ML UPDATE 42 / 2010

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 42, 12 – 18 OCTOBER 2010

Karnataka, Jharkhand, Bihar:

BJP’s Sordid Saga of Opportunism

In state after state where it is in power or shares power, the BJP stands racked by factional wars and opportunistic strife. The BJP’s “party with a difference” claims have been exposed long back by corruption and in-fighting. Even so, the recent dramas enacted in the Karnataka Assembly, the Jharkhand cabinet expansion exercise and resignations of prominent leaders in-charge of Bihar and Punjab point to a new low in the BJP’s trajectory.

In Karnataka, the Yeddyurappa Government has lurched from crisis to crisis throughout its existence – many of them originating from the stranglehold of mining mafia over Karnatala’s politics in general and the BJP Government and party in particular. In the latest instance, the BJP Government faced a challenge to its existence when 16 MLAs (11 belonging to BJP and 5 independents) rebelled. In the ensuing vote of confidence, the Government survived through a controversial voice vote (division of votes was not counted) thanks to the Speaker’s questionable move of disqualifying all the 16 MLAs. The Karnataka HC is due to pronounce on whether the anti-defection law invoked by the Speaker applies to the rebel MLAs (especially the independents) or not. It appears that the Congress Government at the Centre will wait for the HC verdict before making any move to invoke President’s Rule.

The BJP has claimed that the rebel MLAs took inducements from political rivals. From the BJP’s side, their MLA Janardan Reddy of mining mafia notoriety played a prominent role in the entire episode. Whatever the outcome of this drama, the fact remains that this time, the tactics of ‘Operation Kamala’ employed earlier by the BJP itself (of inducing Congress and JD(S) MLAs to switch sides with the role of mining money being an open secret) has boomeranged on the BJP.

In Jharkhand, CM Arjun Munda’s cabinet expansion exercise was a prolonged tussle between BJP and JMM leaders for plum ministerial berths, especially that of mines and minerals (known to be a ‘gold mine’ for Jharkhand MLAs and CMs). Even BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi reportedly referred to the entire process as a ‘theatre of the absurd.’ The Jharkhand BJP’s internal battles resulted in another embarrassment for the party: some time ago, BJP’s Punjab in-charge Yashwant Sinha tendered his resignation, in protest over the choice of Arjun Munda as Jharkhand CM.

Meanwhile, Bihar is witnessing a surge in election-time political opportunism – replete with turncoats, ticket trade, dynasty politics and so on. All major non-Left party offices – the BJP, Congress, JD(U), RJD and LJP – are witnessing angry protests by disillusioned ticket-seekers who now allege huge corruption and nepotism in distribution of tickets. The BJP in Bihar is very much part of this sordid process – two police vans are reportedly posted almost permanently outside the state BJP office, in anticipation of election-time brawls. The matter came to a head when BJP’s Bihar in-charge CP Thakur resigned in protest against denial of a seat to his son and being kept in the dark over ticket distribution. He has however subsequently withdrawn his resignation following talks with the BJP’s central leadership. A state BJP president resigning in protest against denial of ticket to his son and the central BJP President assuaging him by accepting his charge of being excluded from the decision-making process, both speak volumes for the kind of ‘inner-party democracy’ prevailing within the party!

While the Ayodhya verdict might give an unexpected boost to BJP’s confidence, it has been apparent for long that the party’s stock political agenda (whipping up communal frenzy and the bogey of terrorism) has been badly exposed and has failed to generate much response. Forced to fall back on a ‘development/governance’ plank, the BJP has found that plank too to be exposed by open opportunism and corruption in state after state where it enjoys power. We must take this opportunity to strengthen the offensive against the BJP and expose its communal character as well as the rank opportunism that it shares with other parties of the ruling classes.

The Human Cost of Wealth Explosion

According to a recent report on global wealth by investment bank Credit Suisse, total wealth in India has tripled over the past decade to $3.5 trillion (this is a general trend in emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region: Indonesia’s wealth for example has grown five-fold over the same period) and could further increase to $6.4 trillion by 2015. Given the hardly reassuring state of Indian and world economies, will the forecast come true? More pertinently, assuming it does, will that bring India any nearer the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015?;

Such apprehension arises in view of a number of very disturbing facts and trends. The hallowed wealth increase occurred almost exclusively among the uppermost and higher-middle layers of population and much of it in stock market operations, where only around 5% of Indians participate. Not surprisingly, at least 200,000 peasants committed suicide around the same time as India became the nation with the second highest number of dollar billionaires, and the yearly food intake of an average poor family in 2007 turned out to be about 100 kg less than in 1997. In 2007-08 India occupied the132nd place in the UN Human Development Index (HDI) – down from the 122nd place it occupied in the same index in 1992.

