ML Update | No. 31 | 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.18 | No. 31 | 28 JUL – 3 AUG 2015

The Competitive Lies of Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar

Election Commission is yet to announce the schedule for the forthcoming elections to the Bihar State Assembly. But the stage has already been set and the whole of urban Bihar is dotted with Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi billboards. Amit Shah has flagged off BJP campaign vehicles to traverse the whole of Bihar and millions of ‘NaMo’ printed saris have also been shipped from Surat to flood the state. And on July 25 Narendra Modi paid his first visit to Bihar after becoming PM to fire the BJP’s election salvo. Two days later, it was the turn of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to respond – Lalu responded with a Bihar bandh on the SECC issue and Nitish Kumar with what he called the report card for his ten years in power. Let us take a quick look at how the battle lines are being drawn in Bihar.

Narendra Modi’s Muzaffarpur speech was just like one of his poll speeches from his 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign. Modi did not seem to remember that his party actually ruled in Bihar in alliance with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) for as long as eight years from 2005 to 2013! He did not even care for the fact that he was speaking as the Prime Minister and that across the country people were protesting against the growing price-rise and agrarian distress under his government and demanding resignations of his own central ministers and his party’s chief ministers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh over the very issue of corruption which he had promised to end.

Modi made the same appeal to the Bihar electorate which had failed spectacularly in Delhi in January that people should vote for the BJP in the state because it was in power at the Centre! The idea that development could be best ensured by having the same party in power in both Centre and states smacks of utter contempt for the principles and spirit of both democracy and federalism. It is time Modi’s much touted thesis of ‘cooperative federalism’ was renamed as ‘coercive federalism’ and the obnoxious attempt to browbeat the people in state elections by brandishing the powers of the central government was rejected resoundingly.

Taking a leaf out of Modi’s 2014 Lok Sabha campaign, Nitish Kumar has also launched a propaganda blitzkrieg projecting himself as the messiah for Bihar. In a report card on his ten years of rule he has claimed that his government has brought about significant progress in education and health, two sectors that are actually facing a grave crisis in Bihar. With characteristic arrogance, Nitish Kumar said that those who are questioning his development claims should get their ‘eyes operated’! The fact remains that the Nitish Kumar government continues to face sustained agitations by people engaged precisely in the two sectors where he claims significant progress – education and health. And his government has only resorted to lathis and lies to deal with the demands and agitations of contract teachers, mid-day meal workers, ASHA activists.

Nitish Kumar’s hollow claims have been exposed most recently by the rural development data of the SECC conducted between 2011 and 2013 which shows Bihar is still 90 per cent rural, and the overwhelming majority of rural households are landless. The survey conducted by the CPI(ML) among two lakh rural poor households in 2014 had found that more than 90% of the households had not got any benefit from the land reform programmes of the state government. In fact, Nitish Kumar now keeps conspicuously quiet about his abandoned promise of land redistribution and rights for share-croppers, the objective with which his government had set up the land reforms commission only to unceremoniously consign its report to the dustbin.

Nitish Kumar had promised not just ‘development’ but ‘development with justice’. And justice has been one of the biggest casualties of his tenure. He began his rule by dismantling the Justice Amir Das Commission set up in the wake of the heinous Laxmanpur Bathe massacre to bring the perpetrators of the serial massacres of the rural poor to justice and the end result was wholesale serial acquittal of culprits. A recent report on the riot survivors of Bhagalpur revealed a similar picture of injustice and neglect. Good governance or ‘sushashan’ was another catch phrase of Nitish Kumar and the recent ‘face-saving’ arrest of two notorious JDU MLAs – Anant Singh and Sunil Pandey – only exposed the true face of that ‘sushashan’ where corruption ruled the roost and politically empowered economic criminals called all the shots.

The BJP and the JD(U) are trying to reduce the Bihar elections to a spectacle of a bipolar personality-based contest between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, thereby drowning out the real issues and burning questions haunting the people on the ground. The CPI(ML) and other Left forces in the state will have to foil this game plan by bringing to the fore the might and agenda of the fighting people of Bihar. The mass response to the July 21 Bihar bandh at the call of the Left showed the appeal and potential of the united Left campaign in Bihar. The Left ranks must carry forward this spirit and project the real agenda of democracy and social transformation with all their strength.

Left Parties’ Bihar Bandh on 21 July

The Left parties organized a Bihar bandh on the issues of revoking the Land ordinance, resignations of scam-tainted Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje and Sushma Swaraj, curbing price rise, legal rights for sharecroppers, 5 decimals homestead land for the poor, registration of BPL names and other issues.

