Nitish Kumar's Yatra
The lowest point of this Yatra has undoubtedly been at Khagaria, where JD(U) leader Ranvir Yadav, husband of the local JD(U) MLA Poonam Yadav, fired from a police carbine in order to terrorise protesting villagers and contractualised school teachers. At the Khagaria collector's office, a gathering of protestors led by the RJD had sought to meet the CM with a demand for the Khagaria district to be given 'special status' and assistance. Instead the police lathicharged the gathering, after which the infuriated gathering erupted in protest. Meanwhile, the contract teachers were on a peaceful dharna near the dais of the CM's public meeting. Women from mahadalit families who have been sentenced to death in the Amousi case were also gathered in protest, demanding freedom for Bodhan Sada and others. Ranvir Yadav set out for the collector's office from the public meeting dais with his henchmen. They first thrashed the contract teachers and other protestors near the dais, and when they met some protesting villagers en route, Ranvir Yadav picked up a carbine from the police, brandished it, and fired on the protestors.
After Khagaria, there have been wholesale preventive arrests preceding the arrival of the CM's convoy! At Araria, several CPI(ML) activists and teachers' leaders were among those arrested; but this could not prevent the people from expressing their protest, defying police repression. At Madhepura and Saharsa, the story was the same – preventive arrests of potential protestors, and police terror. The CM's 'public' meetings are now held in closed halls, where the public is screened carefully and only Nitish's supporters allowed entry!
Towards Unity and Resurgence of
Left-Democratic Forces Through People's Resistance
ALL INDIA LEFT COORDINATION (AILC) CONVENTION ON
NATIONAL CRISIS AND LEFT-DEMOCRATIC AGENDA
The All India Left Coordination held a day-long Convention on the National Crisis and Left and Democratic Agenda on 30th September at Mavalankar Hall in the national capital. The Convention was addressed by leaders of a range of Left parties and democratic movements, as well concerned citizens.
The Convention called for a united struggle of Left and democratic forces for the ouster of the UPA Government, holding it responsible for a series of mega scams involving top Ministers and even the PM, for facilitating corporate plunder, and for unleashing an offensive on the survival and livelihood of common people.
A 7-member presidium comprising Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, Harkanwal Singh, Vijay Kulkarni, Gobind Chhetri, Smitha, Rajaram, and Kavita Krishnan conducted the Convention.
The Convention began by adopting a resolution of condolence for RMP leader Comrade TP Chandrasekharan, who was Secretary of the Left Coordination Committee (LCC), Kerala, which is one of the founding constituents of the AILC. Comrade Chandrasekharan was brutally hacked to death on 4 May. The resolution demanded a CBI enquiry to identify the killers and political conspirators behind Comrade TPC's heinous murder. The resolution also expressed condolences for the two fisher-people martyred in the agitation against the Koodankulam nuclear plant: Antony Samy and Sahayam Francis.
Comrade Swapan Mukherjee welcomed the participants and guests at the Convention. Kavita Krishnan placed the 12-point Resolution before the house. Bhimrao Bansod, Secretary, LNP(L), Maharashtra, spoke in support of the resolutions, elaborating on them.
The AILC had invited leaders of all the Left Front parties to address the Convention. Addressing the Convention, D Raja on behalf of the CPI welcomed the AILC's initiative and expressed his party's commitment to Left unity. He said that the Left parties in a parliamentary democracy needed to give thought to building a political alternative to the Congress-BJP polarity. People of India, he said, had time and again rebuffed the attempts to keep India's politics within bipolar confines. The Left's role, he said, should be to generate confidence in the regional forces to stand by a non-Congress, non-BJP platform. He said that to build unity, the Left should put aside points of difference and work together on issues on which there was agreement.
Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI(ML) greeted the gathering on behalf of the AILC. He said that not even the ruling class is able to deny the economic crisis any more. The ruling class, however, seeks to use the crisis as an opportunity: imposing the burden of the crisis on the common people and intensifying the neoliberal offensive in the name of 'resolving' the crisis. However, for the struggling Left and democratic forces too, the crisis should be taken as a revolutionary opportunity.
