ML Update 22 / 2013

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 16, No. 22, 21 – 27 MAY 2013

Resist the TMC’s Authoritarian Bid to Appropriate Panchayat Power

T
he TMC government of West Bengal and the State Election Commission are embroiled in a protracted legal battle over the ensuing panchayat elections in the state. On the face of it, the battle may well seem to be over the issue of supremacy of the state government and the state election commission over their respective jurisdictions or domains, but we must see it in the evolving political context of West Bengal and the hostile and contemptuous attitude of the TMC government to various institutions of democracy.

The panchayats were the first to reveal the direction of ‘paribartan’ or change of guard in West Bengal when in the wake of Singur and Nandigram, the TMC managed to wrest control of almost half the village panchayats in 2008. The ‘paribartan’ wave could be felt even more strongly in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and by the time the Assembly elections were held in 2011, the results were a foregone conclusion for all but the politically blind. But now this is 2013, and the panchayat elections will mark the first major test for the new regime.

The TMC has now been in power for two years and by all indications disillusionment has already started setting in among large sections of the society in West Bengal. Like most other states in India today, West Bengal is also in the grip of a deepening economic crisis, and the state government has hardly done anything to provide any relief to the people. On the contrary, there has been a renewed campaign to deprive people of whatever access and right they had to land and tenancy. The incidence of peasant suicides has also grown in West Bengal and the government is only busy in denying these suicides. On top of it, the rural population has been hit hard by the chit fund scam and there can be no denying the complicity of the TMC, as of the CPI(M) in the past, in the phenomenal rise of this dubious web of swindling.

The only plea of the state government now is that it has been in power for only two years, which is too short a time span especially viewed against the 34-year-long tenure of the CPI(M) and Left Front. Well, the CPI(M) never won a 34-year-long mandate, it won seven successive elections that allowed it to rule for such a long period. And in a good majority of West Bengal panchayats, the TMC has already ruled for five years and has proved itself one up on corrupt and degenerated CPI(M) panchayat-lords. This is why the TMC regime is wary of the people venting their anger through free and fair panchayat polls. As has already happened with elections in student unions, factory unions and provident fund trustee boards, the TMC is desperate to secure control of panchayats through unbridled muscle-flexing and terror tactics.

In flagrant violation of the rules and established norms of panchayat elections, the government twice unilaterally announced election dates thereby clearly seeking to arrogate to itself powers that belong to the state election commission. It wanted to have a single-day poll schedule in utter disregard of the sane advice of conducting elections in a three-phase schedule. Anybody familiar with the ground reality of West Bengal will hardly question the commission’s insistence on adequate deployment of security forces.

In fact, there are reasons to apprehend that in many places opposition candidates will be forcibly prevented from filing their nomination papers. The commission must make sure that the entire process of election right from nomination and campaigning to casting and counting of votes and declaration of results is free from administrative bias and political terror and violence.

Despite being the main opposition party, the CPI(M) is not in a position to offer any credible opposition or resistance to the TMC’s politics of terror and violation of democratic norms. Much of what the TMC is doing today is sheer imitation of the CPI(M)-style politics of control and domination. The people of West Bengal have not forgotten the lynching of six agricultural labourers in Karanda village of Bardhaman district in the May 1993 panchayat elections – the only ‘crime’ of these agricultural labourers was that they had dared to revolt against the feudal-kulak domination in the CPI(M). The victims of Karanda massacre are still awaiting justice from the Supreme Court after the guilty were all acquitted by the High Court much the same way as the guilty are currently being acquitted in Bihar. And Karanda has been no aberration – the people of Kerala have seen similar CPI(M)-led violence in Onchiyam and many other places.

The TMC must not however be allowed to get away with its politics of terror and subversion of democratic procedures and institutions. The way Mamata Banerjee and her government are treating the election commission is symptomatic of the regime’s arrogant attitude and its desperate design to monopolise power on every level in the state. The fighting peasantry and the democratic intelligentsia of West Bengal must once again come together. If they had joined hands in the wake of Singur and Nandigram to vote the arrogant CPI(M) regime out of power, they must come together now to resist the TMC’s authoritarian dispensation and assert the voice of grassroots democracy.

