A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 15, No. 23, 29 MAY – 04 JUNE 2012
Even as the UPA government celebrated the third anniversary of its second term with a report card claiming record food grains production and a dramatic decline in poverty, the country was treated to an unprecedented oil shock with the price of petrol shooting up by more than 10 per cent. A litre of petrol now costs around Rs. 75, and with the value of the rupee depreciating almost every passing day in relation to dollar, the price of not only petrol but every imported item threatens to escalate relentlessly in the days to come.
While the price of petrol has been deregulated to enable it to soar freely, subsidies are being reduced across the board leading to a steady increase in the prices of almost all articles of essential mass consumption. An analysis of the ongoing pattern of price rise indicates that primary products, especially food and vegetable, are showing the highest rate of increase. In the eight years of UPA rule, primary articles have become 119% more expensive; fuel and power prices have gone up by 90.4% while there has been a 45% increase in the prices of manufactured products.
This pattern of price rise naturally means the poor have been the worst victims. According to the latest NSSO survey on monthly per capita consumption expenditure, food items account for 66% of the monthly expenditure of the poorest 10% as opposed to 38% of that of the richest 10% of rural households. The corresponding figures for urban households are 63% and 25% respectively. Yet in spite of this massive systematic pauperisation, the UPA government goes on claiming the miraculous feat of reduction in poverty by just lowering the poverty lines!
With the rupee undergoing a free fall, India's import bill has started shooting up, petrol and defence purchases accounting for two major components. With this, the government has once again started warning about an impending balance of payments crisis (import bill being far in excess of export income) – the same pretext that had triggered the policy shift in 1991 to indiscriminate liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. After two decades of neoliberal reforms the economy is thus almost back to square one, and to cope with this crisis the government is advising the people to go for wholesale austerity measures! It is another matter that relentless rise in prices has already pushed the overwhelming majority of Indians into a state of utter austerity bordering on starvation.
In stark contrast stands the government, epitomising obscene opulence and ostentation. The President of India is reported to have undertaken more than a dozen foreign trips covering 22 countries spanning four continents spending nearly three months and more than Rs. 200 crore. Not to be left behind is Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar who is credited with 29 foreign trips in 35 months. And then there is Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission who prescribes a little less than Rs. 23 as the 'poverty line' daily expenditure for rural Indians, but whose average daily expenditure during his foreign travels works out to Rs. 2.02 lakh. And in the last eight years he has undertaken nearly 50 foreign trips, almost half of them to the US!
Corruption, the other hallmark of the Manmohan Singh regime, has also been scaling newer heights. The CAG final report on 'coalgate' has of course lowered the estimated loss to the national exchequer from Rs. 10.67 lakh crore to Rs. 1.80 lakh crore, by taking out public sector and state government entities from the purview of calculation. What the final report therefore concludes is that between 2004 and 2009, private coal block allottees were handed out undue benefit worth Rs. 1.80lakh crore which is still higher than the highest estimate of the 2G scam.
Cornered over the issue of corruption and black money, the government has finally made a farcical attempt to come out with a white paper on black money claiming a decline in Indian deposits held in Swiss banks from Rs 23,373 crore in 2006 to Rs 9,295 in 2010! This perhaps only signifies the growing preference for other offshore destinations for accumulation of illicit wealth and the 'white paper' miserably fails or rather refuses to provide any realistic picture of the huge amounts being stashed abroad. The paper cites the Global Financial Integrity study which estimated the current value of total illicit financial flows from India between 1948 and 2008 at 462 billion dollars (around Rs 25 lakh crore) but suggests no concrete measure to stop such flows or repatriate the massive Indian wealth held abroad.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the PMO is trying to increase the gas price from the Krishna-Godavari basin to yield additional revenue of $8 billion to Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd at the cost of the national exchequer.
It was Manmohan Singh as finance minister who had launched the neo-liberal offensive two decades ago. Today he is the Prime Minister and his government is daily pushing the country deeper into a comprehensive economic disaster. Just as Latin America and Europe are increasingly challenging and rejecting the neo-liberal model of market fundamentalism, in India too we must get ready to dump this notoriously corrupt regime along with its disastrous pack of policies.
The CPI(M)'s 'Kerala Model':
Will AKG Bhavan Care to Answer?
The gruesome murder of Comrade TP Chandrasekharan seems to have shaken the CPI(M)'s Kerala unit to its roots. The CPI(M)'s theory of dismissing the murder as an act of anti-CPI(M) conspiracy has no takers in Kerala or elsewhere and at least half a dozen CPI(M) functionaries from Kozhikode and Kannur districts have already been booked by the Special Investigation Team probing the murder. The political murder soon grew into an ideological debate with the CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan describing TPC as a renegade and traitor even as former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan lauded the slain comrade as a brave communist.