We have the highest number of malnourished people and malnourished children (43% of India’s children under 5 are underweight – that is, with BMI lower than18.5 – the highest in the world) as of 2008. In fact almost simultaneously with the Credit Suisse report, another one by the International Food Policy Research Institute placed our country far behind Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan in terms of people – children in particular – suffering from hunger and undernutrition. With these three countries placed in the 39th, 56th and 52nd positions and China miles ahead with the 9th place in the world, India occupies the 67th position.

The Gini coefficient of income inequality (a statistical measure where zero denotes complete equality and one denotes absolute inequality) in India comes to a high 0.535. Inequality of opportunity – which is more important in determining a country’s future growth trajectory and which depends mostly on distribution of land as well as access to education, health, stable employment etc – is even more pronounced.

The extremely skewed land ownership in our country is well-known, but few people know that India’s educational inequality is one of the worst in the world. According to World Bank estimates, the Gini coefficient of the distribution of adult schooling years in the population, a rough measure of educational inequality, was 0.56 in India in 1998/2000, which is not just higher than 0.37 in China and 0.39 in Brazil but even higher than almost all Latin American countries.

Now add to these figures the wherewithal of economic growth: large-scale displacement, land grab, resource loot and onslaughts like UAPA and Operation Green Hunt. What you get is the moral of the whole story – in the neoliberal model, growth in GDP and ‘national’ wealth has to be inversely proportional to real development and democracy. For the aam admi, therefore, the spectacular growth prospects highlighted by the Swiss bank comes as a warning bell, implying more deprivation, more marginalization, more attacks on democratic rights, more cultural and environmental degradation.

Surely this cannot go unchallenged. The fight for an alternative path of self-reliant and people-centred development as opposed to the present imperialist-dictated, corporate-driven growth – an alternative that would promote relatively more egalitarian and employment-intensive and less energy-resources-capital intensive path of development – thus assumes a new urgency as we approach the second decade of 21st century.

Liberate Jharkhand from Starvation, Loot & Injustice:

AILC Convention Held in Ranchi

As part of the Nation-wide campaign by All India Left Coordination (AILC) in keeping with the Delhi Declaration of 11th August 2010, a State-level Convention “Liberate Jharkhand from Starvation, Loot and Injustice” was organised by CPI(ML) at the Gosner Theological Hall in Ranchi. More than six hundred cadres of CPI(ML) and dozens of delegates of CPM(Punjab), Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) from Maharashtra and Left Coordination Committee from Kerala attended the Convention.

The Convention was addressed by comrades Mangat Ram Pasla of CPM(Punjab), Bhim Rao Bhonsle from LNP(L), Kumaran Kutty from LCC Kerala and CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. Comrade Dipankar called upon the people of Jharkhand for uniting to thwart BJP’s intentions of converting the State in yet another laboratory of communal fascism and launching a robust fight against displacement, eviction, and rendering land barren to build the Jharkhand anew as per the dreams of its martyrs. He further said that the ruling parties have subverted the State into Lootkhand (plunder land) by numerous MoU, lease and illegal mining. Panchayat elections under PESA have been on hold just to ensure that these MoUs are not annulled by elected gram sabhas (village committees) and it is the duty of the true inheritors of the revolutionary legacy of Birsa Munda and Mahendra Singh to transform the panchayats into a platform of struggles for democracy.

Comrades Mangat Ram Pasla, BR Bhonsale and Kumaran Kutty, all the speakers, while highlighting a more or less similar situation in their states, said that only a revolutionary Left movement can liberate the people from persistent ills. The Convention was also addressed by CPI(ML) leader and its representative in the State Assembly Com. Vinod Singh, renowned intellectual Shri VP Keshri and senior journalist Shri Faisal Anurag among others. The initiative and formation of AILC was warmly welcomed by the speakers who said that true Left has a serious responsibility of mobilizing and consolidating all the forces of struggle for a revolutionary alternative.

