Thursday, April 8, 2010

ML UPDATE 15 / 2010

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 15, 06 – 12 APRIL 2010

Jan Adhikar Rally and After:
Carrying forward the Battle for Land Reforms,
Development and Democracy

On March 30, Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan was witness to one of the biggest people’s assemblies of recent times. The occasion was the “Jan Adhikar Rally” called by the Bihar State Committee of the CPI(ML). People from different parts of the state started streaming into Patna from the early hours of March 29 itself. And the flow continued till the early afternoon on March 30 when the meeting was already on. Defying the scorching sun, tens of thousands of people listened in rapt attention to the speeches of the leaders, bursting frequently not just into loud applause but roaring chants: “Check Prices, Guarantee Jobs; Carry out Land Reforms” and “Land, Housing and Guaranteed Jobs – People’s Rights, People’s Rights.”

The rally did much more than showcase the mass strength and disciplined organization the CPI(ML) is known for. It reflected the growing mood of the people on the ground under Nitish Kumar’s much-trumpeted reign of ‘good governance’ and ‘development with justice’. It also set the tone for popular unity and mobilization in the battle against feudal reaction and for ending the current impasse to push Bihar forward towards land reforms and real development.

Bihar is currently seeing an encore of sorts of the NDA’s “India shining” campaign at the Centre. The state government is busy congratulating itself for changing the world’s “perception” about Bihar. Certificates from the World Bank, ADB, DFID and India’s own Mumbai-based financial press are brandished at regular intervals in support of this grandiose rhetoric. The government is spending enormous money on advertisements and official celebrations and the advertisement lever also comes in handy to effectively censor the media. Yet the rally made it clear that the common people are simply not amused, and the air in Bihar is in fact thick with popular anger against the government’s non-performance and betrayal.

The rally was preceded by six weeks of intensive campaigning beginning with extensive panchayat level mass contact and block level demonstration on February 20. The demonstrations saw a lot of mass participation with several blocks reporting 1,000-plus or even 2,000-plus mobilization. In Patna and most of the surrounding districts, the February 20 action effectively eclipsed the next day’s official show of Mahadalit unity in Patna. The inflationary and pro-rich provisions of the central and state budgets too peeved the masses no end; and on March 3 there were widespread mass protest actions, the most popular form being burning of effigies of Manmohan Singh and Nitish Kumar.

The two issues that really ignited the mass anger were the ongoing loot in PDS, NREGA and various rural development schemes and the government’s refusal to implement the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission. Leaders like Nitish Kumar and Rahul Gandhi wax eloquent against the pilferage of development funds and trade charges against each other for non-implementation of development schemes. But the people can very well see and feel the symbiotic relationship between the corrupt nexus on the ground and the so-called ‘clean’ leaders in Patna and Delhi. If more than 80% development expenditure eludes the most deserving beneficiaries, the responsibility for this ‘system failure’ lies squarely on the rulers who command the system from the seats of power.

The growing debate over land reforms has effectively exposed the pro-feudal streak of the Nitish Kumar government. Beginning with the unceremonious termination of the Amir Das commission so as to protect the political patrons of the killer Ranvir Sena to the recent dumping of the report of the Land Reforms Commission, the Nitish Kumar government has been working overtime to appease the feudal interests in Bihar. And cutting across party divides, pro-feudal leaders in Bihar have once again started ganging up to stall any move towards land reforms. Several backward caste leaders of the RJD and BJP-JD(U) combine are also quite vocal against land reforms. Against this backdrop of heightened social polarization, the campaign for the Jan Adhikar Rally successfully reached out to the landless rural poor as well as small peasants and tenants and share-croppers.

The stage is now set for the next phase of the showdown. With elections round the corner, the anti-land reforms lobby is desperate to scuttle the whole issue. This lobby now proposes to hold a pseudo-peasant conference on May 2 with the sole agenda of stalling land reforms. The Jan Adhikar Rally has also sounded the bugle for a national peasant conference in Patna on May 10. The conference will uphold the legacy of radical peasant mobilization in Bihar from the days of 1857 through the Kisan Sabha agitation of Sahajanand Saraswati to the present-day battle for land and liberty, dignity and democracy.

The battlelines have been drawn and progressive democratic forces must now close ranks to defeat the feudal forces and their anti-land reforms scare-mongering.

Following statement was jointly issued by Left and democratic parties
(mentioned at the end) on 25 March at Bhubaneswar

Tata sponsored 'Green Hunt' in Kalinga Nagar to destroy democratic tribal movement

Yesterday the Collector of Jajpur district assured Dabar Kalundia, a tribal leader of Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch (BBJM) that he would come to Baligotha village on 28 March for a meeting with the dissenting villagers and find a solution to the prevailing conflict. But within a day the Collector has broken his word as today about 24 platoons of armed policemen have been deployed in Kalinga Nagar to suppress the democratic & non-violent movement of the BBJM. It is feared that there will be bloodshed at a larger scale than 2 Jan 06 when 14 tribal men, women & children were killed in a police shootout. The villagers fear the police will attack tomorrow morning.

