A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 18, No. 36, 01 – 07 SEPTEMBER 2015
Deepening Crisis, Growing Mass Unrest, And A Great Victory against Modi's Landgrab Fiat
e BJP has all along been keen on invoking and appropriating the legacies of some leaders of the Congress. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Lal Bahadur Shastri are two such key names. Building the world's tallest statue in memory of Patel was a key theme of Narendra Modi's 2014 election campaign. And the Modi government never misses an opportunity to remind us that 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Indo-Pak war and the demise of Lal Bahadur Shastri. But as mass anger catches up with the Modi government for every betrayed promise, the symbolism of Patel and Shastri has begun to acquire a new quirky connotation.
In India's public memory, the name of Lal Bahadur Shastri remains firmly associated with the slogan "jai jawan, jai kisan'. The organic link between the peasantry and the army underpinned many glorious chapters of India's modern history. From the upsurge of 1857 and other peasant-adivasi revolts of that period to the communist-led peasant war of Telangana, the peasant-military organic connection has always been a key dimension of popular anti-feudal anti-colonial resistance in India. Lal Bahadur Shastri had effectively turned this organic relation into a social doctrine of national security for the Indian state. However much Modi may try and invoke the legacy of Lal Bahadur Shastri, the glaring truth of 2015 is that both peasants and (ex)-soldiers are today feeling badly betrayed and are up in arms against the apathy of the Modi regime.
"One Rank, One Pension" (OROP) has been a long-standing popular demand in the Indian army, and the BJP and the Congress both highlighted this demand as a prominent promise in their 2014 election campaign. But much as Narendra Modi the campaigner had promised it, Modi the Prime Minister continues to treat the ongoing OROP agitation of ex-soldiers with contemptuous apathy and repressive arrogance. For Modi and Shah OROP may well be just another 'chunavi jumla' or empty electoral rhetoric, much like the fake promises of repatriation of black money, scam-free governance and 'achchhe din', but for the thousands of former soldiers and war veterans agitating for OROP defying governmental apathy and police high-handedness, OROP is a shocking case of betrayal by a regime of tall talk and zero delivery.
India's distressed farmers fare even worse than these retired soldiers as victims of the government's flawed policies and utter insensitivity. The government has just acknowledged the 'death' of Modi's favourite land-grab ordinance after promulgating it as many as three times and yet failing to convert it into law. While this does mark a victory for the popular resistance against thie government's draconian anti-farmer pro-corporate offensive, the attack on agriculture and agricultural land continues relentlessly. Added to this injury is the insult of brazen official conspiracy to brush aside the most shameful and alarming fact of peasant suicides through statistical sophistry and spurious psycho-analysis. To be sure, farmers are not going to accept this insult-laden injury inflicted by India's most corporate-friendly regime, and the simmering rage of rural India is bound to assert itself as a growing political reality.
The shadow of agrarian distress can be seen clearly in the sensational rise of Hardik Patel with the war-cry of "Jai Sardar, Jai Patidar". This young crowd-puller from the powerful Patel community of Gujarat has begun to rattle Modi with a new twist in the tale of Sardar Patel which Modi thought he had masterfully monopolised. The absurd demand for reservation for one of India's most powerful social groups may well be a ploy to subvert the entire system of reservation as it has evolved over the years, but the fact that it has managed to rally hundreds of thousands of Patel youth in Modi's own state clearly reflects the hard economic reality underlying the myth of Modi's globalized Gujarat. This is not the mythical Gujarat of milk and honey that Modi has been painting in his election speeches, this is the Gujarat of deepening agrarian crisis and farmer suicides. Not the vibrant Gujarat Modi has been smartly marketing to greedy investors, but the Gujarat of real life where millions of young people remain unemployed or slave away for paltry wages. Not the globalized Gujarat driven by the monetary muscle of prosperous NRIs, but the Gujarat of corporate plunder and economic crisis where the Adanis and Ambanis rule the roost even as diamonds lose their glitter in global markets.
