ML Update 31 / 2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 31, 26 JULY – 01 AUGUST 2011

The Corrupt Must Pay for their Crimes –

Yeddyurappa, Manmohan, Chidambaram Must Quit!

The prevailing mood of determined refusal to acquiesce in or condone corruption in high places is making it more difficult for the corrupt to enjoy impunity. Be it Yeddyurappa in Karnataka, Manmohan Singh at the Centre or even Nitish in Bihar, all are feeling the heat after being implicated in scams.

The anti-corruption movement got one of its first victories when it forced the Maharashtra CM’s head to roll for the Adarsh scam. The fact that Ministers and leaders of the ruling party and coalition at the Centre – Raja, Kanimozhi, Kalmadi – are in jail for scams is also an achievement of people’s anti-corruption spirit.

Now, following indications that the Karnataka Lokayukta has indicted the Chief Minister in a huge illegal mining scam, CM Yeddyurappa is increasingly becoming a hot potato for the BJP. As we go to press, reports suggest that the BJP will ask Yeddyurappa to quit if the report, to be submitted to the Government soon, names him as guilty. As of now, Yeddyurappa is still brazening it out. But if indeed he is forced to quit, it will be yet another key victory for the anti-corruption movement.

In Bihar, the BIADA scam might well prove to be Bihar’s Adarsh scam. Just as a whole range of political leaders had got flats illegally allotted to their relatives in the Adarsh scam, the BIADA in Bihar has allotted land to a large number of close relatives of leaders in the ruling BJP-NDA coalition. The Forbesganj firing was bad enough as an act of police brutality against protestors. What makes it worse is that the firing had taken place at the behest of the Forbesganj BJP MLC whose son was one of the beneficiaries of BIADA’s munificence. Not content with illegal allotment of land, the MLC and his son had additionally encroached upon a public road, leading to the spontaneous people’s protest which met with brutality and firing.

The Nitish Government’s defence is that the allotment of land without issuing tenders was not illegal, and was in fact just an incentive for industrialisation in Bihar. But the question then arises, how come so many of the beneficiaries of these ‘incentives’ were close relatives of top leaders in the BJP-JD(U) ruling coalition and government?! In fact, Nitish’s ‘development’ claims have proved to rest on the old familiar foundations of nepotism and corruption! The Bihar Government, which till recently basked in the unquestioning adulation of the corporate media, is now shooting the messenger and threatening media freedom. In a shameful display of high-handedness, the Chief Secretary of Bihar blamed the IBN-7 (the news channel that first broke the BIADA scam story) for irresponsible reporting and recommended legal action against such journalism!

If BJP-NDA Governments in Karnataka and Bihar are being exposed for their corruption and high-handedness, the Congress-UPA Government at the Centre is sinking still further into the 2G scam quagmire. A defiant A Raja has declared that each of his actions were very much part of the official policy of the UPA Government. He has categorically stated that the Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were privy to the decision to approve the sale of equity on part of beneficiaries of 2G spectrum allocation, and has challenged them to deny it. He has asked why the PM did not convene a GoM had he felt that spectrum allocation was in contravention of the law.

Following Raja’s revelations, the UPA’s top leaders including PM and HM, have nowhere to run. Their fig leaf of a defence, till now, was that the scam was a purely DMK affair, and the PM’s only fault was that he was constrained by some ‘coalition compulsions.’ Now, that flimsy defence has been ripped apart by Raja’s statements. The present telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s brazen blustering – once again denying any scam involved in the sale of equity by 2G beneficiaries and claiming that the words of an ‘accused’ did not merit attention – cannot save the skin of the PM and the HM.

With such direct evidence of the PM’s and HM’s complicity in the 2G scam, there can be no possible excuse for allowing them to continue in office. The tainted Prime Minister and Home Minister must go. Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram must resign!

Fascist Terrorism in Norway:

Mirror Image of Saffron Fascism

In one of the most terrible acts of terrorism in recent times, 93 people were killed in a bomb blast and cold-blooded shooting in Norway. Most of the people killed in the shooting were young delegates at a Labour Party camp.