For more than 3 months now the resistance villages of Kalinga Nagar have been besieged by police forces who have randomly arrested dozens of villagers who stepped out of their village. People have been framed under false charges. There has been repeated midnight attacks by policemen and Tata goons to annihilate key activists of the BBJM. Hired assassins have also tried to eliminate the tribal leaders of the movement and one such attempt caused the death of Amin Banara of Baligotha village. Recently large number of police forces had been deployed on the pretext of building a road through the villages. Every attempt of the police and administration to quell the dissent of the people has been countered in democratic and non-violent ways by the BBJM.

The BBJM has clarified several times that it is not a Maoist backed organisation and does not want violence. The BBJM has made it clear that it will not accept displacement and mindless industrialisation that is already causing massive pollution in the area leading to widespread disease, crop failure, air, water & sound pollution. The Collector also agreed to the meeting only after the BBJM wrote several letters to him demanding that their concerns be addressed first as the Collector had been announcing in some meetings in the area that the Common Corridor Road would be built at any cost.

Surprisingly the print and electronic media have so far ignored developments in Kalinganagar which itself is a threat to democracy. Mainstream political parties also have reached a consensus with the ruling party which creates concerns among all citizens who understand the implications of mobilization of armed police in kalinganagar villages resisting Tata induced displacement.

We demand that the Govt should stop acting like a hired mercenary of Tata Steel company and withdraw all police forces from the area immediately. If there is any bloodshed the sole responsibility will lie on the Govt. The Govt should also give up the Common Corridor Road project as it will be built on fertile farm land and the community land of the tribals. The Govt should respect the sacrifice of the 14 tribals killed by the police and scrap the Tata project immediately. There should be no further displacement & dispossession of tribal people from their land. The Govt should immediately start working towards restoring peace in the area by assuring the tribals that there will be no attacks on them by the police or Tata goons. A medical team should be sent to the villages immediately as people have not been able to visit doctors for days in fear of arrest.

We appeal to all concerned citizens, progressive groups & media persons to raise their voice against the Fascist tendencies of the Govt and express solidarity with the tribals of Kalinga Nagar.

Prafulla Samnatara (Lok Shakti Abhijan), Lingaraj (Samajvadi Jan Parishad), Radhakant Sethi (CPI-ML Liberation), Prashanta Paikrai (PPSS), Bhalachandra Sadangi (CPI-ML New Democracy), Lingaraj Azad (NSS)

All India Students’ Association (AISA) observed April 1st 2010 as "Black Day"-

in protest of the commercialisation of education by the UPA. In Delhi, students from Jamia, DU and JNU protested at Jantar Mantar against the Right to Education Act in its present form and the proposed Foreign Universities Bill.

Karnataka: Davanagere unit of AISA observed April 1 as Black Day by organising a rally and demonstration in front of Davanagere DC office. A memorandum was also submitted demanding withdrawal of recently passed legislation to institute a Sanskrit University in the state and two private universities, including the one to be owned by Azim Premji, the IT billionaire, along with other all India demands. The rally led by DM Prasad, NEC member of AISA, started from Ambedkar circle and culminated in a demonstration in front of the DC office. Com. Parameshwarappa, District President presided over the demonstration while Manjunath, Taluk President, Raghavendra, NCM and Kumar addressed the gathering. Kottur taluk Convenors Com. Umesh and Rajendra also participated in the protest.

More than 100 students participated in the rally and burnt Kapil Sibal's effigy at the taluk headquarters of Jagalur of Davangere district. The rally was led by Com. Hanumanthappa, one of the state leaders of AISA in Karnataka and the demonstration was led by Nagabhusan, the Taluk President of AISA. Madhusudhan, taluk secretary, taluk committee members Devaraj and Ravikumar were among others who addressed the gathering. A memorandum was also submitted to the tahsildar.

The Black-day was also observed along with similar protests at Banaras and Allahabad in UP, in Maharashtra, many places in Jharkhand, Kolkata in WB, Bihar and Uttarakhand.

Following is the statement issued by AISA on the eve of Black-day

On 1st April, the Right to Education Bill will become a law. In its true sense, a genuine 'Right to Education' should mean that all children upto the age of 14 are entitled to nutrition, healthcare, safety, and education of an equitable standard free of cost. "However, the RTE in its present form is a farce in the name of providing genuine education: it makes only the hollow promise that 25% seats in private schools will be reserved for poor students and the government will supposedly contribute to paying their fees. Moreover, the vouchers promised by the RTE only amount to the fees charged in government schools. This will no way compensate for the exorbitant cost of education in private schools", said Aslam, general secretary, AISA Jamia unit.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill 2010 has been cleared by the Cabinet. "This is a bill with dangerous implications, for it will pave the way for virtually unrestricted entry of foreign private players in higher education, without any controls. Worse still, reservations for SC, ST, and OBC students will not be implemented in these foreign universities", added Aslam. The UPA is in a great hurry to get this bill ratified. It is said to be one of the first files Kapil Sibal requested upon assuming charge in the MHRD.