The Convention was presided over by Comrade Bahadur Oraon, Central Committee member of CPI(ML). Comrade JP Minz proposed the resolutions on behalf of the Convention which was unanimously passed. Prerna, a part of Jharkhand Jasam presented Cultural performances and hard work from all the comrades in Ranchi ensured the successful organising of the Convention.

Worker-Peasant Sankalp Sabha on Com. Basroo’s 1st Memorial Day

A large assembly of workers, peasants and common people assembled at Jamua in Giridih on 29th September on the occasion of 1st Memorial Day of Comrade Ibnul Hasan Basroo took pledge to intensify the struggles Com. Basroo was spearheading in the area for democracy and people’s progress in Jharkhand. Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, addressing the assembly said that Arjun Munda is infamous for selling off Jharkhand and again the Tata’s and Mittal’s have contrived to make him the CM for completing the job. However, they are afraid that Panchayat elections will halt this free reign of loot and so it is not being held. He called upon all the democratic forces to unite to thwart this design and chase away the looters camping in the State.

Prior to this, a memorial meeting was held in Mirzaganj (Com. Basroo’s village) and from there people marched in rally to Jamua CPI(ML) office to pay tribute to their beloved leader. Also present were CPI(ML) PB member Comrade DP Bakshi, State Secretary Com. Janardan Prasad, SCMs Com. AP Gupta, Rajkumar Yadav, Parmeshwar Mehta and Rajesh Kr. Yadav and CPI(ML) Dist. Secretary Manoj Bhakt among others. Comrade Usman Ansari conducted the proceedings of the programme.

Demo Demanding Resignation of BJP Government

HD Kote unit of CPI(ML) in Mysore district in Karnataka organized a demonstration on 8 October demanding resignation of Yeddyurappa-led BJP government in Karnataka in view of ugliest number games being played by them. The demonstrators resolved to carry forward the struggle for resignation of the BJP government for its anti-people policies. Com. C. Javaraiah, SLT member of CPI(ML) led the demonstration and condemned the BJP for resorting to the murder of democracy.

Coimbatore: Pricol Workers’ Family Festival

Pricol workers, who are through a tough journey in their fight for democratic rights and dignity, organised a Family Festival on 10th October. Over 6000 participated in the festival and this number was initially beyond any expectations and preparations.

This was an attempt to impart a larger social dimension to their struggle. In the Festival they made a clear statement: “Come what may. We will not deviate from the path of struggle. We will add new tasks to our journey. Our journey will gain new strength and vigour.”

Pricol comrades began their preparations for this festival after September 7. A sports event was organized as part of the Festival on 26.06.10 in Vivekanada Vidyalaya school ground in which 700 wards of Pricol workers participated in various games. On that day itself there were over 400 workers in the ground along with their children. Later, in the first week of October, quiz program for the workers’ families, indoor games, oratory competition and essay competition were held.

Along with these a “Field Investigation” competition for workers’ teams was held. 10 teams conducted surveys in various wards in Perianaickenpalayam. All those comrades were given one year “Theepori” subscription as a gift. Over 250 workers were involved in the hall arrangement the previous day.

All this culminated in a grand gathering on 10th October. From 9 a.m. workers along with their families started arriving at the venue. Around 11 a.m. the ground was full and comrades who came after that had to sit in a hall where a closed circuit TV screen was put to see the program.

A photo exhibition ‘Instances that turned into history’ was organized as a part of the Festival where photos depicting their struggles since they formed a fighting union were exhibited. Com. Swapan Mukherjee, GS, AICCTU inaugurated the program, Com. Balasundaram, State Secretary of the Party hoisted the flag and Com. Thenmozhi, State President, AIPWA, opened the photo exhibition. Mr. Ramesh, advocate who is dealing with the criminal cases of Pricol workers spoke in the Festival.

A cultural performance in the form of dance depicted workers struggle and there were requests from the audience for an encore. Prizes were distributed to all children who participated in various competitions. This itself took over 2 hours. A play on No Trade Union Zone was also held.

