A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 15, No. 07, 07 – 13 FEBRUARY 2012
Malevolent Mamata and the Dance of Death in West Bengal
Safar Molla, an enterprising marginal farmer of Kaltikuri village in Bardhaman district, had lost his father at an early age and had been maintaining the family since then against heavy odds. Thanks to spiralling input prices including irrigation costs, he had to take loans and leave some bills unpaid, expecting a bumper paddy crop that would allow him to pay back. And a bumper harvest it indeed was! But he could not be happy. The market price was clearly lower than his cultivation costs. With no help from the government forthcoming, there was no way he could pay the bills and save his and his family's honour. On 18 November he consumed some of the pesticide he had bought to protect his well-cared crops. He was only 17. Before and after him some 30 peasants, including a few sharecroppers, committed suicide since the middle of October last year under similar circumstances.
Vikram Singh of Kolkata Tramways Corporation was one among the many workers of five public transport corporations in West Bengal who were not receiving their salaries and other dues like retirement benefits for the past four months because the state government suddenly stopped subsidising these units. Surviving on borrowed money, Vikram was perhaps expecting some relief from the new, avowedly pro-peasant government. What he got instead was the transport minister's statement that workers won't be paid unless and until they pull their corporations out of the red and that the workforce will be downsized. Hearing this in a news broadcast, the 28-year-old worker immediately hanged himself, leaving behind his pregnant wife and a girl child.
The tragic stories of Safar, Vikram and others like them typify the plight of peasants and workers in post-"change" Bengal. In the case of starving transport workers, the blatantly irresponsible policy of the state government is directly to blame. As for the distressed peasants who are helpless victims of a deep agrarian crisis generated by successive governments at state and central levels, the TMC-led government has betrayed a total lack of political will to help them out. It has failed to make adequate arrangements for state procurement of paddy at minimum support price, leaving the peasants to the mercy of private rice mill owners and their agents. The latter are forcing the farmers into distress sale of their crop at prices much lower than the MSP, which itself is way below actual production costs. Mamata Banerjee claims she is not in a position to help, because the MSP is determined by the Central Government. But why can't she pressure that government, as she claims to have successfully done in some other cases, to properly determine the MSP? Alternatively, why doesn't she add bonus, as state governments have often done, to the MSP to save the cultivators? She pleads a severe funds crunch, but why doesn't she use the available money on saving human lives rather than on beach festivals, doling out favours to youth clubs and increasing the salaries and daily allowances of ministers and MLAs?
Lacking proper answers to such pertinent questions, Ms Banerjee has fallen back on a shameless denial mode. Instead of taking prompt action to save lives, including the lives of babies who are dying in horrifying numbers in state-run hospitals, she blames the media, the opposition parties and even her coalition partner Congress for blowing things out of proportion. She claims, for example, that barring one incident, the peasants who committed suicides did so for purely personal reasons unrelated to debt burden or non-availability of remunerative prices!
Matching its criminal negligence in protecting human life, the government has stepped up attacks on people's right to protest and get organised. The labour minister has announced that police personnel and government employees would no longer be allowed to form trade unions or hold rallies against the government. Meanwhile, public transport corporations have initiated the process of laying off the so-called irregular/temporary/ contract workers who have been serving their concerns for years on end.
But such attacks have only prompted the workers and employees to close their ranks and fight back. In a momentous move, 'temporary' workers in the Balurghat depot (North Dinajpur district) of North Bengal State Transport Corporation have formed a joint struggle platform comprising CITU-led and INTUC-led unions and struck work with full support of permanent workers, paralysing bus services in large parts of the district. In many places jute, potato and paddy growers have voiced their protest by destroying their crops which cannot be sold even at cost prices.
To be sure, this is only the beginning. The new government is fast exposing itself. The hour has arrived, perhaps sooner than many expected, for genuine left and democratic forces to unite and unfurl the banner of resistance against the autocratic ways of this anti-worker, anti-peasant government.
CPI(ML) Statement on SC Verdict on 2G Scam
New Delhi, 2 February, 2012
The CPI(ML) welcomes the Supreme Court verdict on the 2G scam, in which the Court has ordered cancellation of 122 licenses issued in 2008 and penalized corporations that benefited from corruption.
The verdict is also a decisive blow to the UPA Government which had consistently been denying the 2G scam entirely. In particular, the present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had, on record, repeatedly claimed 'zero loss' in the 2G allocations, and had rubbished any demand for cancellation of licenses. The SC verdict has exposed such propaganda by the UPA Government to be deliberately misleading and false attempts to cover up the scam.
The entire UPA Government, including the Prime Minister and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, are collectively responsible, not only for the massive scam, but for covering up corruption and attempting to protect the corrupt. The CPI(ML) demands that the UPA Government immediately resign.