45th Session of Indian Labour Conference

AICCTU raises the voice of protest before PM On the Issues of Arrest and jailing of workers of Noida, Maruti (Manesar) and Brutal assassination of Gangaram Koul

T
he 45th Session of Indian Labour Conference (the highest tripartite forum, also called Labour Parliament) held on 17 – 18 May, 2013 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi- the first one after the successful 2-days all India General Strike called by central trade unions- was unprecedented in a way that it witnessed protest, not seen in recent times, when the delegation of AICCTU (All India Central Council of Trade Unions) led by Subhas Sen, National Secretary as well as Assam State Secretary of AICCTU (also a delegate to the conference) raised the banner of protest in the inaugural session in the presence of Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh (also a Rajya Sabha member from Assam), demanding answer from him regarding the indiscriminate arrest of hundreds of workers and TU activists in Noida industrial area during the all India General Strike on 20-21 February 2013 who continue to languish in jail, languishing Maruti, Manesar workers in jail for last one year and brutal killing of Gangaram Koul, a popular leader of Tea Tribe in Assam and of AICCTU. Subhas Sen and other members of AICCTU delegation raised the issues when the Union Labour Minister, Mallikarjun Kharge rose to welcome the PM. The Minister’s efforts to stop the AICCTU leader to raise the voice of protest went in vain, as he continued to speak till he had made his point. This protest was reflected in the Media also with a wide coverage in print and electronic media including national and state media and particularly in the media of north-east.

The other members of AICCTU delegation (as advisors) were Rajiv Dimri, Santosh Roy and VKS Gautam, the National Secretaries.

Subhas Sen in his speech in the post-inaugural session, while raising the issues of escalated attacks on working class and downtrodden and the throttling of industrial democracy, characterized the central and various state governments as “caged parrots” of Corporates. Exposing the duality of the Central Govt, he said that while the inaugural address of the PM took care to give space to the February Strike and issues raised by it, but during the same strike hundreds of workers and TU activists were indiscriminately arrested and offices of trade unions were raided in Noida and the Central Govt remained mute spectator to this incident, and even in this session did not care to address this particular issue. While raising the issue of brutal assassination of Gangaram Koul, he questioned the Labour Minister of Assam (incidentally, he was also a member of presidium of this session) as to why the main conspirator of this killing, Raju Sahu, the ruling party MLA from Chabua and other accused were not yet arrested, why despite the order of CBI enquiry into this case by your government the CBI has not received any communication in this regard. He also raised the issue of non-implementation of Bonus in Assam.

Ending his speech, he expressed his resentment on the speech of PM for not announcing any measures for improving the working and living conditions of scheme (honorarium) workers like ASHA, Angavadi, Mid-day meal etc. who are lakhs in number and predominately women workers.

The issues of Noida and Maruti, Manesar found echo too in the speeches of delegates of other central trade unions.

The 45th session of ILC had four agenda-items for deliberation. Some of the notable recommendations/conclusions of this session were: Scheme (honorarium) workers like ASHA, Angavadi, Mid-day meal etc. “should be first recognized as ‘workers’ and not volunteers or honorary workers”, “they should be paid minimum wages” and “should get all social security benefits like pension, gratuity, maternity benefits etc.” On the issue of Assured Pension with Indexation to all workers, the session recommended that “EPS ’95 should, as a first step, provide a minimum assured pension of Rs. 1000/- per month”, “the pensionary benefits available to the beneficiaries should be responsive to price rise”, “the new pension scheme (NPS) should be suitably modified also to provide for assured pension to its members” etc.

In Akhilesh-Ruled UP Minority Youth Dies in Custody While Varun Gandhi Goes Free

Khalid Mujahid, a so-called “accused” in the 2007 serial blasts in UP died on Saturday 18 May in police custody, yet another shameful injustice to a victim of Muslim witch-hunt. Khalid, a resident of Mariahu in Jaunpur and a Madarsa teacher, was arrested by the special task force of the UP police in December 2007 following serial blasts in UP and immediately and declared, without any evidence, to be an ‘operative of the Harkatul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI)’. Since then, he had been languishing in jail for the last 6 years. Following sustained protests against false framing, a commission was formed to probe the matter. The report submitted in 2012 found discrepancies in the “official” police case against Khalid. On the basis of the report, the UP govt. was forced to file an application in the court to withdraw the case against Khalid. However, the court turned down the application. According to activists, the UP Government put up a weak application, and now Khalid has died under mysterious circumstances, raising serious questions of cover up and conspiracy.

