A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 48, 22 – 28 NOVEMBER 2011
Unfolding Colours Of TMC Rule In Bengal
As Mamata Banerjee completes her first six months in office, the people of West Bengal now have a fairly good idea of the shape of things to come. In a systematic reversal of her poll promises, Mamata Banerjee has now launched a full-scale repressive campaign in Jangalmahal. The joint operation which she claims had been effectively 'suspended' to 'give peace a chance' has been resumed in full swing. And this is accompanied by Mamata's own version of 'Salwa Judum' complete with recruitment of 'special police officers' and a TMC-backed vigilante force in the name of 'Bhairav Vahini', a veritable TMC-style replica of the erstwhile CPI(M)-sponsored band of armed storm-troopers known notoriously as 'harmad vahini' in West Bengal.
If this looks like the standard format of Operation Greenhunt, the kind of tirade Mamata has launched against Maoists and their sympathisers, trying to whip up a veritable anti-communist witch-hunt, can only remind us of the McCarthy era in the US and Bengal's own experience of fascist repression in the 1970s. She has described the Maoists as 'mafia' and as being more dangerous than terrorists. She and her lieutenants constantly refer to the Maoists as a foreign-backed threat, implicating almost all of India's neighbours – China, Pakistan, Nepal, all included. And now she has gone to the extent of asking the people to keep tabs on whatever transpires at the Coffee House, Jadavpur University and Basanta Cabin, iconic centres of Kolkata's cultural identity and Left discourse. Even those who speak in favour of Maoists will not be spared, she has said on record.
Having come to power by riding on the support of the 'civil society' and large sections of Bengal's left-leaning cultural world, this is Mamata Banerjee's way of paying off her debt! Before elections she had promised to release all political prisoners and settle the grievances of the people of Jangalmahal. Now she has shelved even the truncated list of political prisoners recommended for release by the committee reviewing the issue, and the interlocutors entrusted with the job of facilitating negotiations with the Maoists have been left with no other option but to offer to resign. But while she refuses to release political prisoners, she personally storms the police station in her neighbourhood to get her own 'TMC boys' released.
Mamata would of course like to cover her anti-democratic campaign in the characteristic garb of TMC-style populism. But the limits of populism have also started showing. Her surprise visits to hospitals have brought no relief to the helpless people, who continue to suffer, and the conditions of the state's crumbling healthcare sector continue to deteriorate. Her silence on the issue of corruption has been as eloquent as her shrill campaign against communists. And her threat to pull out of the UPA government at the Centre over the petrol price hike has been exposed to be only sound and fury, signifying nothing. Meanwhile, her government carries out every policy of the Centre that has been snatching away the livelihood and rights of the toiling masses.
Before the elections Mamata Banerjee had shrewdly dropped her original slogan 'lal hatao' and made all kinds of pro-Left overtures to broaden her base and neutralise her old anti-Left image. The SUCI, the Maoists and many left-leaning intellectuals fell for this trap and endorsed Mamata as the change that Bengal needed. Now that Mamata has chosen to take on the Maoists, the CPI(M) sees this as vindication of its own stand and would like to egg her on. Both Maoists and the CPI(M) have little concern about the real implications of Mamata's systematic assault on democracy. Having once again demonstrated their utter political bankruptcy, Maoists would like to pretend it is business as usual by indulging in killings that would only strengthen Mamata's anti-Maoist campaign, while the CPI(M) would seek to score points by making empty "We-told-you-so" boasts.
Revolutionary communists and committed democrats must never lose sight of the larger picture. Arrests of trade union leaders, attacks on trade union meetings and offices, eviction of sharecroppers and small peasants and agricultural labourers, and factional clashes among rival TMC groups in various parts of Bengal portend a grim situation that calls for consistent vigilance and determined opposition. The CPI(ML) must take all-out initiative at this juncture to defend the people of Bengal and their democratic rights in the face of this systematic assault. All sincere and fighting forces of the Left will have to be mobilised in this battle for defending democracy and rebuilding the Left.
