A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 38, 14 – 20 SEPTEMBER 2010
Rahul Gandhi's 'Mission Bihar':
Posers for the Congress 'Crown Prince'
On the eve of the announcement of the Assembly election schedule for Bihar, the Congress 'crown prince' Rahul Gandhi addressed a couple of heavily publicised meetings at Saharsa and Samastipur, the nerve-centres of the Kosi and Mithila regions of Bihar. The meetings were advertised as a major milestone in Rahul Gandhi's 'Mission Bihar' campaign for a grand revival of India's grand old party in India's poorest state. The elections will tell us if and how far the Congress has managed to regain its long lost ground, but the meetings have already thrown up a whole series of uncomfortable questions for the youth icon of the grand old party.
Rahul Gandhi has been talking of infusing new blood in the Congress and recruiting fresh faces with clean images. Sharing stage with him in the Saharsa meeting were Ranjita Ranjan and Lovely Anand, two women leaders who represent the political legacies of Pappu Yadav and Anand Mohan, both currently serving life sentences as murder convicts (Pappu Yadav in the 1998 case of assassination of CPI(M) leader and Purnea MLA Ajit Sarkar and Anand Mohan in the 1993 case of murder of Gopalganj DM G Krishnaiyya) – certainly not among the cleanest and freshest of political faces in Bihar! And this is no aberration; rather this is central to the Congress gameplan of 'reviving' itself by recruiting turncoats and tainted elements from all sources.
Rahul did not forget to remind his audience that the funds he was despatching from Delhi were not being allowed to reach the deserving beneficiaries, and to ensure a free flow of funds to Bihar villages, the Congress would have to be brought back to power. This is a modified version of his father's famous statement that of every rupee released from Delhi only fifteen paise reached the villages with middlemen appropriating the rest. Well, there are two gaping holes in this formulation. Firstly, the funds released by the Centre do not belong to the Congress party and secondly, the politician-middleman-bureaucrat nexus appropriating the lion's share of these funds is as much characteristic of Congress-led governments as of any other government!
Indeed, as far as the people are concerned, it hardly matters whether the funds are allocated by the Centre or a state government. In both cases, the funds belong to the people and to the people alone. The coffers of the government are filled primarily by indirect and direct taxes paid by the people, more by the poor and middle-income sections than the rich. Of the 32.5 million tax-paying households in the country, 96% report an annual taxable income of less than Rs. 200,000 while only 2.2% (715,000) belong to the Rs. 800,000-plus bracket even as the National Council of Applied Economic Research tells us that at least 3.8 million households earn over Rs. 1 million a year! Clearly while the rich and the super-rich excel in tax evasion, it is the poor and the middle classes who bear the brunt of the tax burden, both indirect and direct.
Before bragging about central funds and pretending to be the soldier of the tribals and saviour of the poor, should not Rahul Gandhi tell his audience why the Congress government at the Centre is refusing to honour the Supreme Court directive to distribute foodgrains free of cost among the starving poor? Bihar, where more than 80% people live in poverty according to the latest UNDP report, which has been suffering continually from droughts and floods and where hunger has claimed some 150 lives in the last five years, surely has every right to know.
Before promising security and dignity for the migrant Bihari worker, should not Rahul Gandhi tell us why the Congress governments at the Centre and in Delhi are presiding over the more than Rs. 28,000 crore extravaganza in the name of the Commonwealth Games while Bihari workers engaged in CWG-related construction work are subjected to sub-human living and working conditions and abysmally low wages? Why in Congress-ruled Maharashtra, the MNS is allowed to humiliate, harass and attack Bihari workers and youth with impunity while the Congress strikes electoral deals with the same MNS?
Rahul Gandhi and his trumpet-blowers keep telling us that a resurgent Congress is the best bet for the deprived and insecure Muslim community in the country. Do not they first owe an answer as to why innocent Muslim students are killed in fake encounters in Congress-ruled Delhi and the champions of justice refuse even to order a judicial probe? Why the government that set up the Sachhar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission is shying away from implementing their recommendations?
And last but not the least, why the crown prince who swears by youth power has not a word for the Kashmiri students and youth who are being gunned down by the dozen for daring to come out on the streets in protest against repression?