It is indeed yet another copybook instance of killing and suspicious death in Police custody of so called “terror accused” against whom the police never managed to provide any evidence. One has not forgotten, how just last year 8 June, Mohd. Qateel Siddiqi of Darbhanga, arrested since Nov 2011, on charges of ‘involvement’ in several blast cases, was strangled to death by two gangsters, Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao, inside Yerawada jail in Pune. Let us note, Maharashtra ATS had failed to file a chargesheet against Qateel in the 7 months from November 2011 till June 2012. In the Adarsh scam, accused got bail because the CBI failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated 6-month period. If the same norms had applied, Qateel should have been free, given the failure of authorities to assemble any proof against him. Yet, he remained in jail, and the ATS kept claiming he was a ‘key Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative.’ From Maharashtra to Hyderabad, Gujarat to Darbhanga, the horrific saga continues unabated– framing innocent youth without a shred of evidence, torturing them for years together behind bars, and finally killing them off in custody or in fake “encounters”. These shocking cases- from Malegaon to Hyderabad, Bangalore to Azamgarh and Darbhanga- underline the vulnerability of Muslim youth routinely arrested on terror charges.

The cases also expose the duplicity and hypocrisy of the SP and Congress who never tire of swearing by ‘secularism’. During the UP elections, we have seen cynical competition between the SP and the Congress to woo support of the beleaguered Muslim community. Yet, in practice, whether it is the Congress-ruled Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh or the SP ruled UP, they are competing with the BJP in the false framing and custodial attacks on Muslim ‘terror accused’.

Contrast this witch-hunt with how the SP Government in UP manufactured a “clean chit” for Varun Gandhi in the public hate-speech case! Varun Gandhi made the worst of anti-Muslim, venomous, hate-mongering speeches in Pilibhit before the previous Lok Sabha elections. The hate speeches were delivered in large open public meetings and the entire country saw and heard them through TV channels. But, suddenly, when the matter came up in the court, Samajwadi Party’s UP administration could not produce any video footage of the incident and several witnesses turned hostile! The recent sting operation by a magazine – aired by a TV channel – exposed how the UP state machinery and an SP leader happily colluded with the BJP to manufacture the ‘clean chit’ for Varun Gandhi. What a remarkable tango of the communal fascists and those who gather votes in the name of “secularism”!

It is high time that this twin trend of communal politics – of state patronage to communal forces and hate-mongerers on the one hand and unabated state-sponsored witch-hunt of minorities on the other, this time enacted in UP, is exposed and resisted. We must struggle to ensure that all those responsible for framing Khalid Mujahid and for his custodial death are brought to book. Moreover, the case against Varun Gandhi’s hate speech should be reopened, and all those responsible for scuttling the case against him – especially the Public Prosecutor and the officials in the UP government – should be punished for the shameful subversion of the judicial process.

Protest in Patna against Acquittal of the Killers of Ajit Sarkar

Acquittal of Accused in Political Murders and Massacres of Poor – a Mockery of Justice

CPI(ML) activists and citizens of Patna held a protest march on 19th May in Patna against the acquittal of the killers of Comrade Ajit Sarkar, a popular leftist leader of Purnea. The protest accused the Centre’s Manmohan Singh Govt and the State’s Nitish Govt as well as the police and CBI guilty of shielding those accused and involved in massacres and murders of political activists.

The march started from Patna Radio Station and culminated in a public meeting upon reaching at the Patna Railway Junction. People in march were carrying placards with Ajit Sarkar’s photo, demanding retrial, as in the case of Gujarat, of all those cases in which the accused in massacres and killings of political activists had been acquitted.

Well known economist Prof. Naval Kishore Choudhry, CPI(ML)’s Politburo member and AIALA’s General Secretary Comrade Dhirendra Jha, Party’s town secretary Santosh Sahar, journalist Pushpraj, AIPWA leader Anita SInha, advocate Javed Ahmad, Party leader Murtaza Ali and ward councillor Tota Choudhary among others led the march.

