A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 17, 20 – 26 APRIL 2010
Not Cricket: Put a Stop to IPL's Corrupt Corporate Carnival
"What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?" – that is how Trinidadian Marxist and noted cricket writer CLR James had commented on the deep interweaving of cricket with imperialism and racism. The remark takes on a new significance with the controversy unfolding in the IPL – where corporate profits, corruption, betting, Bollywood and other externals play a far greater role than the sport itself.
The controversy erupted when the IPL Chairman Lalit Modi accused former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor of misusing his office to further the interests of a commercial enterprise run by a close friend, who had received a whopping 19 per cent 'sweat equity' worth Rs. 70 crores in the consortium which secured the franchise for the IPL's Kochi team for no discernible services rendered. The accusation, however, brought Lalit Modi himself under the scanner. An IT department investigation was revealed to be in the possession of the government for several months, that exposed Modi's involvement in black money, money laundering, betting and match-fixing in cricket. According to the report, Modi was a failed businessman in his pre-IPL days, but post-IPL, he now enjoys a sumptuous lifestyle – with a private jet, a luxury yacht and a fleet of luxury cars. Moreover, the entire controversy exposed the intricate and shady nexus between politicians, corporates and cricket.
The BJP and other opposition parties have made use of the episode to put the UPA Government in the dock over the charges of cricket-related corruption against one of its Ministers. The UPA Government has sought to contain the damage to its credibility caused by Tharoor's involvement by ensuring that Tharoor steps down as Minister, and by ordering an enquiry into the IPL. But Tharoor is not the only UPA leader nor by far the only politician to be implicated in the murky world of commercial cricket, nor is the BJP itself free of such taint.
Lalit Modi himself is known to be close to the BJP as well as NCP leader and UPA Minister Sharad Pawar, who is former BCCI President and a member of the IPL governing council.
The intimate embrace of politics and cricket is not confined to the corruption and open advocacy by powerful politicians and Ministers of corporate and commercial interests in the cricket industry. The IPL enjoys public resources to the tune of crores, in many guises – waiving of entertainment tax, concessions in land leases, stadium rentals and security, and many other waivers and concessions. The full extent of these write-offs is shrouded in as much secrecy as are the particulars about shareholding and ownership. These enormous concessions for the corrupt commercial bonanza like the IPL is in contrast to the Government's policy of understating poverty and cutting down on food subsidies even in the face of evidence of severe and widespread hunger and soaring prices of food and essentials.
The situation calls for a sharp line to be drawn between sport and commercialisation, as also between politics and Government and commercial interests. Any probe into IPL must ensure full transparency regarding funding, sponsorship and ownership – and the Indian people must assert that public funding and political patronage of a corrupt corporate carnival in the name of cricket is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Protest Demonstrations at various places in Bihar demanding Punishment to the Political Patrons of Ranveer Sena
Bathe villagers demand punishment for massacre masterminds: Immediately after the verdict punishing some of the perpetrators of the Bathe carnage of 1997, affected families and witnesses faced intimidation and threats. In response, villagers under the banner of CPI(ML) held a demonstration on 10 April at the memorial to the Bathe martyrs in Bathe village itself. Many of the affected families, including many women, participated. They were not fearful, and were determined to keep up the resistance. Through the protest, they asked why Ranveer Sena chief Barmeshwar Singh did not even face trial in this case and why the Amir Das Commission was wound up before it could reveal the political patrons of the Ranveer Sena (a private militia of landlords in Bihar).
The villagers also made plans to keep night vigils in anticipation of retaliatory attacks. On the night of 18 April, there were again some sporadic attacks on dalit homes, initiated by the kin of some of the Bathe convicts of neighbouring Kamta–Phulwari village, where, on 30 November 1997, on the eve of the Bathe massacre, a major Ranveer Sena gathering took place and a 'mega massacre' was planned. On 19 April, anniversary of the infamous Arwal police firing of 1986, rural poor in Arwal held a Protest March for Justice, demanding that the findings of the Amir Das Commission be made public and Barmeshwar Singh as well as the political masterminds of the Bathe massacre face justice. Their main slogan was - "Arwal-Bathe Jansanhar – Asli Mujrim Kyon Farar? Nitish Sarkar Jawab Do" (Why are the real culprits of the Arwal and Bathe massacres escaping justice - the Nitish Government must answer). Over a thousand people marched to the Gandhi Pustakalaya (library) where the brutal savagery was perpetrated.
