ML Update 40 / 2012

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 15 No. 40 25 SEP- 1 OCT 2012

PM’s Address:

A Fraud on the Nation

The UPA-II Government unleashed a slew of offensives on common people recently. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ‘Address to the Nation’ adds insult to this severe injury by peddling barefaced lies.

The PM claims that the hikes in fuel prices and cuts in cooking gas subsidy and burdens are measures the Government has reluctantly been forced to take in order to ‘reverse the slowdown in growth’ caused by the global economic crisis. He appeals to the aam aadmi to make sacrifices and bear burdens cheerfully, in order to ensure ‘rapid growth’ that can generate jobs, and revenues for education, health care, housing and rural employment.

In the first place, the very claim of ‘growth’ translating into benefits for people is a lie. In the selfsame period when India boasted a 9% growth rate, India has the shame of the world’s worst indicators of health and nutrition of women and children. During India’s ‘high-growth’ period, the aam aadmi has seen education and health care becoming farther beyond reach thanks to relentless privatisation. The employment rate in agriculture has dropped to minus 1.60%, and the agricultural crisis and debt trap resulting from cuts in subsidies has claimed an ever-spiralling number of farmers’ suicides.

The second lie is that the steep global oil prices are forcing an increase in domestic oil prices; that the subsidy on petroleum products has increased steeply in order to ‘protect’ Indian people from the impact of global prices; and that India’s oil companies are suffering huge ‘losses’. The truth is that there are no net subsidies in the petroleum sector, and the oil companies are in fact recording huge profits and generating massive revenue for the Government. In March 2012, international crude oil prices fell by more than 20 percent – yet petrol prices in India were hiked by Rs 7.54 in May. Nor is it true that petrol and diesel prices in India are ‘low’ compared to other countries – even before the hikes, the price of petrol in India was Rs 63.70/litre, while it was Rs 41.93/litre in Pakistan and Rs 45.53/litre in Bangladesh. By deregulating oil prices, the Government has in fact divested itself of any responsibility to protect the Indian people from arbitrary price hikes – and is instead justifying this massive additional burden on the aam aadmi on spurious pretexts.

Manmohan Singh informs us that “Money does not grow on trees,” and that he has acted only to pre-empt a fiscal deficit crisis (an unsustainable increase in government expenditure vis-a-vis government income). India’s fiscal deficit in 2011-2012 was to the tune of 6.9 % of the GDP, which amounts to around Rs 5.22 lakh crores. In that year, the ‘revenues foregone’ to corporations and the super-rich amounted to Rs 5.28 lakh crore. Therefore, the hue and cry over ‘fiscal deficit’ which Manmohan blames on subsidies for the poor, is totally misplaced and fraudulent. If only Manmohan Singh would stop providing ‘money on trees’ by way of massive tax waivers to the big corporations, India would have no fiscal deficit.

Manmohan Singh justifies the diesel hike by claiming that diesel is used mostly by “big cars and SUVs owned by the rich and by factories and businesses,” and asks, “Should government run large fiscal deficits to subsidise them?” As demonstrated above, the Government is in fact running fiscal deficits to subsidise none but the corporations and the rich! And the Prime Minister is deliberately silent on the fact the hike in diesel prices will result in increased transportation costs, which will inevitably have a cascading effect on food prices.

The Prime Minister claims that there is no cause to fear loss of livelihood due to FDI in retail. His argument is that corporate retail has coexisted in India’s cities without causing any detriment to small retailers. This only proves that corporate retail on its own has nothing to help it out-compete small retailers. That is precisely why FDI in retail is being sought – to provide the backing of huge amounts of money to squeeze out small retailers through predatory pricing and purchasing monopolies. The example of a host of countries including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Indonesia, have shown FDI in retail dealing a severe blow to small retailers.

Again, the example of several countries – including Thailand, Argentina, Mexico, Vietnam – shows that prices of fruit and vegetables in corporate retail outlets have tended to be considerably higher than in traditional markets.