Central Committee, CPI(ML)
Make the Call by Central Trade Unions for Nationwide General Strike on 28 February a Grand Success
Strengthen the Struggle against Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation
The call for All-India general strike on 28 February 2012 is being received warmly among the working people. AICCTU has organised convention in several states and the efforts are intensifying for campaign and mobilisation at the district and industrial area level for the strike. The fighting potential of the workers against extreme injustice and traitorous UPA-2 and the state governments of different colours is being reflected in militant struggles and angry outbursts here and there. The February 28 strike will be the last warning to the Manmohan Singh Govt against its betrayal of the nation and especially the working class.
The incident at Yanam in Puducherry is on similar pattern to the incidents of Noida, Badanagar (WB), Ghaziabad, Pricol in Coimbatore where intense violations of labour laws and denial of very basic rights of workers coupled with violent aggression on workers using the paid goons and police and administration has resulted in corporate officials also facing the wrath of workers. On 2nd February a successful bandh of Puducherry and road blockades was organised (on the initiative of CPI(ML) and AICCTU) on the call of all Left parties. On 5 February a team of AICCTU was due to visit Yanam.
7th Tamil Nadu State Conference of AICCTU
Resolve to Make the All-India Strike a Grand Success
AICCTU held its 7th state conference at Colochel, Kanyakumari on 28th and 29th January 2012 at Comrade Singaravelar Hall and the Dias was named Comrade Srinivasa Rao.
The Conference began on 28th January with hoisting of the Flag by Comrade Thenmozhi, State Vice President. This was followed by the leaders paying floral tribute at the martyrs' column. Immediately after the open session of the Conference started which was conducted by AICCTU State General Secretary Comrade NK Natarajan. The open session was also addressed by trade union leaders of Left parties and fraternal organisations. Comrade SS Thiagarajan, State General secretary of AITUC in his address, recalled the Pricol incident where false charges were framed against leaders of the union including Comrade S Kumarasamy and AITUC stood with AICCTU in that hour of challenge. Now in Yanam of Puducherry workers' struggle for wage rise in a ceramic factory led by AITUC has met the same fate. Forces that branded AICCTU as terrorist organization, can readily brand AITUC the same after Yanam incident. Comrade Sukumaran, State Secretary of CITU referred to the demand raised by AICCTU for Trade Union Recognition Act in line with West Bengal Amendment, and said CITU will also strive with AICCTU in achieving this demand. State President of AIUTUC, Comrade Anavarathan also spoke. Comrade Rajiv Dimri, National Secretary of AICCTU and Comrade Balasundaram, State Secretary of CPI(ML) were on the dias.
Comrade Balasubramaniam, all-India Secretary of AICCTU, after his brief speech inaugurated the poster exhibition on "History of capitalism and of struggles against it". This colourful exhibition enthused all visitors including leaders, delegates and general workers. Comrade S Kumarasamy, National President of AICCTU delivered the concluding speech of open session. All guests were presented with mementos.
On 28th evening a public meeting was held, where hundreds of workers from different parts and industrial sectors participated. Meeting was presided over by Comrade Antony Muthu. Meeting was also addressed by Mr SP Udhayakumar, Convenor, Peoples' movement against Nuclear Energy which is spearheading anti-nuclear plant movement with the participation of tens of thousands of local people in and around Koodankulam among other leaders of AICCTU. Public meeting was also addressed by Comrade Bharathi, State President of All India Students' Association (AISA), Comrade Janaki Raman, State General Secretary of All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA) and Comrade Thenmozhi of AIPWA.
On 29th, delegate session began with greetings message from Comrade Bharadwaj, Karnataka State leader of AICCTU who also participated along with com Kalaivanan. Comrade John Kerimeli and Comrade Venugopal of Kerala also attended the two day session. While addressing the delegates Comrade Rajiv Dimri, National Secretary of AICCTU and central observer, congratulated TN comrades not only for wider expansion of AICCTU in various sectors like powerloom, beedi and construction but also for the new initiative taken by TN AICCTU in campaigning for Trade Union Recognition Act, Implementation of Factories act under section 85(1) in powerloom sector, amendments in standing order with regard to apprentices/trainees and also for the implementation of Migrant Labour Act with TN rules.
After passing the draft document unanimously, conference elected 128 state council members that in turn elected 52 executive committee members and 23 office bearers which includes com NK Natarajan, President, Comrade Jawahar, Honorary President and Comrade T Sankarapandian, General secretary. Comrade S Kumarasamy addressed the gathering stressing the importance of mobilizing large number of workers in the February 28 strike. He called for immediate convening of district bodies and make all out effort for resounding success of the strike. At Pricol also there is a stalemate in negotiations and Pricol union has already served a strike notice and it will commence from February 9, 2012. He called upon the delegates and affiliated unions to extend all their support and solidarity for the successful strike of the Pricol workers.
Resolutions passed in the conference: -
1. When the government is in support of corporate loot and plunder of natural resources, when there is an increased attack on the livelihoods and democratic rights of the workers, when the Supreme Court of India declares the sanctity of private property, the February 28 all India strike is called by Central Trade unions and conference resolves to make the strike a resounding success.
2. Conference demands from the State Legislature to pass a resolution to permanently closedown Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
3. Conference declares its solidarity with the ongoing strike by thousands of workers in powerloom sector in Kumarapalayam area led by AICCTU demanding 100 percent increase in wages.
