A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 15, No. 14, 27 MARCH – 02 APRIL 2012
Bihar 'Centenary': Official Myth and People's Reality
22 March, 2012 marked the first centenary of Bihar as a separate administrative unit. After the British colonial rulers were forced to undo the partition of Bengal, they shifted the capital from Kolkata to Delhi and downsized Bengal by according the status of separate states to Bihar and Odisha. Before quitting India in 1947, the British colonialists of course saw to it that Bengal was partitioned into not just two states but two countries. The march of history and the process of administrative reorganisation have however not stopped with the exit of the British. East Bengal did not accept the absurdity of being called East Pakistan for long and emerged as the independent republic of Bangladesh in December 1971. The geographical boundary of Bihar too has not remained the same, the southern part of the twentieth century Bihar has become Jharkhand in the twenty-first century.
Is there really much point then in celebrating a centenary of an administrative event, especially in a state like Bihar which has a rich and glorious history spanning not only centuries but millennia? The current rulers of Bihar are of course bent upon seizing the centenary as a 'windfall gain' gifted by history. Nitish Kumar is using the centenary celebration to project himself as a beaming beacon of light for Bihar, the grandest thing to have happened to Bihar since the halcyon days of the great Nalanda University. The propaganda blitzkrieg unleashed by the Bihar government reveals the plot with giant billboards virtually limiting the century to the last seven years and lauding Nitish Kumar for engineering 'waves of revolution restoring the lost glory of the state'!
It will however be wrong to see the centenary celebration as just yet another image-building exercise by the ruling regime of Bihar. It is also not just another platform for Nitish Kumar to project himself as the champion of Bihar against the Centre and stake his claim in the national political arena. What Nitish Kumar is trying to do is something much more insidious – he is trying to rewrite the history of Bihar and reconstruct and reinterpret the Bihari identity. He would like us to believe that it is only with the rise of his government that Bihar has got something to pride itself on, and his biggest contribution to the cause of Bihar is the replacement of the erstwhile stigma of 'shame' with a new-found sense of 'pride'. His halo of 'pride' thus rests on the acceptance and internalisation of the 'shame'.
Let us take a closer look at this so-called theory of shame and pride. All through the feudal-colonial era, Bihar has been known as the land of labour. From the days of the indentured labourers transhipped from Bihar to foreign destinations along the colonial trajectory and early internal export of labour to the tea gardens and jute mills of Assam and Bengal to the more recent migration to green revolution pastures of Punjab and Haryana and the continuing exodus of labour to virtually every corner of India, labour has been the biggest motive force in the modern history of Bihar. And in an environment of decadent feudalism and retarded capitalism, this labour has historically been denied its basic freedom and dignity.
If the migrant labourer from Bihar has had to battle constantly against insecurity and indignity, those labouring within Bihar, agrarian labour as well as the labouring peasant, have had to face much fiercer modes of oppression and exploitation and patterns of bondage and feudal-patriarchal violence. The brutalities inflicted on the toiling and oppressed people of Bihar should be a matter of shame for anybody who values freedom and dignity. This shame is not Bihari but universal human shame, and it does not lead to a sense of guilt to be expiated by some benevolent ruler, rather it arouses anger against injustice and steels the resolve to fight it.
It is no wonder then that Bihar has been a key battleground in modern India's quest for dignity and emancipation. If the rulers have been treating Bihar as a labour-exporting internal colony tied down to the feudal-colonial yoke, the people of Bihar have never missed an opportunity to rise in anti-feudal, anti-colonial struggles and challenge the chains of bondage and backwardness. Whether one looks at major pre-independence milestones from the revolt of 1857 and Gandhi's peasant satyagraha to the Quit India movement of 1942 and the radical assertion of Sahajanand Saraswati's Kisan Sabha, or post-1947 upheavals like the early communist-led peasant movement, the 1974 student-youth movement or the CPI(ML)-led battle for social transformation and the emancipation of the oppressed, Bihar has always stood out as the bastion of mass uprising.
