Wednesday, December 28, 2016

ML Update | No. 1 | 2017

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 20 | No. 01 | 27 December 2016 - 2 January 2017

Resolve for 2017:

Intensify The Resistance To The Fascist Assaults on Democracy

When the PM announced the Note Ban in November, he promised that the situation would return to normal in 50 days. By December, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has declared that cashless, digital transactions are the 'new normal' for India. The Note Ban began with promises of rewarding the poor and punishing the rich and corrupt. By now it is clear that the real intention was to do the opposite. The Government would like us to accept as 'normal' the utter devastation of the cash-based informal economy, small traders and farmers and poor cash-dependent people – and the boom for corporates who benefit from 'cashless' digitalization.   

In fact, throughout 2016, we can see how the Modi Government and the Sangh Parivar have striven to change the face of democracy as we know it, and establish authoritarianism, bigotry and trampling of hard-won rights as 'the new normal' for India.

2016 began with the institutional killing of the Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula by the Hyderabad Central University authorities after he was branded 'anti-national' by the ABVP and Modi's own Ministers. Soon after, the JNU became the target, with students being arrested for 'sedition.' There was a distinct pattern at play: the Sangh Parivar and Modi Government were indeed seeking to make it 'normal' for students on campuses to be branded 'anti-national' and subjected to witch-hunts and violence. As the New Year approaches, another JNU student, Najeeb Ahmed, is missing after being thrashed by ABVP students. From Rohith to Najeeb, it has become 'normal' for Sangh-appointed VCs to protect ABVP violence and punish dissenting activists instead of protecting Dalit and Muslim students from persecution and violence. 

In 2015 the lynching of Akhlaq by a saffron 'cow protection' mob shocked the whole country. In 2016, one of the Dadri accused who died was draped by the Sangh Parivar in the national flag at his funeral. Launching mob attacks on Muslims and Dalits in the name of 'cow protection' and even 'patriotism' became 'the new normal.'        

Saffron mobs kept bullying people in the name of chanting 'Vande Mataram' and the national anthem. By the end of 2016, a Supreme Court order has now put the seal of approval on such bullying by making it a crime for people to remain sitting during the national anthem in cinema halls.

In the Bhopal fake encounter, the police and the BJP's Madhya Pradesh Government did not even try very hard to disguise the murder as an 'encounter.' The cold-blooded killings were carried out in public and in broad daylight, and disseminated through videos. The MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, like Modi when he was Gujarat CM, openly sought public approval for the custodial killings instead of denying it. By making the Bhopal killings a public spectacle, the BJP is out to remove any lingering stigma or shame from the execution of Muslims accused of terrorism.              

The BJP is now attacking the hard-won land rights of the adivasis of Jharkhand by seeking to dilute the provisions of the historic CNT and SPT Acts.  

Before the Bihar elections the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had called for a review of reservations. Now, again while speaking in Uttar Pradesh on the eve of polls, Modi Minister VK Singh (already notorious for comparing Dalit victims of atrocities to dogs) has called for a debate on reservations. These remarks are not slips of the tongue. RSS and BJP leaders are deliberately testing the waters – hoping to create a 'new normal' in which caste-based reservations, like the CNT and SPT Acts of the adivasis or the labour laws of workers, can be diluted.

In 2016, the Modi Government has introduced a new template into the Indian State's dealings with Kashmir. It has abandoned even the fig leaf of dialogue or political resolution of the Kashmir dispute: and has instead made it 'normal' to respond with pellet guns to unarmed protesters and civilian population.    

In 2016 Sadhvi Prachi, a VHP leader, declared that "having achieved the mission of making a Congress-free India, it is time to make India, Muslim-free." Nor is hers a mere 'fringe' sentiment. The PM himself, quoting the RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, called to Hindus to 'treat Muslims as your own' and 'refine' them. Reading the context of Deen Dayal Upadhyay's words makes it clear that he was calling for Muslims to be assimilated into "Indian nationalism which is Hindu nationalism, and Indian culture which is Hindu culture" – failing which they would have to "driven out of India." 

The Note Ban decision is the most ambitious totalitarian project of the Modi Government so far. Trampling over the institutional autonomy of the RBI and mocking and bypassing the Parliament, Modi is seeking to test how far he can impose his own whims on the system, undermine facts and hoodwink people by emotional propaganda alone.

In their project of remapping India as Hindu Rashtra, the BJP and RSS repeatedly use the Brahminical metaphor of 'purification' and 'cleansing' for their fascist projects. The PM began by touting Note Ban as necessary to 'cleanse' the economy of black money; now he is silent on black money and he instead claims that cash itself is dirty and the economy must be rendered 'cashless' to cleanse and purify it. The RSS and BJP seek to cleanse the country and campuses of dissent. And of course they seek to cleanse the country of its diversity and plurality.     

But if 2016 has been the year of unprecedented assaults, it has also been a year of remarkable resistance. The movement for justice for Rohith Vemula, the Stand With JNU movement, the powerful blow to the Sangh Parivar and to caste oppression by the Dalits of Una and Gujarat, the general strike in Kashmir that lasted several months, the ongoing struggle in Jharkhand to save the CNT and SPT Acts – all these showed that every assault by the fascists was an opportunity for the people to fight back and discover new strengths and solidarities.

2017 will begin with the task of thoroughly exposing the authoritarian, pro-corporate and anti-poor agenda of the Note Ban and channelling the resentment against it into robust resistance. The Note Ban must be exposed as not a mere economic policy of the Government – but an attack on democracy and people's survival and livelihood. Building on the solidarities forged in the struggles of 2016, let us meet 2017 with a renewed resolve to fight fascism and defend democracy !


POL KHOL, HALLA BOL Campaign Against Demonetisation

State Cadre Convention in Lucknow

The CPI(ML) Uttar Pradesh unit organized a cadre convention on 18 December 2016, the 18th death anniversary of Com Vinod Mishra with the objective of determining effective interventions in the current political scenario and making preparations for the coming Assembly elections.

Addressing the convention, General Secretary Com Dipankar Bhattacharya said that demonetization is a huge economic disaster for the country; it has severely distressed the poor while benefiting the corrupt and the politically powerful, especially the ruling party BJP. He said that anger against demonetization is beginning to grow despite the huge false propaganda by the government; CPI(ML) is organizing a 'Pol Khol Halla Bol' campaign and on 30 December will stage effigy burnings to enable people to give voice to their anger. He also put the SP and BSP in the dock saying that the former's 'development' was pro-corporate and not for the poor, while the latter is compromising the interests of dalits by holding hands with Brahmanism instead of raising issues of land and dignity for dalits as is being done by the dalit movement in Gujarat. The convention resolved to fight the Modi Emergency and Demonetization Disaster.

The following Resolutions were passed at the Convention:

1.       A Statewide 'Pol Khol Halla Bol' (Expose and Challenge) campaign between 20 and 30 December. On 30 December Jan-Sunwai (people's courts) programmes will be organized at Assembly constituency levels to highlight the distress people are going through due to demonetization, and the effigies of the Prime Minister Modi will be burnt at various Chaurahas (road intersections).

2.       The following demands will be pressed: the government should pay Rs 1 lakh each as compensation to every poor person who has suffered financial loss due to demonetization; Rs 20 lakhs should be paid as compensation to the families of those who lost their lives standing in queues or deprivations caused due to demonetization; the government should waive all farmers' loans.

3.       The central government should find the whereabouts of Najeeb, the JNU student who has been missing now for two months, and should ensure his safe return. The Convention strongly condemns the criminal negligence of the police and administration in this matter. The Convention resolves to carry forward the new consciousness which has arisen across the country after the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the brutal attack on the four dalit youths in Una. Keeping this in view, the Convention resolves to strengthen the efforts to organize dalit workers and raise issue of land reforms on a State level.

4.       The alleged encounter killing of the 8 under-trial SIMI activists should be probed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.

Programmes in Bihar against Demonetization

Vociferous protests were held at several block headquarters in Bihar under the banner of the CPI(ML), AIARLA, AICCTU and All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) as part of the ongoing 'Pol Khol-Halla Bol' campaign against demonetization, with the demand for crediting Rs 1 lakh into the accounts of the poor and confiscating the black money stashed away within the country as well as abroad.

CPI(ML) Politburo member Amar said that people's anger against demonetization is beginning to escalate and they are not going to be fooled by the false propaganda by Modi and the Sangh forces. He said that since the last 15 during the 'Pol Khol- Halla Bol' campaign people's hearings were organized on village and panchayat levels and the adverse effects of demonetization on the common people were discussed. Meetings were held at the village level to expose the true intent of the Modi government behind this demonetization move. He demanded from the government to pay subsistence allowance to all those whose livelihoods have been snatched away as a result of demonetization.