Hailing Comrade Ajit Sarkar as a well known and popular leftist leader of Bihar, Comrade Dhirendra Jha said that he had represented Purnia Assembly Constituency continuously from 1980 till the time he was murdered in 1998 by the criminal-politician nexus. It is extremely shameful that Pappu Yadav, Rajan Tiwari and Anil Yadav have been acquitted by the Patna High Court accused in the murder of a popular leader. This acquittal is all the more serious as the HC says that the CBI could not furnish sufficient evidence against the accused. The HC has already in the past brought this that the Bihar police has not furnished sufficient evidence against the massacre accused. These incidents create an impression that acquitting those involved in massacres and political murders has become a characteristic feature of the Central and State govts.

Other speakers said that after acquitting the criminals of Bathanitola, Narayanpur, Nagri and Khagri Bigha massacres and now the acquittal of the murderers of Ajit Sarkar, a new basis has been laid for feudal violence and criminalisation of politics in Bihar. But the people of Bihar will not tolerate this injustice and in the coming days there will be bigger mobilisations to thwart this design.

Puducherry Protests

Jananayaga Kattumana Thozhilalar Sangam, (AICWF) and Rural Workers Movement (AIALA) jointly organised a road-blockade on 9th May in front of Dy. Collector’s office at Puducherry. The protestors demanded: (1) implementation of MNREGS without delay and interruption in Puducherry and Karaikal districts, and wages to labourers for lay-off days, (2) immediate and free allocation of constructed houses to dalit families, which were built long back and rents for house plots to all BPL families in rural areas, (3) monthly pension of Rs 3000 to all construction workers, (4) immediate withdrawal of Aadhar/UID and DPT which has been made mandatory to avail old age pension, widow pension and LPG subsidy, etc.

Protestors took out a rally led by Comrades RV Lenin, District organizer (AIALA) and P Murugan (AICWF). Comrade S Balasubramanian, National President of AICWF, addressed the rally. The protesters courted arrest and were released later. A massive propaganda was also done in the rural areas of Puducherry to highlight the demands of the agricultural and construction workers.

Freedom Fighter and CPI(ML) Leader Comrade Brij Bihari Lal Passes Away

CPI(ML) Central Committee Expresses Deep Sorrow

C
omrade Brij Bihari Lal, a Freedom fighter and an ex-member of CPI(ML)’s Central Control Commission, died in Pilibhit on 11th May 2013 at the age of 92. Fighting several conditions including cancer, he breathed his last at the King George Medical University’s Gandhi Hospital in Lucknow. At the time of death members of his family and CPI(ML) leaders and activists were present at the hospital.

Comrade Brij Bihari Lal was born on 14 June 1921 in Itauria village under Puranpur Tehsil in Pilibhit district. He was jailed thrice after participating in the Quit India movement of 1942. After the Country won Freedom and he was subsequently released from the jail, he joined the Communist movement. Populary known as Mahashay ji, he was among the founders of the Communist Party in Pilibhit. He took CPI(ML) membership early in 1980’s. Later he became a member of the Party’s Central Control Commission. He struggled all his life for betterment of toilers and poor and for revolutionary change and remained a Party member till the very end of his life.

His struggle with death was a long one and just a few days back while on hospital bed he tried to entertain others with these lines:

“92 varsh kiye hain puray, hum ab bhi jiye jaate hain

Ae maut, tujhe hum baar-baar challenge kiye jaate hain!”

(have completed 92, still I go on; O’ death I’m challenging you on and on”)

CPI(ML)’s Central Committee expressing deep sorrow at this loss to the Communist movement, held his contributions for the Communist movement and the Party in high esteem. The CC statement said that he was deeply loved and respected in the Party. The CC shares the grief of his family members and his close comrades and pledges to fulfil his unfinished tasks.

The cremation was held on 12th May in his home-town of Puranpur in which a large number of leaders and activists of the Party including State Secretary Comrade Sudhakar Yadav, CCM Comrade Krishna Yadav were present. The State Administration separately presented a ‘Guard of Honour’. A large number of people assembled at the cremation also bid adieu to the to the departed leader.

Long Live The Legacy of Comrade BB Lal !

Adieu Dear Comrade !

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

MLU-16-22.doc

MLU-16-22.pdf

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