During the bandh CPI-ML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI-ML State Secretary Kunal, PB member Dhirendra Jha, CPI State Secretary Satyanarayan Singh, CPIM State Secretary Awadhesh Kumar, SUCI (C) State committee member Arun Kumar, Mahesh Singh of the RSP and Dinesh Singh Dangi of the Forward Bloc along with thousands of other bandh supporters were arrested in Patna.

Other leaders who participated in the bandh included CPI leaders Ramnaresh Pandey, Rambabu Singh, and several others from CPI; CPI-M State Secretary Board member Arun Mishra, Com. Sadhna from the SUCI(C), and CPI-ML leaders Com. Amar, Meena Tiwari, and Shashi Yadav. The arrests took place when bandh supporters blocked Dak Bangla crossroads, and Ashok Raj Path.

The bandh supporters targeted the train services throughout Bihar. CPI-ML activists stopped the Shramjeevi Express at Rajgir. Train services were affected with the blocking of the Howrah-Gaya Express in Shekhpura, the Vaishali superfast at Muzaffarpur, and other trains.

300 bandh supporters kept the GT Road at Sasaram blocked from 9 am to 12 noon. The NH5, NH 57 and NH 28 in Muzaffarpur, the Laheriya-Samastipur, Darbhanga-Supoul, Darbhanga-Jaynagar, Laheriyaserai-Bahedi roads in Darbhanga, the Siwan-Mashrakh, Siwan-Chhapra, and NH 57 at Siwan were blocked at various places. All the bazaars at Mairwa, Guthni, Aandar, Raghunathpur, Hasanpura and other places remained closed. The Rasoiya Sangh (mid-day meal workers) participated in the bandh at Siwan under its banner. Most of the block HQs and even the banks at Muzaffarpur remained closed. The NH 57 at Darbhanga were blocked at Mufti and the Darbhanga-Jaynagar was blocked at Dome chowk.

About 500 Left activists took out a march at Aurangabad. The bandh was very effective at Obra, Daudnagar and other areas. CPI-ML activists blocked the NH 31 at Beguserai. Traffic was paralysed at NH 110. At Katihar the Shaheed chowk was blocked and a meeting was held under the leadership of former CPI-ML MLA Mahboob Alam, attended by thousands of bandh supporters.

The Patna-Ranchi NH 31 at Biharsharif in Nalanda district, the Patna-Gaya road at Hilsa, and the Patna-Biharsharif road at Chandi were blocked. The NH 28 was blocked at Chatoni chowk in Motihari. 150 people were arrested at Raksol. Thousands of bandh supporters were arrested at Prajatantra chowk at Navada. Most shops remained closed and traffic was affected at Lakhiserai. Left activists blocked the Darog Rai chowk at Chhapra for 3 hours. The Patna-Aurangabad NH 98 at Arwal and the Arwal-Jehanabad road were fully blocked.

The bandh had a widespread effect in the Patna rural areas of Masaurhi, Bihata, Maner, Fatuha, Dhanrua, Paliganj, and Punpun. The bandh was also effective at Buxar, Vaishali, Gaya, Bhabhua, Purnea, Arariya, Champaran, and other regions.

Left parties congratulated the people of Bihar on the success of the bandh. They condemned the attack by BJP activists on bandh supporters in Siwan and the arrests in Patna.

Mercy Petition for Yakub Memon by Eminent Citizens

The CPI(ML) Liberation General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and Politburo member Kavita Krishnan joined eminent jurists, activists and citizens in sending a mercy petition to the President of India against Yakub Memon’s death sentence.

The petition, while seeking commutation of Yakub Memon’s death sentence and pointing out various lacunae in the justice system and mitigating factors as grounds for mercy, also made a strong case for abolition of the death penalty in India, in keeping with the international commitment to abolish the death penalty.

The 200 signatories to the petition, along with Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya and Kavita Krishnan, include CPI(M) GS Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader and MP D. Raja, CPI(M) Politburo members Prakash Karat and Brinda Karat, Justice Panachand Jain (Retd), Justice H.S. Bedi (Retd), Justice P. B. Sawant (Retd), Justice H. Suresh (Retd), Justice K. P. Siva Subramaniam (Retd), Justice S. N. Bhargava (Retd), Justice K Chandru (Retd), Justice Nagmohan Das (Retd), Prashant Bhushan, Shatrughan Sinha MP, Mani Shankar Aiyer, MP, Ram Jethmalani, MP, Majeed Memon, MP, K.T.S Tulsi, MP, several academicians, lawyers, activists, filmmakers and actors including Naseeruddin Shah and Mahesh Bhatt.