"Both these bills seek to absolve the government of all its responsibilities towards providing affordable, quality education to the citizens of this country. They seek to hasten the neo-liberal agenda of making education a commodity rather than a fundamental right", said Sucheta De, general secretary, AISA JNU unit.

The corporate media is hailing Kapil Sibal policies with the claim that what Manmohan Singh did to the Indian economy, by instituting the policies of liberalization and globalization, Kapil Sibal is now doing to education by following the dictats of the World Bank and the IMF. "These moves do little to improve the accessibility and quality of education available to people in our country, but instead these policies cater to the upper middle class and elite constituency as if they alone have the right to education", said Sunny, general secretary, AISA DU unit.

On 1st April 2010, the day the Right to Education Bill becomes a law will mark a low-point in the education policy of our country. AISA is therefore observing this day as a 'Black Day' against the Implementation of the RTE and the Cabinet Approval granted to the Foreign Universities Bill.

Week-long Agitations on NREGA at HPHalli

The agitations that began on 30 March is still continuing at Harappanahalli of Davanagere district. It was a sort of festival of struggle for the agricultural labourers of various panchayats of the taluk. Right from 30 March, the agricultural labourers of the taluk under the banner of All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA), are marching to the taluk office almost every day, from variuous panchayats, raising various demands - right from issuing job cards, disbursement of wages to suspension of corrupt officials in the panchayats. This agitation at the taluk headquarters was preceded by demonstrations at various panchayats. Forced by the people's continuous and unrelenting agitations, the taluk panchayat officials recommended audit of some selected panchayats through letter to the Zilla Panchayat officials on 2nd April.

A Bangalore team comprising AICCTU comrades advocate Gandhimathi, Somu and Narayanswamy visited the NREGA director's office in Bangalore and represented the issues of agricultural labourers and the continuing agitation at HPHalli. They also insisted on immediate action on corrupt officials. Following pressures from various quarters, corrupt panchayat secretaries of Halavagalu and Punavaghatta were suspended on 5 April. On the same day, Muster rolls were hurriedly prepared by more than five panchayats, including Aduvihalli, Arakanahalu and Mathihalli to disburse the NREGA wages on the following day, that was earlier denied on various pretexts. More than 30 labourers who were hitherto denied job cards were issued the same on the spot.

The continuous struggle that was guided by State leadership of the Party, was something unprecedented in the taluk. The taluk leaders of the Party and AIALA played important roles for the success of the struggle. The agitations are still on.

Kamgar-Karmachari Seminar in Mumbai

On 20 March, the Municipal Kamgar Karmchari Purogami Union organised a seminar in the Municipal Hall at Lower Parel in Mumbai in to expose the lies spread by the established union and also its betrayal on the issue of 6th Pay Commission. The entrance was named Comrade Jayant Ganguly Gate and the venue was named Comrade Ashok Hall. The venue was well decorated with red flags of the union and CPI(ML) and prior to the seminar a one month long campaign was conducted especially in the kamgar colonies. Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) was invited as the main speaker for the seminar.

Comrades of the union spread awareness among workers and employees about the moves of the Maharashtra Govt. to Corporatise the Bombay Municipal Council (BMC) and called upon all the workers who are bound to lose their employment to rally around the radical left union to fight for their rights. Those who spoke included Comrades Uday Bhatt, Dhiraj Rathore, Shyam Gohil, Vijay Kulkarni and Hareshwar Verma. Com. Swapan summed up the recent challenges and experiences from the working class movement going on in India.

Dharna in Chhatisgarh

AICCTU organised a dharna on 18 March in front of the office of the Durg District’s Labour Commissioner to protest the flouting of labour laws and for urgent action to be taken on complaints. 200 contractual workers and sanitary workers participated in the dharna. They also handed over a demand letter.


Mass Protest by Workers across Europe

Greece: In every corner of Greece, popular anger over the government’s latest neoliberal assault on job security, pensions and social services has lead to a series of general strikes involving hundreds of thousands of militant workers.

The Greek government’s attacks are being implemented at the behest of the European Union, which is seeking to make Greek workers carry the burden of debt generated by Greek governments in collusion with major banks such as Goldman Sachs. This is part of a broader international struggle by working people against capital’s drive to make ordinary people pay for the global financial crisis it caused. But Greek strikers have drawn on an indigenous political culture with deep roots — a culture that validates the people’s right to rise collectively as agents of change.

It is a culture that can be traced back over 2500 years. One of the first recorded mass uprisings in human history occurred in Athens in 508-07 BCE. In 508 BCE, Isagoras (who represented the wealthy landowning and commercial elites whereas Cleisthenes drew on the support of the largely disenfranchised though increasingly class-conscious demos) seized power in a military coup with Spartan assistance. Cleisthenes and his most prominent supporters were exiled, and a partially representative assembly (the Council of Four Hundred) was dissolved.

