ML Update 15-16 / 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 15-16 9-15 APR 2014

On the 45th Party Foundation Day

Let’s Resolve to Carry Forward the Heroic Legacy of Our Party and
Fallen and Departed Comrades!

April 22, 2014 marks 45 years of the foundation of CPI(ML). This year, the entire party is in the midst of an electoral battle, where our agenda reflects the party’s foundational principle, articulated by Comrade Charu Mazumdar, that “the people’s interests are the party’s interests.” Even as we take on the corporate-communal nexus, our party has had to suffer losses and challenges. On the very eve of nominations in the Ara Lok Sabha seat in Bihar, our Charpokhri block secretary Comrade Budhram Paswan was killed by feudal forces. Even as we have put up an impressive showing and a strong bid for a victory in the Koderma Lok Sabha seat in Jharkhand, dalit supporters of CPI(ML) in some booths have been attacked by feudal-criminal supporters of BJP, and candidates and activists in some seats have been attacked by communal and criminal elements.

As the ongoing electoral battle continues, let us give a fitting rebuff to the corporate-communal forces, put our best foot forward, and strive for a powerful assertion of the people’s agenda!

Red Salute to the Historic Legacy of April 22, 1969, and to the Memory of all the Martyrs!

Opinion Polls, Advertisements, Paid News:

Seeking to Manipulate and Distort Voters’ Behaviour

Even as the country prepares to go into the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls, a fresh ‘opinion poll’ has been released, giving the NDA a clear majority. There are several disturbing questions that can be raised about the impact of such ‘opinion polls’ on voting behaviour.

In the first place, the EC has placed a clear restriction on exit polls. But when an opinion poll claims to reflect the opinions of voters in constituencies that have already voted, isn’t the opinion poll a thinly veiled ‘exit poll’? Isn’t it all too likely that voters will perceive such opinion polls as virtual ‘exit polls’?

If an opinion poll shows a particular party or coalition close to achieving a majority, is it not bound to bolster the campaign of that party/coalition to ‘vote to form a stable government rather than hung parliament’? Insidiously, the opinion polls being publicised during elections, are supplementing the BJP-NDA’s aggressive campaign to vote for a stable government led by Modi.

Not long before the elections, the BJP – and most media organisations – had vociferously condemned any talk of restricting opinion polls, as an attack on freedom of expression. Then, too, we had pointed out that opinion polls are not simply mirrors reflecting opinions, they are tools that seek to shape, influence, and organise political opinions. Opinion polls claiming to ‘objectively’ and ‘scientifically’ popular will are very different from editorials, or comments by TV anchors or ‘experts,’ since the latter are self-avowedly subjective. Laypersons or media outfits should be free to express opinions projecting poll outcomes and to persuade others to accept these opinions – but these subjective opinions are likely to affect voters very differently from the ‘objective’ polls presented authoritatively by media houses and various other bodies. Voters can easily assess and process the predictions of the local ‘expert’ at the tea stall or street corner or even the poll ‘pundit’ on the TV news; but lay voters are far more likely to accept at face value, the conclusions of an ‘opinion poll’ that claims to be the opinion of the people, supposedly gathered through scientific methods.

And finally, the opinion polls are highly dubious given their corporate provenance. As it is, newspapers and channels are full of ‘paid news’ – essentially advertisements that are masquerading as ‘news’. Opinion polls generally do not make public their raw data and their methodology; even if they were to do so, laypersons would lack the expertise to assess them. In the case of the latest opinion poll by NDTV, for instance, it emerges that there are possible linkages between Hansa Research, the organisation that has conducted the poll, and APCO, the PR firm that runs Modi’s PR campaign. Both are American firms, and the Director of strategic communication and public affairs for APCO Worldwide in India was formerly CEO with Hansa Public Relations. This raises serious questions about the credibility of the opinion poll, and the possibility of the poll being inflated or manipulated to suit Modi’s PR efforts.