The questions are getting louder, and Rahul Gandhi obviously has no convincing answers. No wonder, the NSUI was humbled in the recent student union elections in Delhi University, the home turf of our crown prince. Will Bihar be any different?
9-11 Anniversary, Islamophobic Hate-speak and
Efforts against Racism and War-mongering
The run-up to the 9/11 Anniversary in the US was marked this year by threats by a bigoted pastor in Florida to burn the Quran. This came in the backdrop of a recent rise in violent anti-Muslim mobilization and hate-speak in the US over the proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque two blocks away from 'Ground Zero' where the Twin Towers once stood in New York City.
While the pastor eventually called off his plan to burn the Quran, the incident brought to the fore US Government's avoidance of a firm stand against the Islamophobic anti-mosque campaign. When Obama became President of the USA, he held out a promise of "mutual respect and peace to the Muslim world." His silence on Israel's siege of Gaza and his continued occupation of Afghanistan has already called the bluff of that statement. But now the ongoing unbridled communal poison being spewed out openly on US soil itself is something that Obama must answer for.
Meanwhile the threat to burn the Quran had tragic consequences in Kashmir where ever-continuing state brutality of Indian security forces took 17 more lives in Kashmir. An irresponsible Iranian TV channel relayed supposed 'news' of the Quran burning, and in Kashmir, cut-off by curfews, multiple bans on communications and the dearth of credible news, the impact of this false news was explosive. People erupted in protest – and the security forces, instead of dealing sensitively with such a protest, predictably went on a rampage and killed 17 people, taking the toll of those killed in firing by security forces in Kashmir in the past 3 months to 88.
In Mumbai too, Islamophobic panic and paranoia was whipped up by the Mumbai police displaying two photos of two supposed 'Pakistani terrorists' on the loose in the festival season in Mumbai.
It was heartening however that thousands of people (mobilised by a broad coalition of anti-war and anti-racism groups) observed the 9/11 Anniversary in lower Manhattan with a massive rally against anti-Muslim bigotry. The rally against demonisation of Muslim, Arab American and South Asian communities and racism dwarfed the smaller right-wing, racist mobilization that was organized in opposition to the planned construction of the Islamic community centre and mosque.
A quiet blow to Indo-Pak mutual jingoism and war-mongering was the emergence of the 'Indo-Pak express' of Rohan Bopanna from India and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi from Pakistan as runners up in the US Open tennis championships. The duo expressed their appeal for Indo-Pak friendship by wearing T-shirts with the slogan 'Stop war, start tennis.'
Published below is the letter from CPI(ML) Central Committee written to the UP Chief Secretary asking him to look into motivated and prejudiced action of Mirzapur Police against our local leaders and activists.
The Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh.
It has come to our notice that the Mirzapur police administration has started harassing Com. Mohammad Salim, National President of Revolutionary Youth Association and a Mirzapur-based member of the UP State Committee of the CPI(ML)(Liberation) following the meeting of the party's Central Committee held in Mirzapur from 1 to 3 August. Copies of the two letters addressed to him by someone claiming to be in-charge of the Naxal Cell of Mirzapur are attached herewith for your information and necessary action.
You must be aware that the CPI(ML) Liberation is a well-known communist party in the country with a long history of fighting for people's rights within the state of Uttar Pradesh itself. The party is duly registered with the Election Commission of India and has representatives in the Assemblies of two neighbouring states, Bihar and Jharkhand. On behalf of the Mirzapur committee of our party, Comrade Salim had on 28.07.2010 itself duly informed the City Magistrate, district administration and other local authorities (a receipt for this information from the City Magistrate's office was given to Comrade Salim) about the meeting of the Central Committee (held on 1-3 August at Rahi Lodge, Mirzapur) and the district convention in the same place on 4 August which was addressed by our General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. Based on this information, the district administration arranged for security and for medical arrangements from the district hospital for the meeting.
Yet the so-called Naxal cell of Mirzapur has chosen to harass and threaten Comrade Salim and level highly irresponsible and objectionable allegations against the Central Committee of the party. The first such letter dated 6.08.2010 had no stamp, file number or any other hallmark of an official letter, but it warned Comrade Salim of "action" for having hosted the Central Committee meeting, alleging that this meeting was attended by "suspicious people" hailing from states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa etc.