Patna: CPI(ML) members and urban poor held a protest march in Patna on 10th April demanding reinstating of the Amir Das Commission, punishment to the political patrons of Ranveer Sena and capital punishment for its chief Barmeshwar Singh. Slogans were raised aloud marching through city’s main streets to reach Patna Junction Railway Station. Party leaders addressing the protest meeting in the end said that pro-feudal face of Nitish Kumar’s regime has been unmasked while shocking attempts are being made by his Govt. to save Barmeshwar Singh.
Patna’s Urban Poor Front's Demonstration Seeking Accountability
Hundreds of thousands of rupees worth property belonging to small shopkeepers was destroyed in an intense fire that raged through Patna’s Rajendra Nagar subzi mandi on 28 March 2010. But the Dist. Administration shirked away from its responsibility by merely handing Rs.3750/- per hutment to 20 hutments that infuriated the local people. Thousands of women-men-children under the banner of Urban Poor Front held a protest demonstration in front of the DC demanding five lakh rupees as compensation per shopkeeper, distribution of PDS grains and Kerosene even on the burnt/half-destroyed coupons, reconstruction of all burnt shops, potable water and immediate arrangement of electricity and lavatories. Convenor of the front Ashok Kumar, Secretary of Shopkeepers’ Federation Vijay Chaudhary, Shanti Devi, Parvati Devi among others led the protest and it wa addressed by Patna Municipal Councillor Comrade Tota Chaudhary, Navin, RYA leader Dr. Prakash, CPI(ML) town committee member Panna Lal among others.
The ADM entrusted with relief operations has asked for 15 days time for awarding of compensations. Apart from 216 shopkeepers, 325 street vendors have submitted application for compensation, who have collectively coughed up millions of rupees as rent and security to the Administration in the past. However, there is no development or protection (such as from fire) worth the name. Recently, prior to the fire, when the Front launched a campaign demanding hisab (accounts) and details of what development work was undertaken, the Administration quickly suspended the official (who collected the money) under the allegation of embezzlement of Govt. funds, but actual accounts was never presented to the people. The Front has been waging struggle since many years against police repression, extortion by criminal gangs, and contract system etc. Due to the Front’s initiatives CPI(ML) has been the only reliable organisation for these self-employed traders.
CPI(ML)’s Fact Finding Team’s Report on Nitish Govt.’s Relief Effort in Purnia-Araria after the Cyclone
The CPI(ML) Bihar State Committee sent a 3-member fact finding team comprising of State Committee comrades SK Sharma, Pankaj Singh and Araria Party Dist. Secretary Naval to asses relief work in 35 villages under 8 village panchayats of 3-blocks in Purnia- Kaswa, Jalalgarh and Vayasi and 18 villages under 5 village panchayats of two blocks in Araria Dist- Forbisganj and Raniganj.
The 3-member team, after meeting thousands of affected victims found out that even after 90 hours had passed since the cyclonic storm, no relief material or food-grain had reached the people and the victims were left to perish under the open sky, blazing Sun and acute hunger. Compensations have not been given to all the families of those who were killed by the storm. Hollow promises are being made by the ministers concerned. The number of families affected by the storm is over a hundred thousand. Crops have been damaged and the MLA’s are more concerned about them being shot by camera-persons while giving away compensation cheques. Roofs of the huts belonging to over a lakh of people have been blown away, and the damage to the small peasants, share-croppers etc. is to the tune of Rs.6 billion. The number of injured is in thousands and no arrangement has been made for their treatment. Hundreds of cattles and other animals have perished and thousands are injured and no arrangement has been made for their recovery too. Thousands of trees have been uprooted and those still standing are badly damaged. In brief, the destruction in human, livestock, natural and property terms is massive and an equally massive relief work is needed to salvage the economic and social fabric of the region.
The CPI(ML) has launched a series of protests and initiatives to force the Nitish Govt. to urgently speed up the relief effort. Several demonstrations have already taken place to force the officials to do everything necessary.
Rights’ Rally in Puducherry
A massive peoples’ rights rally was held on 31st March 2010 at Puducherry. The rally was organized by the state unit of CPI(ML) and led by Com. S Balasubramanian, State Secretary. The rally was organized against Anti-people policies of the UPA as well as Puducherry Congress Govt. for the recent budgets. The rallyists demanded roll back of price hike of petroleum products in particular and in general price increase of all essential commodities. They also demanded jobs and houses for all and for thorough-going land reforms in the Union Territory of Puducherry. Com. S Kumarsamy, PB member addressed the rallyists
The rally started from the old bus stand of Puducherry town and passed through main streets of Puducherry. It culminated into a big demonstration in front of the Legislative Assembly of Puducherry. A detailed peoples rights charter was submitted to the Chief Minister of Puducherry. Comrades P Sankaran of AIALA, S Motilal- Secretary AICCTU, P Ravikumar- State Secretary RYA addressed the gathering. Hundreds of women including mass organisations' cadres and members participated in the rally.
