ML UPDATE 6 / 2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 06, 01 – 07 FEBRUARY 2011

Republic Day 2011:

Join the Battle against the Corrupt and Repressive Rulers

The 62nd Republic Day has passed with the usual official pomp and show. But citizens of the Republic today are confronted by the grim contrast between the official show and the reality of today’s India.

The parade of military might, for instance, was overshadowed by the sordid details of involvement of army top brass in land scams in Maharashtra (cynically conducted in the name of families of soldiers killed at Kargil) and implicated in the Sangh terror network.

The Republic Day parade showcased India’s adivasis in colourful tableaux of ‘folk culture’ – what a contrast to the real lives of adivasis in a desperate struggle to defend their livelihood against corporate land grab! On the heels of Republic Day, the Ministry of Environment and Forests cleared the notorious POSCO project in Odisha – in spite of the fact that three separate committees – the Saxena Committee, the POSCO Enquiry Committee and the Forest Advisory Committee – set up at the behest of the Ministry itself have testified to rampant and deliberate violations of the Forest Rights Act by the project.

The various ‘conditionalities’ which accompany the Ministry’s clearance of the POSCO project are nothing but a flimsy piece of fiction to hide the fact that in India today, corporations are a law unto themselves, with a licence to loot in brazen violation of laws to protect the environment and people’s rights. The POSCO and Odisha Government are being given a green signal by the UPA Government on their ‘assurances’ to comply with environment and forest rights laws that they have already violated and lied about.

In much the same way, the UPA Government is proposing to deal with the issue of black money (described by the Supreme Court as open plunder) by introducing a scheme of ‘voluntary disclosure.’ Since independence successive governments have introduced similar ‘voluntary disclosure’ schemes no less than six times – and each time it has proved to be nothing but amnesty to tax offenders who are looting the country on an unimaginable scale. India’s rulers are clearly committed to ensuring that the richest creamy layer – both corporations and individuals – has the freedom to commit crimes with impunity.

Once again the annual Republic Day Padma awards ceremony witnessed the practice of political awards – most notably for Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Brajesh Mishra (former National Security Adviser in the NDA period, who was subsequently estranged from the BJP and strongly backed the UPA Government on the Nuke Deal). While the civilian awards are distributed on such political grounds, the real heroes – like honest Additional District Collector of Malegaon Yeshwant Sonawane – are killed by mafia. Sonawane is only the latest in a long line of honest public servants (including Manjunath and Satyendra Dubey) or activists and political leaders like Mahendra Singh or Lalit Mehta who are killed because they pose a threat to the powerful nexus of interests looting our resources like coal, oil or PDS. The massive protest at Sonawane’s killing by Maharashtra’s state government employees is a welcome development. Shamefully, though, neoliberal ideologues have taken Sonawane’s killing as an occasion to blame fuel adulteration on kerosene subsidies to the poor!

If honest officials are being allowed to die at the hands of criminal mafias with political clout, tainted officials who facilitate large-scale corruption (most notably, the CVC PJ Thomas, implicated in the palmolein as well as 2G scandals) are being defended by the Government. The Government’s attempt in the Supreme Court to plead unawareness of the corruption shadow on the CVC’s appointment only confirms the UPA Government’s agenda of defending the tainted at all costs.

The Republic of India was brought into being by the adoption of the Constitution which gave the Indian people their charter of fundamental rights. Today, the rulers have turned the Constitution into an ordinary piece of paper while reducing the Republic Day to an annual celebration of India’s military might and trappings of power. The right to life of the Indian people, the cornerstone of our fundamental rights, is today overshadowed by the grim reality of farmers’ suicides, starvation deaths and ‘honour’ killings. The freedom of speech invites charges of ‘sedition’ or ‘contempt of court’ and comes with the price of life imprisonment while the freedom of assembly invites indiscriminate police repression including state-sponsored massacres.

For the people of India, the message of Republic Day 2011 is therefore loud and clear. When scamsters are masquerading as rulers and are trampling upon all the constitutional rights and liberties of the people, the people of India will have to summon all their strength to resist and oust these rulers and reclaim the Republic. In the face of the murder of Sonawane and imprisonment of Binayak Sen, the time has come for every defender of democracy to join the battle and take on the corrupt and repressive rulers.