Com. Amar also said that the Modi government which is talking big about nabbing black money is actually protecting black money hoarders and converting their black money into white. If the government is as honest as it claims to be, why is it not bringing the proposal to bring all political parties under the ambit of RTI? Demonetization has dealt a mortal blow on the livelihoods of the poor, the working class, daily wage earners, migrant workers working outside the State, farmers and traders. More than 2 crores of people have lost their jobs and means of earning a livelihood; this is totally against humanity. Under this ongoing campaign, protests were held in all the districts in Bihar.

Campaign against Demonetization in Delhi

CPI(ML)'s 'Pol Khol- Halla Bol' Campaign against Demonetization is being carried out regularly in different parts of Delhi. On the fourth day of the campaign in Wazirpur, thousands of pamphlets were distributed during lunch-time to workers and street meetings were conducted at several places in the entire industrial area. One of the workers said, "Don't Tata-Birla have black money, will this government ever punish them?"

A 'Jan-Sunwai' was organized on the issue of Demonetization in Gautam Buddh Nagar, Noida. Many people from the locality participated in the public hearing. Comrades from local AICCTU unit actively participated in the program. As the program was about to start, local BJP-Sangh supporters tried to interrupt it but people's support and anger defeated their moves and the public hearing was smoothly conducted. Sucheta De, President, AISA and other leaders addressed the meeting and requested all to join the campaign in coming days.

Street meetings and movie screenings were held at several places in Narela. While meetings were conducted during daytime, movie screenings were done using whatever resources that were available. At one place a pickup truck was utilised as a movie screen! One elderly person remarked, "I challenge this government to look for black money in my house and that of Ambani-Adani. Wherever it gets black money it should take action, this Demonetization is simply a whitewash nothing else." A street vendor said, "Earlier 8-9 kilograms of flour were consumed daily at my shop, now only 2 kg is enough. My business has been ruined." The activists urged the people to come out on the streets and demand answers from the government as the 50-day period cited by the government comes to a close.

CPI (ML) holds 'Occupy RBI' protest in Kolkata

CPI (ML) called for an 'Occupy RBI' protest in Kolkata on 22 December against demonetization. Several hundreds of people joined the protest and broke the barricade put up to stop them from marching. They also burned the effigy of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Loud slogans against demonetization were raised. During the protest the leaders pointed out severe economic consequences that has fallen upon the entire population of the country, particularly on the working people after demonetization. The severe cash crunch has ruined innumerable workers of the informal sector in particular, job losses, shut down of industry are the few fall outs. Within a short span of 43 days, RBI and the Ministry of Finance changed their decision 60 times that has telling effect upon the trust and confidence of the citizens of the country.

A delegation led by CPI(ML) West Bengal Secretary Partha Ghosh submitted a memorandum to the RBI. The demands outlined in the memorandum included:

1.       Immediate withdrawal of all the limits of withdrawal from the current & savings bank account. It is a very fundamental right of every citizen of our country.

2.       The tea garden workers are on the verge of starvation death. Special arrangements should be made forthwith to tide over this situation.

3.       The pensioners, the jute workers, the salaried people are not getting their salary from their respective bank on the pretext of non-availability of cash which is again a gross infringement on people's democratic right. This has to be stopped forthwith.

4.       RBI should compensate every citizen, at least to all people having Jan-Dhan account for the breach of trust that they all along maintained on the supreme monetary authority of our country.

5.       RBI is an autonomous institution and must not behave as a political appendage of central govt. to the detriment of our country.

AIARLA to Campaign Against Devastating Impacts of Demonetisation on Workers

In a two-day National Executive meeting of All India Agricultural and Rural Labour Association concluded on 26 December in Patna, it was decided to further build up a nationwide resistance against the adverse impacts of demonetisation on workers who are forced to reverse migration in face of sudden rise in unemployment and consequent extreme low wages in rural areas, with government's draconian anti-poor Note Ban.

AIARLA will hold protests at all district headquarters as part of this campaign on 15 January.

AIARLA demands to compensate rural and urban workers for loss of livelihoods and lives caused by demonetisation and to waive all farmer loans. It also said that rhetorical gestures regarding Benami property are not intended to materalise just like Note Ban was not meant to curb black money. Benami properties would have been seized by now in two and a half years of Modi rule and an urban ceiling Act would have been in place if the government was really serious about curbing corruption.

AIARLA leaders from all over the country shared their experiences of harshly negative impacts of Note Ban on workers and toiling masses. In absence of cash they have to work on very low wages while Minimum Wage Act remains a mockery. Workers are forced to even barter their labour in order to survive at many places. This cynical demonetisation is a severe blow for general masses, while at the same time Modi government has amassed huge amounts of common peoples' cash in banks to further the interests of big corporates and the corrupt.

AIARLA resolved to fight for the compensation of at least Rs. one lakh to all poor and toiling masses against Note Ban losses; to declare Swish Banks' account holders and corporate bank defaulters names to the public; to stop criminalising poor people's Jan-Dhan accounts; to seize Benami properties immediately and to promulgate an urban ceiling act, to waive all types of loans of workers and peasants; to stop giving loans to big corporates and to provide more loans to general masses; to increase funds and works in MNREGA scheme; to make right to housing a basic fundamental right; and to guarantee lands, entitlements and possession for the dalits and tribals throughout India. The AIARLA will launch a nationwide campaign on these issues with immediate effect.

AIARLA has expressed its resentment on rising attacks on dalits and minorities in Bihar and other parts of country. With day by day increasing propensity towards Modi rule, Nitish government has totally stopped even mere discussions of the very important issues like land reforms and has now instead opted for indulging into demagogical 7-Resolves which is devoid of content and utterly rhetorical. The poor in Bihar are constantly under attacks and being displaced from their lands in face of various kinds of oppressions, brutalities and state repression.

Bhagalpur Bandh And Statewide Protests Against Police Brutality on Poor, Dalits, Women

A call for statewide protests in Bihar and Bhagalpur bandh on 16 December to protest against the brutal attack on peacefully protesting dalits, poor and women, was given by jointly by Left forces- CPI (ML), CPI, CPI (M), SUCI (C)and other Left parties. The bandh was highly effective.

Activists and supporters of the bandh came out in large numbers and blocked NH 80 in spite of the atmosphere of fear sought to be created by the local administration. Rallies were taken out on main roads and bazaars such as Rajendra Prasad Road, Patel Babu Road, MP Dwivedi Road and other places. The protestors raised slogans in support of their demands and against the brutality by the police and administration. The protesters put forward the following demands: removal of the Bhagalpur DM and filing of case against him and the police chief; taking back of all false cases against the protesters who were demanding homestead lands; possession for all parcha holders; action against the guilty officials; and implementation of the D Bandopadhyay land reform commission recommendations.

Protest marches were taken out in Patna and other parts of the state including Masaurhi, Jehanabad, Arwal, Darbhanga, and other places. Apart from the above demands, the following demands were also raised at the protests: putting a stop to displacement of the landless in Eastern Champaran, Darbhanga and Kataiya; release of CPI(ML) leader Com. Banhu Ram; rehabilitation of and compensation for mahadalits and the poor who have been displaced in Patna; 5 decimal land for housing to all poor; dakhal-kabja (possession) for parcha holders (allottees) in Maksudanpur, Bishanpur and Beguserai; stopping displacement of sharecroppers; release of Banka CPI(ML) leader Com. Renu Yadav without conditions.

Socialism International Conference 2016 in Malaysia

The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) organized an International Conference - Socialism International 2016 at Kuala Lumpur on 25-27 November.  Comrade Balasubramanian, Central Committee member of the CPI(ML) Liberation attended the Conference. He participated in a panel discussion on 'Exit Capitalism – Build The Left' along with Pierre Rousset, Fourth International, France; Alex Bainbridge, Socialist Alliance, Australia and Soh Sook Hwa, Central Committee of PSM.

