Thursday, March 18, 2010

ML Update 51


A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 12 No. 51 15 – 21 DECEMBER 2009

Telengana and Beyond: The Issue of State Reorganisation and Autonomy


he intense agitation for a separate Telengana, especially the upsurge of students, in the face of severe repression, eventually succeeded in wresting an announcement from the Central Government that steps would be taken towards formation of a separate State of Telengana. The demand for Telengana has been a long-standing one and it gained ground in recent years in the face of deepening economic backwardness and acute agrarian crisis in the region.

While the announcement ‘conceding’ a separate Telengana state has been greeted with predictable public rejoicing in the region, there has been a rash of resignations of MLAs and MPs from Andhra Pradesh, including a large number from the Congress party itself as well as from the TDP. The issue that is particularly proving contentious is the future of Hyderabad. While Telengana agitationists have staked their claim to Hyderabad as the capital of their new state, discordant notes can be heard within Hyderabad while the dominant political establishment in Andhra is particularly loath to part with Hyderabad. Speculations are on that the Centre might seek a way out of the impasse on the lines of the Chandigarh model, by keeping Hyderabad as the capital of both Andhra and Telengana and converting Hyderabad into a Union Territory.

Against this backdrop, Congress leaders as well as TDP leaders in Andhra are now launching agitations to fan up frenzy in the coastal and Rayalseema regions of the State against bifurcation. In response, the Centre has begun to indicate that it will back-pedal on the issue of Telengana Statehood, with senior leader of the UPA Government Pranab Mukherjee stating that the resolution in favour of Telengana could only be passed by consensus in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly itself. While the Congress at the Centre has blamed the lack of consensus on the TDP, it is unable to answer for the lack of consensus within the Congress party itself.

It appears that as in the past, the Congress is once again playing politics with the issue of Telengana Statehood. If such a violent opposition to Telengana has existed among Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh, one wonders why the Congress included Telengana in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government formed in 2004, and in the party manifesto for the last Lok Sabha elections? Can the Congress explain why, in all the years since then, it has failed to create a consensus within its own party on this issue?

The Congress at the Centre and the State must not play politics with the Telengana issue any longer; and attempts to pit the people of Andhra Pradesh against those of Telengana by whipping up an agitation against the formation of the latter must be stopped forthwith. CPI(ML), while supporting the demand for speedy constitution of Telengana, appeals to the people of Andhra Pradesh to maintain unity, respect aspirations for separate statehood, and foil any attempts to ignite chauvinistic politics that can only be destructive for the struggling unity of the people on the burning and unresolved issues of their survival and dignity.

In the wake of the Telengana agitation, demands for separate statehood have come to the fore once again in many parts of the country. The UPA Government must immediately constitute a second State Reorganisation Commission to favourably and holistically address pending separate statehood demands.

There is also an urgent need to address the struggle for autonomous statehood for Karbi Anglong and NC Hills. The people of these two hill districts of Assam, have been waging a peaceful struggle for the past two decades demanding implementation of Article 244A which provides for an Autonomous State comprising the two hill districts within the state of Assam. It is ironical that while the Centre has had no hesitation to amend the Constitution time and again to create newer states under Article 3, the most logical demand of the hill people of Assam which calls for no more than honouring an existing Article of the Constitution has gone unheeded.

The Congress Government at the Centre must not only honour its commitment to the formation of Telengana, it must also urgently address the aspirations for autonomous statehood in Karbi Anglong and NC Hills as well as several pending demands for separate statehood in other parts of the country.

CPI(ML)’s Pledge on Sankalp Diwas, 2009

(11th anniversary Comrade Vinod Mishra): Intensify the Struggles for Land, Livelihood, Democracy!

India’s common people continue to reel under ever-increasing prices, retrenchment and job loss, hunger and farmers’ suicides. While the whole world holds the USA responsible for the global crisis that has intensified the sufferings of the poor all over the world, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, visiting the US recently, took the opportunity to display his loyalty by hailing the strength of the US economy and the dollar. While many US citizens are calling for an end to the US occupation of Afghanistan, our PM shamefully assured his support for the occupation. Soon after, India once again voted against Iran at the IAEA. By reiterating his commitment for US-sponsored economic and foreign policies, Manmohan Singh has made it clear that the Congress Govt.’s priority is to protect the interests of the US empire, not those of India’s people.