Bhrastachar Mitao-Loktantra Bachao Rally in Bihar
Massive Turnout in CPI(ML)'s Rally at Patna
Thousands of peasants and workers from all over Bihar poured into Patna to participate in CPI(ML)'s "Bhrastachar Mitao-Loktantra Bachao" rally (Finish Corruption-Save Democracy Rally) at the historic Gandhi Maidan on 21 November. This is the largest rally in Bihar against the Nitish-led NDA Govt. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, leader of CPM Punjab and Comrade Arun Ghatani, leader of CPRM Darjeeling also attended the rally as our esteemed guests. The rally observed a minutes silence in memory of the martyrs. Cultural troupe Hirawal performed revolutionary songs.
The massive assembly of Bihar's rural poor and Party activists from all districts and several towns was addressed by Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya (General Secretary of the Party), Arun Ghatani (CPRM Darjeeling), Mangat Ram Pasla (CPM Punjab), Rajaram Singh (CPIML's CCM and General Secretary of the All India Kisan Mahasabha), Meena Tiwari (Party's CCM and General Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association), Rameshwar Prasad (Party's CCM and President of the All India Agricultural Labourers' Association), KD Yadav (Party's CCM and Bihar State President of the AIKM), Arun Singh (member of Party's State Standing Committee), Mahbub Alam (Party's State Committee member) and Satyadeo Ram (Party's SCM and Bihar State President of AIALA). Comrade Rameshwar Prasad conducted the proceedings of the rally and public meeting. Also present on the dais were several senior-most leaders of CPI(ML), including- Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya, Ramji Rai, DP Bakshi, Kartik Pal, Ram Jatan Sharma, Amar (all Politburo members), Dhirendra Jha (AIALA's General Secretary and Party's CCM), Brij Bihari Pandey, Kunal and Saroj Chaubey (Party CCMs). Apart from them State leaders of mass organisations were also present.
Addressing the rally, CPI(ML) General Secretary said that the massive gathering of peasants and workers in this rally from remote places of Bihar shows that a huge force of peasants and workers is united under the red flag of CPI(ML) in its Country-wide movement against corruption and on the back of this militant force Bihar is marching ahead to play a bigger role in the Country-wide movement against corruption.
He said that the Nitish Kumar government had prepared a weak draft for Lokayukta in Bihar which would have no power to investigate the cases involving high profile personalities including top bureaucrats. The process of selection of the Lokayukta was also framed in such a way that there would be complete control of the government over it. Calling for CBI enquiries into AC-DC Bill scam, BIADA land scam and Forbesganj police firing, he said that a empowered, people's Lokayukta was needed in Bihar and not a sarkari one. He ended his speech by stating that we will beat back the feudal-communal forces in Bihar with the united strength of peasants and workers, and calling for demonstrations of agricultural labourers and peasants at every district headquarter on 15 December.
Towards its conclusion the rally passed a seven point resolution that was proposed by AISA leader Abhyuday. The rally reiterated its resolve to intensify the ongoing Country-wide struggle "Finish Corruption, Save Land, Save Democracy". The rally appealed to the peasantry, workers, women, student and youth of the Country to expose the farce of the Govts in the name of fighting corruption, uproot the policies that facilitate corporate loot and plunder of our land, forests and natural resources and to take the fight to establish people's right over people's resources to a new height. The rally condemned the NATO bombing of Libya and killing of Colonel Gaddafi and IS-led imperialist intervention in Africa. The rally also stated its heartiest support of the OWS and condemned the violence on OWS participants by the police and Obama administration. Several other resolutions calling for removal of AFSPA, urgent formation of Second States Reorganisation Commission, enactment of a strong Jan Lokpal Bill etc were also passed by the rally.
4th National Conference of AIALA at Patna
The Conference began with the hoisting of the red flag and homage to the martyrs. Hirawal, Comrade Ramashankar Nirmohi and Babuni, and cultural activists from Karnataka presented rousing revolutionary songs. Comrade Rameshwar Prasad, National President of AIALA, gave the welcome address.
The Presidium comprised of Comrades Pawan Sharma, Krishna Adhikari, Bhagwant Singh Samaon, Phool Chand Dhewa, and others.
On the dais were Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML), Arun Ghatani of Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM), Rajaram Singh, GS, AIKM, and Meena Tiwari, GS, AIPWA. The Conference was inaugurated by Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya.
Comrade Dhirendra Jha, the outgoing GS of AIALA, presented the Conference report, which was discussed by delegates. 1388 delegates from 15 states – participated in the Conference.