Comrade S Kumarasami said that only Pricol workers can beat the records created by them and they have proved it once again. He also said that Pricol workers have demonstrated clearly that they are strong in their struggle for democratic rights and they will never waver from the path of struggle. He called upon the workers to make the voice of the fighting workers resonate in the State Assembly by making a powerful intervention in the forth coming Assembly election.

12th Smriti Diwas of Comrade Nagbhusan & Land Struggles in Orissa

On 9th October, the occasion of 12th memorial day for Comrade Nagbhusan Patnaik (NBP) a memorial meeting titled Land Struggles Movement in Orissa was held at Nagbhusan Bhawan in Bhubaneswar. Comrade Khitish Biswal elaborated on the role of NBP in Orissa’s land struggle movement and its relevance in present days and called upon all to fight against the corporate loot in Orissa which will be true tribute to a revolutionary like NBP. Com. Diwakar Naik of CPI said that NBP was the Left leader in India who tried for communist unification and saluted NBP’s contribution towards Left unification and also said it is going to reflect in upcoming Bihar election.

Senior journalist Rabi Das emphasized on more literature on life of NBP to be published to inspire the youth of this country to join the Left movement.

The meeting was also addressed by Prof Nilamani Sahu, comrades Radhakanta Sethi, Tirupati Gomango, Mahendra Parida and Ashok Pradhna among others.

KSA candidates Win DGC Election

Post of Vice President and Gen. Secy. of Diphu Govt. College (DGC) Students’ Union were won by Karbi Students’ Association (KSA), an affiliate of All India Students’ Association (AISA). Clearly it is an outcome of continuous student movement led by KSA-AISA. In Karbi Anglong Students’ Union elections were usually determined by different types of power tactics with arms and money power represented by NSUI and UPDS outfits. This time too DGC election was declared to be held without photo identity card, so that usual strong arm tactics can be repeated. KSA’s strong opposition and movement against this the authorities were compelled to defer the election, which was finally held on 9th October. Apart from fighting against privatization and commercialization of education and mal-practices of anti-student outfits, KSA has been leading a student movement on 10 point demands.

KSA candidate Thomson Rongpi (621 votes) won Gen Secy defeating his nearest rival an independent candidate backed by NCP leaders. NSUI came 3rd, and PAPA (Peoples’ Alliance for Peace Agreement, an open organization of cease-fire UPDS) backed KSA. VP candidate Lunce Timung of KSA won (864 votes) defeating PAPA backed KSA candidate (720) and NSUI was again 3rd (523).

AISA Rally and Convention at Kottur, Bellary

AISA organized an impressive rally of nearly three hundred students at Kottur in Bellary district of Karnataka on 9 October on the issues of hostel facilities, fee hike and better infrastructure. More than 50 girl students took part in the march to press for their demands. With this successful rally, AISA has made a beginning in Bellary district. Most of the students were quite new to such protests and the Left student organization. The rally was organized after making repeated representations to the state and the local MLA demanding government hostels in Kottur, where more than 20000 students are studying in various colleges.

A successful convention was held as a culmination of the rally that passed resolutions demanding government hostels to all students from surrounding rural areas and regularization of food and other facilities being offered in government sponsored mess. Com. Rajan Pandey, AISA Headquarters In-charge , lambasted the central and state governments’ anti-student reforms and progressively decreasing public spending on education that lead to lack of hostel and other necessary facilities for students’ growth.

AISA Convention at Jagalur, Davanagere

AISA organized a students’ convention at Jagalur in Davanagere district of Karnataka against the anti-student policies of central and state governments. Hundreds of students attended the convention with an overwhelming participation of girl students. The convention marked the increasing stability and growth of AISA in the district.

Com. Rajan Pandey, Headquarters In-charge, called upon students to rise in struggles against farcical reforms in education and commercialization and for a scientific, pro-people education. He exposed the fallacy of education reforms that are against the broad majority of poor students. Com. Prasad, NEC, declared a protest in front of Davanagere University on 14 October against the abrupt change in syllabus in the run-up to exams.

Com. Hanumanthappa, one of the state conveners, played a key role in organizing the convention. Taluk president Nagbushan, Davanagere president Manju and Parashuram of AIALA addressed the convention.