It is of course too early to say how the Hardik Patel show will pan out in the coming days - whether his big-bang beginning will fade away with a whimper or we are here to see the rise of a new political force akin to a Gujarati version of Raj Thackeray, or a new version of the Navnirman movement of yesteryears. Socially and ideologically, this "Jai Sardar" campaign also appears to be very much compatible with the Sangh-BJP agenda, and the assertion of 'Patel power' may therefore well end up being co-opted or subsumed within the Sanghi scheme of saffron politics. But there can be no mistaking the definitive signs of a powerful social unrest brewing all around us.
The challenge facing the revolutionary communists and other forces of people's struggles is to boldly intervene in this critical juncture and unleash a powerful democratic resistance. The movement against the land-grab ordinance has won a major victory; through the 2 September countrywide mass strike trade unions have also declared their resolve to defeat the proposed anti-worker labour law amendments, and the voices of reason and resistance are getting louder against every assault on democracy in every sphere of life. We must unite these multiple streams of protest into a decisive assertion of the people against the corporate-communal offensive of the Modi regime and for the fulfillment of people's basic needs and democratic aspirations.
JMS Dharna in Ramgarh on Issues of Pattas and CompensationA day-long dharna was held at Argada (Ramgarh, Jharkhand) area by unit of the Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Sabha, on 5 August in front of the General Manager, CCL Argada, participated by hundreds of villagers. The dharna was presided over by Com. Kuldip Bediya and conducted by Com. Dhanelal Bediya. Speakers addressing the dharna, spoke at length about the history of the land acquisition law in India. They said that many tribal villages in Ramgarh district—Chanakya, Kahuabeda, Teliyatandu, and other tolas and mohallas—were displaced during the 1974 process of nationalization of private coal mining, but the residents never got adequate rehabilitation, compensation, employment and development. Today these displaced people are carrying on a struggle for identity, employment, and existence.
Now once again CCL is planning an extension of collieries in Argada area and increase coal production. It has issued a notification for acquisition of 763 acres of raiyati gair-majrua forest land in rural raiyats of Argada, Manua-Phulserai, Kanjagi, Chapri, Bumri, Padariya, Tongi and other villages, not for the development of villagers but to increase displacement and emigration from rural raiyyats. The government is talking of giving employment to only 86 raiyyats on 185 acres of land, which is negligible as per the declared policy of CCL.
Earlier, CCL had snatched away the future and employment of adivasis by making false documents on local raiyyati lands. In 1990, as a result of agitations under the banner of CPI(ML)-IPF, CCL had agreed that a CPI(ML) representative would be present in the tripartite talks, development works would go on, employment would be provided, and permission would be given to open a manual coal cell. However, the CPI(ML) representative was not called for community development meetings. Residents within a radius of 8 km have so far not got water, electricity, roads, education, technical education, health and other benefits, whereas CCL is earning crores in annual profits. Earlier CCL used to work in a radius of 8 km under the community development plan; now, under CSR, corporate houses have been given the responsibility of development of area within a radius of 15 km and they have been directed to spend 2% to 5% of their profits for local rural development. In other words, the lion has been made the keeper of the lamb!
JMS put forth the following demands from CCL through the dharna: (1)Guarantee of pattas to adivasis who are ploughing the gair-majrua and forest lands of Argada, Manua-Phulserai, Kanjagi and Chapri villages. Camps should be held in the villages for verification, and false documents should be scrapped immediately, (2) All raiyyat displaced and affected persons should be given employment and 4 times compensation, and development should be guaranteed, (3) displaced people should be first rehabilitated and mining should begin only after this is done, (4) All affected villages should be given amenities like water, electricity, education, health and medical facilities, (5) Arrangements for employment should be made in all affected villages, and all small and big contract works should be given to local unemployed persons; outside agencies should be excluded, (6) A Labour Coal Cooperative Cell should be established in Argada to generate employment, (7) As per the tripartite agreement of 1990, CPI(ML) representatives should be included in the committees, (8) Action should be taken against the persons who have secured employment by producing false papers regarding the land of Saheb Ram Bediya, Adivasi Khata No. 19 of village Tongi, and employment and compensation should be given to the true heirs of the raiyyat.
