Thursday, 12 February 2015

ML Update | No. 07 | FEB 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  18 | No. 07 | 10 - 16 FEB 2015

Delhi Gives Modi His First Big Jolt
Just nine months after the BJP's sweeping Lok Sabha victory under Modi's stewardship, Delhi has handed out the BJP a crushing defeat in the elections to the Delhi Assembly. In May 2014, the BJP had bagged all the 7 LS seats in Delhi with a lead in 60 of the 70 Assembly segments. In February 2015, the outcome stands spectacularly reversed with the BJP reduced to just three seats and the AAP securing way above half of the polled vote and an astounding seat tally exceeding even the 95% mark.

The Delhi verdict stands out for its unprecedented intensity and sharp clarity. To be sure, the verdict must be seen primarily in the specific context of Delhi where the AAP had struck a popular chord with its brief stint of 49 days before Arvind Kejriwal had dramatically resigned. This time round, Delhi has voted overwhelmingly to give AAP the strongest possible mandate and the fullest opportunity to translate its promises into reality. The urban poor and every deprived neighbourhood of Delhi voted overwhelmingly for the AAP as did large sections of Delhi's middle class voters.

The BJP must have sensed it coming and so it pressed all it had into service. Modi led the campaign from the front with all the might of his government; Amit Shah applied all his vote-gathering acumen while the RSS brought its fabled organizational network into play. But this was one election in which almost every move of the BJP backfired and contributed to this spectacular electoral rout of the party. And having made it into a huge prestige battle for the Modi government and personally for the Modi cult, there is no way the BJP can now trivialize the defeat and attribute it to some local factors.

Two unmistakable messages emanating from the Delhi elections will keep resonating beyond the borders of Delhi in the coming days. The assertion of the urban poor and working people and young people of Delhi is a reassuring phenomenon in the ongoing battle against corporate plunder and mass deprivation and denial of rights. Instead of talking about migration of voters from this or that party to AAP, one must recognize and respect this decisive assertion of the people. The second feature that stands out is a distinct rebuff against the communal agenda unleashed by the BJP and the growing authoritarian overtones of the Modi regime.

There is also a deeper message about the AAP model of politics. The BJP had sought to discredit and target the AAP as a party which advocated and practiced anarchy. The emphatic victory of the AAP clearly shows that the people of Delhi did not think so. The people were clearly upset and angry with the ill-advised resignation of Arvind Kejriwal, but the AAP attempt at charting a new course combining governance and agitation and shedding trappings of 'VIP culture of the political establishment' has the backing of the people as long as the AAP stays true to its basic promises.

The political evolution of the AAP will continue to evoke interest and attention beyond Delhi. Buoyed by its tremendous initial success in its debut elections to the Delhi Assembly in December 2013, the AAP had tried to spread its net far and wide in the 2014 LS elections with Kejriwal himself taking on Modi in Varanasi. Kejriwal came back apologizing for his resignation and the AAP adopted almost an exclusively Delhi-centric approach, concentrating all its resources and energy in Delhi. It now remains to be seen how the AAP combines its role as the ruling party in Delhi and its attempt at expanding its political presence and role on the national plane.

The post-poll analysis of the Delhi vote makes it abundantly clear that the biggest proportion of AAP votes came from Delhi's urban poor and deprived areas and from dalits and Muslims who traditionally voted for the Congress. Some observers and activists naturally feel tempted to see the rise of the AAP as a sign of 'class war', but it must be remembered that AAP describes its own politics as 'class politics without class struggle' and the economic vision outlined by Kejriwal fully endorses the free market thrust of neo-liberalism while disapproving of the corruption it invariably engenders.

Regardless of how the AAP evolves as a political formation, the Delhi verdict will definitely inspire the people across the country in their ongoing battle against the corporate-communal offensive spearheaded by the Narendra Modi regime. If all the 2014 elections had gone the BJP way, 2015 has begun on a different note. It is now time for the voices of resistance and change to resonate louder and clearer across the length and breadth of India.

All India Conference of Contract Workers in Bangalore

All India Conference of Contract Workers, organized by AICCTU, was held in Bangalore on 1-2 February 2015. More than 5000 contract workers from across the country participated in the conference. On the first day of the conference, workers marched from Freedom Park to Banappa Park in a massive rally organized in support of their demands. The rally saw huge participation of thousands of contract workers that included contract sanitation workers of Bangalore Municipal Corporation (BBMP), contract workers of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), workers from the NIMHANS Hospital, workers employed in public sector undertakings such as HAL, BHEL and BEML, workers from the Bangalore Race Course and MICO-BOSCH, workers in the Ready Mix industries such as RMC, Prism Cements, RDC Concrete, Lafarge and Kennametal WIDIA. Contract workers from Koppal, Davanagere, Mysore and Kolar also joined the rally. Delegates from across the country came to attend the Conference, and took part in the rally.