The citizenry of Athens took to the streets in outrage. Rising spontaneously and “of one mind” (according to the near-contemporary historian Herodotus), the people surrounded and besieged the Acropolis, where Isagoras and the Spartans had established their stronghold. It was a genuinely revolutionary moment and a radical departure from anything that had gone before.

On the third day, Isagoras and his backers were forced from the city. Having “taken control of affairs” (as Aristotle later wrote), the demos “sent for Cleisthenes and the other exiles to come back”. In the months that followed, Cleisthenes enacted a new and, Aristotle said, “much more democratic” constitution. It was (for eligible citizens), a genuinely participatory democracy, offering an immediate engagement with the day-to-day administration of government.

Traditionally, historians have tended to ascribe the establishment of Athenian democracy to elite goodwill, but the ancient sources make it clear democratic reform was the outcome of popular struggle. Of course, Athenian democracy was full of glaring contradictions — such as the exclusion of women, foreign-born residents and slaves (the most unfortunate of whom were worked to death by the thousand in the publicly-owned silver mines). However, the popular uprising remains a watershed moment in human affairs, establishing a key principle of history: real change can only occur when the people mobilise. The lesson that popular mobilisation is the driving force for pro-people change remains more relevant than ever. The strikes and protests shaking Greece show the longstanding Hellenic tradition of standing up to unjust rule is alive and well.

Italy: Tens of thousands of people rallied across Italy on March 1 to defend and extend the rights of immigrants, on a day that organisers dubbed “St. Papers”.

In Rome, several thousand immigrants and supporters marched from Porta Maggiore, an area with a high migrant population, to Piazza Vittoria in the centre of the tourist district. Large contingents from a variety of groups marched, representing Romanian, Kurdish and African communities. There were larger marches in other cities, with 20,000 in Naples, a centre for African agricultural workers, and 10,000 in Padua. The St. Papers march was the culmination of a “day without migrants” — a strike by some of the more than 5 million documented and undocumented migrants that make up 10% of the country’s workforce. The strike was mostly symbolic, but featured actual stoppages in some places. More than 50 factories closed in Breschia after the action gained the support of the metalworkers union. Marchers in Rome voiced frustration with the increasing anti-immigrant mood of the country and a determination to resist it. “We work day and night”, said Ion, from Romania, who lived undocumented in the country for years before Romania entered the EU. “We pay taxes every time we buy something.” Others, especially younger participants, stressed their universal rights, with speaker after speaker exhorting the march to “stand up for our humanity”. Much of the rally’s organisation came from a rolling call on Facebook, with “spontaneous committees” arising. Practical arrangements for each rally were handled by local anti-racist coalition committees. The movement stresses the degree to which Italy excludes undocumented people from full citizenship. “We are all migrants” was one key refrain.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi responded to the protest by stating that the left “wanted to flood the country with migrants”. Since 2001, migrants in Italy have been subject to increasing legislative and political persecution. Among other conditions, children born on Italian soil of migrant parents do not gain Italian citizenship.

The St. Papers theme is related to the “St. Precario” campaign, which advances the rights of “precarious” labour — those thrown into part-time and casual work by the roll-back of wages and conditions in the past decade. The rally was part of a growing multi-focused resistance to the Berlusconi government. Two days before the St. Papers rally, thousands rallied in Popolo Square, wearing purple scarves and banners, as part of the “Violet” movement. This aims to unite a broad anti-Berlusconi coalition. Students rallied on the morning of March 1 to protest new laws limiting migrant presence in schools to 30% of total intake.

France: Public-sector strike over ‘reforms’

Nationwide strikes in France on March 22 have hobbled public services from transport to schools as part of a union campaign to put the brakes on right-wing reforms planned by President Nicolas Sarkozy

But new labour minister Eric Woerth vowed to press on with changes to the “extremely fragile” pension system — the most controversial proposal. Unions say Sarkozy’s conservative government hadn’t offered satisfactory plans on jobs, salaries, purchasing power and working conditions. Sarkozy reshuffled his government in response to the electoral defeat, notably replacing labour minister Socialist Party, who was trounced in the voting and was considered to have lost the legitimacy needed to continue the contested reforms. The transport strike caused significant disruption. Fast trains to Britain and Belgium were running normally, but only 65% of rail traffic was guaranteed within France. The education ministry said an estimated 30% of primary school teachers failed to show up for class nationwide. About 18% were out in junior high schools and 11% in high schools.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

ML UPDATE 14 / 2010

ML Update 14 / 2010

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 14, 30 MARCH – 05 APRIL 2010

A Bill that Seeks to Kill Higher Education

The peddlers of education have fired their salvo from the willing shoulders of Kapil Sibal’s Ministry. The Cabinet has given the nod for The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, and it is to be presented in the Parliament. And what the Bill introduces is the notoriously unequal regime of the WTO-led General Agreement on Trades and Services in higher education.