Balasubramanian also delivered a talk on 'Breaking Away from Neo-Liberal Globalization' where he pointed out that neo-liberal globalization operates primarily by creating and enforcing a neo-liberal policy consensus - by suggesting that there is no alternative, that the only 'logical', rationale and possible economic system is neo-liberal globalization. It is able to maintain this consensus not only by coercion by the IMF or World Bank but with the help of local ruling classes. Local and regional struggles against capital have an important role in breaking this consensus. He emphasised that "our battle has to be two-pronged" – it has to combat Islamophobia and xenophobia even as it confronts and fights the neo-liberal economic policies. He said that the election of Modi in India, Donald Trump in the US, and the Brexit vote in the UK have reminded us that the struggles against communalism, casteism, misogyny, xenophobia and racism have to be a crucial and integral component of battles against capitalist and imperialist economic policies.

He added that "country-specific revolutionary projects still continue and constitute a key component or contingent of the global quest for socialism. The clarion call of the Communist Manifesto to workers of different countries not just to unite on a worldwide scale but also to defeat capital in their respective nations by emerging as the new ruling class and establishing themselves as the nations remains the cornerstone of the revolutionary orientation of the working class and the people. The challenge of beating capital on the national terrain of course presupposes a firm rejection of and resistance to the usually chauvinistic and often jingoistic plank of bourgeois nationalism and the framework of narrow and sectarian national rivalries." He ended with the call, "Let us share our experiences, let us learn from each other, let us face this formidable challenge together." Pierre Rousset, as well as Jayakumar Devaraj, Member of Parliament, Malaysia, and Central Committee member of the PSM also spoke on this topic.

Workers' Protest at New Mangalore Port

AICCTU held a demonstration in front of the office of the DC of Dakshina Kannada district at Mangalore on 26 December 2016 demanding his intervention in streamlining industrial relations prevailing in shipping companies engaged in cargo movement at New Mangalore Port Trust. Hundreds of protesters also demanded right to protest in port areas and withdrawal of false cases foisted against workers of Delta Infralogistics (Worldwide) Ltd. They further demanded a meeting be organised comprising of all stakeholders including Port Chairman, shipping company managements and the union AICCTU, which is the only union operating among workers of shipping companies.

United Left March in Banaras

Left parties marched unitedly on the streets in Banaras to protest the anti-people demonetization; arrest of protesting BHU workers; razing of footpath-vendors' shops; and the increasing land loot in Banaras in the name of 'development' and 'Smart City'. They raised slogans of 'Modi Go Back' against the Prime Minister who had forced the entire country to stand in queues and while giving the black money hoarders an offer of '50-50'. They also demanded that the loans of farmers, workers, and small shopkeepers should be waived; a minimum of Rs 1 lakh should be put into each Jan-Dhan account; and compensation should be paid without delay to the families of those who had died due to demonetization.

CPI (ML) Convention in Hyderabad

A people's convention was organized in Hyderabad on 12 December 2016 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Naxalbari movement on the subject of Fascist Attacks on Democracy and the Responsibilities of the Left. The convention was addressed by Dipankar Bhattacharya, N Murthy, B Bangara Rao, D Rajesh, Sudha, Mallikarjun, Ramanna, Harinath, Nagamani, Satyanarayan, Sanyasi Rao, and K Ganesh.

Protests against the Murder of the B.Tech. Student for Resisting Rape

On 16 December 2016, a 19 year old 5th semester B. Tech. student who was alone at home was attacked and brutally murdered when she resisted rape by a group of intruders. According to her elder sister, she fought till the last and finally her killers throttled her with an iron wire and burnt her face.

The next day a huge number of students from RTC Institute of Technology in Ormanjhi near Khunti (where the victim was a student) came out on the streets in protest, and they were joined by students and youth from the whole of Ranchi. Protests were held at Albert Ekka Chowk, Doranda, and Buti Mor. Various student organizations, social organizations, and political parties also held protests at many places.

AISA, AIPWA and AIDSO took out a protest march on the same day at Albert Ekka Chowk demanding punishment for the guilty and freedom without fear for women. They also led a protest march by hundreds of students on 19 December from Ranchi University. Students of RTCIT jammed national highway for 4 hours with these same demands. Though the police is still far from apprehending the culprits, the agitation continues to spread.

Two-Day AISA-RYA State Workshop in Darbhanga

AISA-RYA held a 2 day workshop starting on 19 December at Leheriyaserai in Darbhanga which was attended by about 100 delegates. Inaugurating the workshop, CPI(ML) leader Rajaram Singh said that the nationalism of Bhagat Singh, Azad and Ashfaq was based on intellect, scientific truth and the intent to put an end to imperialistic loot and internal oppression. Today a cruel joke is being played on this foundation of true nationalism. Constitutional and democratic values are being eroded. The demonetization disaster has brought dire distress to the poor, farmers, workers, daily wage earners and women, while corporate companies and corrupt politicians are being benefited. Loans to the tune of lakhs of crores are being waived for capitalists, and they are being given further loans from the hard-earned money of the common man. We have to fight unitedly against saffron nationalism and corporate capitalism. Dhirendra Jha also addressed the workshop.

Bangaluru Workers for Minimum Wage 21000 and Equal Pay for Equal Work

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held a demonstration before Karnataka Labour Commissioner office on 24 December at Bangaluru, demanding a minimum wage of Rs. 21000 and Equal Pay for Equal Work as per recent Supreme Court Judgment. More than 1500 Workers from BHEL, HAL, NAL, BBMP, BWSSB, RMC, RDC, Lafarge, MICO BOSCH, NIMHANS, etc., participated in the demonstration. A memorandum with the demands was handed over to the Labour Commissioner.

Memorial Meetings for Comrade Ganeshan

A memorial meeting for Comrade Ganeshan was held on 16 December at Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi. Delhi CPI(ML) Secretary Ravi Rai presided over the meeting. Radhika Menon recalled how Comrade Ganeshan would send useful mails to comrades on topics of their interest, helping younger comrades explore their ideas and also how he would say that he became a communist in the quest for his own human liberation as much as for social liberation. KK Saxena, a publisher who runs Aakar Books, spoke about how he relied on Comrade Ganeshan for advice on which books to publish – and how Comrade Ganeshan would himself distribute copies of those books which he found useful for activists and intellectuals in the Left movement. Ajay Kumar of Udbhavna Prakashan also spoke about Comrade Ganeshan's close interaction with him and other publishers and editors on the Left. Chintu Kumari, an AISA activist, recalled growing up with Comrade Ganeshan around as a very loving and caring mentor. Several others comrades and friends too shared their memories of Comrade Ganeshan.

At the meeting, CPI(ML) GS Comrade Dipankar said that with little formal schooling, Comrade Ganeshan was a self-taught Marxist intellectual who was constantly learning. He was ever willing to confront his own weaknesses, face criticism, and be willing to change himself.  It was unfortunate that we could not document an important part of history which Comrade Ganeshan had helped create: the events of the workers' and peasants' movements in Tamil Nadu in the 1960s and 1970s. He added that in times when communism isn't fashionable, Comrade Ganeshan lived all his life with the energy, possibilities, and hope of the communist movement.

A memorial meeting for Comrade Ganeshan was also held at Chennai on December 21st at Ambattur. The meeting also paid tribute to Fidel Castro and Tamil poet Inquilab who passed away recently. CPI(ML) Liberation's Tamil Nadu Secretary Comrade S Kumarasamy presided over the meeting. CPI(ML) PB member Com. Kartick Pal read out a message from the Central Committee, and PB member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya addressed the hall packed with workers. At the meeting, comrades recalled how hard-working Comrade Ganeshan was, how generous in sharing his knowledge and insights. They recalled his love for the Tamil language and his committed internationalism.


People's Poet Inquilab

The noted Tamil poet, dramatist and rationalist Inquilab passed away on December 1, 2016. He was 72. He was born Shahul Hameed at Keezhakarai in Ramanathapuram district. He had been a Tamil Professor at New College in Chennai till his retirement. A rationalist, his body was donated according to his wishes to the Chengalpattu Government Medical College.  He was popularly known as 'Makkal Kavignar' – People's Poet.

He began activism with the Dravidian movement, and had, like many others of his generation, participated in and been jailed during the anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. The massacre of 44 Dalit agricultural labourers at Kilvenmani in 1968 drew him towards Marxism – initially the CPI(M) and then the Marxist-Leninist movement. The angry lines of his song 'Manusangada, naanga manusangada' (Humans, we're humans) on the Kilvenmani massacre is an anthem of sorts for the ML and Dalit movements. 