The PM’s claims that FDI in retail will ‘benefit our farmers’ are also bogus. Small marginal farmers in most countries have been excluded from access to the corporate retail supply chain. There is no evidence of consistently higher prices for producers thanks to contract farming and corporate retail – if anything, the opposite. In fact, farmers end up at the mercy of the global corporate retail giants, often experiencing delayed payments, arbitrary quality standards, and pressure to reduce prices in order to compete to attract corporate retail buyers.

The PM tells us the entry of MNC retail giants will “create millions of good quality new jobs.” He should try telling that to the employees of Wal-Mart in its home country, the US! Even as the Indian PM spoke, Wal-Mart employees in Los Angeles were agitating with the slogan ‘Wal-Mart=Poverty,’ accusing the retail giant of making profits out of exploitative work conditions and wages. In New York, the local people have agitated to keep Wal-Mart out, declaring that it destroys livelihood.

Manmohan Singh tells us that the ‘bold steps’ taken in 1991 created jobs, but his claims are badly belied by the facts. At a time when India boasted a 9% growth rate, employment grew at a negligible rate of just 0.22%. So, globalised ‘growth’ has in fact been jobless growth. By invoking 1991, Manmohan Singh is in fact proving that now, as then, he and his Government are implementing policies dictated by imperialist interests rather than those of India’s people.

A government that so blatantly lies to the country must meet with a fitting rebuff! We must expose the Government’s falsehoods and intensify the agitation calling for the immediate resignation of the corrupt and fraudulent UPA Government.

Bharat Bandh

On September 20, CPI(ML) units all over the country implemented the Bharat Bandh call in protest against the hike in diesel prices, the slashing of cooking gas subsidy, and FDI in retail and civil aviation.

In Delhi-NCR, CPI(ML) activists held marches and burnt effigies of the Prime Minister at Narela, NOIDA and at Yamuna Vihar.

The party held marches through the city of Patna and other centres in Bihar, blockading roads at many places. In Darbhanga, CP(ML) activists blockaded rail tracks, detaining the Ganga Sagar Express for hours. In Jharkhand also, protest marches and road blockades were held at several places.

In Tamil Nadu, rail roko, road roko protests were held by the party at Salem, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, and Kanyakumari. In some other palaces including Tiruppananthal of Tanjore, district-level demonstrations were held. Campaigns in support of our bandh call took place at several palaces. In Salem, shop owners and traders closed down shutters in response to our call. In Tirunelveli our party mass organization leaders including AIPWA state president Thenmozhi were chased by police and rounded up in order to thwart their plans to picket the rail lines.

In Puducheri, more than 100 workers and party activists blockaded a busy road. Hindustan Petroleum Gas Delivery workers participated in the program with their uniforms. One Human Rights and Consumer Protection organization too joined our road roako program. In Karaikal, a demonstration was held in support of the Bandh.

In Uttar Pradesh, demonstrations and road blockades in support of the Bandh were held at 6 places in Ghazipur including the district headquarters; 4 places in Jalaun; 3 centres each in Devaria and Bhadohi; and two centres each in Chandauli, Mirzapur, and Gorakhpur. Demonstrations were also held at Balia, Maharajganj, Sonebhadra, Kanpur, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Khiri, Sitapur, Gonda, Ambedkarnagar and Kushinagar. AISA held a march and protest meeting on the premises of Allahabad University in support of the Bandh.

In Uttarakhand, CPI(ML) activists ensured the closure of the market on Car Road, Bindukhatta, in Nainital district, and burnt an effigy of the Prime Minister. A protest meeting was held that was addressed by many CPI(ML) leaders. Youth activists also marched to Lalkuan Bazaar calling upon traders to shut shops.

At Pithoragarh town, CPI(ML) activists held a march from Ramlila Maidan throughout the town, raising slogans in support of the Bandh. A demonstration and affigy burning were held at Dharchula in Pithoragarh district.