Foreign educational providers are already present in our country through twinning programmes and collaborative education since 2000. So why is the UPA in such a hurry to pass this Bill? Currently, such collaborative education have been found mostly in the field of technical education, where the foreign educational institute is supposed to be regulated by AICTE and allowed to operate as Trusts or as Society and they are not permitted to give their degrees without an undertaking. The UPA has planned to merge the AICTE with other regulatory bodies in education, to form the corporate-activated but supposedly Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) as suggested by the Knowledge Commission and Yashpal Committee. The foreign educational enterprises are unhappy with this state of affairs and prefer what in GATS is known as Mode 3 or commercial presence in the market. So Sibal is opening up the possibility for them to set up franchises, which will then operate as businesses with no pretence of social responsibility as implied by a Trust or Society. Thus, for all purposes, in spite of the claim to ‘regulation’ implied by the Bill’s name, the Bill is not necessarily for regulation, but rather for furthering the commercialization of education.

The argument that the commercial presence of foreign educational institutes (FEIs) will encourage students to study in India rather than go abroad is laughable. It is known that students do courses abroad either in the hope of settling there or on the look out for an international experience that comes with campus atmosphere and not necessarily through tele-conferencing and foreign textbooks. For students with these goals, FEIs in India do not provide a significant alternative. Shamefully, the UPA government is inviting in the foreign educational businesses – not for those students who leave but for those students who stay!

It is an established fact by now that franchises and branch campuses are often set up by foreign universities that are facing a crisis in their countries because of a cut in public funding. As a result they end up exporting poorer quality versions of their courses and implementing programmes that are market led, so that they can remain afloat. Thus while the claims of stalling the outflow of foreign exchange through student migration is hypothetical, what is certain is that in the name of globalised-collaborative education the local students are going to be preyed upon by the collaboration between the educational loan market and the foreign teaching shops. The victim is sure to be the larger student community which will fall into further indebtedness and employment insecurities.

What is also certainly being engineered by the UPA government is the decline of public-funded universities and their dismantling and replacement with teaching shops both of domestic and foreign make. The bluff of Sibal’s concern for poor quality of deemed universities has also been called with this Bill as it seeks to allow the FEI to become a ‘deemed university’, with an approval from UGC (which is also going to be subsumed under IRAHE)! It is evident that the Bill is part of the agenda of neo-liberal packaging of education as a saleable good with no commitments to social responsibility.

Sibal has already declared that reservation policies may not be applicable for these institutes, thus freeing them from minimum requirements of social justice and violating even the liberal vision of equal educational opportunities. The domestic private universities in the country have long got away with flouting reservation policies, fee and donation barriers and reserved themselves for the rich. The government has not shown any ability nor exercised any will for regulating the domestic educational mafia. In such a situation, the claims by a government which has proved so servile to corporate interest, that it will ‘regulate’ foreign institutes appears ludicrous. Higher education is being increasingly cordoned off for the rich and privileged, further aggravating educational inequalities in the country. The Bill must be defeated as should Sibal’s larger agenda of neo-liberal education.

Bihar's Poor Organise Massive Jan-Adhikar Rally under CPI(ML) Banner

Hundreds of Thousands of State’s Poor Assembled in Patna, Surpassing all Past Records

People from all Corners of the State Posed Open Challenge to the Feudal-Communal forces

Rally gives Clarion Call for Land Reforms, Share-croppers' Rights, Checking Price-rise, Land, Housing, Employment and Democratic Rights

Rally Calls for Decisive Battle against pro-Feudal, pro-capitalist Nitish Govt.

Hundreds of thousands of poor agricultural labourers, peasants, women and men from every nook and corner of Bihar assembled in Patna’s historical Gandhi Maidan and held a massive rally raising and highlighting above issues. The massive participation also laid bare the good governance claims of the Nitish Kumar’s Govt. Challenging the feudal forces of the State from the dais of Jan-Adhikar Rally, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the Bihar’s poor have firmly resolved with the CPI(ML) to get the Land Reforms and Share Cropping Act implemented and no forces can push them back from this.

Gandhi Maidan became a sea of Red with tens of thousands of Red flags everywhere which demonstrated the growing assertion of Bihar’s poor in State politics. Com. Dipankar said this rally will embolden and encourage all the poor and toiling people of Bihar. On the previous day’s incident in which ABVP’s (student wing of RSS) cadres uprooted flags and banners of the Jan-Adhikar Rally, he said that such incident is an indicator of growing unease in feudal-communal forces. Challenging these forces he said that there is no force capable of suppressing the might of Red Flag’s onward march.

On the BPL Quota he said state and Central Govt.’s are colluding to eliminate the name of poor from the BPL list. Lambasting the Growth-hype of Nitish Govt. he mentioned that the said development was visible only to the Capitalists in metros, American politicians and institutes like World Bank and UNICEF. What kind of development is this that does not check massive migration of people from Bihar, that does not reverse declining agricultural output, factories are closed and even small capital investments are not there.

He further said that employment guarantee act has been made to look like a toothless act in the State as 80 percent people never got any work and it is controversial how much of the remaining 20 percent actually got work. There is huge pulling out of grains for PDS distribution but nobody knows where all the grain is going. Not only all the ruling class parties in Bihar are united to prevent implementation of Land Reforms and Share Croppers’ rights, when CPI(ML) legislators started distributing diesel grants, all the ruling class legislators inside Bihar Legislative Assembly got united against CPI(ML) MLAs. He said these parties and this Govt. has no right to use the name of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati.