The UPA Government, and state governments of various hues have displayed a consensus in favour of corporate loot of India’s resources and the land of the poor. In Jharkhand recently, we saw how former CM Madhu Koda amassed Rs 4500 crore illegally. The question arises - which mining companies paid him those thousands of crores in commissions; which other politicians got paid by mining companies? But all ruling parties that have shared in the loot want the answer to remain a secret. In Karnataka, however, the secret is out: the mining mafia of Bellary rules its illegal mining empire with the help of the BJP in Karnataka and the Congress in Andhra Pradesh!

The blatant corporate loot of precious resources exposed by the Koda scam, the Bellary episode, evidence of illegal mining in many other states including Chhattisgarh and Orissa, and the tussle between the Ambani brother over gas – all lend urgency to the demand for immediate nationalization of all mineral, oil and gas resources.

A recent report by the UPA Govt’s own Ministry of Rural Development highlights the “Unfinished Task of Land Reforms”, showing that, at last count, 77% of dalits and 90% of adivasis were landless in India. The report comes down strongly against betrayal of land reforms by Governments, violation of land laws and Forest Rights Act to grab tribal land, corporate land grab and misuse of water by SEZs and rampant homelessness in villages and cities alike. The report recommends strict implementation of ceiling laws with lowered land ceiling, redistribution of bhoodan land, tenancy rights to sharecroppers, and guarantee of homestead land for the rural poor and homes for the urban poor. But the UPA Govt. is turning a deaf ear to the report submitted by a Commission appointed by its own Ministry!

Struggles around land, livelihood and food are erupting all over the country. Corruption in NREGA and ration system, cutbacks in BPL coverage, eviction of street vendors, and of the urban poor from slums have all sparked off massive protests. Workers have been on the streets – be it in Coimbatore or Gurgaon – against the rampant violations in labour laws. Struggles against corporate land grab are being waged in the face of severe repression. In Bihar, the Nitish Government’s mask of ‘mahadalit’ empowerment has come apart, and the Government has chosen to be loyal to its primary feudal constituency and betray the recommendations of the Committee on Land Reforms headed by D Bandopadhyaya. With the entire ruling class opposition united against land reform, the CPI(ML) alone is mobilizing the rural poor to demand sharecroppers’ rights and homestead land. In Punjab, a struggle by agricultural labourers to make the Government keep its promise of homestead land for the poor resulted in mass jailing and repression of the rural poor.

At this juncture, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UPA Government’s declaration of ‘war on Maoism’ is a pretext – the real target is people’s movements and the protests of the poor. Any people’s movement that inconveniences the Government is being branded as ‘Maoist’ in order to justify repression of struggles and silencing of dissent. Draconian laws are mushrooming in every state. While military suppression of struggles has long been a grim reality in Kashmir and the North East, now the UPA Government is planning to bring the entire country under the shadow of its war on people – all to “make the country safe” for corporate loot and suppression of democracy – be it in industries or in society at large. Meanwhile, the so-called ‘secular’ Government is allowing those responsible for communal genocide to get away scot-free.

The CPI(ML) was born in 1969 in the crucible of revolutionary struggles where the rural poor sought to shatter the feudal fetters. The assault on democracy that began with brutal repression unleashed against the CPI(ML), very soon engulfed the entire country and ended with the imposition of Emergency. In the 40 years since its birth, the CPI(ML) has unleashed powerful struggles of the oppressed in several parts of the country in the face of fierce feudal violence and state repression.

Today, it is urgent that mass struggles for land, food, livelihood, democracy confront governments and ruling class parties with renewed vigour, defying the attempt to suppress and silence them with state repression. On December 18, 2009, the eleventh anniversary of the demise of former CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Vinod Mishra, the CPI(ML) rededicates itself to fulfil this task with all its might.