The Conference rejected the Draft Food Security Bill proposed by the Government as a mockery, since it is a far cry from guaranteeing food security and in fact proposes replacing rations with cash, and resolved to build a countrywide struggle of rural poor demanding universalisation of PDS and guarantee of 50 kg of food grain as well as pulses, vegetables, milk, oil and other essentials as subsidized rations. The Conference condemned the fact that the Government had yet to withdraw the infamous 'Rs.26-Rs.32' poverty line. The Government had merely said that some above this line would also be entitled to food rations. The Conference instead demanded that the vast majority of the population excluding the unquestionably rich, be included in the BPL list – with automatic inclusion of all agricultural workers, landless, sharecroppers, marginal farmers, contract and honorarium workers. The Conference demanded provision of subsidized food rations as well as all other social welfare benefits to this BPL section of people. The Conference demanded that the questionnaire for BPL census be prepared with consultation with agricultural workers' organizations and trade unions. The Conference announced a countrywide campaign with the slogan – 'Awaken the Poor: Let No Poor Be Left Out, And No Rich Find a Place in the BPL List'.
On the question of corruption in MNREGA and other rural welfare schemes, and well as inclusion of all the poor in the BPL list, the Conference announced a countrywide protest at block HQs on 15 December. In Bihar, the AIALA would gherao the block HQs on this question.
The Conference demanded a comprehensive legislation for the welfare and rights of agricultural labourers. Noting the callousness of state and central Governments towards rural healthcare (especially the instance of the encephalitis epidemic in Uttar Pradesh and high maternal mortality all over India), the Conference demanded comprehensive rural healthcare as a priority.
Addressing the Conference, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that legacy of Comrade Ram Naresh Ram would inspire the struggles of rural workers and poor even though he is no longer with us. Agricultural workers, he said, are not just struggling for their own rights; their struggle is in fact to save agriculture, save the country. He cited the instance of the Kaun Banega Crorepati winner from Bihar being declared the brand ambassador of MNREGA, saying that in doing so, the Government has unwittingly revealed the truth – that MNREGA, far from being a job guarantee, is in fact a lottery. He said that MNREGA should, in fact, provide jobs round the year, for at least 300 days a year, and the MNREGA wage should not be less than Rs 300 a day. There is merit in the argument that MNREGA be extended to agriculture, so that it can contribute to combating the agricultural crisis.
He called for land reforms, housing rights, as well as education and health rights for rural poor. He said that AIALA needs to develop continuity as an organization that works round the year to give shape to the aspirations and struggles of rural poor. The initiative of rural labour activists in the villages needs to be unleashed. Even while fighting for small issues, he said, we should be inspired by big dreams and revolutionary vision, striving to make those dreams of a bigger, stronger AIALA and more vibrant struggles for a new society and politics, a reality.
The Conference unanimously adopted the report after Comrade Dhirendra's summing up of the debates. A 175-member national council was elected with a 47-member executive, and Comrades Rameshwar Prasad and Dhirendra Jha were reelected National President and General Secretary respectively.
Peasants' Protest at Manure Godown in Darbhanga
Scores of peasants held a militant protest under the banner of the Darbhanga unit of All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM), against the rampant black marketeering and shortages in manure. They held an indefinite gherao of the manure godown at Darbhanga, where thousands of bags of potash and DAP manure were stored but not distributed among peasants.
The gherao was led by Shivan Yadav, district president of AIKM and CPI(ML) block secretary Abhishek Kumar. The gherao began on 15 November, intimating the local administration. The manure sellers, alarmed at the gherao, began putting pressure on the farmers, but the latter refused to leave till manure bags were distributed. They spent the night in the open in spite of the chill. By next morning news of the gherao had spread and a large number of peasants from nearby villages came to join the protest. Eventually the administration was forced to open the godown and distribute thousands of bags of manure. Peasants saved between Rs 400-Rs600 per bag as a result of this movement.
Peasants gained confidence in this struggle and have resolved to strengthen the AIKM in the district.
TN: Protests against Transport Fare Hike and Price Rise
People of TN were dealt with a rude shock by the Jayalalitha government with its announcement and overnight implementation of bus fare hike of 40 to 100 percent and rise in milk price of 30-50%. Rubbing salt to the wound, Jayalalitha also announced that there will soon be a revision in power tariff with a hike to the tune of 110%.