He recalled that in 1992 November, immediately after the neoliberal offensive was first unleashed, the working class organizations with red flags aloft, had held a massive rally in the national capital. But the Left could not give a consistent political shape to that working class resistance. Soon after, the BJP demolished the Babri Masjid and plunged the country in communal carnage.
This time around, when people's struggles against the neoliberal offensive are again on the rise, the Left must be alert against the communal agenda. The Left must rebuff and resist all versions of BJP-NDA rule, be it the Gujarat model based on naked communal genocide, or the Bihar model based on hollow claims of 'governance' beneath which communal and feudal forces are being emboldened.
In West Bengal and Kerala, he said, the Left Front governments put themselves in crisis and weakened the Left because they implemented neoliberal policies instead of resisting these policies. Today Mamata Banerjee is trying to occupy the space that the CPIM-led Government abandoned. Some people are saying she has 'hijacked' the agenda of the Left. The agenda of the Left is consistent resistance – and Mamata's posturing will be exposed soon. But the Left ought to introspect on their conduct towards their own issues and their own mass base. Left unity, he said, can come about only by addressing rather than evading these questions about the conduct of the Left. Hailing the anti-nuke struggles in India, he said, "The names of places like Chernobyl and Fukushima became well-known after terrible nuclear disasters occurred there. But Koodankulam and Jaitapur have become known the world over, for their brave agitation to prevent a disaster. The Left should stand firmly by these people's struggles."
Defence of democracy against the kind of witch-hunt being seen in the name of countering Maoism or terrorism, and opposing draconian laws, he said, must be central to the core agenda of Left politics.
He said that various regional ruling class parties had proved their opportunistic willingness to go with Congress, BJP and on occasion with any 'Third' alternative. These parties did not seem to suffer any confidence deficit. Rather, it is the Left that must find confidence to assert itself independently without compromising on its core agenda. If a resurgence of the Left is being seen worldwide after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is certain that the Left in India can revive itself irrespective of the electoral defeats in West Bengal or Kerala or anywhere else.
Consistent and uncompromising people's resistance, he said, against every ruling class offensive on people's land, livelihood, democratic rights, was the key to forging Left unity and ensuring a resurgence of the Left in cooperation with every other fighting democratic trend. He also appealed to the Maoists to come out of their exclusive emphasis on military action and move on to mass resistance and political assertion. Debabrata Biswas of Forward Bloc and Abani Roy of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) also spoke, supporting the AILC initiative towards united Left struggles. Speaking on the occasion, Debabrata Biswas reflected on the role of the Left in Parliament, calling for introspection about their failure to put up a fight against the SEZ Act inside Parliament.
K S Hariharan, Secretary, LCC Kerala, said that Comrade TP Chandrasekharan's martyrdom imposes a historic responsibility to build a consistent, democratic, revolutionary Left platform. The Left should unite for this cause, for which Comrade TPC laid down his life.
Gobind Chhetri of CPRM, Darjeeling, described his party's resolve to struggle for Gorkhaland while upholding the red flag and Marxist principles. He described the GTA agreement as a fraud on the Gorkha people and called for the Left to consistently support democratic struggles for separate statehood. He called for the Left to uphold the legacy of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, and struggle for revolutionary transformation.
Leader of the Koodankulam agitation, SP Udayakumar, sent a video message expressing solidarity with the Convention. He questioned the rationale of some Left parties in opposing nuclear plants being set up after the 123 Agreement, but supporting the Koodankulam plant on the grounds that it predated the Nuke Deal. He thanked the AILC for its support and solidarity, and said that the people's movements hoped that a fighting Left, that would defend people's rights and our natural resources and environment, would gain strength.
Prasenjit Bose, former leader of SFI and CPI(M), exposed the lies peddled by the Manmohan Singh Government to defend price rise and FDI in retail. He said that the Left could not revive and reassert itself by supporting Pranab Mukherjee or standing alongside Mulayam Singh and Nitin Gadkari – it must assert itself in united, independent struggles on a Left agenda.
