A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17, No. 09, 26 FEB – 04 MARCH 2014
Resist and Reject Political Opportunism
As the 2014 polls draw nearer, blatant political opportunism comes out in the open. Ram Vilas Paswan and his Lok Janshakti Party are now openly flirting with Modi. Udit Raj, Dalit leader of the Indian Justice Party, has already joined the BJP.
For the opportunists, anti-communalism is merely a convenient cloak that can be donned or doffed depending on the prevailing political winds. Nitish Kumar, who did not quit the NDA alliance in 2002, has broken his marathon alliance with BJP and now claims to be ‘secular’. Ram Vilas, who walked out of the NDA alliance in protest against the Gujarat genocide of 2002, is now cosying up to Modi. NCP leader Sharad Pawar too recently tried to indicate that the 2002 genocide was no longer an issue. Whether or not Ram Vilas or Pawar are merely seeking to increase their leverage with the Congress by showing that they have other options, the fact remains that ruling class parties have reduced anti-communalism to shameless, unprincipled opportunism. Earlier too, Chandrababu Naidu, convenor of the United Front, formed on a solely ‘anti-communal’ plank, had moved over to the NDA without a qualm. That history haunts us today, as the ‘Third Front has just held its meeting, and the CPI and CPIM are proclaiming this loosely cobbled coalition to be committed to resisting communalism and neoliberal economic policies. This ‘Third Front’ includes several parties who have been BJP allies or part of the BJP, some till very recently - JDU, BJD, AIADMK, and JVM(P) - and are now adopting a ‘secular’ posture. It also includes the Samajwadi Party which has mocked its secular pretensions by presiding over the worst communal riots and eviction of poor Muslims from villages in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts. Stitching together opportunists of various hues in the name of ‘anti-communalism’ can only erode the credibility of the essential, urgent struggle against communalism. And none of these so-called constituents of the ‘Third Front’ have any commitment to replacing pro-corporate economic policies with pro-poor policies. The BJD, for instance, is presiding over the worst forced land grab and corporate plunder in Odisha, unleashing repression on protesting adivasis and Left activists. To tout an alliance with such forces as an ‘alternative’ is a great disservice to people’s struggles against corporate plunder and communalism.
The Aam Aadmi Party claims to be above such opportunism – yet they too seem prone to reducing anti-communalism to selective posturing. Addressing Muslim academics and citizens at Indian Islamic Cultural Centre recently, Arvind Kejriwal observed that communalism is an even greater danger for the country than corruption. One wonders why the AAP can speak of this truth to an audience of Muslims, who are already acutely aware of the dangers of communalism because they are its worst victims, but will otherwise speak only of corruption, never of communalism? Why is the AAP calculatedly silent on the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, not far from Delhi and Haryana where the AAP enjoys considerable political strength?
Even as Modi paints himself as a ‘political untouchable’, and highlights his backward caste status, Ram Vilas and Udit Raj, like Mayawati in the past, are out to prove that Dalit interests can be compatible with the BJP. The truth is that the RSS, to which Modi and BJP owe allegiance, had wanted the anti-dalit, anti-women Manusmriti to be the Constitution of India. And Modi has, on record, described manual scavenging by Dalits as a ‘spiritual activity.’ So, subservience of Dalits is the reality of what BJP calls ‘samajik samrasta’ (social harmony).
Opportunism is also glaringly visible in the competitive posturing between JDU and BJP over the issue of Special State status for Bihar. In the wake of the formation of Telangana, Seemandhra has received the status of Special State. JDU has responded by calling a Bihar Bandh, and BJP a rail roko, in protest, claiming that this is a ‘betrayal’ of Bihar’s demand for Special State status. The question is: when Jharkhand was formed during NDA rule in 2000, why did BJP, and then NDA Minister Nitish Kumar, not ensure Special State status for Bihar? The same BJP and JDU, which turned a deaf ear to the demand for Special State status for Bihar when it was raised by CPI(ML) then, are today claiming to be champions of the same!