Comrade Charu Mazumdar Martyrdom Day Commemorated

Party units all over the country observed the Martyrdom Day of comrade Charu Mazumdar and pledged to carry forward his mission and legacy. In Charu Bhawan, the party headquarters at Delhi, comrades observed two minutes silence to pay tributes to the martyrs. Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said on the occasion that Charu Mazumdar was a visionary who while building and tempering the party in the spirit of the revolutionary upsurge of Naxalbari, also prepared the ranks for facing the repression and crackdown unleashed by the Indian state. In the face of the setback to the revolutionary campaign in the early 1970s he had the indomitable courage and revolutionary optimism to envision a future upsurge and call upon the party to resist the offensive of the ruling classes by forging ever closer ties with the masses and developing united resistance in cooperation with wider democratic forces. His last message “People’s interest is the Party’s interest” remains a cardinal principle for the CPI(ML). Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, member Politburo, also addressed the gathering.

Condemn the Gurdaspur Terror Attack

The CPI(ML) condemns the heinous terror attack at Gurdaspur in Punjab. The 12-hour gun battle claimed the lives of four policemen, including SP (Detective) Baljeet Singh and three civilians. CPI(ML) extends condolences to the families of all the seven victims of this attack.

The terrorist agencies behind this attack must be identified and punished.

Evidently, the intention of such attacks is to vitiate the environment for peace in the sub-continent and derail the dialogue between India and Pakistan. While condemning the terror attack, we therefore also reject the jingoism and war-mongering of the hawks and call upon the Indian Government not to allow the terror attack to succeed in derailing efforts at furthering peace and dialogue.

Mahadharna at Dhanbad District Headquarters

Disturbed by agitations to rid the Jamuniya cold dump (in Baghmara block of Dhanbad) of the extortionist mafia and demand employment for local villagers, the outsourcing company slapped a false case against CPI (ML) leader Com. Baldev Verma. Comrade Baldev was jailed at the behest of BJP MLA Dhullu Mahto and the BCCL Manager.

A mahadharna was organized on 16 July under the leadership of the CPI (ML) in front of the District headquarters to protest against this. Over 200 people participated in the protest, many of whom were residents of Baghmara.

Com. Verma, influenced by the Party struggles in Bagodar Assembly constituency of Giridih district, left the JMM to join the CPI (ML). This is why he is being targeted with false cases (including a fabricated case under the SC/ST Act) and jail.

The mahadharna demanded the immediate release of Com. Verma, revoking the false case, and action against the guilty Baghmara police (including the DSP). If these demands are not met the Party will carry out a “Jail Bharo Abhiyan” (campaign to court arrest). he Dhanbad SP, accepting the charter of demands, gave the assurance that the false and baseless charge under the SC/ST Act would be withdrawn. The meeting was addressed by Comrades Krishna Singh, Subal Das, Radhamohan Singh, Kartik Hadi, and also by Com. Verma’s wife Parvati Devi.

Adivasi Ekta Rally in Gujarat

A huge adivasi ekta rally and public meeting was organized under the banner of the AIPF on 6 July 2015 in Kaprada taluka of Valsad district in South Gujarat. The rally was attended in large numbers by adivasi agricultural labourers and poor farmers, with CPI(ML) as a major constituent of the rally. Over 60% of the rally was comprised of adivasi women.

The rally raised the demand of a stop to the Gujarat Government’s policy of facilitating grab of adivasi land by land mafias; documents for adivasis for rights to agricultural and residential land under the Forest Rights Act; BPL cards for poor adivasi families of Kaprada taluk and 25 kilos of foodgrains at Rs 2 per kilo under the Food Security Act; enquiry into the widespread corruption in MNREGA and issuing of job cards; crop insurance without premium for adivasi farmers; pension for all aged women and men farmers of Kaprada taluka; repair of roads; pukka toilets in all adivasi homes in Kaprada taluka under the cleanliness drive; simplification of income certificates for adivasi students with a validity for a minimum of 3 years; housing for adivasis under “garib awaas” scheme, failing which adequate funds for housing be disbursed; arrest of land mafia elements under PASA; and a special women’s team to report directly to the women’s commission or the High Court on growing violence and atrocities against adivasi women.

The CPI(ML) along with other people’s movements have been consistently supporting the adivasis’ resistance to the Gujarat Government’s offensive on their rights. This struggle now continues, also resisting the Land Acquisition ordinance of the Central Government. After the public meeting which followed the rally, a memorandum was submitted to the Magistrate.