Campaign against Land grab in Tiruvallore

In Tiruvallore district, the All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) held a vehicular campaign on 13 December against land grab in Tamil Nadu and particularly against the land grabbing done by Justice Dinakaran in Tiruvallore Dist. The campaign covered over 30 villages in 10 panchayats and reached ten thousand rural poor. The campaign demanded that TN government should declare the details of illegally occupied government waste lands, panchami lands and bhoodhan lands in the State and take immediate steps to distribute such lands to the landless and homeless rural poor. It raised slogans against TN CM Mr. Karunanidhi, who retracted on his promise to distribute 2 acre land to the landless poor of the State. The campaign also demanded that the 5-cent housestead land must be provided to the rural poor. 40 comrades on as many 2-wheelers participated in the campaign led by AIALA’s Dist. Secretary Com. Seshadri, and Com. S. Janakiraman, AIALA’s State Secretary addressed the meetings at various places.

Workers’ Convention in TN

Solidarity Forum in Poonamallee organized a convention on December 6, on “Workers’ Upsurge: Possible. Unavoidable. Irresistible.” More than 110 workers of Hyundai, permanent and non-permanent, Delphi-TVS, SL Lumax, Hanil Automotive, a subsidiary of Hyundai, MRF and TIDC participated in the convention. The convention was held in the backdrop of stagnant union activities in Hyundai since the sit-in-strike in May this year. Com. S.Kumarasami, National President of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) addressed the convention.

AISA’s 1st State Conference in Maharashtra

The First Maharashtra State Conference of All India Students' Association (AISA) was held in Ahmednagar district, on 10th December, 2009. 165 delegates from 21 Colleges and 3 Schools, of 7 districts Jalna, Dhuliya, Ahmednagar, Pune, Kolhapur, Aurangabad and Nandurbar, took part in the Conference. Six delegates were girls.

Inaugurating the Conference, Com. Bhimrao Bansod of Lal Nishaan Party (Leninist) said that the successive central and state governments are increasingly becoming anti-people, focussing only upon the well being of a tiny elite, at the cost of the common people. Criticising the forces of regional chauvinism, he stated that earlier the Shiv Sena attacked the South Indians, and now the MNS is attacking North Indians on the same allegation that they are responsible for the unemployment of Maharashtra's youth. He said that the real reason of such poverty and unemployment are not these people, but the very elitist and anti-people policies of these very parties and AISA must unite and lead the youth and students of Maharashtra to give these anti-people forces a fitting rebuff.

Another member of LNP’s Secretarial Board Com. Uday Bhatt addressed the Conference. After this, in the second session of the Conference, Com. Shivaji and Comrade Jivan presented the Political-Organisational report, which gave a thorough criticism of the Hundred days Agenda of Ministry of Human Resource Development, its circular on Fund cuts, and the anti-student Right to education Act. Com. Jivan reported that AISA is functioning in 11 districts of Maharahtra and it has successfully led signifcant struggles on students' issues, be it the struggle to ensure granting of Students' Loan to poor students in Pune, struggle for proper disbursal of scholarships to Dalit students in Dhuliya, Struggle for refunding of excess fess taken from students in Shri Rampur, or State level protests against the anti-student Right to education Act. The recorded membership of AISA at the time of Conference was 2050, in the State.

AISA’s General Secretary Ravi Rai was present and addressed the Conference saying that the forces of regional chauvinism are trying hard to divide the youth and the students of the nation on regional lines. He said that despite all of their attempts, the youth and students of Maharashtra have realised that their icon is not a shady character like Raj Thakray who divides the youth of the nation, but martyr like Shivram Hari Rajguru who made a united effort with Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev Thapar of Punjab, and BK Dutt of Bihar to fight for the Freedom of the Nation. Congratulating the State Leading Team of Maharashtra for successfully organising the 1st State Conference of AISA, he expressed hope that this conference will mark the beginning of a new phase of Students' Movement in Maharashtra, which will lead different sections of society, be it farmers, dalits or workers, in their struggles for their rights.

The Conference elected a 28 member State Council, 11 member State Executive Committee, and 6 member Office Bearer Team with Comrade Jivan as State Secretary and Comrade Shivaji as State President.

The Conference passed Resolutions against the MHRD's 100 days agenda including the anti-student RTE, Fund Cut Circular of 12 September, Yashpal Committee’s Recommendations, and the Attempts to divide the youth and students on regional lines by MNS and Shiv Sena, while also pledging to fight against them and foil their ploy of dividing the youth and people. The Conference ended up with a resolve to successfully run a Signature Campaign against MHRD circular of Fund cut at all-Maharashtra level, and make all out efforts to turn AISA's 7th National Conference, Kolkata into a great success.