The EC has erred grievously in failing to ban opinion polls during the election period. Even now, corrective measures should be applied and the EC should acknowledge the potential distorting and manipulative effect of opinion polls, and ban them during the election period.

Another cause for concern is the huge, full page advertisements for Narendra Modi that appeared as the covering sleeve of all newspapers on 10th April, the day polls were held in seats in Jharkhand, Bihar and other states. The EC forbids campaigning 48 hours before polls, in order to shield voters from any undue influence immediately before they vote. How is it, then, that huge advertisements for Modi are allowed to reach every voter’s home through the morning newspaper, on the very day of polling?

It is disturbing that in some booths of the Jamua assembly segment of the Koderma LS, dalits were attacked and prevented from casting their vote on 10th April by feudal elements. The Election Commission that has ordered repoll in some booths, has yet to order repoll in booths where this anti-dalit violence has occurred. In Ara LS in Bihar, the EC has declared Agiaon and Tarari Assembly segments as extremist-affected, thereby reducing the voting hours till 4 pm instead of 6 pm. Agiaon and Tarari have no history of being ‘extremist-affected’ for the past 25 years; why have they been declared such now, when the MLAs from Agiaon and Tarari are Shivesh Kumar from the BJP and Sunil Pandey from the JD(U) respectively? The fact is that the only incidents of pre-poll violence in these areas have been the murder of CPI(ML)’s Charpokhri block secretary Budhram Paswan, and popular young teacher Akbar Khan, by feudal-communal criminals. Moreover, the recent acquittals of all the convicts in the Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe massacres committed by the Ranveer Sena, and the resulting release of these convicts, has created fear and terror among the poor from the oppressed castes in these Assembly segments. In these circumstances, why are these Assembly segments being declared ‘extremist affected’? Restricting voting hours will discriminate against poor labouring voters, who are extremely busy during the ongoing harvest season and are also under threat from feudal-communal terror.

Opinion polls, polling-day advertisements, and paid news are all blatant attempts to manipulate voters and vitiate and distort the democratic process. The Election Commission needs to take stronger measures to end all such manipulation, and to protect the rights of voters from dalit, minority, adivasi and other oppressed sections.

CPI(ML) Complaint to Election Commission

To

The Chief Election Commissioner
Election Commission of India

Subject: Decision to declare Agiaon and Tarari assembly segments of Ara LS ‘extremist-affected’ has no basis, and will discriminate against voting rights of the poor

Sir,

We are surprised at the decision of the Election Commission to declare Agiaon and Tarari Assembly segments of the Ara Lok Sabha constituency (Bihar) as extremist-affected, thereby reducing the voting hours till 4 pm instead of 6 pm.

We would also like to point out that Agiaon and Tarari have no history of being ‘extremist-affected.’ The MLAs from Agiaon and Tarari are Shivesh Kumar from the BJP and Sunil Pandey from the JD(U) respectively. The BJP was till recently in power in Bihar and the JDU is still in Government. How come Assembly segments ruled by representatives of these two ruling parties became extremist affected?

We would also like to point out that the only incidents of pre-poll violence in these areas have been the murder of CPI(ML)’s Charpokhri block secretary Budhram Paswan, and popular young teacher Akbar Khan. Feudal-communal criminals are implicated in both these murders. Moreover, the recent acquittals of all the convicts in the Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe massacres committed by the Ranveer Sena, and the resulting release of these convicts, has created fear and terror among the poor from the oppressed castes in these Assembly segments. In these circumstances, why are these Assembly segments being declared ‘extremist affected’?

This is the harvest season – a time when poor agricultural labourers tend to be busy the whole day from early morning onwards. In addition they face intimidation from the feudal-criminal forces. This decision to restrict voting hours would only make it more difficult for them to cast their vote.

We appeal to you to withdraw the decision to declare Agiaon and Tarari extremist-affected; a decision that in effect would be deeply unfair and discriminatory to the poor voters in these Assembly segments.