He was a trailblazer of the Vaanampadi movement of modern Tamil poetry. His plays brought Sangam poetry to the modern Tamil stage. His play Avvai challenged patriarchal stereotypes by imagining the legendary poet Avvaiyar, not as a wizened and wise old woman as she is usually portrayed but as a young, sensuous and free woman. His modern rendering of the celebrated epic Manimegalai lent itself to feminist theatre in Tamil Nadu. In 2006 he returned the Kalaimamani award given to him by Tamil Nadu government in protest at the government's failure to protect Sri Lankan Tamils, whose Tamil nationalist cause he passionately advocated and supported.

His poem 'Kanmani Rajam', criticizing the moral bankruptcy of politicians, was prescribed in school textbooks till an irate DMK Government removed it from the curriculum after Inquilab spoke out against the Government's decision to celebrate the 1,000th birth anniversary of Raja Raja Chola – a king whom Inquilab considered an imperial oppressor who exploited labourers to build the grand Thanjavur temple.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

ML Update | No. 52 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 52 | 20-26 December 2016

 Modi Government Subverting Institutions, Undermining Constitutional Norms

In two and a half years the Modi Government has already packed Universities, educational and cultural institutions with hand-picked RSS men, overriding considerations of institutional autonomy and transparency. Now, constitutional norms are being eroded by the Government in appointments to the armed forces and judiciary.

No doubt, in any democracy, the armed forces must be subordinate to the elected Government. But it is also unhealthy for the Government to resort to political interference in the functioning of the armed forces. In superseding three senior officers to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief, the Government is undermining the internal autonomy of the armed forces.

It has been the norm for the senior-most officer to be appointed as Army chief, but this time the Government superseded the top three senior-most officers - Lt General Praveen Bakshi, Lt General PM Hariz and Lt General BS Negi – to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat instead. The Government's claims of 'merit' and 'experience' being the consideration for the appointment notwithstanding, the appointment has been met with criticism by many retired and standing officers of the Army.

It is cause for concern when transparent criteria for appointments in sensitive posts like the Chief of Army are overridden and the processes guiding such decisions are opaque and arbitrary. It is widely held that the decision to appoint Lt General Rawat was driven largely by the the choices of the Prime Minister and his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Lt General Bipin Rawat, like Ajit Doval, hails from the Pauri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, as does the newly appointed RAW chief Anil Dhasmana. Doval has already been criticised for undermining the Army in his attempts to control the Pathankot operation. Doval's role at the time had resulted in the embarrassing situation of several avoidable casualties of NSG commandos after the Prime Minister as well as the Home Minister and Defence Minister prematurely announced the successful completion of the operation. Doval is also widely regarded to exercise disproportionate and extra-parliamentary influence on foreign policy decisions of the Modi Government – leading to several unfortunate consequences such as the eroding of Indo-Nepal friendship.    

Over-centralisation, concentration of decision-making in the hands of a select and opaque clique instead of elected and accountable people's representatives, and undermining of the internal autonomy of military and other institutions compromise the country's security as well as the health of a democracy. It is notable that the only previous Prime Minister to have overruled seniority in appointing an Army Chief was Indira Gandhi – remembered also for the infamous imposition of Emergency.

The Modi Government is also locked in a battle with the judiciary as it attempts to exert undue control over the process of judicial appointments. The Government set up the National Judicial Appointments Commission to replace the existing system of collegium system of appointing judges to the higher judiciary – but this Commission was set aside by a Supreme Court judgement. According to prevailing norms, the Government can return a proposed candidate's name to the collegium for reconsideration once, but the collegium's final decision will hold primacy over the Government's opinion. Moreover the Government cannot delay the process indefinitely since judicial appointments are required to be made on a time-bound schedule. The Modi Government has, according to Chief Justice of India, sat on the collegium's recommendations of appointments to the high court for nearly a year and returned 43 judges' names to the collegium for reconsideration.

It is of grave concern that in an interview to a national daily, the Minister of State for Law and Justice PP Choudhary claimed that the Government had a right to decline the appointment of a judge "if the government finds that an appointment goes against national security," and that the Supreme Court should not question such an opinion expressed by a government. Is the Minister suggesting that no less than 43 judges approved by the Supreme Court collegium pose a threat to national security? After environmental and student activists and ordinary citizens, is the Government now branding judges too as unpatriotic? Will judges who pass arbitrary diktats ordering the arrest of citizens who do not stand up for the national anthem in cinema halls be approved as 'patriotic' while those who defend the constitutional liberties of citizens be rejected as 'unpatriotic'? This Government has time and again cloaked its political prejudices in the guise of 'national security' to victimise dissenters. Now it wants to use the pretext of 'national security' to politically influence judicial appointments, undermine judicial autonomy and create a pliant judiciary.   

The Modi Government has also been dragging its feet on appointing the Lokpal, thereby crippling the anti-corruption body. Various institutions and processes including the RBI, Parliament and possibly even the Cabinet were trampled to take the demonetisation decision. 

The Government's encroaching on the autonomy and decision-making mechanisms of various robust institutions to concentrate powers in the hands of the Prime Minister and a handful of his favourites is yet another symptom of the undeclared Emergency that is being imposed by the Modi Government on India.  

18th Memorial Day of Comrade VM Observed As Sankalp Diwas

"Finally, for me the mother of all dreams is a motherland where political liberty of each of its citizens will be valued most"

- Vinod Mishra

The 18th death anniversary of Com. Vinod Mishra was observed as Sankalp Diwas by the party. In several states, district, block offices party members gathered to pay tribute to Com. Vinod Mishra. The Call drafted by the central committee of the party was read in party offices throughout the country and cadre conventions held in several places. 

A state level cadre convention of the party was organized on 18 December at the party's central office in Delhi. The party members paid tributes to Com. VM. During the convention, discussion was held on 'History of communist movement' and 'Effects of demonetization and the task of Delhi-NCR level movement on the issue'. The discussion note was presented by PB member Com. Kavita Krishnan. Bihar State Secretary comrade Kunal was the chief guest of the cadre convention.

In Jharkhand, a cadre convention was organized in Kanko Gram Panchayat (Koderma) which was chaired by Com. Mohan Datta. A sankalp sabha was also organized in Nirsa, Dhanbad where the 'call' sent by Central committee on this occasion was read out. Sankalp Diwas wals also observed in Giridih. A study circle was organized in Hazaribagh Central Jail where the Call drafted by CC was read out and comrades imprisoned for participating in people's struggles discussed the pledge and paid tribute to Com. VM.

A Dalits Self Dignity Convention was organized in Bangalore on Vinod Mishra Memorial Day. The convention gave the call of 'stop atrocities on Dalits', 'Stop the practice of Manual Scavenging and Untouchability'. Workers engaged in cleaning job and employed in government, public and private sectors in Bangalore participated. They demanded that free education, health and housing for Dalits, Sanitation workers and all contractual workers working in industries. They also demanded that the practice of carrying carcasses be ended.

In Lalkuan, Uttarakhand, the Sankalp Sabha began with a two-minute silence in memory of Com VM. The Sankalp Sabha was addressed by Party State Secretary Com. Rajendra Pratholi and All India Kisan Mahasabha leader Com Purushottam Sharma.

In Asandh, Haryana, Sankalp Diwas was observed and a march against demonetization was held where the effigy of Narendra Modi was burnt in protest.

The Sankalp Diwas was observed at many places in Andhra Pradesh. A number of village panchayats in East Godvari district, including Parimthadaka, Chendurthi, Pothuluru, Dharmavaram Chennayapalem programmes were held on VM's 18th memorial day. A meeting was also held at Kakinada party office. While in Krishana district, it was held at Visannapeta , Vijayawada town, Chatrai Mandal headquarter by the masses and party activists. A mass meeting was organised at the historic village of Boddapadu, which was a hotbed of Telangana peasant uprising, in Srikakulam district. The AIARLA members observed VM's memorial day in Sathyavaram village of Vishakapatnam district. The day was commemorated at Com. Vinod Mishra Nagar – the colony constructed after after a prolonged land struggle for homestead lands at Prathipadu and Eleswaram of East Godavari. Here unorganized sector workers including large number of women garlanded the photo of Com. VM and party flag was hoisted by women comradesAt Jagamapeta, a small town in the East Godavari the day was observed. On the eve of the Sankalp Diwas CPI(ML) organised of medical camp in Rajavomangi of East Godavari which was attended by many tribal families on 17 December.

The Sankalp Diwas was commemorated at all the districts of Bihar at various places. Leader of Beur Mushahari comrade Gorki Devi hoisted the party flag in Patna City office at Chitkohara before the floral tributes were paid to comrade VM and the Sankalp Diwas call was read out to the party activists present. The Digha Area Committee held a cadre convention which was addressed by senior leader KD Yadav.