Kisan leader Murdered in Mansa-CPI(ML) leads the struggle for Justice

On 11th October a kisan leader was murdered and two other were injured when a armed gang led by a money lender and revenue officer opened fire at them. The incident happened at village Biroke that falls under tehsil Budhlada of Mansa dist. Pirthi Singh aged 38 who lost his life was an active leader of Bharti Kisan Union (dakonda group) and was resident of village Chak alisher. He was also the older brother of our party comrade Lakhwinder Lakhi who himself is the district leader of All India Kisan Mahasabha.

The incident happened when some revenue officials went to village Biroke for attaching the 10 canal land of a farmer Bhola Singh. This was the only piece of land that he owned. He was under the debt of about Rs.1.5 lakh of a moneylender for some time. To protest the move farmers started gathering at village Biroke. Sensing the mood the revenue officials left the scene. Farmers relaxed their vigil and some of them left the place. Only few farmers and leaders were left there. After a few hours the money lender, his associates, and armed goons with revenue officer (tehsildar) Subhash Singh reached the site again and opened fire killing Pirthi Singh and injuring two others.

At the time of this report, the body of slain leader was lying at civil hospital in Mansa. Various farmer organizations have joined hands to fight for justice and farmer rights. It has been reported that the gang involved in this incident is close to the ruling Akali Dal and is patronized by ex-MLA of Mansa, Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh. CPI(ML) has demanded that all culprits should be immediately booked and arrested including the revenue officer, Rs.10 lakh compensation for the family of slain leader, strict action should be taken against policemen for their negligence due to which this incident occurred, private money lending should be banned and registration should be made necessary for financial business and all court cases regarding the debt of farmers due to moneylenders (in some cases farmers r forced to sign blank promotes) should be withdrawn and abolished immediately.

WB: BCMF’s 5th State Conference

The 5th State Conference of Bengal Chatkal Mazdoor Forum (BCMF), the state level union of Jute Workers of West Bengal and affiliated to AICCTU, was successfully held on 2nd October 2010 at Comrade Monoranjan Naskar Nagar (Budge Budge, South 24 Parganas) and Com. Sekh Asraf Manch (Public Library). 235 delegates attended the Conference and the overwhelming presence of the fighting jute workers marked the significance of the Conference.

Conference started after Com. Gunodhar Mondal, a veteran jute worker hoisted the red-flag and a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the martyrs. Com. Basudev Bose, General Secretary of WB AICCTU, greeted the delegates and noted their important role during the 7th September strike. Com. Atanu Chakravarty, General Secretary of BCMF placed the draft document on which delegates from different jute mills put forward their views. The conference discussed at length the plight of jute workers, the areas of Violation of Tripartite agreement by the employees, the role of Central and State Govts and the tasks confronting the workers. It is to be noted that after 61 days of industry-wide strike, a tripartite agreement was signed between the employers and central trade unions active in the jute mills on 12 February 2010, but BCMF along with five other Trade Unions denied to sign the agreement due to the anti worker clause of aligning/associating production-productivity with wages, and fixing the minimum wage of jute workers at Rs. 157 were inserted in the above mentioned agreement. But after protracted strike, the workers were able to achieve some significant gains on the question of DA in particular and so BCMF decided to consolidate those gains while opposing the anti-worker aspects simultaneously.

Comrade Atanu pointed to the Central Govt’s Expert Committee report in which it categorically pointed out that all the jute mills of West Bengal earned substantial profit, yet downsized their workforce, all the while augmenting production. But the employers are portraying this industry as sick, exploiting all the anti-workers clauses of the SICA, violating the PF, ESI and Gratuity Act with impunity. Our union will formulate demands for the workers and interfere actively in the BIFR hearing independently, demarcating with other unions if need be.

Some delegates from jute mills, where BCMF was not present, viz. Kanoria, Ganges, Budge Budge, EMCO also participated. The conference resolved to organise mass demonstration in the month of December before the Labour Secretariat, and to fight for the PF-pension claims of Gouripore Jute Mills, to organise all the unregistered workers sans PF-ESI and so on. The conference was presided over by a 9-member workers presidium, and elected a 45 member State Council, 23 member State Executive and 13 member Office Bearer team. Com. Nabendu Dasgupta and Com. Atanu Chakravarty were reelected as President and General Secretary respectively. The conference atmosphere was highly spirited and revolutionary.

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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