Protest processions were held at Bhikyasain (Almora) and Gochar (Rudraprayag) and Joshimath.

IN Karnataka, CPIML and AICCTU activists burnt the effigy of Manmohan Singh at Gangavati and Harapanahalli. Workers organised a bike rally on the day of Bandh to enforce the strike At HD Kote of Mysore district too, CPIML-AIALA activists organised a demo on the Bandh day. In Odisha, party activists held a rally from Nagbhushan Bhawan. They were arrested by police at the Assembly.

In Gujarat, CPI(ML) and RYA activists demonstrated in support of the Bandh in Ahmedabad, burning posters of the Prime Minister and holding a march from Azad Chowk till the statue of Bhagat Singh. En route, they got traders to shut shop in Amraiwadi Bazaar.

Protest procession and effigy burning of the PM was held at Bhind in Madhya Pradesh, by CPI(ML) and AICCTU workers.

Demo in Bangalore for Maruti Workers’ Struggle

AICCTU organised an impressive protest in support of struggling workers of Maruti on 22 Aug. 2012 at a major junction in the city of Bangalore. The protestors raised slogans against state repression on workers’ struggles and demanded immediate release of all Maruti workers languishing in jail. The protestors also demanded withdrawal of Rapid Action Force, heavy police force and bouncers from the vicinity of the company.

Com. Somu, district president presided over the demo while Appanna, state secretary, Narayanaswamy, state Vice-President, Puttegowda, district secretary, and Mani addressed the gathering.

CPIML team visits Koodankulam

In the aftermath of brutal crackdown on the peaceful protesters of Idinthakarai, Koodankulam, CPIML, AICCTU, and AIPWA leaders visited these villages. Despite Sec 144 clamped on the entire area (due to which former Kerala CM and veteran CPIM leader VS Achuthanandan was not allowed to visit Koodankulam), the CPIML team managed to visit the affected area.

Koodankulam looks like a war torn territory. This Panchayat has 3500 households. Only a very few men could be seen. As the Koodankulam men and women came to the street protesting the repression on their fellow villagers, the police force unleashed a large scale attack on this village throughout the day on September 11. All the women told the team that the police subjected them to severe repression.

The state police along with RAF, PMP lobbed anti-riot shells on the houses. Doors and windows been broken. Every house been attacked. Women were subjected to humiliation with obscene words, and were subjected to sexual assaults in the name of ‘search.’

More than 60 men, most of them from the Hindu Nadar community, were taken into custody. Even minor school boys were indiscriminately arrested and sent to Juvenile Justice Board house. The neighboring Vairavikinaru leading to Idinthakarai too looked like a deserted village. The Tsunami settlement (from where residents, especially women, had participated in very large numbers in the agitation of the past several months), was subjected to severe, vengeful repression. Of 450 houses only 5 or 6 house were opened. The police took control of this settlement and are now using it as rest houses.

On the sea shore, the site where the siege program was held on September 10th, the police repression has no parallel! The K-Plant is more than 800 meters away from the protest site. There would be no danger for the plant from the thousands of women with children and men of entire Idinthakarai who had sat in peaceful protest.

Thousands of police with firearms stood like a wall encircling the protesters. Without any provocation people were beaten up with canes. Anti-riot shells were fired at the crowd, causing severe injuries on lips and cheeks. The people were encircled and had nowhere to escape except the roaring Bay of Bengal. They were chased towards the sea. The coast guard plane also joined the terror campaign, flying low over the heads of the people and terrifying the people. One youth died due of shock. Some were lying down; most of the people ran helter and skelter.

Through out the night arrested people remained in the open in the chilling sea breeze. The children and aged who couldn’t withstand the breeze were trembling.

In an attempt to provoke a communal flare-up, the police urinated in the Church and disfigured the Mada Idol. But the protestors displayed great restraint and refused to rise to the bait.

Only after electronic media’s telecast did the whole terror campaign subside somewhat.