Bhubaneswar city committee commemorated the VM Memorial day at Nagbhushan Bhawan where veteran leader Kshitish Biswal addressed the activists and supporters who paid tributes to VM and pledged to fulfil the tasks as per the 18 December Call of the Central Committee.

Similar programmes were held all over including places in Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, and other states. 

Statement by CPIML Liberation on International Human Rights Day

The CPI (ML) Liberation Central Committee during its ongoing meeting in Hyderabad observed International Human Rights Day today, December 10th. The CC resolved to resist the ongoing onslaught on human rights in India.

The CC condemned the recent instances of fake encounters in Bhopal, Malkangiri and Mallapuram. Last year we witnessed the custodial massacre of adivasis by AP Police at Seshachalam, and the fake encounter of five Muslim youth by Telangana police. Police continue to indulge in custodial killings because they are confident of enjoying impunity. Be it Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh, we see Chief Ministers openly justifying and even glorifying fake encounters. Even in LDF ruled Kerala, we see the Government failing to take action against police and upholding NHRC norms in the Mallapuram fake encounter case.

The wider situation of human rights in India is also very bleak. Perpetrators of Dalit massacres and communal pogroms go scot free and are acquitted even in Courts. Adivasis are being massacred in cold blood in Bastar, Odisha, Jharkhand and other states. Custodial torture by police is a common practice. Draconian laws like AFSPA, UAPA continue to be in force.

The situation in Kashmir is very bleak with the Indian State unleashing brutalities against agitations for self determination by the civilian population. More than 13000 people have been arbitrarily jailed, pellet guns have claimed the eyesight of scores of people and civilian protesters are being killed.

Women in India also are denied basic liberties, including sexual and reproductive autonomy. Homosexuality continues to be criminalized due to the Section 377 law.

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the CPI (ML) Liberation demands punishment for perpetrators of fake encounters, police reforms to put at end to unconstitutional practices and custodial violence, justice in all pending cases of Dalit and adivasi massacres and communal violence, scrapping of draconian laws like AFSPA, enacting of a law against 'honour' crimes and scrapping of Section 377.

CPI (ML) Central Committee

Countrywide Anti-Communalism Marches on 6 December

Left parties and secular and democratic forces participated in anti-communal marches in various states across the country on 6 December, the 24th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 and pledged to resist the Modi government's attempts to destroy the composite culture of our society and impose politico-economic dictatorship on the people. The following is a brief report received so far from different States:

BIHAR: In Patna 6 Left parties—CPI(M), CPI, CPI (ML), Forward Bloc, SUCI (C) and RSP—held a joint march attended by large numbers which culminated in a meeting at Kargil Chowk. The meeting was addressed by Com. Meena Tiwari of the CPI (ML), CPI (M) leader Com. Sarvoday Sharma, CPI leader Com. Satyanarayan Singh, and SUCI (C) leader Com. Arun Kumar.

A Sankalp (Resolve) march was also held in Samastipur in which more than 200 people from various blocks participated and which culminated in a meeting at Station Chowk. Protest marches and meetings were also held in Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga, Siwan, Gopalganj, Nalanda, Bhabhua, Jehanabad and other districts.

UTTAR PRADESH: Joint Left marches and meetings were held in various districts of Uttar Pradesh on 6 December, the anniversary of the Babri demolition and also Baba Ambedkar's 60th Parinirvan day, against fascist-communal forces and in solidarity to protect the Constitution and communal harmony. In Lucknow workers, farmers, students, youth, intellectuals, and a particularly large number of women participated in the March that culminated in a meeting at the Ambedkar statue at Hazratganj. Joint marches were also taken out in Varanasi, Ballia, Devariya, Mau, Chandoli, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Lakheempur Khiri, Sitapur, Pilibhit, and Jalaun. Joint Left dharnas were organized at Gazipur and Allahabad, and symposia were held at Kanpur and Gonda.

HARYANA: A dharna was organized at Karnal on 6 December led by All India Kisan Mahasabha leader Com. Prem Singh Gehlawat.

JHARKHAND: A joint Left meeting (Nukkad Sabha) was held at the Loghna Mor in the Jhariya coal district of Jharkhand resolving to resist the growing communal corporate onslaught of the BJP Governments in the state and the Centre. 

KARNATAKA: A public meeting and discussion was organized by the CPI (ML) on 6 December in Bengaluru on the topic, "The Babri Masjid Demolition: A Brutal Attack on Secularism and Democracy". The meeting was presided over by Com. Shankar and addressed by Party leaders as well as other Left party and progressive associations' leaders. A meeting was also held at Gangawati.

Report on Police Brutality on Dalits and Poor in Bhagalpur

A State level CPI (ML)-AIARLA team visited Bhagalpur on 11-12 December and enquired into the incident of horrific lathi-charge on the poor and brutal beating of women by the police. The team also met the injured dharna-protesters and went to Sultanganj to get full information of the incident. The team comprised State committee members, AIARLA State Secretary Com. Gopal Ravidas and AIARLA State Joint Secretary Com. Pankaj Singh.

The team met the injured women at Bhagalpur Nehru Hospital—Sukhiya Devi, Tabli Devi, Kaili Devi, Sushila Devi and Kabuli Devi (village Tilakpura, Ganhariya). The most seriously injured woman who has broken bones in the neck and ribs told the team that in 1972, 1976 and 1988 they had been allotted about 39 acres of 'ceiling fazil' land by the Bhoodan Yagya Committee, but people from the dominant sections are not allowing them to settle on that land.

"From 1988 we have been making our demands from the administration. But so far only 1304 people have been given possession. The descendants of Siyasharan Singh, and Sunil Singh (all associated with BJP or RJD) have captured the land. Dominant Yadav goons threaten us all the time". Some local leaders have started an NGO 'Jan Sansad' through which they are working among the poor on land and health issues. They have the support of Rinku Yadav of the Nyay Manch (formerly associated with the CPI (ML)). It was under their leadership that the poor went on a protest in front of the Bhagalpur DM on 5 December for kabja (possession) of the land. On 8 December ADM Harishankar Prasad called the leaders of the protest for talks with the DM.

The delegation was about to proceed for the talks when Sadar SDO Anuj Kumar suddenly ordered the lathi charge. The women were half-stripped and brutally beaten. Dozens of women were injured and later admitted to the Bhagalpur hospital. 6 people from the protest venue were sent to Bhagalpur jail.

The FIR even contains names of people who were in Delhi on that day. There is also a student who studies at AK Gopalan College. A case has also been registered against a youth Bunty who had gone to buy medicines at that time.

The team felt that the people of Bhagalpur are solidly against the lathi charge. Even the local MP and MLA feel that the administration is to blame. The enquiry team believes that the DM, SP, and Sadar SDO of Bhagalpur have deliberately lathi charged the peaceful protesters at the behest of the State government. The team has put forth the following demands:

1. The concerned officials should be arrested and tried under criminal charges.

2. All the arrested people should be released unconditionally and the false cases against them should be taken back.

3. The injured should be given proper and full treatment and each injured should receive Rs 20,000 as compensation.

4. Parcha holders should be given dakhal-kabja (possession) of their land without delay and all landless poor should be given land for housing.

Joint Left Protest March against Bhagalpur Police Brutality

On 9 December, Left parties took out a joint protest march against the Bhagalpur police brutality on landless poor and dalits, including women. The march started from Ghantaghar Chowk and culminated in a meeting at Station Chowk. As activists began gathering for the march, the police in large numbers surrounded the venue and started scolding passers-by, rickshaw drivers etc. and tried to create an atmosphere of fear. When the march started, police vehicles also fronted and tailed the march and they tried to keep the common people away from the protesters. However, the spirited slogans of the protesters silenced the police.

Speakers at the meeting said that innocent landless poor and dalits peacefully protesting for possession of their land were brutally beaten and lathi charged, and women were stripped half-naked and beaten, by the administrative officials at the behest of the State government and dominant sections of society. This incident has exposed the anti-poor and anti-dalit face of the Nitish government. This government, drunk on the arrogance of having brought in 'prohibition', has given the landless poor nothing but false and empty promises. The Left speakers pledged that they would fight every such attack by the administration and would continue the struggle for land and other basic issues of the poor.

The Left parties demanded the arrest of concerned officials, unconditional release of struggling people against whom false charges have been registered, compensation to the injured, possession of the land to the landless poor and immediate implementation of Bandopadhyay commission recommendations on land reforms.