The role of the revolutionary Left cannot be to cobble together power-hungry parties in opportunist coalitions – it must be to powerfully assert the genuine struggle against communal fascism and pro-corporate governance, because only from those struggles can any genuine ‘Third Front’ actually emerge.
Bihar Bandh Demands Rollback of Power Tariff Hike,
Revision Of Socio-Economic Census, Cancellation of Liquor Licences
The Bihar Bandh organized by the CPI(ML) on 23 February to demand rollback of hike in power tariff, revision of socio-economic census, and cancellation of liquor licences was a huge success. The major National Highways passing through the State including the GT roads at Barachatti in Gaya and Kamabigaha in Aurangabad were blocked from early morning, markets remained closed, and rail traffic at several places was obstructed.
At 11 AM in the capital Patna, thousands of bandh supporters led by senior Party leaders took out a procession from the Gandhi statue at Gandhi Maidan. Passing through Fraser Road, Dak Bangla crossing and station circle, the march returned to Dak Bangla crossing where a meeting was held. Bandh supporters from various parts of the city poured into the streets of Patna sporting red headbands.
In Patna the bandh was led by Party State Secretary Kunal, Politburo member Dhirendra Jha, Samkaleen Lok Yudh Editor Braj Bihari Pandey, and other leaders. Addressing the meeting at dak Bangla chowraha, these leaders along with 1000 bandh supporters were arrested and detained at the local kotwali thana. Around 5000 activists were arrested across Bihar.
Bandh participants expressed anger against the fake power bills and steep power tariff proposed by the Nitish Government. They pointed out that first the government sent false bills to the consumers and then slapped false cases on about 4000 consumers.
The speakers said that the issue of government licences to run liquor shops in villages and the decision to encourage continuous increase in liquor consumption is destroying rural life and has a very adverse effect on socio-economic development.
CPI-ML leaders said that apart from the above issues there are complaints of grave irregularities in the ongoing socio-economic census in Bihar. There is a big conspiracy afoot to distort the census and thus deprive large numbers of poor from their due benefits. In Patna and other places urban poor, handcart and footpath vendors are being evicted in the name of removing encroachments.
At Darbhanga bandh supporters stopped the Sampark Kranti Express in the morning itself and prevented its running for an hour. At Jehanabad and Ara trains were stopped and traffic on these rail section was completely paralysed. Trains were also stopped at Jhanjharpur, Islampur, Hilsa and Muzaffarpur causing obstruction for hours.
In Ara district bandh supporters closed main roads at Hasan Bazar, Bihata, Piro, Sandesh, sahar, Bihiya, Shahpur, Gadhani, Koilvar, Charpokhli and other places. Traffic on the NH-30 at Ara was obstructed and in Ara town CPI-ML LS candidate RYA President Raju Yadav led thousands of bandh supporters on to the streets. Roads were blocked at Vikramganj, Karup, Godari, Nasriganj, Dehri, Tilauthu, Dinara and Sasaram in Rohtas district. In Kaimur the bandh had pervasive effect at Bhabhua, Durgawati, Kunjra, Chainpur and Mohaniya. 240 bandh supporters were arrested while making the bandh successful at Ekta Chowk in Bhabhua. At Dumraon in Buxar road blocks were done at Dumraon-Vikramganj road, NH-30 in Sonbarsa, NH-28 in Brahmpur and Dinara-Buxar road in Dhansoi.
At Siwan about one thousand bandh supporters took to the streets in town. Apart from this main roads were blocked in Mairwa, Guthni chowraha, Aandar, Raghunathpur, Hasanpura, Tarwara, Badahiya and other places. At Betiya the bandh had widespread effect in Betiya, Narkatiyaganj, Belwa, Manjhariya, and Mainatand. Roads were blocked at 5 places in Gopalganj, traffic was obstructed on NH-28 and about 100 people were arrested. Road jams were done at Mirganj, Bhore, Dighwa, Dighauli and other places in Vijaypur block. Motihari bazaar was totally closed. A meeting was also held at Meenabazar chowk. Major commercial establishments of the town remained closed. At Chhapra the Nagarpalika chowk was blocked by hundreds of people for 1 hour. At Vaishali a 200-strong procession marched from the Party office to station golambar and blocked station chowk.