AICCTU Leader Kidnapped & Assaulted in Chhatisgarh
Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha’s (CMM’s) Voce President and All India Central Council of Trade Unions' (AICCTU’s) national councillor AG Quraishi was kidnapped and assaulted at 16:30 on 9th April by the goons hired by Satish Aggarwal, owner of Jai Hind Coal Benification Pvt. Ltd. of Sipat in Bilaspur. Whatever was being carried by him including his identity cards, letter pads of the unions were snatched and he was forced to sign false agreements on the union letter head under duress.
It is to be noted that 200 workers from surrounding villages are working in Aggarwal’s company. While the minimum wages in the State is Rs.134, they are being paid only Rs.80. Com. Quraishi was drawing Administration’s attention towards these blatant violations of minimum wage and due to his efforts the an agreement was made on 8th April (eve of his kidnapping) in the presence of Administration officials to pay Rs.100/- to the workers and also implementing other labour laws.
As soon as the news of this incident spread the workers stopped all work on 10th April and gheraoed the Sipat police station. Protest was addressed by AICCTU’s national VP Comrade Bhimrao Bagde.
Call to Observe Nationwide General Strike on 27 April 2010
With Powerful Mass Actions against Price Rise and State Repression
(Following statement was issued by the Party on 19 April)
New Delhi, April 19 2010: The working class and poor in our country are reeling under the cruel onslaught of unabatedly rising prices of food and essential commodities. Far from protecting the poor from the impact of the steep rise in prices, the Congress-led UPA Government is intensifying the price rise offensive, and doing nothing to ensure employment and increased wages, while at the same time doling out enormous subsidies to the some of the richest corporate houses in the country. Governments at the Centre and States are united in a policy of playing down poverty by pushing the poor out of the BPL lists and the Food Security Bill drafted by the Central Government is proving to be a farcical blueprint for food insecurity and hunger.
The UPA-II regime has opened up all manner of public sector enterprises for private loot – be it banking, telecom, insurance, transport, railways, health, or education. Government policy is facilitating corporate loot of the country's rich mineral resources: undermining the public sector, rolling out the red carpet for private corporations and MNC miners, and facilitating export of minerals.
Meanwhile, a concerted offensive on all forms of dissent, workers' struggles and people's movements has been launched throughout the country. Workers' movements and people's protests are being met with batons and bullets in all States. A virtual war has been launched on India's tribal population. While Maoists are the ostensible pretext for this war, it is clear that the real agenda is to suppress potential resistance to corporate grab of land, minerals and forest resources, and intimidate all manner of democratic voices, activists of working class struggles and people's movements.
We call upon the working class and the country's poor to give expression to the rising anger and resentment against the crushing burden of prices and against the offensive of state repression by observing a Nationwide General Strike on 27 April 2010. The Strike will focus on the demand for inclusive food security for all India's people, inclusion of all unorganised workers, agricultural labourers and small farmers in the BPL list, a full stop to the policy of privatisation, nationalisation of mineral and other natural resources, and an end to the assault on democracy and 'Operation Green Hunt'. We call upon all mass organisations to mobilise workers, students, women and common people in powerful mass actions to ensure the success of the General Strike all over the country.
Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary, CPM Punjab
B Kerkar, Secretariat, Lal Nishan Party
Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation
Interview with Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya by Bangladesh paper
A three member delegation led by CPI(ML) PB member comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya and including PB member Comrade Kartick Pal and Tripura State Secretary Comrade Mrinmoy Chakravarty attended the 8th Congress of the Revolutionary Workers' Party of Bangladesh which was held recently at Dhaka.
Reproduced (from: www.weeklyholiday.net) below is the report of an interview with Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya as printed in a Bangladesh newspaper the Weekly Holiday.
South Asians must unite against imperialist clique: India should strive for developing good neighbourly relations with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for making collective progress in the South Asian region. There should be people's alliances among the democratic and revolutionary forces to compel the ruling compradors serve the people of their respective nations in stead of collaborating with imperialists designs. This was viewed by Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, the second in command and a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (CPI-ML) while giving an interview to the Holiday during his stay in Dhaka last week. He led a three-member party delegation to attend the 8th Congress of Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh.