Construction Workers' Protest in Patna

The Bihar State Construction Workers Union affiliated to AICCTU held a huge rally in front of the Chief Minister in Patna on 1 December 2016. The rally was to protest against the withdrawal of all schemes of the Construction Workers Welfare Board including registration of construction workers by the Nitish government. A demand charter was submitted to the Chief Minister asking: reinstatement of all Welfare Board schemes including registration; increase in social security amount in proportion with price rise; accident compensation of 4 lakhs; normal death compensation of 2 lakhs; marriage aid of Rs 50,000; old age pension of Rs 3,000; family pension of Rs 2,000; and strengthening of the Welfare Board against the conspiracy to loot 8 billion rupees.

The rally and meeting were attended by about 2,000 construction workers from various districts of Bihar and led by State President of the Union SK Sharma. During the protest, a 5 member delegation met the Chief Secretary of the Labour Resources Department for talks.

Addressing the meeting at the protest venue, the speakers condemned the Nitish and Modi governments and said that only those forces which attack and snatch away the rights of the workers and the poor are supporting demonetization. 50 to 60 crore workers are on the brink of starvation and more than 100 people have died due to demonetization but both Modi and Nitish are silent on this. Nitish Kumar is following the same path as Modi and is depriving workers of their rights. Payment under Welfare Board schemes are long pending whereas 8 billion rupees are still deposited in the Welfare Board account and officials and middlemen are conspiring to loot this amount. The speakers also pointed out that the Nitish government's allotment for construction workers' schemes is the lowest in the country.

 The rally also strongly opposed the Modi government's demonetization decision calling it a decision that has brought starvation and unemployment to construction workers, especially migrant workers, and submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister (through the Chief Minister) after passing a resolution against this pro-capitalist pro-corporate measure.

Protest for Landless in Madhubani

The CPI(ML) held a large protest on 5 December 2016 in front of the Madhubani District Collectorate. The protest was organized under a 15 point charter of demands that included- 5 decimal housing land for the landless (1 decimal in Bihar equals to 435 sq feet, or 40.46 sq meters -Ed); parchas (entitlement of land) for those already settled and possession for those already holding parchas; action without delay on the 15,000 applications in different blocks in this regard; re-starting of all closed mills in the district; ending trickery such as demonetization and "cashless" advice; confiscating all black money in and outside the country and depositing 15 lakhs in the accounts of the poor.

On this occasion a meeting was held chaired by CPI(ML) District Secretary Dhruv Narayan Karn in which it was announced that if action is not taken within 2 months on the issue of housing land, an indefinite "Ghera Dalo Dera Dalo" agitation would be started from February 2017. The speakers said that the deceit of the government is getting exposed in its Operation Dakhal Dihani and Operation Basera. The CPI(ML) has submitted applications of more than 15,000 landless poor in Rahika, Rajnagar, Pandol, Khajoli, Andharathadi, Jhanjharpur, Kaluahi, Jaynagar, Lakhnor and Visfi blocks, but so far, the administration has done nothing about it because feudal dominant people have captured government lands and neither the government nor the administration have the will to free the government lands from the possession of these forces. At the same time, huge cheating is going on in Food Security, MNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The rich-dominant-middlemen-administration nexus is gobbling up most of the benefits which should go to the poor.

The protest was attended by people from many villages and the traffic from Post Office Road to Jaldhari Chowk was blocked for hours.

Protests Continue Against Demonetisation

A daily campaign against Demonetisation and it's impacts on urban poor is continuing in Delhi which will be culminated on 30 December in a Convention to be organised by AIPF. Comrades from AICCTU, AISA and AIPWA campaigned in Delhi's Kapashera Border area. Pamphlets were distributed and film screenings were held at different locations. Workers in the localities complained, "We do not have cash to pay our room rents because of which landlords are harassing us. Many people have simply locked their rooms and gone back to their villages." One of the workers present during film screening said, "I have never felt so helpless. This government works only for Ambani and Adani." Fifty days are almost over, but there's no respite for the people.

Delhi University Students exposing the facade of demonetization, are also campaigning under AISA banner against the black money which flows with the nexus of PG Mafias and dominant political students wings like that of ABVP.

In Udaipur, Rajasthan, a People's Tribunal was organised by Jantantrik Vichaar Manch on 18 December. This was attended by people from different walks of life. The Jury of the tribunal included academicians, ex-bureaucrats, journalists and activists. Prof. Hemendra Chandalia conducted the proceedings where he also apprised the audience of ineffectiveness of demonetisation exercises in curbing black money in the past in various countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Myanmar, Soviet Union and also in India. He said that such a Note Ban always resulted in economic recession in the past too. A small scale industry owner told that his production has fallen to a great extent and still he has no cash to pay to the workers. A local hospital representative informed that hardly ten percent patients are coming now and most of them have no cash to pay for. This indicates how people have been made deprived of essential basic health care. Many academicians explained how the people's hard earned money has been siphoned off to the big capitalists through the demonetisation exercise, and the crisis of capital has been carried over per force over the common toiling masses. The black money and corruption will flourish as usual while people have to suffer more. Construction  workers informed of the job loss and reeling unemployment, a peasant told that the vegetable he grew are now fetching much less prices, while a woman activist said how housewives' own savings over the years have disappeared over night which was meant for rainy days.

Against House Demolition in Varanasi

A massive protest was held on 17 December at Varanasi by the residents of an artisans' colony Varuna against the demolition orders served to them. The residents in hundreds gheraoed the DM office and demanded to withdraw demolition orders. They held a massive protest in their colony a day before on 16th and forced the officials and their Bulldozer which was brought to demolish their homes, to retreat. CPI(ML) activists organised this resistance.

AIPF Protests Dilution of CNT-SPT Acts

The All India People's Forum held a day long dharna in front of Jharkhand Assembly on 19 December demanding the withdrawal of anti-tribal amendments carried out by BJP Govt. in CNT and SPT Acts. Xavier Kujur, Nadeem Khan and Anil Anshuman along with a number of activists from many cultural and social organisations took part in this protest.

8th Patna Film Festival Against War-Mongering

"War is not the solution to issues; now is the decisive moment to oppose war-mongering in the country"

: Gauhar

Inaugurating the 8th Patna film festival "Cinema of Resistance" organized by Hirawal, Jan Sanskriti Manch, and The Group on 4 December, distinguished scientist, film-maker and poet Gauhar Raza reminded people of the historical links between war-mongering and the rise of fascism in Europe. He pointed out that war, whether it is on the border or at the banks, always inflicts suffering on the poor only.

Earlier, Bihar's well-known theatre director Kunal said that the culture of questioning, dissent, and criticism is essential to defend humanity. "Cinema of Resistance" is a step in this direction. Present on the dais at the inauguration were anti-nuclear activist Kumar Sundaram, senior journalist Manikant Thakur, Prof Santosh Kumar, Prof Bharti S Kumar, poet Pratibha Verma and 'Filhal' Editor Priti Sinha. JSM Bihar Secretary Com. Sudhir Suman began the proceedings of the festival with tributes to Fidel Castro and Polish film-maker Andrzej Witold Wajda and condolences to those who lost their lives due to demonetization and the recent rail accident and the soldiers killed in the Nagrota attack.

   The films screened at the festival gave the message of opposition to war and struggle for peace: Gauhar Raza's documentary 'Inquilab'; Anand Patwardhan's 'Jung Aur Aman'; 'Fidel—the Untold Story' based on Castro's life; 'Come and See' portraying the times of Nazi Germany's capture of Belaruse and the use of Mozart's music for war-mongering; Vijay Raj's 'Kya Dilli, Kya Lahore'; Ashwini Kumar's 'Little Terrorist'; Bahman Ghobdi's Persian language film 'Turtles can Lie'; Sabira Samar's 'Khamosh Pani'; Japanese animation film 'Grave of the Fireflies'; French director Alain Resnais' documentary 'Night and Fog';  and Nagraj Manjule's Marathi feature film 'Sairat'.

    The festival opposed war-mongering through other media also, such as art and painting, music, and dance.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

ML Update | No. 51 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19, No. 51, 13­–19 DECEMBER 2016

Reject the Modi Emergency,
Resist the Demonetization Disaster!