Terming Bihar as the land of peasant movement he announced that on the lines of Agricultural Labourers’ organisation, CPI(ML) is going to unite State’s farmers and peasants and to this end it is organising national conference of farmers and peasants in Patna on 10th May, anniversary of 1857. He called for immediately stopping Operation Green Hunt and passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the current session of Parliament.

Rally and mass meeting was presided over by CPI(ML)’s Bihar State Secretary Com. Nand Kishore Prasad. The meeting started after a cultural performance by JSM artists. On the dais were senior leaders of CPI(ML)- PBMs, CCMs and SCMs. Among others present were Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya, DP Bakshi, Ramjatan Sharma and Ramji Rai.

The rally was also addressed by a number of Party and mass organisations’ leaders and in the end the rally passed a 12 point resolution to intensify the movement on the issues for which the this rally was organised.

CPI(ML)'s Massive National March to Parliament

Party held a massive March to Parliament on 26th March in New Delhi against exorbitantly rising prices. Thousands of workers, peasants, women, students and youth from various states marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar raising the slogan, “Check Prices, Give Us Jobs – Carry Out Land Reforms!,” demanding increase in minimum wages, creation of jobs, land reforms, housing for the poor and inclusion of all agricultural workers, workers in unorganised sector and other low-paid occupations and poor peasants in the BPL category.

The March culminated in a mass meeting at Jantar Mantar. Addressing the mass meeting, CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said- “Congress and the UPA Government, instead of protecting the poor from the impact of the steep rise in prices of food and other essentials, have contributed to the price rise by hiking fuel prices and taxes on the aam aadmi. The Union Budget 2010 has proved Congress ‘aam aadmi’ slogan to be a sham and in the past year, the Government has handed out Rs.1 crore a minute to the richest corporates in the land by way of ‘revenues foregone.’ These big businessmen are the ones who have made it to the list of the world’s billionaires.” He further said, “It is ironic that when prices are rising, minimum wages and NREGA wages continue to stagnate. We demand Rs 200 a day wages for NREGA workers and upgrading of minimum wages in all sectors to match those suggested by the 6th Pay Commission.” Dipankar Bhattacharya continued, “The UPA Government’s idea of a ‘Food Security Bill’ is a cruel hoax, since the Government’s whole effort is shrink the PDS provisions and to exclude the poor from the ration system. Be it the Tendulkar Committee or the SC-appointed Wadhwa Committee or the earlier Arjun Sengupta Committee, all official committees have exposed and rejected the prevailing Planning Commission estimate of 28% poverty as false and inadequate. The CPI(ML) demands that all agricultural and other rural workers, all small and marginal peasants, unorganized workers in low-paid occupations and unrecognized employees rendering social service (para-teachers, rural health workers in ASHA and Anganwadi schemes) for a paltry ‘honorarium’ – all should be included in the BPL category. There must also be a guaranteed provision of at least 50 kg foodgrains at subsidized rates for every BPL household. Provisions should be made within the PDS system to protect the middle class from soaring free market prices through a network of government run fair-price shops.” Comrade Dipankar reminded that the country has witnessed powerful struggles in recent times on the question of land. “Meanwhile a Committee appointed by the UPA Government’s own Ministry of Rural development had come out with a report indicting successive government for the “Unfinished Agenda of Land Reforms.” Despite this the Government is refusing to implement the recommendations of its own Committee, and instead is determined to abandon and reverse the agenda of land reforms. Housing and homestead land too were central concerns of the rural and urban poor; but the Government’s ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana’ for urban poor and Indira Awas Yojana for rural poor are ridiculously inadequate. In the first place, large numbers of the poor fail to be included in these schemes. Moreover, the Indira Awas allocation of Rs. 45,000 in plain areas and Rs. 48,000 in hilly areas is too low. We demand that the IAY grant be increased to at least Rs.100,000 per beneficiary and IAY allocation be increased to clear the backlog.”

The mass meeting was also addressed by Swapan Mukherjee, GS of the AICCTU, who highlighted the fact that thousands of agricultural workers and peasants from Punjab were participating in the March, who were jailed in large numbers last year for agitating for homestead land and NREGA jobs. Rajwinder Rana, Secretary of the CPI(ML) in Punjab spoke about the ongoing mass arrest of peasants in Punjab, following protests against the murder of a prominent peasant leader.

Delhi State Secretary Com. Sanjay Sharma said that Shiela Dixit’s Budget has ensured higher taxes for the aam aadmi, hiked diesel prices and even steeper rise in prices of food, cooking gas, transport costs- all in the name of increased budget for Commonwealth Games. Not only are subsidies being slashed and prices hiked to generate revenue for the Games, the Delhi High Court has had to take note of the fact the basic rights and even minimum wages of Commonwealth Games workers are being shamefully violated. The meting was also addressed by CPI(ML) CCM Prabhat Kumar, Convenor of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (AIKSS) Rajaram Singh, AIKS leader Ramchandra Kulhari from Rajasthan, Girija Pathak, member of the CPI(ML) State Leading Team of Uttarakhand, and Ravi Rai, GS of AISA. The meeting was conducted by Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, AIPWA.