In Patna district, Dhanrua, Masaudhi, Bihata, Naubatpur, Paliganj bazaars remained fully closed. At Arwal NH-98 (Patna-Aurangabad road) and NH-110 (Arwal-Jehanabad road) were blocked after which a meeting was held on the road itself, attended by 1000 people. Main roads were blocked in Kurtha, Kaler, Karpi and other places. At Arwal Party State standing committee member Com. Mahanand led the bandh programmes. At both Jehanabad and Dhanrua traffic on NH-83 was blocked. At Jehanabad the markets in Shaho Bigaha, Ghosi, Jehanabad, Hulasganj were fully closed. About 350 bandh supporters were arrested at the Arwal mod in Jehanabad.
At Gaya traffic was paralysed on the Gaya-Islampur road at Khijarsarai, NH-83 at Belaganj, Gaya-Chatrara road at Dobhi, and other places. Party activists were on the streets from early morning at Imamganj, Gudaru, Manpur and District HQ’s. 150 people were arrested at Belapur. At Nalanda bandh supporters poured into the streets in Silao, Biharsharif, Hilsa and Islampur. There are reports of the arrest of about 500 bandh supporters in Silao. At Aurangabad road blocks were done on NH-98 in Obra and Gaya-Daoodnagar road in Pachrukhiya.
At Madhuban, Madhuban-patna and Madhuban-Phulparas roads were blocked. At Darbhanga traffic was paralysed on NH-57, Darbhanga-Jainagar, Darbhanga-Samastipur, Lehariyasarai-Bahedi, Darbhanga-Supaul and other roads. At Muzaffarpur NH-57, Gayaghat and Bochaha and Muzaffarpur-Shivhar road at Meenapur were blocked. From early morning CPI-ML activists were on the streets in town. At Purnea, Purnea-Bhagalpur road and Rupauli and Birauli markets were fully closed. At Beguserai NH-31 and Ballia and Gadhpura roads were blocked. At Bhagalpur marches were taken out in support of the bandh at Bhagalpur, Jagdishpur, kahalgaon and Navgachhiya. 70 bandh supporters were arrested while blocking the NH at Bhagalpur where the bandh was led by CPI-ML CC member Com. Saroj Choube. The effect of the bandh at Sitamarhi was also pervasive.
Massive Peasant-Worker Rally Marks 2nd National Conference of AIKM
Panjab Kisan Union and Majdoor Mukti Morcha Punjab jointly organized a massive ‘Majdoor Kisan Ekta Rally’ at Mansa on 24th February to mark the second national conference of All India Kisan Mahasabha. The rally was presided over by Ruldu Singh Mansa, President AIKM, and Dipanker Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation was the main speaker at the rally. The rally was also addressed by Mangat Ram Pasla, GS, CPM(Punjab), Gulam Mohammed Jaula, President, All India Kisan Majdoor Manch, Raja Ram Singh, GS AIKM, Bhagwant Singh Samao, President, Majdoor Mukti Morcha, Gurpreet Singh Rureke, GS of the brick workers' union Laal Jhanda Punjab Bhattha Majdoor Union (AICCTU).
Addressing the rally, Com Dipankar said that the ruling classes want to divert the attention of the masses from the real issue of reversing anti-people policies to that of choosing between individual leaders. He said that the people will have to thrust their agendas into the arena of political battle of 2014.
Comrade Pasla said that this rally of peasants and the agrarian workers is a fitting reply to the corporate funded rally organised by the ruling Akali Dal and BJP at Moga a day before. He also said that this is a time for the left and progressive forces to unite and advance the agendas of the working class struggle. He called upon the CPI and CPI(M) to distinguish clearly between friends and foes and not to go into opportunist alliances with discredited forces like Nitish Kumar, Jayalalita or Congress for a few parliamentary seats. A large number of delegates of AIKM from all over India were also present at the rally.