Sincerely,

Dipankar Bhattacharya

General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation

Confronting the BJP Gameplan in the Hindi Heartland

(Article by CPI(ML) GS Dipankar Bhattacharya that appeared in DNA daily, 14 April 2014)

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are undoubtedly the two most crucial states that will decide the final overall outcome of the battle for the 16th Lok Sabha. The BJP’s ambitious Mission 272 revolves heavily around its desperate game plans to secure a dramatic increase in its tallies in these two key battlegrounds. And indeed, most opinion polls predict rich dividends for the BJP in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. But the ground level signals and campaign trends emerging from these states clearly suggest that the hype and hot air unleashed by the BJP would not fetch it the kind of booty predicted by these polls and propagated by the mainstream corporate media.

In UP, the BJP design has been woven around two key components – the Muzaffarnagar riots and Modi’s Varanasi expedition. The riots indeed fetched rich dividends for the BJP in the Assembly elections in Rajasthan and in rural pockets of Delhi, and now Amit Shah is invoking it openly to harvest votes in UP. The implications of Modi’s foray into Varanasi amidst frenzied chants of ‘Har Har Modi’ are also quite obvious in the light of the old Sangh brigade slogan “Ayodhya toh jhanki hai, Kashi-Mathura baaki hai” (Ayodhya is only a prelude to what is going to happen next in Kashi and Mathura) as much as the unmistakable communal overtone of the Modi campaign and the renewed call for Ram Mandir in the belatedly released BJP manifesto.

As far as Bihar is concerned, the BJP’s poll drive began with Narendra Modi’s highly publicised Hunkaar Rally in Patna in last October. The mysterious blasts and the unfortunate casualties that marked the rally presented the BJP with an emotive platform to launch a high-decibel campaign against perceived threats to Modi’s life – the bogey invoked to legitimise the string of fake encounters in post-genocide Gujarat – and advocate the BJP’s agenda for a hard state. But the inspiring and emphatic mass response to the Khabardar Rally organised by the CPI(ML) just two days after the Modi show went a long way to challenge and defuse the BJP game plan.

The aggressive rise of the BJP in Bihar in recent years has obviously been facilitated to a large extent by the opportunist and capitulationist politics of self-styled crusaders of social justice and secularism. While Nitish Kumar deluded himself with the praises he got initially from the BJP camp, the latter quietly and systematically went about the job of spreading its network and consolidating its grip over the political and bureaucratic establishment in Bihar. By the time Nitish Kumar severed his ties with the BJP – partly because of the inherent incompatibility and unsustainability of the overarching social coalition represented by the BJP-JD(U) combine and partly driven by the calculation of emulating the Naveen Patnaik strategy in Bihar – it was too late.

While Nitish Kumar is trying to chart his own course after faithfully serving the BJP for seventeen long years, Ram Vilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha have rushed with alacrity to claim the slot vacated by Nitish Kumar in the BJP-led coalition. But the opportunist strategy of these self-seeking leaders has failed to enthuse their ranks and the so-called ‘masterstrokes’ do not really seem to be paying off either for the BJP or for its allies. At the end of the day, the BJP has to rely essentially on its predominantly feudal core and its traditional politics of feudal aggression epitomised most notoriously by the Ranveer Sena which had carried out a series of massacres of the rural poor during the reign of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi.

The close organic relationship between the BJP and the Ranveer Sena has always been an open secret in Bihar. One of the first steps the JD(U)-BJP government took after coming to power in November 2005 was to disband the Justice Amir Das Commission which was about to expose the political links of the Ranveer Sena. In recent times the Patna High Court has acquitted en masse all those who had been convicted in connection with massacres perpetrated by the Sena. Brahmeshwar Singh, the notorious chief of the Sena, who was described as Bihar’s Gandhi by BJP leader Giriraj Singh, had expressed his explicit wish to see Modi as PM. Brahmeshwar Singh had contested from Ara as an independent candidate in 2004 when the BJP was not in the fray. And now when the BJP has fielded its own candidate in 2014, Brahmeshwar’s son Indubhushan Singh is supporting the BJP from Ara, choosing instead to contest from Patliputra where the BJP has fielded the former RJD leader Ramkripal Yadav as its candidate!