Odisha Rally

A large rally was taken out from Bhubaneswar Railway Station to PMG corner near State Assembly on 27 March. People from 22 districts of Odisha were present in the Bhubaneswar rally. Apart from highlighting mass concerns like price rise, BPL, PDS and NREGA, the rally called for an immediate end to Operation Green Hunt, release of all political prisoners, withdrawal of concessions granted to big companies like Posco, Vedanta, Tata and nationalization of the entire mineral sector. Speakers included Comrades Khitish Biswal, Radhakanta Sethi, Ashok Pradhan, Bidyadhar Patra, Satyabadi, Savita and Bidhan and CPI(ML) GS Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya. Veteran TU leader from Rourkela and AICCTU Vice President Com. NK Mohanty presided over the meeting.

Demonstration in Front of Jharkhand State Assembly

To protest the massive price rise, drought, migration, police repression in the name of Green Hunt and to declare the schedule for panchayat election without further delay, the Jharkhand State Committee of the CPI(ML) organised Vidhansabha gherao on 27 March in Ranchi. The march began from Hatia Railway Station compounds in the leadership of State Secretary Com. Janardan Prasad and Com. Subhendu Sen and Com. Manoj Bhakt.

The march transformed into a road blockade and mass meeting when the police prevented them from proceeding to the State Assembly. The mass meeting was addressed by above leaders, Comrades Bahadur Oraon, Vinod Singh, Rajkumar Yadav, Devki Nandan and JNU Student leader Sandeep Singh among others.

Mahadharna in Chhatisgarh

CPI(ML) and Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha jointly organised a mahadharna (grand dharna) in Raipur on 26 March to protest the exorbitant prices of essential necessities. Hundreds of rural poor from various districts of the State participated in the mahadharna. Later, a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister demanding immediate roll back of hike in the prices of diesel and urea, to include all agricultural and contractual labourers in the BPL list, providing 50 kg of grains monthly at Rs.2/kg, minimum wages to be raised to Rs.200/-, take action against all the black marketeers and corrupt officials of the State and fulfill all the promises made to the peasants and farmers of the State. The maha-dharna was addressed by CPI(ML) CCM Com. Rajaram and CMM’s Com. Bhimrao Bagde among many others.

Roads Blockaded in Assam

In continuation of the movement launched by Sadou Asom Gramin Sramik Santha (Assam unit of All India Agricultural Labourers’ Union- AIALA), Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha and Karbi Anglong & NC Hills Kisan Sramik Sabha blockaded roads in different districts of Assam, on 23rd March, 2010 to press their longstanding demands. As reported in the last issue, nearly 5000 rural workers marched to Raj Bhawan on 21st January and handed over an 11-point mass memorandum to the Governor of Assam. It was a culmination of a mass signature campaign in Assam’s districts of AIALA’s major work. No response came from the Govt. during the ongoing budget session of Assam Assembly.

Road blockade was effective at different places. In Tinsukia nearly 500 people gathered on the main road and blocked the road for an hour. In Dibrugarh dist. programme blockades were laid at Lahowal and Tingkhong where nearly 1000 people took part. In Bargang, Behali (Sonitpur district) nearly 2000 agrarian workers and tea workers imposed path avarodh (road blockade) for nearly an hour. In Nagaon programme was held in two places- Nagaon town and Jakhalabandha, participated by 1200 and 200 people respectively. In Jorhat 500 people gathered in Assam Trunk Road and blocked it for 45 minutes. In Chandrapur (Kamrup district) some 300 people took part in the programme. From Barpeta a memorandum reiterating the demands was sent to the Governor through the DC, Barpeta. In Karbi Anglong district, programme was held at Bokajan.

Main demand among various others has been to hold Special Assembly Session to discuss works of Rural Development department.

Convention on Land Issue

On 27th March a convention was held at Vijayawada as a part of political campaign from March 23-31 in which 400 people participated. The theme of the convention was 'Forest Land Grab by Land Lords and Struggle of the Poor for Land'. In Krishna district more than 25000 acres of forest land is illegally occupied mostly by land lords with the help of forest and revenue officials. Instead of vacating the landlords forest officials are harassing the poor. CPI(ML) started a movement long back demanding “vacate landlords from the land immediately, provide that land to the poor”. Recently under Party and AIALA’s leadership 400 hundred people captured 300 acres of the land from 6 landlords. In this back drop the convention drew much attention. The convention was addressed by N Murty among others.

VISAKHAPATNAM: As part of nation-wide protest by the Party on price hike, employment and land reforms a dharna was held at the Collectorate in Visakhapatnam on 29 March in which 100 people participated. N Murty addressed the dharna. B Vasudeva Rao, District Secretary along with other comrades submitted a memorandum to the collector.