Construction Workers' Protest at District Labour Offices in BiharAs decided by the State Committee of the Bihar State Construction Workers' Union, a 10 point charter of demands was sent to the Labour Minister through a dharna by construction workers in front of district labour offices on 27 July 2015. The following demands raised included- (i) speedy passing of the amendments proposed in the manual by the Welfare board; (ii) general death benefits to be raised to Rs 50,000 and accident death benefits to be raised to Rs 2 lakhs; (iii) maternity benefits to be made Rs.20,000, old age pension to be fixed at Rs. 3000 per month and marriage benefits to be made Rs. 50,000; (iv) increase in scholarship amounts; (v) strict implementation of labour laws, controlling corruption, putting a total stop to terms of contracts through brokers and agents and deciding terms of contracts through unions instead; (vi) minimum wage per day of Rs 500 for unskilled workers and Rs 800 for skilled workers; (vii) proper arrangements for payment of arrears; and(viii) putting a stop to the attempts to introduce anti-worker amendments to the labour laws. Apart from these, local demands were also included in talks at different places. Talks on these demands were held with labour superintendents in all districts and assurances on fulfilling local demands were obtained.
Due to the RJD 'Bihar bandh' on 27 July, the workers had to face many difficulties in reaching the protest venues, however, despite these obstacles, people participated in large numbers in protests in all districts and submitted the charter of demands. In Motihari over 1,000 workers led by Com. Rajesh Kumar and Com. Bhupesh Yadav took part in the protest during which the labour superintendent and other personnel closed the office and ran away. The protesters informed the DM about this and submitted the charter of demands to him. After the protest, meetings were held in all the districts in which the anti-worker character of government policies was exposed. It was declared that on 18 August 2015 construction workers would hold a State level protest in Patna.
AICCTU March to Secretariat in Delhi against Kejriwal's Betrayal of Promises
AICCTU organized a march from Rajghat to the Secretariat in Delhi on 19 August to protest against the betrayal of promises made by the Kejriwal government to workers. Hundreds of workers from DTC, health sector, and unorganized sectors participated in the march with slogans of "Poori mazdoori-Pakka rozgar, Apna ghar sabka Adhikar" (Full wages, regular employment, own house is each person's right), Jan Jan ki hai Awaz, Nahi chalega Company Raj (Voice of all common people- No to Company Rule)".
Addressing the meeting near the Secretariat, AICCTU Vice President and CPI(ML) leader Com. Swapan Mukherjee said that the workers of Delhi had defeated the BJP and voted the Kejriwal government to power believing in the promises made by the AAP to regularize all contractual workers, to provide pucca housing for all workers, to put a stop to razing of slums, and to provide affordable schooling, hospitals, transport and other basic necessities. But the "Aam Admi" Chief Minister has failed to take effective measures on any of these matters. There is no concrete plan to regularize DTC, hospital, sanitation, and education sector workers. AICCTU Delhi State secretary Com. Santosh Rai said that the Delhi government which says it believes in 'dialogue' has put ESMA on DTC and hospital workers and put an end to the need to talk to trade unions. The government which made tall claims of fighting corruption is doing nothing to fight the biggest corruption of them all—the loot of minimum wages of the workers. The guarantee of minimum wages for the worker does not figure anywhere in current discussions. No steps have been taken for the security of women, right to housing, toilets and other basic necessities. Instead of taking measures to run public transport effectively, plans are afoot to privatize the DTC. CPI(ML) Delhi State secretary Com. Ravi Rai said that on hand the AAP government is making a big hole in the working people's pockets by increasing VAT and on the other hand, a budget of 524 crores is being spent for the propaganda of government work. He termed this a cruel joke on the working class. He further said that the workers are seeing the murder of every promise made to them before the Delhi elections. Disillusionment is taking them towards a massive agitation. He assured the workers of every possible support and help by the CPI(ML) in their struggles.