The rally was followed by a public meeting which was presided over by All India Vice President of AICCTU Com. Shankar. AICCTU general secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee delivered the inaugural speech. The meeting was addressed by Karnataka State President of the AICCTU Comrade Balan, Bihar State President of AICCTU Comrade Rambhali, Karnataka State Secretary of the CPI(ML) Comrade Bharadwaj, AICCTU State Organising Secretary Clifton D' Rozario, Deepa Pathak from Uttarakhand among others. At the meeting, speakers condemned the increased contractualisation of labour in both the private sector, the public sector and in the government itself. They came down heavily on the Modi government for its pro-corporate and anti-labour policies and its proposed amendments in labour laws. The Modi government's move to amend the Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act in a way that will exclude most establishments from the ambit of the laws came under sharp criticism from the delegates. The delegates also spoke of how the Congress and the BJP are no different on this issue and how the Karnataka state Government, in spite of claiming itself to be an opposition party led government, was pursuing anti-labour policies.

An open session on 'Contract Labour , Law and Politics' was held in the evening of 1 Feb, where the Keynote Address was delivered by Com. Rajiv Dimri, All India Secretary of AICCTU. The session was also addressed by leaders of other Left trade unions including CITU, AIUTUC and TUCC. All the speakers called for a broader Left coalition to take on the challenge of increasing contractualisation of the workforce.

All India Contract and Other Workers Federation was launched during the course of the conference to guide and lead the struggles of contract workers across the country.

Com. Balan, from Karnataka was elected as the All India President while Com. Rambhali from Bihar was elected as the All India General Secretary. A resolve was undertaken to march to the Parliament to press for the demands of contract workers. The conference ended with a call for a strong, militant and powerful struggles of contract workers to resist the joint onslaught of the government, industry and the judiciary on the workers of India.

CPI(ML) in the Delhi Elections

In the recently held assembly elections in Delhi, CPI(ML) fielded Com. Surendra Panchal, a veteran activist of the communist workers' movement, from the Narela assembly seat; Com. Ajay Kumar Singh, a trade union activist, who had recently lost his job while fighting for the workers in SMA industrial area, from the Wazirpur assembly segment; and Com. Mala Devi, active among women working as domestic help, from Kondli assembly segment. In all these three assembly segments, CPI(ML) had been running an intense campaign amongst the working class and employees. The campaign included several processions, rallies and street corner meetings. Sangwari,  a cultural group, held several street plays in support of party candidates in all the three assembly areas. These plays highlighted and critiqued the anti-people policies of the Modi government, while strongly raising the demand for an urgent change in the government as well as policies in order to guarantee rights to the common people and especially the working class in Delhi.

7 left parties – CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), Forward Block, RSP, SUCI(C) and Socialist Party(India) – brought out a united appeal urging the people to vote and support the candidates of these parties on the 14 seats contested by them. In order to prevent BJP or Congress from coming to power, the CPI(ML) also issued an appeal requesting people to support AAP candidates in remaining seats, while remaining critical of AAP on several issues.

CPI(ML)'s Statement on 
Detainment of South Gujarat Tribal Activist Jayram Gambit under PASA

CPI (ML) strongly condemns the detainment of South Gujarat tribal activist Jayram Gambit under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) following the campaign led by him and his associates against the attempts to hand over tribal lands to non tribals largely for mining purposes. In past several years, Gujarat has witnessed severe assaults on the rights and livelihoods of the tribals and increasing instances of land grab by the state for the profit of corporate houses. Additionally, the use of draconian laws like PASA on activists fighting for the oppressed and marginalized, have become a mainstay of the BJP governments in state and the centre. CPI (ML) demands immediate release of Jayram Gambit and an investigation into his unconstitutional detainment. CPI (ML) also extends its support to all the progressive sections fighting against the anti-people policies of the BJP led governments in state and at the centre.