These hikes in the essential commodities and services have really broken the back of the toiling people of the state. Many daily wagers were in for a rude shock next day to find bus fares hiked beyond the amount they were carrying. People spontaneously blocked the roads at many places in the State against the anti-people hike. Rate of the monthly bus pass went up by 40% and the pass users were asked to pay extra charges immediately.
On the day of announcement and implementation, 18 November, more than 500 Pricol workers immediately staged a demonstration at two centres in Coimbatore, demanding withdrawal of fare hike and milk price immediately and they raised slogans against Jayalalitha Govt like 'Civic Elections are Over so the Real Face of Amma has Come Out'. AICCTU State General Secretary Com. NK Natarajan, NWC Member Com. Gurusami and State Secretary Com. N Krishnamurthi led these protests.
On the same day comrades in Namakkal led by Com. A Govindaraj, SCM of the Party, organized a demonstration. Comrades in Salem released posters. On 19th November more than 200 workers of TIDC held a demonstration and demanded immediate withdrawal of the hike and warned against any hike in power tariff. They also condemned the Jayalalitha government for arbitrarily dismissing 13,000 State Welfare employees in a stroke.
On 20th November AISA and RYA held a demonstration in Chennai in which over 150 students, youth and workers participated. Com. Bharathi, SCM of the Party and AISA State President led this protest.
Protest demonstration was held in Ambattur on 22 November with more than 100 workers participating and raising slogans against the refusal of Jayalalitha government to withdraw the hikes even after protest all over the State. They demanded the hikes should be withdrawn immediately. Com. S Sekar, SCM of the Party addressed the demonstration. Comrades in Tirunelveli also held a demonstration on 22nd November. Com. T Sankarapandian, SCM of the Party led this demonstration.
Aadvani's Rathyatra Opposed in Uttarakhand
CPI(ML) held a demonstration and meeting at Ambedkar Park in Haldwani on 18 November – the day when LK Advani's cavalcade reached Haldwani – to protest BJP's double standard on corruption and its attempt to fool the people through Advani's 'anti-corruption' road tour. Uttarakhand's ex-CM Nishank, involved in several corruption scandals, who had to resign owing to the accusations of corruption, also adorned Mr. Advani's 'anti-corruption' rath.
Addressing the protest meeting, CPI(ML)'s State incharge Comrade Raja Bahuguna said that the leader of BJP whose two CMs had to resign, in Uttarakhand the ministers during Nishank cabinet whose names have figured in corruption are still continuing, is trying the fascist of deceiving the people. Advani, whose rath yatras have history of inciting communal violence, this time is trying to ride the wave of anti-corruption anger of people of the Country. Comrade Raja said that Advani wants to fulfil his personal ambition of being a PM with the help of corporate houses.
The meeting was also addressed by peasant leader Bahadur Singh Jangi, KK Bora (State's AICCTU General Secretary), student leader Lalit Matiyali, youth leader Pankaj Tiwari among others.
Left Parties in Uttarakhand for a Broader Left-Democratic Front against the BJP-Congress
The State leaders of the CPI(ML), CPI and the CPI(M) held a meeting at CPI(ML)'s State Office at Haldwani on 17 November. Comrade Raja Bahuguna of CPI(ML), State Secretary of CPI(M) Comrade Vijay Rawat and CPI's National Council member Comrade Samar Bhandari were present in the meeting. After the meeting the three leaders released a joint statement that said – "There cannot be an effective alternative to BJP-Congress in Uttarakhand without the Left Parties. No front that does not have the Left parties at its core will be able to sustain for long".
The statement further stated – "In the last eleven years, after the formation of the State, the BJP and Congress' main contribution has been to institutionalise corruption in the State. Most of the political streams in the State have become infected with the culture of commission and dalali (brokerage), the political culture spawned by the BJP and Congress from top to panchayat level. Therefore, the strong alternative that is required against this political culture of BJP and Congress can only come from the Left parties."
The leaders' joint statement also said that the three parties will not field their candidates against each other. They also agreed for contesting a minimum of 20 seats in the forthcoming State Assembly election. At the same time the three parties will endeavour for a broader Left-democratic unity against the BJP and Congress. The primary condition for such a unity/front will be that there cannot be any comprise with either the BJP or the Congress before or after the elections by any constituent of the Left-democratic front.
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: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org