A statement published in the name of the CPI(M)'s Kerala Secretariat in the 20 May issue of the CPI(M) central organ People's Democracy described TP Chandrasekharan as leader of a UDF-backed group in Onchiyam who joined hands with the Shoranur group led by MR Murali only to damage the CPI(M) and had no ideological difference. It is ridiculous that these anti-party forces call themselves 'revolutionary Marxists', noted the statement. The statement conveniently suppressed the fact that the RMP led by Comrade Chandrasekharan was unique in its determination to function as an independent Left group upholding the communist legacy and it is this determination which brought it together with other fighting Left organisations under the banner of the All India Left Coordination. In fact, the RMP parted ways with the Shoranur group during the last Assembly elections precisely because the RMP wanted no truck with the UDF.
The May 27 issue of PD carried excerpts from a speech delivered by Prakash Karat at Kalliasseri in Kannur district on EK Nayanar Day on May 19, 2012. Condemning the murder of TPC, Karat said "We do not believe in using weapons to kill political opponents and those who disagree with us. Our greatest weapon is the Marxist ideology and the politics of the working class." But Karat was soon contradicted from within when MM Mani, the CPI(M)'s long-serving Idukki District Secretary and a State Committee member close to Pinarayi Vijayan told a public meeting at Thodupuzha on May 25 how the CPI(M) had ensured in the past that its rivals were shot, beaten and stabbed to death! He has since been 'censured' by the party 'for making a controversial statement'.
In early April, the CPI(M) held its 20th Congress in Kozhikode and declared its intention to unite the Left and democratic forces of the country to build a Left and democratic alternative. But the trajectory of events happening right in Kozhikode and Kerala since then – the heinous killing of TPC, Vijayan's thesis of renegades and traitors and now MM Mani's shocking revelations and open threats – fly directly in the face of the CPI(M)'s rhetoric of Left and democratic unity. Does not the CPI(M) central leadership operating from the Delhi office dedicated to the memory of a legendary communist leader from Kerala owe an answer explaining the Kerala developments before waxing eloquent about the party's commitment to the Marxist ideology and Left and democratic unity?
The Movement for Justice Gathers
Momentum in Bihar:
Indefinite Fast by CPI(ML) Leaders in Patna, Ara and Daudnagar
Nearly one year after the barbaric Forbesganj firing (3 June, 2011) which had claimed four innocent Muslim lives, the commission of inquiry set up by the Bihar government is yet to submit its report while the SP of Araria who had presided over the police atrocity has been promoted to the post of Senior SP and deployed in the sensitive district of Darbhanga where Muslim youth are being increasingly demonised and harassed by the state as 'perceived terrorists'. On May 2, 2012 Aurangabad witnessed similar kind of police barbarity where the police unleashed a brutal crackdown to stop a popular protest against the murder of a popular mukhiya. Comrade Rajaram Singh, member of the CPI(ML) Central Committee and two-term MLA (1995-2005) from Obra constituency in the district was brutally beaten up again and again by the SP himself and arrested with 28 other protestors. Despite widespread protests including a highly successful Bihar Bandh on May 10, the autocratic government refuses to release the protestors or initiate any action against the erring SP and DM.
On 15 May a 5-member delegation of CPI(ML) leaders comprising Comrades KD Yadav, Rameswar Prasad, Arun Singh, Anwar Hussein and Shashi Yadav met chief minister Nitish Kumar and asked him to stop this growing injustice, release Comrade Rajaram and his comrades, initiate action against guilty policemen including the SP of Aurangabad, order CBI probe into Forbesganj firing and the recent spate of political murders and guarantee justice for the victims of Bathani Tola. Six teams went on an intensive Nyaye Yatra (March for Justice) addressing hundreds of meetings on this pressing agenda of justice. The Nyaye Yatra culminated in a massive Jan Sunwai (public hearing) on 21 May in the state capital where a 7-member jury comprising noted academics, advocates, activists and journalists endorsed the popular demands for justice.
With the state government still not paying any heed to the growing cry for justice, the CPI(ML) State Committee in its meeting held in Patna on 22-23 May resolved to intensify the agitation. An indefinite fast was launched simultaneously in three centres on May 26 under the leadership of Comrades Arun Singh (Patna), Sudama Prasad (Ara, Bhojpur) and Anwar Hussein (Daudnagar, Aurangabad). As we go to press, the fast is on its fifth day and hundreds of people are daily thronging the fast sites. Street-corner meetings are being held across the state in support of the fast and statewide protests have been planned for June 2 when one month will be over since the police brutality in Aurangabad and June 3 which will mark the first anniversary of the infamous Farbesganj Firing.