There can be no talk of a Bihari identity removed from this historical reality. If one has to discuss the physiognomy of this identity, it is labour which constitutes its core, its face lit up by the glow of resilience in the face of adversity, both natural and man-made, and its heart beating to the pulsating rhythm of the drumbeats of struggle. The stigma of shame has no place in it.
Equally facile and fictitious is Nitish Kumar's empty talk of pride. While his government has done everything to block the passage of land reforms and deny a life of opportunities and dignity to the toiling millions, it is presiding over a regime of land scam and treasury loot bolstered by bureaucratic control, feudal-communal offensive and police brutalities. While he has been waxing eloquent about record-breaking economic growth, in the last seven years another five million people have been pushed below the poverty line which itself has been reduced by our Planning Commission to the level of what can only be described as the starvation line.
Bihar has always fought simultaneously against external invasion and deprivation as well as internal loot and bondage. Behind the veil of the benevolent ruler delivering Bihar from 'shame' to 'pride', Nitish Kumar is actually busy colluding with the forces, both within and outside of Bihar, that have historically sought to hold Bihar back. Bihar is therefore little amused by the state-sponsored spectacle of an administrative centenary and the attempted construction of a synthetic Biharipan (Bihariness ) which is singularly devoid of the fighting spirit of Bihar.
The vision of a New Bihar is inseparably intertwined with the vision of a New India and this newness can only emerge and flourish on the basis of a decisive victory over the forces and policies of bondage and backwardness. Just as the British colonialists had propped up and colluded with the feudal gentry to suppress the great war of 1857, today once again global capital is seeking to exploit and suppress Bihar in local alliance with feudal-communal forces. Nitish Kumar's slogan of regional pride seeks to mask the truth of this dangerous alliance and sacrifice Bihar's aspiration for development at the altar of institutionalised loot. The toiling and fighting millions of Bihar will reject this misleading trap and move ahead in their battle for a life of freedom and dignity and development and democracy, to realise the dream of a people's Bihar in people's India.
On Coal Scam
Barely one and a half years after the 2G spectrum scam, yet another massive scam has been unearthed by the CAG. In both cases, the CAG has pointed out the same underlying problem – loss to the public exchequer due to a policy of handing over precious natural resources on a "first-come-first-serve" basis rather than being auctioned. Out of the estimated loss of Rs 10.7 lakh crores to the state exchequer from the allocation of 155 coal blocks without competitive bidding, private steel and power companies have benefited to the tune of Rs 4.79 lakh crores. These allocations took place when the coal ministry was in the hands of the Prime Minister.
In the case of an exhaustible natural resource like coal, the issue is not merely one of pricing. The allocation of coal blocks to public sector is justified in the public interest. But private players cannot be allowed to own and exhaust coal, mineral, or gas reserves for profit, robbing future generations of these precious natural resources.
The privatisation of mining policy must be reversed, and mining policies amended to ensure that private corporations are not allowed to own coal blocks, mines or gas reserves. There must be a transparent process of companies buying raw materials including minerals from the government.
The coal scam is the latest in the series of huge scams and cases of corporate plunder of natural resources that have taken place during the UPA Government's regime. Necessary action must be taken on the basis of the CAG's findings, to restore the losses to the national exchequer and punish all those responsible for the scam.
On Army Chief's Statement and Defence Scams
The Army Chief's statement alleging that a 14 crore bribe was demanded over procurement of trucks in 2010 has once again brought to the fore the continuing reality of defence scams in India.
India is the largest arms importer in the world, and the national capital is hosting a huge Defence Exposition in which hundreds of Indian and foreign armament firms are flocking to secure thousands of crores worth of contracts. Undoubtedly such huge procurements bring kickbacks and scams in their wake.
The CPI(ML) demands measures to ensure strict accountability and transparency in defence expenditure; and reduction in defence budget which is clearly inflated to make allowance for overpriced purchase of armaments.
CPI(ML)'s Jharkhand State Conference
CPI(ML)'s fourth Jharkhand State Conference was held at Koderma on 23-25 March. The town had been rechristened Comrade Mahendra Singh Nagar, and the Conference venue was named after Comrade Ibn-ul Hasan Basru.