A representation met the secretary to the CM and submitted a memorandum that included the following demands: (i) ending wage loot in Delhi and guaranteeing 15,000 per month as minimum wages; (ii) non-compliance of minimum wages to be made a cognizable and non-bailable offence with provision for 3 years' imprisonment; (iv) contract workers' law to be amended to give equal pay for equal work; (v) reconstitution of the Delhi Contract Workers' Welfare Board and redressal of past grievances; (vi) implementation of current labour laws strictly in Delhi and registering criminal cases against those who break them; guarantee of daily work under a scheme like MNREGA for the lakhs of construction workers in Delhi; (vii) housing in Delhi for construction workers registered under the Welfare Board; (viii) unconditional and immediate regularization of all DTC contractual drivers and conductors; (ix) the number of buses in DTC to be increased to a minimum of 10,000; (x) employment security for private security personnel; (xi) constitution of domestic workers' welfare board and ending their dependence on placement agencies; (xii) giving license to each and every vendor; (xiii) increasing the ratio of vendors' representatives in town vending committees, along with other demands.
Two-Day Hunger Strike in Patna for Justice
CPI(ML) Patna rural and city committees jointly organized a two-day hunger strike on 25-26 August in Gardanibagh, Patna, to demand the arrest of Ranveer Sena leader Rinku Singh, the killer of popular CPI(ML) peasant leader from Bhojpur, Com. Satish Yadav, along with other Ranveer Sena terrorists and perpetrators of carnages and also leaders of the BJP and other parties who continued to protect these killers. Leaders who sat on hunger strike included Party State standing committee member Com. Anwar Hussain, State committee member Com. Umesh Singh, Khemas leaders- Comrades Gopal Ravidas, Jaiprakash Paswan, Devendra Verma, Nawal Bharti, Gopal Singh, Kamlesh Kumar and Vidyanand Bihari. Politburo member Com. Amar Yadav and senior Party leaders were continuously present at the strike venue for two days.
On 25 August former Party MP Com. Rameshwar Prasad garlanded the striking leaders to mark the commencement of the hunger strike. The first day's proceedings were presided over by State committee member Com. Rambali Yadav and conducted by RYA State secretary Com. Naveen Kumar. Addressing the meeting on the second day, Com. Kunal said that Nitish Kumar has joined hands with the most barbaric killers in the history of Bihar who have perpetrated carnages on dalits, women, and children. After the killing of Bhrahmeshwar Mukhia, Nitish had given a free hand to Ranveer Sena goons for launching destruction, terror, and attacks on dalit hostels in Patna and Ara. The very same Nitish Kumar today calls himself 'secular' and pretends to be opposed to the communal BJP. This very Nitish Kumar is responsible for the shameful murder of justice, and for treachery against victims of carnages and their families. He is the one who dissolved the Amir Das commission and protected the communal-casteist BJP and shielded their leaders. Even today feudal forces are bent upon killing leaders of people's movements. PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha said that so-called dalit and mahadalit leaders like Ramvilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi who are today sitting in the lap of the BJP will have to answer why they have joined hands with the killers who lose no opportunity to insult the poor.
The morale of the Ranveer Sena leaders appears to have actually risen after the Cobrapost sting exposure in Delhi on 17 August as was reflected in the killing of Com. Satish Yadav, who was killed during an agitation demanding the arrest of Ranveer Sena terrorists.
Other speakers pointed out that Cobrapost has once again brought the truth to the fore that top BJP leaders gave political protection to the Ranveer Sena, and also provided money for buying arms and carrying out carnages. The sting has exposed BJP leaders Sushil Modi, CP Thakur, RLSP MP Arun Kumar, and JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari as aiding and abetting the Ranveer Sena.
The speakers further said that the BJP and the Mahagatbandhan people may overtly seem to be campaigning against each other, but the truth is that even today the BJP-JD(U) combination is very much alive on the ground level. The recent attacks on dalit women in Parbatta (Khagariya) have exposed this. The speakers called upon the people of Bihar to carry forward the fight for justice, dignity, and rights of the poor and to defeat such treacherous forces.