Rulers Are Pushing the Country Deeper into Crisis,

Communists Must Lead the People out of this Crisis

(Comrade Dipankar’s address at the AILC Convention held in Kozhikode, Kerala on 22 January)

Comrades,

When we had assembled in Delhi to launch this All India Left Coordination, it was four days before the Independence Day of 2010. Today when we meet here in Kozhikode, it is incidentally again four days before another important National Day, the Republic Day of 2011. Between Independence Day of 2010 and Republic Day of 2011, which way has the country moved? Almost everybody would agree the country has moved deeper into crisis.

It is a crisis which we can see everywhere, it is a crisis which we can feel everywhere. It pinches us every time we go to the market to buy the necessities of life. Sometime back, a newspaper reported that onions and petrol and beer are selling at the same price in our country. Since then onion and petrol prices seem to be involved in a relentless race. If onion prices race ahead during the day, yet another hike in oil prices takes effect from midnight.

If prices are loudly announcing the economic crisis from the market to the household, the fields and factories, the peasants and workers, are also reeling under the same crisis. If every new day brings news of more peasant suicides from Vidarbha or Telangana, there is also no respite from starvation deaths in rural poor households in incredible India’s invisible villages. In cities, factories and offices are being shut down, and workers thrown out of jobs. Food security and employment guarantee have proved to be no more than empty words, cruel jokes inflicted on the needy people by our corrupt and greedy rulers.

The crisis is economic, it is also absolutely political. The state is waging war on the people and their livelihood. It is afraid of the people and their protests, it is afraid of the intellectuals and their dissent. It kills the people when they resist SEZs and corporate plunder. It slaps sedition charges on doctors and writers; it accuses courageous lawyers raring to raise a finger against judicial malpractices of committing ‘contempt of court’.

Look at the scams stacked in the cupboard of virtually every ministry in almost every government, whether at the centre or in the states. Scams today are great levellers – there is perhaps no institution which can claim to be free from scam stains. When the Central Vigilance Commissioner appointed by the Central government has to face trial on corruption charges, we can easily imagine how deep and wide the rot has spread.

It is not just the governments and ministers and bureaucrats, top Army officers are also found to be involved in huge land scams. After the ‘Adarsh’ scam, the Army seems a little worried about its image and a senior Army official has now been awarded some symbolic punishment by the Army itself. But if the Army were to go into every accusation beyond selective and cosmetic court-martials, it would have perhaps no other option but to overhaul itself completely. Judges are facing impeachment motions and serious corruption charges – someone who only the other day retired as the Chief Justice of India is today haunted by charges of nepotism and misuse of power.

The Army and the judiciary apart, we now also know what many influential media personalities are really doing. They are not just giving us information or trying to shape our opinions, they are also working in tandem with corporate lobbies to make sure that big corporations have the full benefit of pliant ministers and friendly policies. The 2G scam and the Radia tapes have now clearly revealed an intricate organic nexus between big corporations, influential media houses, important ministers, big bureaucrats and ruling parties.

The crisis can also be seen clearly in the social sphere. Oppression of dalits is on the rise right in so-called economically advanced regions like Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, and UP. In BSP-ruled UP, a dalit girl is raped and then imprisoned while the MLA accused of raping her, an upper-caste MLA who won on a BSP ticket continues to enjoy the party’s patronage. In Nitish Kumar’s Bihar, a woman teacher who had been a victim of continuing sexual harassment by a BJP MLA, had been left with no other option but the drastic measure of stabbing the MLA to death. And is anyone keeping count of the number of women and young couples daring to marry according to their own wishes who are being killed by their own families or caste panchayats in the name of protecting the ‘honour’ of the family or village or caste?

The crisis then clearly is all-pervasive. It is multi-layered and structural, it is a crisis rooted in the failure and treachery of India’s rulers. It is a crisis of credibility and legitimacy of India’s ruling classes. What must be the communist response to this crisis? When the livelihood of the people is at stake, when the shadow of corruption looms large over every sphere of national and public life, when democracy is under growing assault, it is the historic responsibility of communists to unite and lead the people under the banner of people’s welfare, honesty and democracy.