The Conference was preceded by an impressive 'Rally Against Loot, Repression, Displacement' on 23 March. Thousands of women and men marched to gather at the rally ground, raising slogans against the rampant corporate loot of natural resources, and repression and displacement of adivasis and poor peasants. Gates dedicated to Bhagat Singh and other revolutionary martyrs, and red flags decorated entire town of Koderma.
A day before the rally, on 22 March, the brother of the local BJP MLA Amit Yadav deliberately vandalised red flags. Resisting attack by BJP goons, party supporters broke down the compound wall of the MLA's brother's house.
The rally was presided over by the party's Central Committee member Comrade Bahadur Oraon, and conducted by the Koderma district secretary Comrade Prem Prakash. Speakers at the rally included elected Party's MLA in Jharkhand Assembly Comrade Vinod Singh, Zila Parishad members Comrades Basudev Yadav and Ramdhan Yadav, and Vice-Pramukh Shyamdev Yadav, AICCTU State President Devdeep Singh Diwakar, JHAMAS (agricultural labourers' organisation) State Secretary Parameshwar Mehto, AIPWA leader Geeta Mandal, Garhwa Zila Panchayat Chairperson Sushma Mehta, and party State Committee member Comrade Rajkumar Yadav. Comrade Kavita Krishnan, CC member was the main speaker at the rally.
The rally passed several political resolutions presented by Comrade Bhuneshwar Kewat, secretary of the party in Ranchi, condemning the anti-people Union Budget, demanding a speedy probe into the coal scam, condemnation of the horse-trading that took place as all the ruling parties vied to woo Jharkhand MLAs over the Rajya Sabha elections, and demanded intervention by the Governor to ensure a probe and appropriate punishment for the corrupt MLAs among others.
The delegate session of the Conference began 23rd March evening. Two minutes' silence was observed in memory of the martyrs. Inaugurating the Conference, Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya called on the CPI(ML) to emerge as a powerful revolutionary force of resistance to corporate plunder and struggle for people's rights in Jharkhand. Outgoing state secretary of the party, Comrade Janardan Prasad, presented the draft document for discussion at the Conference.
On 24 March, delegates discussed and debated the document, which discussed the party's work since the last conference, the political situation, and the political and organizational tasks and challenges facing the party. In the course of the day, several guests also addressed the conference, including Lokyuddh editor and Central Committee member BB Pandey, Liberation editor and CCM Kavita Krishnan, Central Control Commission member Comrade Rajaram, and Politburo member Comrade DP Buxi. The presidium read out a moving and inspiring letter by CPI(ML)'s Garhwa leader Comrade BN Singh, sent from Hazaribag Jail where he has been incarcerated since 2003 on false charges by feudal forces.
Teams and individual singers of the Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch presented rousing revolutionary songs. At the end of the day, Comrade Janardan concluded the debate on the document, responding to many questions and issues raised, and following this, the document was unanimously passed by the house. Addressing the delegate session, party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya called upon the party in Jharkhand to overcome all the attacks by ruling forces and its own subjective weaknesses, and to prepare with all vigour for the party's Ninth Congress which is to be held in Ranchi next year.
On 25 March, the house elected a 39-member State Committee, which reelected Comrade Janardan Prasad as Secretary. The Central Committee observer of the Conference, Comrade Prabhat, addressed the delegates, congratulating the party on its successful Conference and looking forward to the party's growing assertion in the state.