4. It resolved to extend full support and solidarity for hunger fast and subsequent strike called by Pricol union.
5. Conference strongly condemned the death under police custody of Regency Ceramic factory trade union leader Comrade Murali Mohan at Yanam area of Puducherry, demanding immediate arrest of those responsible for his murder. It also condemned the police firing on agitating workers.
6. It demanded the state government to roll back the increased prices of milk and bus fare. It also urged the state government to give up the proposed increase in power tariff.
Joint TU State Convention at Bangalore
A joint State Convention of all trade unions was held at Bangalore on 30 January 2012 to highlight the issues of February 28 all-India strike and to mobilize workers and cadres in making the strike successful.
Comrade Shankar, VP of AICCTU paid tributes to the workers murdered at Yenam, Andhra part of Puducherry and called upon workers to make the strike successful. He also said that trade unions have major role in imbibing more militant character to struggles in view of rising onslaught of capital on workers. He also said that outbursts like Noida and Pricol cannot be ruled out if necessary protection is not provided to workers against rampant exploitation by the capital. He called upon workers to rise against UPA government at the centre and the state BJP government for their anti-worker, anti-people, pro-ruling class policies.
All India president of CITU AK Padmanabhan, National Secretary of AITUC Sachdeva, National President of TUCC Shivshankar, AIUTUC leader Radha Krishnan were among other all India leaders that addressed the convention.
Comrade Bharadwaj, State President also addressed the convention while Appanna, State Secretary was part of the joint presidium.
Joint Convention in Rajasthan
The Rajasthan State level joint TU's took a decision to prepare for the all India Strike call for 28th February by holding seminars and other programmes in all the five divisions of Rajasthan. On 30th January the Ajmer division held a meeting under the leadership of AICCTU which was organised by Com Bhavari Devi and at which all major centrally recognised TUs were present.
In Jaipur a Conference was held on 3rd February, at which central leaders of all the main TUs were present. Comrades Gurudas Dasgupta of AITUC and Tapan Sen of CITU along with Dr. Reddy of INTUC and BM Rai of BMS were also present. AICCTU was represented by Comrade Srilata. In her speech she made clear the demands that the TUs had placed before the Finance Minister in January that they wanted addressed in the Union Budget. As she was the only leader present who represented the unorganised sector she primarily laid stress on the demands of that sector such as NREGA being extended to towns and cities, the central fund of 4% for the unorganised sector, 10.000/- minimum wage, stopping the practice of contractorisation etc.
Comrade Anand was the main organiser in Jaipur for the TU conference on behalf of AICCTU. Comrade Mahesh Chaumal, State General Secretary of Rajasthan Construction Workers Union also addressed the gathering and stressed the active participation of AICCTU in the coming national strike programme. Comrade Suresh Lohar was a member of the Presidium at this joint TU Conference
Demonstration by RYA against Kulak-Police High Handedness
In Kattumannarkudi of Cuddalore district a militant demonstration was held by Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) on 25th January against Kulak-Police high handedness. In the back drop of panchayat election results in October, some heated verbal exchanges took place in Rajasoodamani village of Mela Radampur Panchayat between the two contending parties. With the ulterior motive of suppressing one dalit section of the village an AIADMK kulak belonging to Vanniar caste employed the police. The police without any provocation assaulted the youth and women of the village. A police Sub-Inspector also got injured in the protest and reaction that followed the police excesses. The police slapped several false cases against the youths including district committee member of CPI(ML).
Taking advantage of the situation, as the men implicated in false cases were not present in the village, the panchayat President and his men, led by the AIADMK kulak forced the women and children out of the village. Everyday they harassed the women and children in various ways. Police refused even to receive the complaints and acted against the victims only. When CPI(ML) and AIALA leaders on behalf of the victims went to the police station to lodge a complaint they were threatened by the henchmen of the Kulak. Party District Secretary Ammaiyappan was also roughed up inside the police station. Complaints were lodged with DGP and DSP by CPI(ML) State Secretary personally. A team of leaders led by State Secretary prevailed over the Thasildar to take steps to rehabilitate the people back in the village. The peace meeting convened by the Thasildar was also foiled by the AIADMK kulak. Even after the people got bail the panchayat President and their men made every effort to prevent their entry into the village.
Along with State Secretary, Balasundaram, State Committee members Ammaiyappan, Ilangovan, village women, children and the youth got bail. They put pressure on the Tehsildar and DSP to provide protection to the affected people. Protesting the kulak-police high handedness a protest demonstration was held. Around 130 students, youth and women assembled for the militant demonstration. RYA district leaders Rajasankar, Dhanavel, CPI(ML) leaders Ammaiyappan, Ilangovan and Party State Secretary Balasundaram addressed the demonstration. The demonstration also condemned Government's inaction and arbitrariness in the distribution of relief to the Thane victims. In the face of the demonstration the administration was forced to take immediate steps to speed up the relief distribution. This has evoked good response among the rural and urban poor.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org