Seminars in UP Against BJP-corporate Control over Media and 
in Defense of Freedom of Expression

In the wake of several assaults on freedom of expression and dissent, and the ouster of journalist Pankaj Srivastava for complaining against biased media coverage, AISA organised seminars in Lucknow University and Allahabad University on freedom of expression and the current state of the electronic media respectively. On 2 February, a seminar was organised in the Students' Union building of Lucknow University on 'Freedom of Expression and the Present Day Context', in which Dr. Pankaj Srivastava, senior journalist and former associate editor with IBN-7, was invited as the main speaker. Addressing the seminar, Pankaj Srivastava pointed out that a handful of corporates are controlling the entire media and all the natural resources and hence they are fearful of peoples' movements and any expression of dissent. In such times, only that amount of 'freedom of expression' is allowed space which does not harm the interests of these corporates and the governments nurtured by them, and therefore the voices of all who try to highlight peoples' resistances are being silenced. He said that the cameras of the media persons remain focused only a select few, and reports on farmers' suicides, displacement of tribals and genocides of dalits never become the breaking news. AISA state president, Sudhanshu Bajpai said that even as some in India raised slogans of 'freedom of expression' post the Paris attacks, when it comes allowing similar tolerance for freedom of expression in India, it is allowed only if it does not pose a threat to the agenda of the ruling establishment and the affluent sections. UP state AIPWA president Tahira Hasan added that the corporate houses were not merely looting our natural resources, but also our freedom of expression, our human rights and our democracy. She emphasized the need to strengthen the people's movements against such onslaughts and said that campus premises could be strongholds of such movements.

The other seminar on the 'current state of electronic media' was organised in the students' union building of the Allahabad University, in which once again Pankaj Srivastava was one of the main speakers. Pankaj Srivastava shared his experience of protesting to the IBN-7 management against the channel's biased coverage on the eve of Delhi assembly elections, for which he has was sacked. He said that not only the was the channel propagating the BJPs communal agenda, it had categorically refused to carry news on farmers' suicide and on the acquittal of all the accused of the Dalit massacre in Shankar Bigha (Bihar) by the Jehanabad district court. Addressing the seminar, Prof. Lalbahadur Verma stressed on the need to find alternatives to the practices of monopolization in media. Sunil Yadav, former editor of Samkaleen Janmat cautioned that the Central government was using the media as a medium for its own campaigns as was evident during the recent Obama visit, where the entire media kept highlighting the irrelevant and non-serious aspects of the Obama visit while maintaining a silence on the dangerous Indo-nuclear deal. Journalist Ranvijay Satyaketu pointed towards the use of media by the government in creating a false illusion of development, while no actual development was actually happening. The seminar was moderated by Comrade Ramayan Ram.

Road Block in Gopalganj to free a primary school land

For a long time, the construction work of Pakhopali primary school in Bhore block of Gopalganj district had been stalled by some local goons and anti-social elements working in collusion with the local administration. The students were forced to sit in the open and study. The CPI (ML) took the initiative to organise demonstrations in front of the block office, and issued an ultimatum that the construction work be started within 15 days. However, bribed by the goons with huge amounts, the officials once again refused to take any action. In light of the continued inaction by the authorities, on 13 January 2015, the road from Bhore to Mirganj was blocked. Initially, the officials refused to either remove the road block or meet the protestors, but by the evening when vehicles had lined up for 2 kilometres on either side of the jam, the authorities were forced to declare that the construction would begin from the following the day. After obtaining the report from JEE, the construction work has since been started.

Protest Demonstrations by Workers in Bhilai

The AICCTU-affiliated Union Centre of Steel Workers organised a protest demonstration on 23 Janaury 2015, outside the service department of the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) to highlight the residential problems such as seepage, sewerage, sanitation and maintenance. The protest demonstration was addressed by local AICCTU and CPI (ML) leaders, following which a delegation went to meet the general manager of the of the City Service Department of the Bhilai Steel Plant to hand over the list of demands. However, the General Manager refused to meet the protestors. The protestors continued to raise slogans against the head of the department and submitted their list of demands to the Deputy General Manager.

While addressing the protestors, the speakers pointed out how the BSP management had failed to provide proper accommodation facilities to its workers. Of the 35,000 quarters in the township, nearly 25,000 have been allotted to BSP staff and other people. Of these quarters, while a few have been demolished after being termed damaged; the remaining have been either illegally occupied or with the collusion of the officials are in the possession of the close associates of the officials. This has caused BSP a loss of several lakhs, despite which BSP management has failed to act and the workers continue to be forced to live in unhygienic dwellings. The protestors demanded that if crores could be spent on modernization and expansion of management services, why a similar amount could not be spent on proper accommodation for the workers. Issues of contractual workers such as non-payment of minimum wages, non-issuance of salary slips and provisions of ESI were also raised.