CPI (ML) strives for accomplishing people's democratic revolution in India, availing extra-parliamentary as well as parliamentary forms of struggle. The Party is engaged in developing a comprehensive revolutionary practice through an organic combination of all necessary forms of struggle and organization. Apart from its popular fronts among the workers, women and youth, CPI(ML) has got its elected representation in the Bihar and Jharkhand State Assembly. CPI (ML) aims at overthrowing the rule of the big bourgeois-landlord alliance. "We are pushing ahead our total movement for a victorious revolution that will usher in the rule of workers, peasants and other revolutionary classes and democratic strata a people's democratic state", said Kartik Paul, another politburo member who accompanied Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya. The delegation also included Tripura State committee Secretary Mrinmoy Chakravartee. "We are against the hegemonic attitude of India and support Bangladesh people's struggle in this regard", said Kartik Paul adding that CPI (ML) is strongly promoting unity among democratic and revolutionary left forces in South Asia hoping that such a unity would enhance the anti-imperialist struggle in the region.
Turbulence in South Asia: "Currently regarded as the world's most vital continent in economic and geopolitical terms, Asia is subjected to growing imperialist exploitation and interference. We in India have had a bitter taste of this in the shape of the US bear-hug and the harmful fallouts of the West-dictated policies of liberalisation. And naturally we are more concerned about developments in the neighbouring countries in South Asia", the party mentioned in its political agenda.
The CPI (ML) observes that the brazenly pro-US foreign policy persuaded by Manmohan Singh government had added a new dimension of tension and instability in the region. This US-India-Pakistan triangle is making South Asia one of the most volatile and vulnerable regions of the world. Instead of India sorting out all her outstanding issues with Pakistan and China through bilateral negotiations, increasing US intervention in the region is only driving a deeper wedge between India and China and India and Pakistan. This also makes India more suspect in the eyes of her smaller neighbours in the region, explained Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya.
Risks of regional instability: "The whole idea of being a US-backed regional power and policing South Asia on behalf of the number one enemy of the world people is not only an insult to the legacy of our historic fight against British colonialism but is also fraught with grave risks of regional instability and arms race and hence completely detrimental to our interest of socio-economic development", he added.
Against terrorism: Comrade Swadesh also observed that with increased US intervention in South Asia, the region has also become more vulnerable to terrorism. Afghanistan and Iraq are two clear examples of how US intervention breeds and reinforces terrorism. With Pakistan and India playing two key allies of the US, terrorist incidents are now happening quite frequently in the subcontinent. CPI(ML) opposes the present armed attacks in the name of Maoists in different parts of India. It also observes that the insurgencies in Kashmir and the North-East also have strong local roots and are continuing in the absence of any serious attempt at finding a political solution to the specific historical questions and democratic aspirations of the people of these areas.
On Islam and Hindutva: Responding to religious terrorism, Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya explained that a key component of the US-Israel war campaign is the tagging of terrorism with Islam to make almost every Muslim appear as a potential terrorist, a point which is explicitly shared by the Hindutva brigade in India and tacitly endorsed by the Congress.
Another related point on which the Sangh discourse matches entirely with the US-Israel nexus is the clamour for a strong state with stringent anti-terrorist laws. The imperialism-terrorism spiral thus poses a serious threat to democracy and in the concrete conditions of India such an environment will always provide fertile ground for rabidly rightwing and communal fascist forces. "While rejecting terrorism we must vigorously resist every assault on democracy and vilification and persecution of any community in the name of combating terrorism" the CPI(ML) leader said.
UPA's faults in hilly regions: Turning to domestic situation, CPI(ML) leaders said the Congress-led UPA government in India did nothing to diminish the alienation and popular anger of the people of the North East and Kashmir against the intense repression of their basic democratic rights and their aspiration for self-determination. The hill districts of Assam and West Bengal have witnessed long-standing movements for autonomy or separate statehood. The belated move by the UPA-LF combine to accord Sixth Schedule status to Gorkhaland has only angered the people of the hill region. The situation has been further vitiated by the opportunist "divide-and-rule" politics of the CPI(M) and various chauvinist forces. A meaningful political solution can only emerge by fulfilling the democratic aspirations of the hill people and while upholding the tradition of class and popular unity of Nepali- and Bengali-speaking people.
Crisis within: The CPI(ML) views that with the entire range of ruling parties and coalitions virtually converging in terms of their policy orientation, the working people everywhere are waging battles for their survival and basic human dignity and rights. At the same time, the democratic people of India are also faced with the question of defending their national sovereignty and national dignity in the face of growing imperialist offensive and the collusive nexus between imperialism and comprador rulers. "In other words, the basic questions regarding the true nature of our democracy and independence have also come up in public discussion" CPI(ML) leader said.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org