Delivering the concluding speech, party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that after the Assembly poll results, the powerful response to the All India Strike and the protests against the Union Budget, in the situation with a weakened UPA and NDA, has led some to talk of a non-Congress, non-BJP Third Front. However, even if such a Front were to materialize, comprising erstwhile constituents of the UPA and NDA, could not possibly provide any genuine alternative or resistance to the neoliberal, anti-people policies, corporate plunder and repression. The only hope for a genuine political alternative, could emerge only from intensifying people's resistance to these policies. In Jharkhand, CPI(ML) has always been at the forefront of such resistance on the streets, and has been the sole voice of revolutionary opposition within the Assembly. The party must take up the challenge of consolidating our expansion and increasing our political assertion in Jharkhand. He said that the preparations for the Ninth Congress of the party to be held in Ranchi in 2013 presented not just an organizational but also a political challenge – as could be gauged by the repression unleashed on the party in Garhwa, and the attacks by BJP goons on party supporters in Koderma in the course of preparations for the state conference.
Volunteers were felicitated and thanked for their efforts in making the Conference successful. The Conference passed a series of political resolutions, including a detailed plan of political campaigns, mass organization conferences, fund collection, and other preparations for hosting the Ninth Congress. The Conference concluded with the rendering of the Internationale, and with rousing slogans.
On Verdict in Comrade Chandrashekhar's Murder
Former JNUSU President Comrade Chandrashekhar was shot dead on 31 March 1997, at the behest of RJD MP Mohd. Shahabuddin, while addressing a street-corner meeting at JP Chowk, Siwan, for a Bihar Bandh called by CPI(ML). Another CPI(ML) activist Comrade Shyam Narain Yadav, and a street vendor Bhuteli Mian too were killed. The murders were followed by a huge movement of students and civil society, and eventually the Central Government was forced to order a CBI enquiry.
On 23 March this year, 15 years after the murder, the CBI Court in Patna pronounced three of the killers – Dhruv Kumar Jaiswal, Sheikh Munna, and Iliyas Warsi – guilty, sentencing them for life. Another accused, Riyazuddin, died during trial, and a fifth, Rustam is still facing trial. This verdict can only be termed deeply disappointing and inadequate – because it fails to recognize the political character of the killing and nail the real political mastermind – criminal politician Shahabuddin – behind the murder.
All the shooters were well known to be Shahabuddin's henchmen. The FIR had named the five men chargesheeted by the CBI, and also Shahabuddin, whom CBI is yet to chargesheet. Shahabuddin is currently serving a life sentence for the abduction and suspected murder of another CPI(ML) activist, and he was behind the killings of a large number of CPI(ML) activists in Siwan. It is high time that the CBI charge-sheet Shahabuddin as a conspirator in the assassination of Comrade Chandrashekhar. The delay in charge-sheeting Shahabuddin points to a political motive on part of the CBI, to protect the criminal politician who is known to have been a right-hand man of the RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav.
The student movement demanding that Shahabuddin be punished for the assassination of Chandrashekhar, became a landmark struggle against criminalization of politics. Now, 15 years after the murder, there can be sense of closure or justice until and unless the mafia politician Shahabuddin, the mastermind and main conspirator behind the assassination, is charge-sheeted, convicted, and awarded the sternest punishment.
AISA has called for countrywide protests on 31 March, including a Protest Sit-In at Jantar Mantar (3 pm onwards) to assert that the struggle for justice for Comrade Chandrashekhar will not end until Shahabuddin's role as the key conspirator is recognized, and he is convicted.
CPI(ML) to Gherao Bihar Legislative Assembly to Demand CBI Probe in Comrade Bhaiyaram Yadav's Murder
Massive Sankalp Sabha Held on 23rd March
On historic 23rd March- Bhagat Singh's martyrdom day- a massive turnout of people at Nasriganj in Rohtas district (Bihar) paid tribute to martyred Comrade Bhaiyaram Yadav at the Sankalp Sabha and pledged to resolutely carry forward and further the struggles that he sacrificed his life for, especially the struggles to end the reign of social oppression and exclusion, poverty, crime, corruption and loot in Bihar.
Comrade Bhaiyaram was shot when he was returning after supervising work for installation of Shaheed-e-Azam's statue. The people led by district and state leaders of CPI(ML) first marched to his in-laws village where his family members had assembled along with other comrades. Then the march proceeded to the huge compound of community centre where the statue of Bhagat Singh was installed through Comrade Bhaiyaram's efforts. It was unveiled by CPI(ML)'s Politburo member Comrade Ramji Rai in presence of thousands of people and amidst resounding slogans of Red Salute to Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Red Salute to Comrade Bhaiyaram and Long Live Comrade Bhaiyaram, Long Live all our Martyrs.