CPI(ML) Calls for Countrywide Rail and Road Blockades on 31 May
against Petrol Price Hike and Price Rise
New Delhi, 29 May 2012: CPI(ML) has called for countrywide rail and road blockades on 31st May to protest the massive 10% hike in petrol prices. CPI(ML) General Secretary said in a press statement in New Delhi that the massive hike in petrol price and the proposed hike in the prices of diesel and LPG is a sharp attack on common man that cannot be forgiven. He further said that this utterly corrupt and anti-people govt must be taught a befitting lesson and the massive burden that it has heaped on common people must be strongly protested by blockading rail and roads everywhere. In Delhi the Party members will enforce blockades at several places in east, south and north Delhi.
Central Committee, CPI(ML) Liberation
Countrywide Protests against Petrol Price Hike
Delhi: Hundreds of Party members held a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar on 25 May. Delhi State Secretary Comrade Sanjay Sharma, CC member Comrade Prabhat Kumar, AICCTU leader Comrade Santosh Rai, student leader from JNU Comrade Abhishek, CC member Comrade Kavita Krishnan addressed the protest meeting. Comrade Aslam from RYA conducted the programme. Manmohan Singh's effigy was also burnt. The meeting demanded immediate rollback of the hiked price of petrol.
Puducherry: On 25th May 2012 All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) organized a massive protest demonstration near Subiah Statue (freedom fighter) in Puducherry, demanding roll back of the recently hiked petroleum prices and to keep away from slashing subsidies for diesel and domestic LPG.
The demonstration was led by Comrade S Motilal, State Secretary of AICCTU, Comrade S Balasubramanian, State Secretary of CPI(ML), and Comrade J Sakthivel, organizer, Movement for Protection of Homeless, addressed demonstrators and the general public. Unions of LPG deliverymen of various LPG agencies, affiliated to AICCTU organized the protest. A large number of LPG deliverymen cadres of CPI(ML) and AICCTU took part in the protest.
Tamilnadu: On 24 May, more than 500 Pricol Workers in Coimbatore held protest meetings at the gates of Plant 1 and 3 and raised slogans against the UPA government demanding immediate roll back. On 25 May CPI(ML) in Coimbatore held a demonstration in which over 100 participated. Party SCMs Comrades NK Natarajan, Damodaran, Bharathi, Venkatachalam and Malarvizhi addressed the gathering. At Pudukottai on 24 May comrades of Gandarvakottai held a protest demonstration and raised slogans against the UPA government.
At Chennai, a demonstration was held at the gates of TIDC on 25 May, in which hundreds of TIDC workers led by AICCTU State Secretary Comrade K Palanivel raised slogans condemning the UPA government for its utter disregard for people. On the same day demonstration was held at Ambattur under the banner of the Party. SCMs Comrades AS Kumar, S Sekar, AICCTU State Secretary Comrade K Palanivel addressed the demonstration. Demonstrations were also held at Villupuram and Kumarapalayam in Namakkal district addressed by Comrade M Venkatesan and Comrade A Govindaraj respectively.
Gujarat: Demonstration was held at Himmat Nagar in Sabarkantha district on 28 May. Hundreds of unorganised sector workers, ASHA and Aanganwadi workers demonstrated demanding immediate rollback in price hike. Comrades Ranjan Ganguli and Dashrath Singhali addressed the workers.
Rajasthan: The Party gave a bandh call for 25 May in Jhunjhunu district and the call received a overwhelming support in the from a successful Jhunjhunu bandh. PM Manmohan Singh's effigy was also burnt. At Jaipur, a protest demonstration was held and Manmohan Singh's effigy was burnt. AIPWA's district secretary Comrade Usha Yadav addressed the protest meeting.
Punjab: Manmohan Singh's effigy was burnt at seven places in Mansa, Bhatinda, Barnala and Sangrur districts in protest against the petrol price hike and the protest meetings demanded immediate rollback of the hiked price.
Uttar Pradesh: Party and All India Students' Association held statewide protest demonstrations on 24 May to demand immediate rollback of the massively hiked petrol price. Manmohan Singh's effigy was burnt at various district headquarters including Lucknow by CPI(ML) and AISA activists.
At Lucknow the protesters assembled in front of the State Legislative Assembly. Other district centres where protest and effigy burning took place are- Gorakhpur, Gazipur, Mughalsarai in Chandauli, Ahiraura in Mirzapur, Ghorawal in Sonbhadra, Jalaun's HQ Urai, Banda and Kanpur among other district centres. AISA held demonstration and burnt PM's effigy in Allahabad University and Varanasi.
Bihar: Manmohan Singh's effigies were burnt in protest demonstration across the State including Patna, Ara, Jahanabad, Arwal, Siwan, Gaya, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Muzzafarpur, Purnia and Nawada among many other places in the State. In Patna rural, protest marches were also held in Dulhinbazar, Maner, Fatuha and Jamui. State, district and block leaders led and addressed the protest meetings.
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