Shamsher Singh Bisht, President of Uttarakhand Lok Vahini, said that the plunder of our land, natural resources and environment by greedy corporations and MNCs, must be resisted by uniting the many forces of people's struggle.
Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhury, Patna University, said that all the arms of the State, as well as the media and now even Universities, are being hijacked by corporates. He called for united struggles of the Left and other democratic forces to resist corporate control.
Prof. Manjit Singh, Punjab University, Chandigarh, noted that the world over, even in the US and Europe, there was an upswing in people's struggles against pro-corporate policies. But these policies which failed in the countries of their origin are being imposed on India by our own ruling class!
Dr. Sunilam spoke of peasants' struggles in Multai (MP), where more than a 100 cases have been slapped on him. He spoke about the onslaught of such draconian repression on all democratic protest. He said that while many powerful political parties who claimed the socialist legacy of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia had in fact betrayed it, there were still many struggling streams of socialist forces in the country. He called for Left and socialist streams to join hands in struggle, and hailed the initiative of the AILC in this direction.
Sumit Chakravarty, editor, Mainstream, said that the vacuum of Left movement has given space to communal fascists. He called for recognition of the grievous wrongs of the Left Front in Kerala and Bengal, and for the Left as a whole to learn from this experience. He felt that the AILC could show the way and be a pivot for revolutionary communists.
Prof. Chaman Lal of JNU, who has researched and written widely on Bhagat Singh's legacy, communicated the encouraging news that Shadman Chowk in Lahore, Pakistan, (the site of the erstwhile Lahore jail where Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged) has finally been renamed Bhagat Singh Chowk in keeping with the long-standing efforts of Left forces in Pakistan.
Concluding the Convention, Mangat Ram Pasla, Secretary, CPM Punjab, said that it was a shame that India had a PM who shamelessly hailed colonial rule, served imperialist forces, and betrayed the Indian people. He said that the AILC had been an effort in the direction of uniting struggling forces of the Left. He said that in the past two years, the AILC had made modest but significant progress. He said that the Left should not compromise on its core principles. While there were serious differences and debates with CPI(M), he said, the AILC is committed to the broadest possible struggling unity with all Left forces, including the CPI(M). He said struggling people everywhere looked with great hope towards the Left to unite on a fighting agenda and provide a consistent political alternative: and the struggling Left must live up to this challenge.
At the Convention, the AILC adopted a 12-point resolution calling for a struggle for the ouster of the UPA Government, reversal of pro-imperialist, pro-corporate policies, resistance to communal forces, against state repression and draconian laws, and against violence on women and dalits.
The following plan of struggle actions, proposed by the AILC, was adopted by the house at the Convention:
1. AILC Solidarity Fortnight with struggle against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant, beginning with visit of Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(ML) General Secretary, to Koodankulam on 1 October 2012
2. Countrywide campaign and mobilisation against FDI in retail, corporate exemption, price rise, cuts in subsidies, and demanding that UPA Government quit power
3. Punjab Bandh on 5 October (in support of the call by 17 organisations of Punjab)
4. Parivartan Rally (Rally for Change) in Patna, Bihar, on 9 November
5. Call to turn 2-day Strike called by Central Trade Unions on February 20-21, 2013, into a countrywide mass political strike
Following the 9 November Bihar Rally, the AILC will hold a meeting at Patna, after which it will declare its next course of action.
Among those who attended the Convention were Prof. Amit Bhaduri, Madhu Bhaduri, Dr. CD Sharma of Gohana, Haryana, and journalists Jawed Naqvi, Anand Pradhan, and Rajesh Joshi. A colourful photo exhibition displayed outside the Mavalankar Hall greeted visitors with images of AILC's journey from 2010 to 2012, spanning AILC's founding convention, its March to Parliament in 2011, various agitational initiatives, and a photographic tribute to Comrade TP Chandrasekharan.
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