Anniversary of TU Strike: Workers' Protest Demanding Their Rights
Hundreds of workers gathered in front of City Magistrate Office in Noida (India) demanding the release of their fellow comrades falsely arrested during the nationwide trade union strike on February 21st 2013. Many workers belonging to various trade unions are still in jail and charged with false cases under the direction of UP Government to protect the vested interests of bourgeoisie industrialists. Also the workers protested against the exploitation under the hands of police-capitalists-government nexus and demanded their basic rights. The protest was organized under the banner of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and Revolutionary Youth Association.
The protest was addressed by Santosh Rai, secretary of the Delhi unit of AICCTU, Aslam Khan, National Vice President of RYA, Rakhi Sehgal, Vice President, Hero Honda Theka Mazdoor Sangathan, Dharuhera (affiliated to NTUI), Farhan, from AISA's Jamia unit, Shivji of AICCTU (Noida) and Hareram Yadav, AICCTU (Khoda) who was jailed last year on false charges during the trade union strike. Later the workers submitted a memorandum to UP Chief Minister through the city magistrate with demands including: (1) End contract labour policy in both public and private sectors, (2) Give a deadline to provide pucca houses for the people living in jhuggis, (3) Implement minimum wages/15000/8 hours, workplace safety norms, along with other labour laws in all companies, factories, hotels and shops in Noida, (4) Ensure that employers provide identity card to all workers, (5) Enact laws to guarantee urban employment with the provision for assured employment for 200 days along with the provision to provide compensation in case of unemployment for sustenance, (6) Ensure speedy issuance of Social Security card for all construction workers, (7) Give deadline for giving licenses and dedicated space for all the hawkers, feriwalas, vendors and rickshaw-walas in Noida, (8) Implement existing laws for women workers under which they can avail all the facilities including crèche and toilets at the earliest, (9) Enact Domestic Workers Law along the lines of the laws for domestic workers in Maharashtra, (10) Start a Workers helpline to address the workers’ grievances and special squads to ensure speedy action on these grievances, (11) Increase the number of labor inspectors, factory inspectors, etc to ensure that labor laws are adhered to in work places and provide a labor court in every industrial zone, (12) Ensure proper organization of ration shops and provide ration cards to all citizens at the earliest along with action against ration card fraud, (13) Ensure proper drainage of dirty water in all the jhuggies-basties of the area along with cleaning, repairing the supply of clean water, and road repairs.
CPI(ML) Announces LS Candidate from Garhwal
The CPI-ML candidate from the Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency for the 2014 LS elections will be Indresh Maikhuri. This was declared by Party State Secretary Com. Rajendra Pratholi at a convention organized by the party. Indresh has been a student activist, former President of the Garhwal University, and former National President of AISA. Trained as a journalist, Indresh writes regularly on many issues of people's concern, while being a whole time activist and member of the CPI(ML)'s State Committee.
AIPWA held a Convention at Udaipur, on 'Women and Democracy', which was attended by a large number of women from different districts of Rajasthan, and also by many intellectuals from Udaipur.
The Convention was presided over by Srilata Swaminathan, National President, AIPWA. Speaking at the Convention, AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan spoke of the need to break the shackles of patriarchy and struggle for women's freedom. She spoke of the political parties that continue to promote a patriarchal agenda of 'protection', which is a pretext to erode women's freedom.
AIPWA State President Bhanwari Devi said that women continued to be at the receiving end of feudalism and capitalism both. Usha Choudhary of Vikalp Sansthan said that women's struggle was to be recognised as human beings, not goddesses. Sarvatunissa Khan said that women are caught in cultural traps that exploit them. District Secretary of NFIW Sadhana spoke of domestic violence and the demeaning culture of 'kanyadan', and other struggles conducted in Rajasthan. Intellectual and activist Pragya Joshi spoke of the need for women to demand their rights and liberties as citizens, not only as human beings.
Delivering the concluding address, Srilata Swaminathan said that women's struggles are intensifying even as violence against women continues unabated. She spoke of what socialism means for the women's movement, and for the need for the women's movement to have a revolutionary perspective. CPI(ML) State Secretary Mahendra Choudhury, and others also addressed the Convention. Women students presented songs and a play on women's freedom. Convention was conducted by Sudha Choudhury, AIPWA's Secretary Rajasthan. Fakrunissa gave the vote of thanks.