The launching of the AILC in August 2010 was a product of this communist urge and sense of responsibility. Through diverse initiatives like conventions and protest campaigns we have spread the message of the AILC to the fighting Left ranks across the country. In contrast to the opportunist Left’s policy of “all for a share of bourgeois state power” we have upheld the fighting Left banner “all for communist assertion, all for people’s struggles”.

The arrival of AILC has signalled a new possibility in the Indian Left movement. It has not only brought together Left forces from diverse historical backgrounds, it is also helping all of us to understand each other better and in the process it is strengthening the process of realignment of Left forces and radicalization of the Left movement. Till recently we knew little about your struggle against the CPI(M)’s opportunism and corruption in Kerala, you too perhaps had little idea about the CPI(ML) – yet today we are marching shoulder to shoulder in common struggles.

In different states we are faced with different historical conditions, different social and political trends. The conditions in West Bengal and Kerala where we face virtually the same ruling class policies and same attacks on dissent and democracy perpetrated by Left-led governments are clearly more complex than states where we are directly pitted against NDA or UPA rule. Yet while resisting these government’s anti-people moves and fighting against the CPI(M)’s growing degeneration and authoritarian attitude, we are determined to hold high the independent and fighting banner of the Left, because that alone is the real challenge and the real need of the hour for the communist movement.

We all know how well-known erstwhile CPI(M) leaders like MV Raghavan and KR Gauri failed to retain their communist identity and got subsumed in the UDF. Learning from their miserable experience, today’s fighting communists at the grassroots in Kerala have every prospect to succeed in charting a new road of advance and we in CPI(ML) and AILC wish you every success in this direction.

From Delhi in August 2010 to Kozhikode in January 2011, we have surely come some way. But there is a much longer and challenging way ahead of us. We have now resolved to undertake a countrywide mass campaign against the all-pervasive crisis being inflicted by the UPA government, especially focussing on the burning issues of price rise, unemployment, corruption and state repression. Apart from organizing protest actions in different districts and states, we will also march from different states to Delhi and on 11 March we will all be demonstrating outside Parliament in the national capital.

We also have important Assembly elections coming up in key states, including Kerala and West Bengal where the opportunist Left too will have to face the wrath of the people and pay the price for their authoritarian arrogance and anti-people steps. The coming days are bound to witness turbulent moments in national politics. These are decisive hours for the Left movement and the AILC will have to move ahead through this political turbulence, bringing together fighting forces of the Left in all corners of the country, and reinvigorating and radicalizing the Left identity in the midst of powerful people’s struggles.

AILC’s Convention in Coimbatore

On January 25 an open convention was held in Coimbatore at Shivananda Colony calling upon the workers to ‘Rise up; Save the Country; Save the People; Let the Workers Constitute themselves as Nation and Capture Power’. The well-attended and well-decorated meeting was organised primarily by the party comrades of Pricol. Apart from CPI(ML) General Secretary, comrades S Kumarasami and S Balasundaram, PBM and State Secretary of CPI(ML) respectively, Hariharan of LCC, Kerala and Uday Bhatt of LNP(L) from Maharashtra addressed the meeting.

Com. Hariharan narrated LCC’s efforts to build an alternative left space in the bi-polar politics of Kerala and expressed his trust that AILC will attract more and more fighting forces in the coming days. Com. Uday Bhatt spoke about the glorious struggles of the then Bombay textile workers emphasising their political role in electing Dr. Dutta Samant though they suffered losses in their TU struggle. He also highlighted the victory of the workers in snatching a part of the land which is now being sold by the mill owners.

CPI(ML) General Secretary called upon the workers in TN for their political assertion to hold aloft the red fighting banner in the coming assembly elections. The meeting generated enthusiasm for a fighting left politics.

Convention in Sriperumbudur

CPI(ML) held an open convention on January 30 in Sriperumbudur, which is called by the ruling classes as Detroit of India. Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, GS, CPIML, released a booklet ‘The Taint of Corruption Can Not be Washed Away’ brought out by the State unit of All India Students’ Association (AISA). Comrades Dipankar, S Kumarasamy and S Balasundaram addressed the meeting.

Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that if there is unity among Congress and DMK in corruption and repression, there will also be unity among the working people of the country against such anti-people measures of the governments in Delhi and Chennai. He said while TNCs in Sriperumbudur such as Nokia, Hyundai and Samsung are making super-profits, Sriperumbudur’s common man does not get anything out of this growth. He called upon the workers and the common people of Sriperumbudur to fight unitedly against corruption and repression and not to go back to DMK or AIADMK but move forward with the red flag of honesty, justice and progress in the coming elections.

‘Indian Nation & the Left’

Convention in Puducherry

A state level convention was organized by CPI(ML) on 29th January 2011 at Puducherry. The convention was conducted by the State Secretary Com. S Balasubramanian. The main speaker at the convention was Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. Other guest speakers were Com. K. Lenin, RSP’s Central Committee member and Com. U Muthu, AIFB’s State Secretary. Others who spoke in the convention were Com. P Sankaran, State Organizer of All India Agricultural Labourer’s Association (AIALA), Com. S Motilal, State Secretary AICCTU, Com. G Palani and E Jayabal, both State Committee members of CPI(ML) and Com. K Selvam, Puducherry Town Committee Secretary. Apart from party members and leaders of mass organizations a large number of left sympathizers participated in the convention. A wide propaganda was done for the Convention through wall writings and flex banners.

Working Women Celebrate IWD Centenary

Combining the International Women’s Day centenary celebrations with struggles at the grassroots, the Hoogli district unit of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) organised a protest demonstration-cum-deputation at the DM office in Chuchura on 21 January. Majority of participants were "ASHA" (Accredited Social Health Activists) and mid-day meal cooks, who submitted two separate deputations with their specific demands. Agrarian workers, including adivasis, also took part. The gathering was addressed by the working women themselves as well as AIPWA West Bengal state secretary Chaitali Sen, Hoogli district secretary Shipra Chatterjee and other leaders who spoke on the significance of the IWD at the present juncture. A song-and-dance performance by adivasi women added vibrant colours to the programme.

Open Convention at Jadavpur University

On 14th January, an open convention was organized by AISA in Jadavpur University demanding unconditional release of Dr. Binayak Sen and annulment of IPC 124a Sedition Act. The convention was addressed by poet Nabarun Bhattachariya, Sabyasachi Deb, Prof. Samantak Das, Prof. Sanjay Mukhopadhyay, Prof. Kunal Chattopadhyay, Dr. Debashis Mukherjee of Forum for Peoples Health and student representatives from other organizations such as FETSU GS Palash Ghosh, Arka Bhaduri from AIDSO, Chandan Biswas from USDF and AISA State Secretary Malay Tiwari addressed the convention.

Workers’ Struggle is Victorious in Punjab

The Punjab Engineering College (PEC) mess workers union (affiliated to AICCTU) called off their 53 day long strike after the management fulfilled its demands and signed a written agreement with the union. The workers were sitting on a dharna outside the PEC, sec 12 in Chandigarh since 3 December 2010. Main demands were the implementation of the 8 hrs working day, job to the widow of a deceased worker Khushal on compassionate grounds, stopping of the illegal deduction in the name of meals, repair of barracks etc.

Initially the management chose not to respond to or negotiate with the workers and instead threatened to terminate them. The Chandigarh administration turned a blind eye towards these agitating workers and instead clamped sec. 144 in the PEC campus to pressurize to take back their strike without getting the demands fulfilled. But the workers braved extreme cold in December and January and continued their agitation. During this many other unions of Chandigarh, namely Ekta Contract Workers Union, GMSH-16 (AICCTU), PGI Contract Workers Union (AICCTU), Contract Workers Joint Committee of GMCH-32 also extended support to the agitation and threatened to join the strike if the administration did not accept the demands.

The workers held a victory rally in the PEC campus on 25 January. The rally was addressed by Kanwaljeet, AICCTU’s Chandigarh unit President, Satish Kumar (Secretary, PEC Mess Workers Union), Achar Singh (president), Ashwani Kumar, Sonu Kumar- President Ekta Contract Workers Union GMSH-16, Sukhdev and Devraj of PGI Contract Workers Union, Anil Kumar, Pammi, Khan, Kamal of RYA and Hasmeet Singh GS of RYA Punjab. Speakers congratulated the workers for victory braving all odds.