CPI(ML) Condemns the Murder of Renowned Kannada Scholar Prof MM KalburgiCPI(ML) condemns the murder of renowned Kannada scholar and ex-Vice Chancellor of Hampi University, Prof MM Kalburgi. Prof Kalburgi was shot dead at his residence in Dharwad.
Prof Kalburgi, 77, had been the target of abuse and threats by the RSS outfits like Bajrang Dal because of his rationalist views and his support for the late UR Ananthamoorthy, whose death had been celebrated by these outfits. After Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, Prof Kalburgi is the third rationalist and anti-superstition activist to be murdered following threats by Hindutva outfits. A local Bajrang Dal leader hailed Prof Kalburgi's assassination and warned another rationalist KS Bhagwan of the same fate.
The Sanghi terrorists have been feeling emboldened by the Modi Government which had been weakening many terror cases against them. The BJP Government of Maharashtra had been delaying the provision of staff to the CBI to aid the probe into Dabholkar's murder. The Modi Government and investigative bodies themselves have been harassing anti-communal activists like Teesta Setalvad. A range of anti communal and progressive activists is routinely subjected to threats of violence by Sangh cadres on social media.
CPI(ML) demands a speedy probe into Prof Kalburgi's murder, and thorough measures to probe the funding and training of Sanghi terror outfits, and judicial intervention to prevent the weakening of the Sanghi terror cases by the NIA at the behest of the Modi Government.
Obituary : Comrade John Percy
Tireless Socialist and A Friend of India's Revolutionary LeftComrade John Percy, leading socialist organizer in Australia, passed away on August 19th, 2015 in Sydney after a severe stroke. His passing is a great loss to the Australian socialist movement and to the international revolutionary Left movement, for whom Comrade John Percy was a firm friend.
John along with his brother Jim had been radicalized during the student movement against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, being influenced by the Trotsyist movement. Ever since then they had both striven to build a revolutionary mass party with firm internationalist foundations. To remember John's life is to turn the pages of Australia's revolutionary Left movement.
John and Jim Percy had by the 1970s built a youth organization called Resistance (also called Socialist Youth Alliance for some time) and then the Socialist Workers League, which later became the Socialist Workers Party and then finally the Democratic Socialist Party and Democratic Socialist Perspective.
In an obituary in Red Flag, Allen Myers writes of him, "John himself led many different areas of party work, including being a branch organizer, editor, writer, national president, national secretary and public speaker. He was widely known both inside and outside the DSP as the partisan of a regular, attractive and party-building revolutionary press. Over the years, literally thousands of people met John selling a revolutionary paper on the streets of Melbourne or Glebe, at demonstrations or picket lines, wherever he could come into contact with people who might be thinking about politics."
As National Secretary of the DSP in the 1990s, Comrade John visited India to attend the CPI(ML) Liberation's Sixth Party Congress in Varanasi, October 1997 as a guest, and won great respect of all delegates with his warm smile, revolutionary optimism and great internationalist commitment. In John Percy and the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia the CPI(ML) and the revolutionary Left movement of India found a new friend.
He helped establish Links, an international journal where comrades from different Leninist streams across the world could exchange ideas. The DSP hosted a series of international conferences which allowed revolutionary Left activists from different countries and streams to interact and learn from each other in Australia.
The DSP subsequently went through many changes. In 2008, Comrade John Percy along with other comrades formed the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), which later merged with Socialist Alternative (SA). But the CPI(ML)'s ties with the radical Left movement of Australia have remained intact. Since 1990s several of our leading comrades including Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya, Sivaraman, Jayanta Rongpi, Srilata Swaminathan, Kavita Krishnan visited Australia to attend Asia-Pacific solidarity conferences and came back with great memories of the time spent with Comrade John Percy and his partner Comrade Eva.
Comrade John Percy we will continue to remember you in our struggles and dreams for our shared socialist future!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org