In a display of knee-jerk Islamophobic prejudice, the terror attack was first branded by most of the media as perpetrated by a ‘Muslim group.’ It has turned out, however, that the terrorist is in fact a young right-wing fanatic, who dressed up as a policeman and perpetrated the attack.

The terrorist claimed that the massacre was a statement against ‘multiculturalism’ in Europe – a euphemism for hatred against immigrants, especially those of Muslim origin.

It must be recognised that the terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, is not a lone madman. He is a product of the prevailing political climate of Europe, in which racism and Islamophobia are on the rise. It is significant that an Italian Parliamentarian, Mario Borghezio, from Italy’s Northern League party which is a junior partner in the Berlusconi Government of Italy, has said that “Some of the ideas he (the terrorist) expressed are good — barring the violence — some of them are great.”

This new face of terror in Europe is, in many ways, the mirror image of Hindutva terror in India. In fact, the Norway terrorist’s 1518-page ‘Manifesto’ – ‘2080: A European declaration of independence’ – spends 102 pages expressing admiration for Hindutva. Just like the Sangh Parivar rants against ‘Mullahs and Marxists’, Breivik’s manifesto rants against ‘cultural Marxists and Muslims.’ The manifesto applauds Hindu groups who “do not tolerate the current injustice and often riot and attack Muslims when things get out of control.” It recommends that the Hindutva followers opt for military training and organisation.

Breivik’s manifesto names the websites of the BJP, RSS, the National Volunteers’ Organisation, ABVP and VHP as resources, and promises military support “to the nationalists in the Indian civil war and in the deportation of all Muslims from India.”

The Norway horror is a warning that right-wing ideologies of racist/communal hate-mongering can produce terrorist killers. The gap between the ‘respectable’ European parties which propagate anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim views, and between a terrorist Breivik, is very narrow. It is the former which create a fertile ground, and sows the seeds for terrorists like Breivik.

In our own country, the BJP and RSS try to distance themselves from the Abhinav Bharat variety of saffron terrorists. But in fact it is the BJP and RSS are organically linked to the saffron terrorists! The BJP-RSS also share the same ideological mind-space – of Islamophobia and anti-Left hatred – as the Norway terrorist. It is urgent that such ideologies be exposed and resisted all over the world.

Ruling Party MLA Gheraoed in Mumbai

Mr. Amin Patel, a Congress MLA from Mumba Devi Assembly Constituency in Mumbai was gheraoed (encircled) by more than 150 members of Municipal Kamgar-Karmachari Purogami Union (MKKPU) at 11 a.m. on 18 July. This gherao was result of long pending issues of people residing in Valpakhadi MNP basti near Sandhurst Station.

Mumbai Mahanagar Palika has 57 such bastis (colonies) across Mumbai where the sanitation and sewage handling workers reside. In the Valpakhadi basti there are six buildings that together house 450 families. These buildings are in bad shape and we hear not so infrequently of building collapses in Mumbai. The workers and the Union had on 16th May given an application to the Municipal Commissioner for renovation of the two buildings out of six. The Chief Engineer of Mahanagar Palika who has charge of housing units of sanitation workers, refused to undertake any renovation work, irresponsibly saying that it is dangerous to renovate those buildings. The basti people, General Secretary and Vice-President of the Union met him on 11 July to solve the issue but he spoke rudely and shocked them by saying that they will have to move to Mankhurd and vacate the buildings. He also said that the local MP and MLA have also given their consent for removing the basti people from there.

Upon hearing this the infuriated basti people and Union office bearers went right then to meet the local MP Milind Deora and found that he had left for Delhi to take oath for Ministership. His PA called up the MLA Amin Patel and he gave them an appointment for the next day. When these workers reached there on 12 July he never turned up as he too had left for Delhi to attend Deora’s ceremony. The angry workers decided to hold a mass meeting on 17th July to expose the dirty plan being hatched by these legislators against the hard working sanitation workers.

The meeting on 17 July was very successful and it was led and addressed by comrades Dayabhai Solanki, Anil Solanki, Dheeraj Rathod and Shyam Gohil. The speakers exposed the whole thing and called upon the workers and residents to come out whole-heartedly to save their homes, space and whatever little convenience they have in the city.