Comrade Rajan was the central observer for the Conference.

National All-Women's Team Stopped By Chhatisgarh Police From Entering Bastar for a Peaceful Padyatra!

The All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) strongly condemns the Chhatisgarh government and Police for not allowing a 35-member team (Chhatisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch) consisting of women from all over the country from entering Dantewada in Bastar district for a peaceful padyatra on Dec 14th, 2009. Right from the time that the Chhatisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch left Raipur after a 2-day campaign against sexual violence and state repression, it was repeatedly stopped and harassed at various points by the Chhattigarh police. The four jeeps being used by the team were first stopped at the Kanker police station. When the women subsequently caught a bus to proceed to Dantewada, they were stopped at several check posts and were detained at the Kondagaon Police Station in Jagdalpur and sent back to Raipur.

The team was proceeding to Dantewada for a padyatra to highlight the wide spread human rights violations going on in Bastar under the state-sponsored Salwa Judum. Ever since the government started the Salwa Judum campaign in Bastar, several cases of illegal detention, rape and murder by Special Police Officers (SPOs) of the Salwa Judum have been reported. For years, the women who had been raped were not even allowed to register a case with the District Magistrate. "After a sustained movement, some rape cases have finally been registered. However, no action has been taken on the accused by the police on the plea that they are "missing"! It is shocking that these men, whom the police claim are "absconding", are not just roaming about scot-free, they are actually organising marches and public rallies against those protesting Salwa Judum.", said Comrade Kavita Krishnan, national secretary, AIPWA, in her press statement from Raipur.

It is a matter of grave shock and shame that the state government is not allowing anybody to enter the area and interact with the local people suffering under Salwa Judum. "The government is essentially preventing any contact of the tribals in Bastar with the outside world. Now, even a national team planning a peaceful padyatra is being detained by the Police! This is a complete travesty of our democratic rights," added Com. Kavita.

Such incidents are not confined to Bastar alone. Recently, an all-women's fact finding team which wanted to investigate the police firing in Narayanpatna in Koraput district in Orissa was beaten up by local goons and the local police. The team was assaulted thrice, once in the local police station. "It is clear that governments are hell-bent to ensure that incidents of state repression are not reported and publicized. They are hell-bent on clamping down on a widespread movement against state repression and police atrocities," said Kavita. AIPWA demands that the state government, as well as the Central Government immediately take action on those responsible for such harassment.

Dec. 6th in Harayana

On 6th December, 2009, the Harayana Unit of CPI(ML) held a demonstration in Gurgaon to protest the extremely long delay in taking any action against the perpetrators of Babri Masjid demolition, and those named in the Leberhan Commission Report. Party’s leader Com. Prem Singh Gahlawat, leading the demonstration demanded swift action against the demolishers and sharply criticized the Congress Govt. for in its reluctance to bring the perpetrators to book.

Jasam Holds its First Delhi State Conference

The Jan Sanskriti Manch (Jasam) held its first Delhi State Conference on 13th December at Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi, against assaults on Democracy, highlighting the Militarisation of Society and Asocialisation of Culture.

The Bangla literary figure Nabarun Bhattacharya said in his inaugural address that literature will have to decide its role in this era when the dark clouds of crisis are hovering over democracy. The cultural activists will have to be alert to the existing threats of the time and will have to constantly question themselves whether they are really honest to the current times in their creative work. He further said that a better Left can be the only alternative to the Left-Front Govt of WB. Prof. Chaman Lal of JNU and an authority on life and mission of Bhagat Singh and Paash, remarked that the rapid pace of consumerism has resulted in asocialisation of culture to very dangerous levels. Samkalin Teesri Duniya’s Editor Anand Swarup Verma expressed deep concern over weakened voice of resistance in Hindi-Urdu domain. Jasam’s General Secretary and poet Ajay Singh underlined the need for realness and inclusivity in strengthening culture of resistance and also stressed on the need for Organisational strength of Cultural activists. Manager Panday, Jasam’s President said that the innate barbarity of capitalist civilization gives rise to militarization of state-power and society and the asocialisation of culture is a consequent of its monumental ego.