In a desperate bid to weaken the CPI(ML)’s poll prospects – the party had won from Ara in 1989, finished second in 2004 and third in 2009 – the Sena chose the period of nomination to kill CPI(ML) leader Budhram Paswan. On 24 March, Ara saw two contrasting processions, the cavalcade that accompanied the BJP candidate, former home secretary RK Singh, while filing his nomination, and thousands of people who joined the last journey of their beloved leader Budhram Paswan. CPI(ML) activists are not the only ones who are facing the brunt of the Sena-BJP politics of feudal-communal violence. Popular young teacher Mohammad Akbar Khan who used to offer free tuition to needy students, Hindu and Muslim alike, was gunned down at Piro, the evening before Budhram Paswan was killed in the adjacent Charpokhri block.

At a time when the BJP is trying to vitiate the political atmosphere with its feudal-communal venom and the likes of Nitish Kumar, Ram Vilas Paswan and Lalu Prasad stand exposed and discredited for their politics of opportunism and betrayal of the people’s cause, the Left must step up its independent political role based on struggles for justice, human dignity and people’s rights. Unfortunately, at this crucial juncture the CPI has once again chosen to side with the ruling party, a thoroughly discredited and rapidly declining JD(U), even as the CPI(ML) is spearheading a spirited and powerful Left rebuff in Bihar and Jharkhand to the aggressive and sinister BJP campaign. The suicidal policy of opportunist alliances with regional parties has run its course and the Left must forge ahead on the basis of popular assertion against the growing threat of corporate and communal subversion of democracy.

Dalits prevented from voting in Koderma

(based on report by Anumeha Yadav in The Hindu)

CPI(ML) members have alleged that Dalit villagers were stopped from voting in Jamua in Giridih district in first phase of polling for Koderma constituency in Jharkhand on April 10 by upper-caste landlords and have demanded a re-poll. They alleged that the villagers, including women, were physically assaulted when they arrived at the polling booth. Election Commission officials said they had not received reports that confirmed CPI(ML)’s allegations from their staff.

“We received reports that seals were broken and tampered with in two booths in Bagodar and four in Dhanwar and we will hold re-poll there but we did not receive inputs reporting any incident from Jamua,” said Chief Electoral Officer PK Jajoria.

“When we reached the polling station, several men attacked us with lathis. One of them assaulted me on the chest and stopped me from casting my vote, ten persons from the village got injured, five were bleeding,” said Uma Devi a Dalit farmer from Gardi village in Giridih’s Jamua block. CPI(ML) Politburo member Manoj Bhakta said the party had registered an FIR against Suraj Narayan Dev who led the men whom he alleged injured 10 villagers.

“There are six assembly seats in the Koderma consituency and six booths were captured. The administration is anti-Dalit and are siding with feudal powers in this area,” alleged CPI(ML)’s Koderma candidate Raj Kumar Yadav. “We were encouraging the villagers to vote as they think right but Suraj Narayan’s goons did not let them,” said Sunil Singh a CPI(ML) worker in Jamua. When the villagers asserted that they would vote for the candidates of their choice, the landlords became angry. For years they had suppressed them and dictated whom they should vote for, he added.

CPI(ML) Activists Attacked by BJP-backed Criminals in Bihar

In the Araria Lok Sabha seat in Bihar, criminals backed by the BJP attacked CPI(ML) candidate Sanjay Rishidev in Simraha Rahika village of Narpatganj thana. The man who led the attack is the brother of the local BJP block pramukh. Also in Bihar, in the Raghopur village of Raniya Talab thana of the Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat, the BJP-backed criminals attacked the CPI(ML)’s campaign van. The village is that of BJP leader Janardan Sharma. CPI(ML) activists are braving these attacks in order to resist the corporate-communal forces.

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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