venkatesan participated in the convention.

In Salem, a well-attended mass meeting was organized, where leaders of various Left parties participated. In Dindigul, one of the oldest centres of the Left in Tamil Nadu, a protest demonstration was held on 15 December. In Pudukkottai district, joint street corner meetings and motor cycle jathas were held in 5 blocks. Joint fund collection also took place in Kandarvakkottai. Street corner meetings, dharnas, and distribution of pamphlets took place in the Cuddalore, Namakkal, Erode, Virudhunagar, Tiruvallore Chennai, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Kanchipuram and Nagappattinam districts.

Against carnage of Adivasis in Assam

After the brutal massacre of nearly 70 adivasis from Assam’s vulnerable tea garden tribes, including small children and babies, by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbjit) faction, CPI(ML) has been consistently intervening to demand that the State Government and Central Government take responsibility to provide immediate relief, and subsequent rehabilitation and safety to the adivasis of Assam; also that they take steps to ensure a political solution to pending territorial and ethnic conflicts and insurgencies.

CPI(ML) has been pointing out that the policies of successive governments in Assam and the Centre – including the present Modi government – is essentially to pit vulnerable sections against each other, rather than addressing long-standing conflicts and grievances. Assam has witnessed political parties making opportunist deals with a variety of militant groups, and using ‘ceasefire’ groups to unleash violence time and again. The NDFB (S) had indulged in massacre of Muslim minorities earlier in 2014 during the Lok Sabha polls. At that time, the BJP sought to benefit electorally from the massacre unleashed on Muslims by the NDFB (S). In Assam, right from the day of the massacre, CPI(ML) has been holding protests against the massacre and intervening to ensure immediate relief and rehabilitation. In Delhi, the AISA-led JNUSU called for a protest at Jantar Mantar against the massacre.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication,
R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org


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