10th Delhi CPI(ML) State Conference

The 10th Delhi State Conference of CPI (ML) was held on 25-26 July 2015 in the MCD Community Hall, Azadpur, Delhi.

The Conference began with the hoisting of the red flag by veteran Comrade Mulk Raj.

CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya inaugurated the Conference. In his inaugural address, he observed that Delhi has been the axis of political tumult in the past few years, as an axis of several movements and the axis of regime change. The Modi Government at the Centre is attacking democratic rights of people, and the AAP Government has exposed itself as having very superficial differences with other ruling class parties. Our party activists were at the forefront of the movements that Delhi witnessed, and it is important now to strengthen the party organisation and carry forward the movements on the streets.

125 delegates attended the conference and participated in the deliberations on the report that was presented by the outgoing Delhi Secretary Sanjay Sharma. The document carried reporting of the work of the party and various mass organisations in the state.

Uttarakhand State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi, AICCTU General Secretary Rajiv Dimri, Politburo member Prabhat Kumar, Chandigarh Secretary Kanwaljeet, as well as Girija Pathak from the Party Central Office, attended the Conference as guests. Comrade Girija addressed the Conference to share some observations and suggestions, while Comrade Kanwaljeet shared the Chandigarh experience of party building in an urban context.

The Conference elected a 29 member state committee with Ravi Rai as the State Secretary. Comrade Swapan Mukherjee was the central observer for the Conference. The Conference adopted several resolutions: demanding independent probe into Vyapam and Lalitgate scams; resolving to resist the Modi Government’s offensive on human rights activists like Teesta Setalvad and its bid to weaken the cases of terrorism in which groups close to the RSS are implicated; opposing anti-worker changes proposed in labour laws and land grab ordinance, and supporting the call for all-India General Strike on 2 September; and condemning communal violence in Atali and attempts to foment communal tension in Delhi. The resolutions also condemned the attempts of the Delhi LG to set himself up as an agent of the Centre and parallel power centre. Condemning the heinous incident of public murder of a young girl in Anand Parvat, Delhi and the Delhi Police’s apathy, the Conference reminded that Kejriwal today was peddling the same excuse as Sheila Dixit before him – blaming lack of women’s safety on the Delhi Government’s lack of control over Delhi Police. The Conference declared that LG and Delhi CM both wanted to have the police in their respective pockets, while the Delhi Police Commissioner wanted the police to have no accountability whatsoever. Instead, the people’s demand must be for police reforms to make the police accountable to the Constitutional rights and liberties of people. In this context, the Conference also sought an SIT into the Batla House fake encounter, on the same lines as the SIT that has been set up in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. The Conference also demanded commutation of the death penalty for Yakub Memon. The Conference, while appreciating the special Delhi Assembly Session on women’s safety, said that the Delhi Government was reducing the question of women’s freedom and safety to CCTV cameras and policing. The Conference demanded measures from the Government to guarantee economic rights of women, as well as crisis centres and legal aid for women facing domestic and sexual violence; creches for slum children; and public toilets for women. The Conference also demanded that the Delhi Government act on the Justice Garg Committee report that had found AAP MLA Somnath Bharti guilty for the violent raid on African women at Khidki village. The Conference condemned incidents of communal, caste, racial and ethnic discrimination by landlords, and demanded legislation to curb such discrimination as well as arbitrary rents by Delhi landlords. Expressing concern over the dangerous levels of pollution in Delhi, the Conference condemned the decision of the AAP Government to scrap the BRT bus corridors under pressure from the elite 20% of car-users. The Conference resolved to agitate against the AAP Government’s failure to keep its promises to make contract workers permanent, and to implement minimum wage laws strictly, and to ensure clean and dignified housing as a right of every single Delhi citizen. The Conference condemned the CBCS policy of the Central Government that threatens to destroy the autonomy and quality of India’s universities.

The Conference concluded with the resolve to expand and strengthen the party organisation in Delhi and prepare the party to rise up to the political challenges of the day in keeping with the guidelines of Lucknow Workshop.

CPI(ML) Condoles the Passing of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

CPI(ML) condoles the passing of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong. Coming from a humble background Kalam had struggled hard to secure higher education and rise through India’s scientific establishment. His emphasis on science and technology, work ethic and unassuming persona endeared him to the Indian youth as a welcome departure from the traditional image of an Indian President. The Indian state of course used him predominantly as a military scientist and nuclear hawk while ignoring his inconvenient views on issues like abolition of death penalty. While remembering Kalam, we strongly reject the RSS attempt at appropriating Kalam to serve its jingoistic and majoritarian agenda.

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