Farmers’ Suicides: AIKM fact finding team visits MP

A two member fact finding team comprising senior leaders of All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM)- Comrades Prem Singh Gehlawat and Devendra Singh Chauhan, both National vice presidents of AIKM, visited Bhopal between 23-30 January to find out the real causes behind a spurt in farmer suicides.

The two-member team spoke to many farmers in Bhopal district and found that the farmers have been suffering the brunt of fake seeds, unavailability of water for irrigation of fields, no electricity, no support price for their crops and complete absence of subsidies for farming, essentially a fallout of the UPA’s adherence to the same economic policies which took its toll in the form of farmers loosing all hope and ending their lives in AP, Maharashtra, Punjab and many other states. Recent frosts only served as last nail in the already exhausted families of farmers.

The team addressed a well-attended press conference in Bhopal on 29 January and demanded Rs.20 lakh as compensation to each family where farmers have committed suicide, loan to all farmers without interest and waive all existing loans of troubled farmers. The team also met Madhya Pradesh Governor and apprised him of the facts with a memorandum and asked him to initiate action against the Shivraj Singh Chauhan led State Government whose anti-farmer policies have cost so many lives.

Tunisia, Egypt; Is the Arab world moving towards independence?

(We reproduce below a slightly abridged version of a piece by Yamin Zakaria that appeared on www.radicalviews.org)

For the first time in recent history, the Arab masses in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and elsewhere have turned their anger towards the decadent regimes, rather than the US; they are not burning the US flags but government buildings. The regime changes may signify gaining real independence and breaking free from the last shackles of the post-colonial model, which was setup after the First World War. The masses are seeking to liberate their country from these self-serving regimes; indeed, liberation always comes from within.

If the demonstrations were taking place in the streets of Tehran, instead of Egypt or Tunisia, there would have been a prompt and unanimous response from the Western governments, demanding a regime change; instead, the US has suggested further `democratic’ reforms to quell the demonstrations. This sort of response only adds further resentment, as it suggests that Mubarak’s regime has some level of democratic credentials. According to the `election’ results, for the last three decades Mubarak has been winning with a substantial majority, so where are his supporters now. Everyone knows the Egyptian elections are farcical, especially when you muzzle the opposition.

The Western governments are pressing on the Mubarak regime to respect the rights of the people to express their views, and to lift censorship placed on the mobile and internet, communications. The central point about democracy is not just about the right of the masses to express their opinions, but such opinions should be implemented by the government as their representatives. In the case of Egypt, they are demonstrating for a representative government, and the removal of the current dictatorship.

There is great reluctance to label Mubarak as a dictator by the US and other Western governments, primarily because he has done tremendous amount of work in stabilising the region in favour of Israel, and keeping Hamas and the Islamic movements inside Egypt, at bay. In the build up to Iraq war and after, the US was desperately looking for a mass uprising similar to Egypt, but it never materialised. However, Iraq was allegedly worth invading to remove a relatively popular dictator (not the mythical WMDs), whilst the current unpopular dictators of Egypt, Saudi and the other Gulf States are worth giving support; that is the reward for being subservient to American interests. All this serves as a reminder that national interests and not principles of democracy dictate the US foreign policy in the region.

Even if Mubarak manages to remain in power, the regime is unlikely to continue after his demise. The likelihood of a possible power vacuum emerging has naturally raised discussion on the types of government that is likely to succeed. There are two main candidates: Islamic orientated government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood or a pro-western secular regime. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel prize-winning former UN official, has gained some attention, however, at this stage, it looks unlikely that he commands enough support to take power or form a stable government. As for the possibility of a pro-Islamic regime emerging, the Islamophobes and the Zionist dominated press are already busy scare mongering with speculation of violence escalating, as a Islamic government is likely to give greater assistance to the Palestinians. On the contrary, a strong Egypt and Iran could provide stability by acting as a counter weight to the rabid Israel, by putting it on a leash.

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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