The Sankalp Sabha began with observing a minute's silence to mark the martyrdom of Comrade Bhaiyram followed with rendering of revolutionary songs sung by Nirmal Nayan, Santosh Jha and KK Nirmohi. Thereafter, the meeting was conducted by CPI(ML) leader (and ex-MLA) Comrade Arun Singh. He said that Bhaiyaram's murder is a political conspiracy at the behest of a politician-police-criminal nexus and this nexus is patronised by Nitish Kumar. Comrade Bhaiyaram had challenged the extreme excesses perpetrated by this nexus such as raping young girls and women, he had also organised struggles for ensuring voting rights of the poor. The feudal-criminal section who have been emboldened in Nitish's rule thought their excesses could not be challenged in JD(U)-BJP rule and assassinated him.
Comrade Jawaharlal Yadav, district committee member of CPI(ML) confidently declared that the people will overcome this nexus and their feudal arrogance will be smashed. Party's Bihar State Secretary Comrade NK Prasad said that it is an attempt to murder the struggles and movements of the poor of Bihar and Bhaiyaram's killers will have to pay the price along with the Nitish Govt that patronises them. Drawing parallels between this and Chandrashekhar's murder in Siwan in 1997, Comrade Ramji Rai said that the recent incident is similar to the 1997 attempt at killing the potential of political leadership of the poor. In Rohtas itself 17 years back same attempt had been made with the assassination of Comrade Mani Singh. All India Kisan Mahasabha's GS Comrade Rajaram Singh exposing the hollowness of Bihar's centenary celebrations said that those who have been the real heroes of socio-economic empowerment of the millions of poor and oppressed classes in Bihar find no mention in the centenary celebrations. No one there is even mentioning of the historic roles of Master Jagdish, Rameswar Ahir and Vinod Mishra. Comrade KD Yadav, Party's CC member and Kaiser Nihaal also addressed the Sankalp Sabha.
CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar addressing the massive assembly said that Comrade Bhaiyaram's murder is a larger political conspiracy. Nitish Kumar, upon becoming the CM had immediately given a hint of his political intentions by quickly disbanding the Amirdas Commision that had been constituted to expose the politicians that provide patronage to those that have killed vast number of poor and workers through planned massacres. After that he further emboldened the anti-poor pro-feudal class politics by nominating murderer and criminal Sunil Pandey from the assembly constituency of Comrade Ram Naresh Ram. Presently, such criminals are ruling the roost at different places in Bihar and the police provide them protection. While the Govt is squandering crores of rupees on centenary celebrations the number of poor in Bihar, as per Planning Commission's report, has gone up by fifty lakhs. Comrade Bhaiyaram was empowering these poor of Bihar that are daily victims of these criminals protected by Bihar Govt and that is why he had to sacrifice his life. But no one can stop the struggles and forward march of poor through repression and murders and Shahabad's history is a witness to this. General Secretary called upon the entire gathering and whole Party to carry Bhaiyaram's message to every village. He called upon to gherao the Bihar Legislative Assembly on 30 March to demand for a CBI probe into this murder.
Comrade Bhaiyaram's wife Comrade Usha Yadav spoke to the assembled masses and very resolutely said that his dreams are unfulfilled that must be realised. He has laid down his life for the issues of struggling people. This confidence and militant mood is the identity of Bihar's struggling poor and it was quite apparent on every face at the Sankalp Sabha.
Rajasthan: 23 march, Bhagat Singh Divas was celebrated by a cadre meeting in the Jaipur State Office in which Party's State Secretary Comrade Mahender, Srilata, Mahesh Chaumal, Usha and many others participated in a lively discussion on the relevance of Bhagat Singh in the present times vis-à-vis corruption, the various scams, the budget etc.
23rd March was observed by almost all Party units all over the country through different programmes.
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