On 18 July the workers confronted the MLA with what they had heard from the Chief Engineer and gheraoed him. It has resulted in an assurance from him who has said he will get the buildings repaired from his MLA funds. The basti people have warned him against any effort to evict them from their basti and there is now a collective resolve among them to fight against any injustice.

ASHA Workers’ Rally in Dehradun

On 18 July 2011, a remarkable sight greeted people on the streets of the Uttarakhand capital, Dehradun. In pouring rain, there was a huge overflowing stream of women, raising slogans with red flags in their hands. These women were ASHA workers, of the AICCTU-affiliated Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers’ Union, who were demanding their rights from the State Government.

From steep mountain terrain to the plains, ASHA (rural health) workers have to be ready to provide care and assistance to pregnant women and ensure safe deliveries at all times of day and night. They are the main force in implementing a host of crucial tasks including vaccinations and pre- and post-natal care. Yet they are supremely neglected and exploited in the state. Far from receiving a salary, these women workers get a mere ‘honorarium’ which is less than even the minimum wage!

Their situation in Uttarakhand is even worse than in other states. This is a state where the Government makes tall claims of being the first to implement the 6th Pay Commission for employees; but here, the honorarium received by an ASHA worker for each institutional delivery has been slashed from the already meager Rs 600 to a mere Rs 350. In urban areas they get just Rs 200. To make these women slog at all irregular hours for such a pitiful pittance is nothing but unpaid labour. And it is a shame that it is the Government which is exploiting this unpaid labour from women who are the backbone of the rural health programme!

It is worth recalling that the present CM, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank,’ when he was Health Minister in 2008, had announced that ASHA workers would receive a monthly salary. His promise lies forgotten once he has been promoted to CM.

AICCTU has been organizing ASHA workers in the state. Beginning in Pithoragarh, this process has now expanded to Almora, Nainital and other districts of Uttarakhand. A workshop was held in Pithoragarh to orient the struggle ideologically, politically and on policy issues. On 7 June, demonstrations were held at all district and block HQs. And on 18 July, the women workers from all over the hills reached Dehradun to protest at the CM’s office and confront him for his hollow promises. When police stopped the procession from proceeding towards the CM office, the women sat on dharna at the State Secretariat which houses the CM’s office. A mass meeting was held there, which blocked the road in front of the Secretariat for four hours.

The mass meeting was addressed by AICCTU National Secretary Rajiv Dimri, who spoke of how the UPA Government at the Centre and the BJP Government in the state were united in their agenda of exploiting workers and violating labour rights. Hemlata Soun, State Convener of the ASHA Health Workers’ Union, said that the treatment of ASHA workers exposed the state government’s discrimination towards women workers, and mocked their tall claims of women’s empowerment. She said that the Uttarakhand Government spoke of Antyoday Vikas Yatra and Vision 2020 on the one hand, but ASHA workers did not earn even Rs 10 per day. No party inside the state assembly had shown any concern for the ASHA workers, in fact they silently colluded with the exploitation.

The meeting was also addressed by Janaki Gurrani, Almora Dist., President of the Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers’ Union, Ranikhet Secretary Gita Sajwan, Bageshwar leader Ganga Arya, Champawat district President Saraswati Punetha, Tanakpur President Mina Kashyap, Nainital President Kamala Kunjwal, Mamta Dhanu of Udhamsinghnagar, Agnes of Khatima, and others.

AIKM State President Purushottam Sharma, State Secretary Jagat Martoliya, Almora AIKM Convener Anand Negi, AICCTU leader Kailash Pande, and AISA State President Malati Haldar also addressed the meeting and expressed solidarity. The meeting was presided by AICCTU State President Nishan Singh, and conducted by AICCTU State Secretary K K Bora.

After the meeting, a memorandum was sent through the City Magistrate to the CM demanding that ASHA workers be recognized as government employees; be given Rs 6000 per month as salary in keeping with labour laws and SC directive; 20 days leave per year be guaranteed; the cut in honorarium be withdrawn and ASHA workers be given Rs 1000 per delivery; ASHA rest rooms be built in every hospital; ASHA workers be allowed to avail free healthcare like state government employees and be given special health cards; and the government give ASHA workers accident insurance cover of Rs 20 lakh.