(Pledge Day Call issued by the Central Committee of CPI-ML on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the passing of Comrade Vinod Mishra)


     The Modi government at the Centre has completed half of its 5-year term. During the first two years, the government remained largely busy with populist programmes like Swachh Bharat and Digital India campaigns, Jan Dhan Yojana and so on while the extra-parliamentary complement of the new dispensation, the Sangh brigade, which has now been bestowed an unprecedentedly overt say in the functioning of the government, went on unleashing its vicious agenda, item by item, from 'love jihad' to cow vigilantism to all kinds of moral and thought policing, with the tacit and sometimes open support of the PM. With the crucial UP elections round the corner - victory in which can give the BJP a much stronger presence in the Rajya Sabha and facilitate various constitutional changes the party is known to be contemplating in accordance with the RSS agenda - the government now seems to be in a definite hurry.

The two so-called 'surgical strikes' in the recent past, the first allegedly on terrorists across the LoC and the second apparently on black money held inside the country, have been the biggest talking points of the Modi government till date. Both have proved to be thoroughly ineffective in terms of meeting their stated objectives. Attacks on Indian bases are continuing, Nagrota being the most glaring example after Uri and soldiers continue to lose their lives. And the Sangh brigade uses these attacks either to foment jingoistic frenzy or to silence every expression of dissent and grievance of the Indian people by invoking the sacrifice of the soldiers on the border.

The second strike came in the form of a sudden scrapping of notes of the two biggest denominations of Rs 500 and 1000. The move has inflicted enormous pain on the common people, and with an acute shortage of new notes to replace the scrapped currency, the cash-dependent sections of the population, virtually 9 out of every 10, are suffering from  a debilitating cash crunch. And with every passing day it is becoming clear that the cash crunch is just the gateway to a much bigger and graver economic crisis hitting production and employment, and hence income and mass consumption across the board. The government initially talked about momentary inconvenience for a few days, but the pain is now threatening to become chronic and the damage permanent and irreparable.

The original stated purpose of the note ban exercise - neutralizing black money and counterfeit currency - now seems to be only an excuse. The government itself has offered to launder black money at just 5 per cent higher rate than the income disclosure scheme earlier on offer. People like Mahesh Shah who declared a black income of Rs 13800 crore, openly saying that the money belonged to politicians and businessmen, are being let off and the declarations dismissed without any investigation. We also know how ahead of the November 8 announcement, across the country the BJP converted huge sums of money into landed property and how BJP leaders are now being spotted with lakhs and crores of rupees in the newly introduced 2000 rupee notes. While common people had to defer weddings and were deprived of medical care owing to lack of cash, the likes of Janardan Reddy and Nitin Gadkari hosted royal weddings spending a fortune.

When the entire country complained about the utter lack of preparation of the Modi government, the Finance Minister said the preparation could not possibly have been better and Modi said only the corrupt hoarders of black money who could not make arrangements to save their black money were complaining. And now when it is becoming clear that almost the entire amount of scrapped currency is set to return to the banking system, putting paid to speculation and rumours of large-scale decimation of hoarded cash, Modi is incriminating Jan Dhan Accounts as repositories of black money. While thus inflicting immense pain and insult on the poor, Modi has however also launched a major emotional propaganda campaign to project himself as a messiah of the poor, cashing in on the poor's inherent anger against corruption and the growing inequality in society.

One important purpose behind the massive exercise of scrapping big notes seems to have been to bail out the banks which have been looted by India's big corporate houses and crooks like Vijay Mallya who was made a Rajya Sabha MP by the BJP and allowed to flee the country by the Modi government. Risky loans worth Rs 11 lakh crore have been extended over the years to the corporate sector, which are now being systematically written off in a phased manner. Note ban has sucked in all the savings of the common people, and the improved liquidity of the banks will now be translated again into cheap loans to the rich and the corrupt. Apart from injecting fresh capital into the banks, demonetization is also aimed at giving a big push to the digital India campaign and the entire gamut of pro-corporate economic reforms establishing greater corporate control over the entire economy. Everything small-scale, from small agriculture and trade to small industries and various enterprises and occupations in the informal sector, will now have to fight hard for sheer survival in the face of heightened corporate aggression.

By all indications, India is now in the grip of a veritable Modi Emergency. Police repression is on the increase everywhere, the broad daylight killing of eight young undertrials who were claimed to have escaped from the Bhopal central jail, the midnight assault on peaceful anti-eviction protesters in Barkagaon and the escalation of the war on the Kashmiri people demanding self-determination clearly announce the arrival of a police state. The systematic gagging of media freedom and citizens' right to freedom of expression, and deliberate devaluation and evasion of parliamentary accountability by the Prime Minister and his cabinet are also tell-tale signs of an autocratic regime. The advisories being issued on a daily basis also remind us of the coercive days of Indira Emergency.

Of course, the current Emergency is still formally undeclared. But that aside, we can clearly see some other major differences with the Indira-Sanjay era of 1975 Emergency. The economic discourse then revolved around the public sector, land reforms and socialistic welfare. Today it is all about land acquisition, free market and corporate-led 'development'. The foreign policy then was marked by India's close proximity to the Soviet Union, today it is all about a strategic alliance with the United States and Israel. With the victory of Trump in the American presidential election, we are going to see an unmitigated reign of racism and Islamophobia, and there is now every possibility of a rabidly Islamophobic convergence between the Trump Presidency and the Modi government, albeit in the name of a shared battle against terrorism. And last but not least, while Indira Gandhi's Emergency regime had only the Youth Congress as the extra-constitutional wing, the Modi regime has the backing of the entire Sangh brigade, with any number of RSS affiliates openly dictating and enforcing government policies and what passes for 'law and order' in the country. In fact, the government has become the implementing agency for corporate interests and the RSS agenda and the two are increasingly coalescing within a single integrated framework.

The Indian people are of course very much alive to this danger and we can see powerful resistance developing on many fronts. The land acquisition ordinance had to be consigned to the waste paper basket in the face of determined protests by the peasantry. The repressive tactic of sedition charges has been valiantly rebuffed by the student community and the democratic intelligentsia. The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the Una incident of brutal assault on four Dalit youths have given rise to a powerful new phase of Dalit awakening in the country. And as India reels under the Modi-made economic disaster of demonetization, protests have begun to intensify defying the systematic propagation of lies by the Sangh brigade whether through its own network or through the media. Revolutionary communists must work hard to bring about a growing convergence of these diverse strands of struggle in a powerful stream of popular resistance.

On the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the passing of Comrade Vinod Mishra, let us pledge our fullest might and best efforts to the task of saving India from the menace of the Modi Emergency, from the growing threat of corporate-communal fascism. The current year is also the 50th anniversary of the great Naxalbari uprising and the centenary of the Great November Revolution. It is our responsibility to carry forward the great revolutionary legacy and rise to the occasion. The year 2015 saw the Modi government suffer decisive defeats in the Assembly elections in Delhi and Bihar. 2017 begins with elections to the state Assemblies of UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur. For the people who are paying the biggest price for the Modi government's demonetization disaster, this is a great payback opportunity and we must make sure that the suffering of the people is translated into yet another roaring rebuff for the BJP.

Modi Hatao, Roti Bachao! Save Democracy, Save India!

Protest against Demonetization

The CPI(ML) Darbhanga district committee protested in front of the Darbhanga Collectorate demanding rollback of demonetization; re-starting of closed factories; a permanent and stable solution to deal with floods and droughts; starting of paddy purchase; possession of land for parcha holders; construction of the Donar and Laheriyaserai Chatti over-bridge; stopping the razing of bastis of the poor without first making alternative arrangements; and ration cards for hitherto deprived families.  

United March by Left parties in Uttar Pradesh on 6 December

On 6 December, a day that marked the 24th anniversary of demolition of the Babri Masjid and the 60th Parinirvan Day of Babasaheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the left parties took a united march against fascism and in defence of constitution and harmony, and demanding punishment for those responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. in various district capitals of Uttar Pradesh. Marches were held in Lucknow, Baliya, Varanasi, Doeria, Mau, Chandauli, Seetapur, Pilibhit and other districts. On the same day left parties organized a united dharna in Gazipur and Allahabad and organized seminars in Kanpur and Gonda. 

Jauhar-Nirmal-Ratan Memorial Foundation Stone Laid in Bhojpur

The foundation stone of the memorial to former CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Subrata Dutta (Com. Jauhar), Dr Nirmal, and Com. Rajendra Yadav (Com. Ratan) was laid in Gadhani (Bhojpur) on 29 November 2016, the 41st anniversary of their martyrdom. The three, who were leaders of the anti-feudal farmers' struggles in Bhojpur inspired by the Naxalbari movement, were killed on this day in 1975 in a police firing while they were resisting the Emergency at Babubandh (Charpokhri).