Handloom Weavers' Rally in Puducherry
A rally of handloom weavers was held on 17 Febreuary in Puducherry. The rally was led by Com. S.Balasubramanian, State President of AICCTU, Puducherry. Hundreds of handloom Weavers mainly women workers took part in the rally. The rally passed through the main streets of Puducherry and culminated into a big demonstration infront of the state legislative assembly.
Com. P.Sankaran, Vice President, Com S. Motilal, State Gen. Secretary and com P.Murugan CWC member AICWF addressed the demonstrations. A delegation led by Com. S.Balasubramanian met the Chief Minister and submitted a charter of demands, including the demand for protection of handloom weavers, monthly minimum wages of Rs.15,000/, release of the outstanding amount of 2.5 core rupees to the apex Co-operative export development society, rebuilding of fallen sheds of Handloom Weavers society, Rs.10,000/- compensation to each woman worker who suffered due to roof collapse, gratuity, waiver of loans and a monthly pension of Rs.3000/ to handloom weavers, enhancing of rainy season relief, and free housing scheme.
Workers of NIMHANS Hospital, Bangalore, form Union
Unorganised workers of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) formed a union, 'NIMHANS Pragathipara Workers' Union', affiliated to AICCTU and its inaugural General Body was held on 22 Feb. 2014. The workers demanded same payment and other service conditions for the unorganised workers engaged in same and similar kind of work; regularisation of all unorganised workers and bring them under the pay rolls of NIMHANS; Service weightage; Hospital care allowance and Risk Allowance in addition to Privilege Leave, Casual Leave and Government Holidays; mandatory ESI to all and entitlement for treatment in NIMHANS Staff Clinic; Recruitment of more workers to reduce the work burden on existing lesser number of workers and to stick to Patient - Worker Norms for hospitals, etc. The General Body decided on the Demands Charter to be palced before the NIMHANS administration.
Dr. Pradnya Rajesh Bhargave of NIMHANS SC/ST Welfare Association, V Muthukumaran, Legal Advisor to NIMHANS Employees Association, Ravi R, Vice President of National Tuberculosis Institute Non Gazetted Staff Association addressed the gathering along with Com. Shankar, All India Vice President AICCTU among others.
The General Body also decided to send a Workers' Charter of Demands to be placed before the NIMHANS administration and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of central government for speedy resolution.
NIMHANS is one of those handful of select medical institutions like AIIMS-Delhi, PGI-Chandigarh and JIPMER, Pondicherry. Recently, it has also won the status of a Deemed University. But, in spite of being a hospital run by the central government, none of the labour laws are in force. The central government, which is also an appropriate government, is showing utter neglect on unorganised workers' issues.
Obituary: Red salute to Com. Kankar Majumder!
Com. Kankar alias our beloved Chaka of Durgapur passed away on 19th February, 2014 night in a Hospital. He had been suffering from a serious bronchial infection. He was nearly 72.
Coming from a lower middle class background he became a steel worker in Durgapur Alloy Steel Plant (of SAIL) during late 60s. He soon became a vanguard and fighting worker in the industry, and was drawn to the ongoing revolutionary struggle led by CPI(ML). He became a regular CPI(ML) activist since the early 70s. His crucial role and contribution in cooperation with a batch of worker party activists and supporters in Durgapur will always be remembered. This was especially significant during the 1972-78 period, which was one of tremendous crackdown and setback. Durgapur was one of the important theatres of struggle where the party was rebuilt from scratch, and the significance of an industrial worker becoming a party vanguard at a time of white terror cannot be overstated.
He was arrested in late 70s and after his release, he opted for being involved in mass open work as a worker. In addition to working class or TU work he was also attached with different socio cultural activities like the Kotnis Committee and the Indo-China Friendship Society.
We can never forget his fine qualities like simplicity, deep rooted faith in the party, caring human relations with all comrades, and dedication. Naturally, a large section of people from different walks of life spontaneously assembled at his funeral.
Long live Com. Kankar!
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