These areas remain cut of from the mainland. Bus services are suspended. People have not been supplied with essentials, and remain deprived of their livelihood (fishing).

The team interacted extensively with the people. The people continue with their firm resolve to continue the struggle. They expressed their anger towards Jayaalalitha for her betrayal.

The team held a press meet demanding closure of the nuclear plant, complete withdraw of police force, withdrawal of false cases slapped including 124A and other criminal cases, suspension and action against the District SP, South Zone DIG and District Collector, instituting an enquiry commission with a sitting high court Judge and intervention of NHRC and NCW in the human rights violations and violence on women by the police force.

The party State Committee called for state wide protest on October 1st. Condemning the police raj of the AIADMK government, the campaign will be ‘against anti-people development; against murder of democracy’. On that day, an Anti-Nuke power plant march is also planned from Tirunelveli to Koodankulam (Idinthakarai).

The team comprised of State Secretary Comrade Balasundaram, T Sankarpandian, Tirunelveli district secretary and State General Secretary of AICCTU, Thenmozhi, State president of AIPWA,

G.Ramesh, Editorial Board member of Theepori, Anthonimuthu, District secretary of Kanyakumari and several district committee members of the party.

AISA victory in Pithoragarh SU Polls

Comrade Hemant Khati of AISA was elected as President in the Student University polls in the Lakshman Singh Mahar Government PG College, Pithoragarh, affiliated to Kumaon University. He polled 797 votes, defeating the ABVP candidate by 67 votes. On the post of Secretary, the AISA candidate Neeraj Bisht polled 560 votes, finishing at 3rd place.

AISA has achieved a win in Pithoragarh after a gap of 12 years. The defeat against ABVP is especially significant given that the ABVP got patronage from the Government and administration, which overlooked fraudulent practices by the ABVP candidates such as distributing gifts, sweets etc.

AISA’s campaign focussed against corruption and corporate plunder, privatisation of education, rampant unemployment and scams in Uttarakhand, rights of women students, and other democratic issues.

TN AIALA calls for gherao of BDOs on November 7th

Following the successful collectorate gherao at Thanjavur by AIALA on September 17th, the State Council meeting of AIALA held on September 22nd in Gadilem of Villupuram district, decided to gherao the Block Development offices on November 7th, demanding round the year jobs and house sites for all.

As Tamil Nadu could not get water from Karnataka and the southwest monsoon too failed, the Cauvery delta region is facing an acute crisis. Agriculture labourers and poor peasants are the worst affected. If the North-east monsoon belies the hopes, the entire TN will have to face the worst drought this year. Except empty rhetoric, the AIADMK government is doing nothing to tackle the situation. Employment of agricultural labourers and rural poor is severely endangered.

In order to protest the government inaction, and demanding round the year job, extending NREGA scheme to Town Panchayats, free food essentials and kerosene etc, AIALA will gherao the Block Development Offices.

The Council also decided to hold the next AIALA state conference on September 2-3 of 2013. Statues of Coms Chandrakumar, Chandrasekar and Subbu would be unveiled on 2nd September 2013, Martyrdom day of Comrades Chandrakumar and Chandrasekar. On 3rd September 2013, the 5th state conference will be held.

The meeting also decided to participate in the October 1 protest day in solidarity with Koodankulam struggle, called by the state CPIML.

The council contributed the first installment (Rs 4000) of CPI(ML)’s 9th Party Congress fund.

Comrades TKS Janardhanan, State President, Valathan and Santhi, presided over the Council meeting. Apart from office bearers including Janakiraman (State Gen. Sec), Com Balasundaram All-India Vice President of AIALA also participated in the Council.

Arrest of CPI(ML) Activist in Odisha

On 17th September, Comrade Zaga Hika, who had contested as an MLA candidate from the CPI(ML) in 2009 from Patangi, polling 5000 votes, was arrested by Koraput police who have branded him as a ‘Maoist.’ Comrade Zaga Hika’s son Rabindra Hika has also been arrested on fabricated charges of being a ‘Maoist.’