Present on the occasion were CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Com. Ramjatan Sharma, Com. Amar, Com. Nand Kishore, Com. Santosh Sahar, Com. Mahanand, and Dr Nirmal's colleague eminent physician Dr BNP Yadav. Thousands of people rent the air with enthusiastic slogans as Com. Dipankar laid the foundation stone after 2 minutes' silence was observed for all the martyrs of the Indian revolution. The meeting was also addressed by Tarari MLA Com. Sudama Prasad, State committee members Comrades Raju Yadav, Qayamuddin Ansari, Ajit Kushwaha and Manoj Manzil. 

AIARLA Protests in Bihar against Demonetization   

Demonetization has become a source of distress for villages and the rural poor. Farmers and agricultural labourers in rural areas are in difficulties. Farmers are unable to sell their paddy. Workers are unable to earn their daily wage. They are left with no option but to work for deferred wages or to accept rice or wheat as wages. The rural wage rate has fallen. Lakhs of Bihari workers working outside are returning to their villages for want of work. Work is not available either in villages or in cities. Poor patients are dying for lack of treatment and medicines. Marriages in poor families have had to be cancelled or postponed. The sowing of the rabi crop has been obstructed, as have the studies of their children.

AIARLA organized protests in front of District Headquarters on 22 November to demand relief from this distress forced on the villages and the poor, in which thousands of farmers and sharecroppers took part. These protests also raised the issues of the Central government reducing ration, housing, and pensions of the poor and snatching away panchayat rights. The protests strongly raised the issue of the Nitish government's negligence towards land rights housing rights, and health and education rights.

In Samastipur district a 2 day "Ghera Dalo Dera Dalo" campaign was conducted which found enthusiastic participation and an increase in organizational activities in 3 or 4 blocks in the district. In Patna a march to the Vidhan Sabha was organized under the leadership of the AIARLA Patna district unit. Anger was rampant among the workers, women, and the poor who participated in the march because ration-kerosene has not been distributed in Patna district for the last 4 months. The march was led by AIARLA State Secretary Com. Gopal Ravidas, District President Com. Vidyanand Bihari, Secretary Com. Aklu Paswan, comrades Mukhiya Asha Devi, Rakesh Manjhi, Sanjay Paswan, Sarifa Manjhi and others. Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya, Kunal, Amar, AIARLA National General Secretary Dhirendra Jha, Shashi Yadav and other leaders participated in the march.

When the march reached Gardanibagh, the venue of the dharna, a memorandum was submitted to the DM. Later, an AIARLA delegation met the Rural Development Minister and expressed the anger of the poor at the loot of their ration and the insensitivity of the government. 

 AICCTU Protest in Bangalore

AICCTU sanitation workers led by Com. Nirmala, General Secretary of BBMP Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha, gheraoed the Raja Rajeshwari Nagar zonal office of BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Municipal Corporation) on 7 December 2016 demanding revised minimum wage of Rs. 14400, payment of 3 months salary, reinstatement of illegally retrenched worker Rangaswamy, drinking water, toilet facility, free breakfast, and other demands. Sanitation workers from 6 wards, including, Kengeri, Anjananagar, Gollarahatti, Hegganahalli, etc., participated in the protest.

Public Talk organised in Bangalore on 6 December

On the 24th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid, a Public Talk on 'Babri Masjid Demolition: A Barbaric Attack on Secularism and Democracy' was organised in by CPI(ML) in Bangalore. Com. Balan, CPI(ML), Shivalingam, Swabhimani Dalit Shakti and Abdul Majid, GS, SDPI addressed the gathering while Com Shankar presided the meet and Com Clifton delivered vote of thanks. Similar programmes organised jointly by left and progressive organisations, including CPI(ML) was held at Gangavati and was addressed by Com. Bharadwaj along with others.

Kisan Mahasabha Block Level Conferences in Patna

The All India Kisan Mahasabha has taken up a national level project under its organizational drive to increase membership and hold district and block level conferences. So far 5 block level conferences have been held in Patna district under as part of this drive, the target being to conduct a total of 12 conferences in different blocks after which district level conferences will be held. So far in Patna district, conferences have been held in Fatuha (20 Nov), Masaurhi (23 Nov), Dulhin Bazaar (22 Nov), Naubatpur and Maner (25 Nov).

The conference at Fatuha was presided over by Com. Ravindra Prasad Yadav, conducted by Com. Ramjanm Yadav, and inaugurated by State Joint Secretary Com. Umesh Singh. The conference decided to intensify the membership drive and elected a 9 member block committee with Com. Ravindra Yadav and Com. Ramjanm Yadav as President and Secretary respectively.

About 200 farmers took part in the conference at Dulhin Bazaar on 22 November inaugurated by Patna District Secretary Dr Kripa Narayan Singh. The conference decided to carry forward the agitation for the modernization of the Son canals and other demands. An 11 member committee with Com. Anand Prasad as President, Com. Mangal Yadav as Secretary was elected.

The 23 November Masaurhi conference, attended by over 100 farmers, was jointly presided over by comrades Shiv Paswan and Bisheshwar Yadav and conducted by Com. Bhagwan Singh. Conference discussed issues such as: rollback of the Punpun canal project which is destroying agricultural land; starting of defunct government hand pumps, and other irrigation-related questions. The conference was addressed by State Joint Secretary Com. Umesh Singh. A 15 member committee with Com. Shiv Paswan as President and com. Bhagwan Singh as Secretary was elected.

120 farmers participated in the Naubatpur conference which was presided over by Com. Madheshwar Sharma and conducted by Com. Tribhuvan Prasad. The conference discussed irrigation-related issues like the Son canal and defunct hand pumps, free electricity, Rs 2900 minimum support price per quintal of paddy, guarantee of purchase, and decided to carry forward struggles for these demands. The conference elected a committee with Com. Tribhuvan Prasad as President and Com. Madheshwar Sharma as Secretary. The Maner conference, under the supervision of Umesh Yadav, was presided over by Com. Subodh Yadav and conducted by Com. Ramkumar Singh. About 100 farmers participated in the conference which identified issues important to farmers and decided to carry forward struggles for demands related to these issues. An 11 member committee was elected with Com. Umesh Yadav as President and Com. Ramkumar Singh as Secretary.

Protest at Labour Commissioner's Office in Bhubaneswar

A massive rally was organised outside the State Labour Commissioner's office in Bhubaneswar on a 11 point charter of demands. Around 700 comrades participated in the rally that started from Nagbhusan Bhavan and ended outside the labour commissioner office. During the march, the participants raised slogans against demonitization and the Modi-Naveen governments at the centre and the state who have been working with an understanding on anti-people measures. After reaching the labour commissioner office, a public meeting was held.  Com. Radhakant Sethi, General Secretary of AICCTU Odisha, elaborated on the impact of demonetization on working class and how the working class has been suffering the entire last one month in different parts of the state. He criticized PM Modi for his anti-poor and also unplanned demonetization. He said that the only planned part in it was the planned process to loot the common people. Com. N.K. Mohanty, President of AICCTU's Odisha unit shared that the contract workers in different industries were not getting minimum wages and that the Naveen government was doing business with the corporates. After the meeting, a six members delegation team led by Com. Mahendra Parida, national secretary of AICCTU, met the Chairperson of the Building and Construction Workers' Welfare and discussed several issues with him. They were assured that their demands will be fulfilled.  

Birsa Jayanti Observed in Ranchi

On 15 November 2016, the occasion of Birsa Jayanti, CPI(ML) activists took out a Sankalp (Resolve) March from the Birsa Central jail square and paid tributes at his memorial in Kokar by garlanding the statue of Birsa Munda.

The Sankalp March was led by District Secretary Com. Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, Com. Ajab Lal Singh and Com. Sudama Khalkho. The activists who participated in the march paid tribute to Birsa with slogans such as "Village and City Call Alike, Company Raj Will Not be Tolerated", "Stop Killing Farmers and Adivasis", "Take Back Amendments to CNT Act", "Jail for the Guilty in Police Firing Incident", and "We Shall Build the Jharkhand of Birsa's Dreams".

Floral tributes to Birsa's statue were paid by CPI(ML) leaders. Addressing the gathering at the Birsa Memorial, the Party leaders said that even after 16 years of statehood the condition of villages in Jharkhand is dismal. Each successive government has indulged in empty promises and proclamations which has turned the people's initial happiness and enthusiasm at the founding of the State into anger. In order to crush this people's anger the government is resorting to killing farmers, adivasis, and students through violence and police firing. They resolved to strengthen the movements against the government ploys to loot the land and livelihood of people.