23rd March: 79th Martyrdom Day of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh

Anti-Communal Convention at Gangavati

Gangavati unit of CPI(ML) organized a convention against communalism on 23 March, the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh. This is a follow up of the massive rally held on 6 Dec. 2009 demanding the arrest of culprits of Babri Masjid demolition, including Advani, Vajpayee and Thackarey. The convention also passed resolutions against the recently passed acts by Karnataka Assembly that has a strong communal bias against Muslim people. Few hundreds of people, including Muslims, participated in the convention.

Com. Shankar, Central Committee member (CCM), presiding over the convention, said that the fight against communalism cannot just be confined to opposing the BJP and the Sangh Parivar alone, but it also extends to waging a relentless, simultaneous battle against the appeasement to communal forces by the Congress and the JD(S) in the state. He accused the JD(S) to be responsible for the formation of the BJP government in the southern state of Karnataka. He ridiculed the state government’s decision to form a university for Sanskrit which is not a spoken language of any section of the people while it rejected the demand to form a University for Urdu which is the mother tongue for lakhs and lakhs of Muslims in the state. He condemned the BJP of using the government apparatus for promoting its own communal objectives by enacting cow slaughter bill. He called upon all Muslims and democratic forces to join the uncompromising battle for true secularism being waged by the CPI(ML).

Vittappa Gorantli, president of ‘Save Koppal Movement’ inaugurated the convention remembering Bhagat Singh. Prof. VN Lakshminarayana of Mysore presented a comprehensive account of the evolution and traits of fascism its similarities with the Sangh Parivar in the country and the State. Com. Aslam from Delhi and VP of AISA, exposed the role of the central government in Batla House encounter. Com. Bharadwaj, SLT (State Leading Team) member of CPI(ML) narrated the Party’s experience of fighting communalism in Gangavati.

Mustafa Kamal Pasha (Hafiz Moulana), the Chief of Jamia Masjid and Allagiri, a journalist, among other guests were present on the occasion. DB Giraddi, a journalist conducted the proceedings.

Rajasthan: A meeting was organised in Jaipur on 23rd march to commemorate 79th martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, conducted by Comrades Harkesh Bugalia, Surendra Yadav and Vikash. Similar meeting was organised in Jhunjhunu conducted by Comrades Phool Chand Dhewa and Ramchandra.

Delhi: Shaheed Diwas is a regular annual feature at Narela in Delhi and the comrades have been organising it with ever growing enthusiasm every year. Many artists and poets presented their creations and Jasam’s Sangwari team sang revolutionary songs. Nishant, a theatre group led by Com. Shamshul Islam, presented a play and sang revolutionary songs. Jasam’s Mukul Saral recited many ghazals of his. Com. Satbir sang Haryanvi folk Ragri and conducted the proceedings. The cultural evening was also addressed by Com. Kavita Krishana, CPI(ML) CCM and Com. Bhasha Singh, Jasam’s Delhi Secretary.

Condolence Meeting to Remember Com. Ajaib Singh Siddhu

A Condolence meeting in memory of Comrade Ajaib Singh Siddhu was organised in Delhi (held in Central Office's Convention Hall) on 28 March 2010. The meeting was addressed by CCMs Prabhat Kumar, Swapan Mukherjee, Kavita Krishnan, Shankaran, Santosh Rai, Ravi Rai, Ardhendu Roy, many comrades who worked with Com. Ajaib in DTC, Ramkishan, Rajiv Dimri, and many others. Meet was conducted by Sanjay Sharma.

Comrade Hari Sharma (1934-2010)

Comrade Hari Prakash Sharma, writer, activist and friend of the Naxalbari movement, passed away at his home in Vancouver, Canada on March 16 following a prolonged battle with cancer. Born in UP and educated at Agra University and Delhi University, he moved to the US for further education in 1963. While a student in the US, he like many others was radicalised in the course of the movement against the Vietnam war, and remained a life-long Marxist. He was also a gifted writer of short stories in Hindi and a photographer.

Inspired by the Naxalbari peasant uprising in 1967, he visited Naxalbari, and remained a sympathiser and friend of the movement all his life. Along with Kathleen Gough, he edited Imperialism and Revolution in South Asia, which was published in 1973 by the Monthly Review Press, New York. In 1975, he along with other comrades founded the Indian People's Association in North America (IPANA) in Montreal on June 25, 1975, the day Emergency was declared in India. These activities led to the revocation of his passport by the Indira Gandhi Govt. in 1976. In 1989 Comrade Hari Sharma mobilised the South Asian community of Canada to form the Komagata Maru Historical Society to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident, in which Indian immigrants traveling to Canada on a chartered ship were turned away from the shores of Vancouver by the racist policies of the Canadian Government. Since the 1980s, Comrade Hari Sharma campaigned against communalism, raising the issues of the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 and targeting of Muslims by the BJP and Sangh Parivar. He played a central role in organising several North American forums against Hindutva fascism.

CPI(ML) dips its flag in memory of Comrade Hari Sharma