On 31st August, Comrade Zaga Hika had led 800 comrades in gheraoing the Koraput collectorate and courting arrest as part of CPI(ML)’s all-India Jail Bharo call.

The BSF attacked and destroyed the CPI(ML) party office at Laxmipur on 16th September, tearing the party flag. On 17th September, Comrade Zaga Hika and Comrade Birendra Minieka, districts secretary of Koraput, went to the Laxmipur police station to file an FIR against the BSF for vandalising the CPI(ML) office, but instead of accepting the complaint, the police arrested Comrade Zaga Hika and charged him with being a ‘Maoist’!

Comrade Zaga has spent the last two years in jail as an undertrial in a case of protest againt a liquor shop.

CPI(ML) plans a huge protest meeting at Koraput on 26th Sept against the arrest. The arrest of popular Left mass leaders from the adivasi community by branding them as ‘Maoists’ is part of the Government’s ‘Operation Green Hunt’ strategy.

Left Parties’ Dharna in Uttarakhand

CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML) jointly held a Dharna at Dehradun to protest against the anti-people policies of the Vijay Bahuguna Government on 10 September.

The Dharna began by a rendering by Jan Sanskriti Manch’s Madan Mohan Chamoli, of a rousing Garhwali song by Comrade Dhan Singh Rana. This was followed by a Pankaj Vidrohi’s rendering of a Gorakh Pandey song.

The Dharna protested the Bahuguna Government’s utter callousness towards the people affected by natural disasters in the State in the past 6 months. When the CM visited the disaster-affected people, he got angry when questioned by people, and returned after advicing them to sing ‘bhajans’ (prayer songs). The Left parties demanded immediate compensation and rehabilitation for the disaster-affected people of the State.

The Left parties noted that the huge explosions caused by the 3 projects being built on the Asiganga had aggravated the natural disasters, and demanded that the builders of these projects be prosecuted for the deaths of people. The Left parties demanded mechanisms for identification and protection of migrant labourers hurt in the disasters. The Left parties held that the decision of the Government to hold by-elections to the Tehri Loksabha seat on 10 October when people of Uttarkashi and Tehri are yet to recover from the disaster is a cruel joke.

The Left parties protested the corporate plunder of ‘jal jangal zameen’ (water, forests, and land) in the State, in the name of ‘development’ projects. They alleged that the CM Vijay Bahuguna is supporting disastrous hydro-electric projects because of his corporate links, especially with the India Bulls company.

The Left parties demanded that the Government accede to the popular demand to declare Gairsain as the capital of Uttarakhand. They also demanded measures to generate secure and dignified employment so as to stem the flood of migration from the state.

The Dharna demanded land rights for the residents of khattas, forests and for vangujars, and the rights of khattas and forest villages to form panchayats.

The Dharna also supported reservations for SCs/STs in promotions, and demanded implementation of labour laws in factories. They protested the rampant privatisation being carried out in the name of PPP projects.

The Dharna was presided by CPI(M) State Secretary Vijay Rawat, CPI’s National Council member Samar Bhandari, and CPI(ML) Standing Committee member Raja Bahuguna.

The Dharna was addressed by Comrades Bacchiram Kauns, Gangadhar Nautiyal, Virendra Bhandari, Surendra Singh Sajwana, Indu Naudiyal, and Shiv Prasad Devli of CPI(M); CPI State Sectetary Anand Singh Rana and comrades Ashok Kanwal, Mahipal Bisht, Jeet Singh, and Ashok Sharma of CPI, and Comrades Purushotam Sharma, KK Bora, Man Singh Pal, Atul Sati and Malti Haldar of CPI(ML). Kamla Pant, central convenor of Uttarakhand Mahila Manch, and Basant Khani of Uttarakhand Lok Vahini, Trepan Singh Chauhan of Chetna Andolan, and Sameer Ratudi of Himalay Bachao Andolan also addressed the Dharna.

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