Citizens Protest against Vandalism of Churches in Delhi

Following a spate of incidents of vandalism in Churches in Delhi, a citizen's protest was called to demand action against those responsible for the acts of vandalism. Kavita Krishnan, PB member of CPI(ML) along with several AISA leaders and office bearers of AISA led JNUSU also joined the protest. The protestors were to march peacefully to the office of the Home Minister Rajnath Singh. However, the Delhi police which so far had failed to prevent these repeated acts of vandalism and even act against those responsible was suddenly seen to be actively assaulting the protestors. The police began to beat up peaceful protestors and tried to prevent them from marching to the Home Ministers' office. The sudden action of the police against the protestors which chosen to remain mute spectator to acts of vandalism is highly condemnable and this reflects a clearly partisan attitude. CPI(ML) strongly condemns the high handedness of Delhi Police and its brutal victimization of the protestors. The growing instances of targeting of the minorities in Delhi and the unabated issuing of statements aimed at communal hate mongering by BJP leaders and Hindutva groups supported by the BJP must be strongly opposed and resisted. CPI(ML) demands a probe into the police brutalities on the protestors and the growing attacks on Delhi Churches.

Resist the appropriation of Gandhi by his killers

Mahatama Gandhi's assassination on 30 Jan 1948 merits to be the first terrorist act and political murder of independent India. Ironically, while the image of Gandhi is being used as mascot of the government's Clean India camapign (a crafty ploy that is intended to capitalise on the public stature of Gandhi), these efforts are accompanied by resurgent moves to legitimise Gandhiji's assassin by building Godse temples with calibrated indulgence by those in power. During last many decades most Hindu nationalists have kept the appreciation of their hero, Nathuram Godse under wraps. With the new dispensation coming to power (Modi Sarkar, May, 2014), it seems these acts are being silently appreciated by those in power. This inference is logical as none in the positions of power have either reprimanded or opposed these Godse acolytes. The latest in the series of acts-statements by this Godse appreciation club is the bhumi pujan by Hindu Mahasabha for Godse temple in Meerut (Dec 25 2014). There are several demands from the Hindu Mahasabha offices to install his statues and they have requested land from the Centre to erect a statue of Godse in the national capital. In light of these developments, on 30th January 2015, a public meeting and a film screening was organised by AISA led JNUSU to bring out the many underplayed suppressed aspects and facts about the assassaination of Gandhi. The programme was attended by Rajesh Ramachandran, noted Journalist and Researcher, R. Prasad, noted cartoonist and activists of several other left student groups.

Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta

The Other Name Of Commitment

After a long battle with cancer, Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta—popularly known as Pushanda to his comrades—breathed his last at a private hospital in north Calcutta on 7th February, 2015, at 8.05am.  With his condition deteriorating he was hospitalized on 24th January.

Born on 16th August, 1950 to Sephali Dasgupta and Sashanka Bhushan Dasgupta, a freedom fighter, he was a tireless fighter. His entire life was dedicated to the advancement of the cause of the revolutionary struggle, for the transformation of the society. He passed the higher secondary examination from the Hindu School at Calcutta and was admitted in the St. Xaviers College for graduation. But his association with revolutionary politics drew the ire of the college authorities and he was rusticated. Later he got admission in the Ashutosh College, Calcutta from where he obtained his graduate degree. His service life began with the land revenue department under the West Bengal government. He subsequently joined the central government as an income tax officer and retired in 2010 as a joint commissioner. During his service he developed intimate bonds with colleagues and employees of all strata, and became a companion and leader of their struggles. He was co-convenor of  the Council of Action of Income Tax. At the all-India level he served as the secretary of the Income Tax Gazetted Officers' Federaton. Alongside his service life, Com. Rajarshi Dasgupta was integrally associated with revolutionary politics and a committed worker of CPI(ML) Liberation. He contributed regularly to the state organ of the party Ajker Deshabrati and also occasionally to the central organ Liberation under the pen-name Sukanta Mondal. His socio-economic analysis won him great compliments. His writings inspired as well as enriched the party workers.

A dedicated organizer of the working class movement, he served on the state committee of the West Bengal unit of the party, and was also a member of the working class department and the Calcutta District Committee. His commitment to the party was so complete that even while battling the cancer, he took it upon himself the task of joining the ninth party congress held at Ranchi in April, 2013. And even in his failing health, a few days before he took leave of us, he, taking great pains, duly made his final contribution, a write-up on the privatization of the state sector, to the special issue of the state organ to be published shortly. In his multifarious activities he was an active member of an organization devoted to the treatment and help of the people suffering from cancer, the terminal disease that took his life. And according to his will, his body was donated to the Calcutta Medical College for the benefit of medical research.

Com. Rajarshi Dasgupta was steadfast in his communist ideals and never compromised with his beliefs. His honesty, humanitarian concerns, duties to his family and other near ones and the party were exemplary. Always amiable and warm-hearted, no one could ever think of harbouring any bitterness against him. His is a great loss to us. The Central Committee and the West Bengal State Committee express deep condolence to the family and friends of the departed comrade.

Red salute to Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta!

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