Continuing the discussion on asocialisation of culture, Hindi-Urdu writer and dancer Noor Jahir said that the growing impoverishment of peasants is resulting in the extinction of their culture, folk songs and celebrations/festivals. Others who contributed to the exhilarating discussion were hindi story-writer Yogendra Ahuja and veteran poet Ibbar Rabi who said that if creative work is not against state power it cannot be called so then. Poet Manglesh Dabral remarked that culture was now turning into an industry and after Mass media it is now literature which is getting corporatised. Filmmaker Sanjay Kak said that there should not be escapism or compromise with complexity while making films. Political films are not made by sitting atop elephants and seeing the populace from there, for that you have to interweave art and reality into each other. Sanjay Joshi, Convenor of “The Group” of Jasam said that since 1975 films that questioned begun getting produced and it is important to formulate practical strategies to reach these films to people.

The Conference also passed resolutions demanding immediate halt of assaults on tribals by the security forces in the name of combating Maoism, a high level enquiry into the mysterious death of theatre artist from NSD Shashi Bhushan, immediate abrogation of agreement between Sahitya Akadamy and MNC Samsung and punitive action against Air Force Chief PK Barbora for his anti-women remarks (made in the context of women pilots).

The Conference elected Mangalesh Dabral and journalist Bhasha Singh as the President and Secretary respectively of Delhi State. Poet Anamika, artist and story-writer Ashok Bhowmik, Film maker Sanjay Kak and Yogendra Ahuja were elected Vice Presidents. The new Executive Committee comprises of 20 members. The sessions were chaired by Manager Panday. An advisory group comprising of well known literary and cultural figures was also formed.

AIPWA’s 1st Jaipur Dist. Coference

AIPWA’s first Jaipur Dist. Conference was held at Geeta Ashram premises in Sodala. After Flag hoisting by AIPWA’s National President Com. Srilata Swaminathan, two-minutes silence was observed in memory of AIPWA leaders and members who sacrificed their lives for the cause of women and people.

Com. Srilata congratulated the organisers and AIPWA members for being successful in holding the first Dist. Coonference. She called upon women to intensify their struggle for emancipation from all age-old and modern bondages. She also stressed on the fact that this freedom could not be achieved by asking for, but will have to be fought and snatched from the patriarchal system. AIPWA’s State Secretary Com. Bhanwari Bai stressed on the need to break all the barriers of caste, religion and community that comes in the unity of oppressed women. She said that wherever there is another sister, another woman in distress, all of us will have to unite to fight for her.

Later, Manjulata presented the Dist. report. One AIPWA member from Udaypur said that she and her daughter were trying to establish their own identity distinguishable from the traditional identities of wife, mother etc. She said that by doing so we will only benefit the family and society and not harm it as is propagated. Other delegates spoke of their experiences as woman and as members since they joined AIPWA. In the end a District Committee was elected and various important resolutions were passed.

Timely Intervention by AISA

People of Madurai district are suffering from a kind of viral fever. The district authorities are busy explaining that the fever is not Chikungunya and do nothing to prevent the epidemic. A hosteller of Meenachiyamman Government College for women of Madurai died in a private hospital due to careless handling of the hostel authorities.

Com Vinotha who is a student of the college and member of All India Students' Association (AISA) informed Com. Dhivya (SCM of AISA and district organizer) who rushed to the spot. Our comrades brought the agitating students to the Goripalayam Junction, the heart of Madurai city and blocked traffic demanding justice. More than 700 students took part in the agitation. Another 700 hundred students boycotted classes and sat on dharna with in the hostel campus demanding justice.

The Local MLA (of CPIM), Joint Director of College Education, authorities of the college and police officials came to the students who were blocking traffic and invited for conciliatory talks. The talks took place in the presence of more than 2000 students. The district organizer of AISA Com. Dhivya led the students in the negotiation process. The authorities agreed to transfer the warden, accepted formation of Hostel Student Union, and arranging twice a day visit of doctors.

The students thanked our comrades for the timely intervention. AISA also brought out a poster condemning apathy of the State Government in controlling the epidemic, demanding compensation to the family of the victim and better infrastructure for the hostel and college. AISA, Madurai is organizing inter-college students meet to organize district body of AISA on 16th December 2009.

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