AIALA’s State-level Workshop in TN

The Kodarma National Executive Committee of All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) had planned to hold state-level workshops to prepare for the 4th National Conference of AIALA. As per the decision, a State-level workshop of AIALA was organized at Myladuthurai in Nagappattinam district on 4th July.

Apart from the State Council members, selected activists from new districts were invited to the workshop. In all, 52 cadres and activists including 9 women comrades from 11 districts participated in the workshop. An approach paper was circulated posing several key problems faced by the organization by AIALA’s National General Secratary Com. Dhirendra Jha. Around 18 participants expressed their views, experiences and their initiatives.

On the question of lack of functioning of Panchayat level structures, participants opined that a conscious and concerted attempt by our organizers is wanting. Opinions came up that State leaders must visit the districts and provide guidance. On the question of continuous agitations and movements most of the participants stated that our attempts were sporadic and politically not sharp. Our attempts could not be directed against the nexus at panchayat level and so we couldn’t solidify our primary success and gains. Several activists who got active through our initiatives could not be developed due to lack of conscious efforts. The membership campaign does not follow-up with further course. Participants cited these as some of the reasons why we got poor votes.

They said that more agitations, more issues and more benefits to the workers will bring more members to and more influence of the organization. Participants narrated their experiences of taking up various issues such as wages, house-patta, NREGA and other welfare benefits. One participant explained that in Tanjore district, the official wage of Rs.119 has been successfully implemented. Nowhere in the state has this wage been implemented. This was possible by the workers initiative and agitation which was led by the AIALA activists and cadres.

Summing up the deliberations Com. Dhirendra Jha said that panchayat practice is the key to AIALA practice. Conscious and concerted attempts at panchayat level, ensuring concrete and sustained results are the only answers to the problems faced by AIALA in Tamilnadu. Towards this, senior leaders of the organization have key responsibilities. They should take up the challenge and must develop model for work in panchayats. Referring to more agitations, issues and more benefits to rural workers, he said that while we should do all these for a beginning, what is more important is making the worker more conscious. He called upon the councillors to actively work to ensure massive participation of rural poor in the August 9 Jail bharo/road blockade agitation called by CPI(ML) against corruption, price-rise and state repression.

Following the workshop, State Council, among other things discussed plans to enroll more than 75 thousand new members apart from the existing 52 thousand members, before the National Conference.

Com. Rameshwar Prasad, National President of AIALA handed over financial assistance to 23 girl and boy students from the Tsunami affected areas. (This is the 2nd year when AIALA has extended educational assistance from its corpus to tsunami affected children).

Com. Balasundaram, state secretary of the party also addressed the workshop. Greeting the council, Com. Rameshwar Prasad told the house that AIALA must ensure that no poor is left out from the fresh list as the BPL survey is currently going on at panchayat level. The council meeting was presided over by Com. TKS Janardhnan, State President of AIALA. Com. Janakiraman, State General Secretary made introductory remarks of the workshop.

AISA-RYA Rally in TN for Immediate Implementation of Common Syllabus

All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) jointly held a State-level rally on July 23 in Chennai demanding immediate implementation of HC judgment on common syllabus and not to appeal further to SC on the issue. The SC has earlier ruled that status quo for class I and class VI is to continue, i.e. implementation of common syllabus and directed the HC to decide on the issue of implementation of common syllabus for classes II to V and VII to X.

Over 400 students and youth from Chennai, Tiruvallore, Kanchipuram, Coimbatore, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri, Cuddalore, Tanjore, Pudukottai districts participated in the rally which was led by Com. K Bharathi, AISA, State President. The rally was flagged off by Com. AS Kumar, SCM of the Party. AISA State leaders comrades Venkatachalam, Malarvizhi, Rameshwar Prasad, Dhanavel, Rajashankar, Gopal and Seetha addressed the gathering.

The participants criticised the Jayalalitha government which strongly stands by the private school managements and which has created a state of confusion in the school education. They demanded Education is the right of students and providing education is the duty of the government. After the rally a seven-member team of AISA–RYA met the Chief Secretary of TN and presented a memorandum on the issue.

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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