On 19.08.2010 Comrade Salim sent a detailed response to the letter, through the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, Mirzapur. In spite of this, a second letter dated 27.08.2010 from the "in-charge Naxal Cell" was sent to Comrade Salim warning him that since no reply had been received, "one-sided action" would be taken against him.
We hope you will look into the matter and restrain the Mirzapur police from any motivated and prejudiced action against our local leaders and activists.
Hope you will acknowledge this letter and keep us duly informed of action taken.
For CPI(ML) Liberation, Central Committee
In the last issue of ML Update, we reported about Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Delhi, Tamilnadu, Pondicherry, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan where the all-India general strike was implemented. We could not cover reports from a few states which is being carried below:
WEST BENGAL: Jute mills' gates were picketed by our activists. TMC and BJP had to retreat when our activists resisted their attempt to break the strike at Bhadreswar Jute Mill in Hoogly. AICCTU activists blocked the gate of Kasba Industrial Estate and did mike campaign. The unorganised workers in this area stood in our favour. At Konnagar in Hooghly, hundred construction workers took out a 2-hour cycle rally and held a condolence meeting in memory of the construction workers killed at Commonwealth Games site in Delhi. At Dhaniakhali too our comrades resisted TMC's forcible attempt to up the shutters of the market. Beedi workers in Maldah, Murshidabad and Nadia participated in the strike in a big way. Rail Hawkers Union affiliated to AICCTU blocked the rail line. Transport workers affiliated to AICCTU had significant role in the strike at Jalpaiguri and the transport workers of Calcutta Tramways Company and Kolkata State Transport Corporation too had a significant role in the strike. Strike was total in Budgebudge and Durgapur-Asansol industrial area. Our members participated in the strike at collieries in Asansol. Activists in North and South Dinajpur held marches on several roads for the success of strike. Our activists picketed gates of Jute mills in Howrah also.
ASSAM: After years of lull in Karbi Anglong, the 7th September bandh call ended the inertia and our forces geared up to make all out initiative in organising the bandh. Besides publishing a leaflet for wide circulation, AICCTU took the leading role in organising various sections. A section of health workers like ASHA took part for the first time in strike. In the Barak valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi the general strike was almost total. AICCTU concentrated in Cachar and its HQ Silchar where 200 activists were arrested from picket on the railway tracks. In Dibrugarh too the bandh was total and what is notable is shutting down of railway workshop on our sole initiative. Serious altercation took place between security forces and picketers before the security personnel yielded. In Tinsukia, two tea estates where our trade union work has influence, were closed. This is the result of our recent struggle on the issue of PDS. Though INTUC was part of the strike its national VP Pawan Singh Ghatowar and the MP of Dibrugarh opposed the strike in tea gardens. However, his orders were not followed even in his native place. In Guwahati AICCTU Jt. Secretary of Assma Com. Pankaj Das was arrested with others while leading a blockade of railway track.
ORISSA: A mass rally of 300 comrades of different unions like Motorboat Workers Union, Chilka, Rickshaw Porters Federation of Bhubaneswar railway station, Construction Workers Union and Slum Dwellers Association of Bhubaneswar led by State General Secretary of AICCTU Com. Radhakanta Sethi, AICCTU Secretary Com. Mahendra Parida, Yudhistir Mohapatra, CPI(ML) State Committee member, Ashok Pradhan, President of AIALA Com. Satyabadi Behera held demonstration in front of the State Assembly. The rally started from Nagbhusan Bhavan to Bidhan Sabha via Rajmahal Square with colourful placards and flags of AICCTU and raising slogans to stop price rise, stop disinvestment in profitable public sector units, provide social security to all unorganized workers, strict implementation of labour laws etc.
In front of Orissa Assembly a public meeting was held where comrades Radhakanta Sethi, Litulal of AISA, Janaki Rao of Basti Basindha Masanga, Seema Sethi of Rickshaws Sangha addressed the meeting. In the public meeting AICCTU raised the issue of permanent patta to landless labourers, supply of ration card, provide work and Rs.200 wage per day etc. All the business concerns, insurance companies and banks were closed on this day due to workers' solidarity. It's the first time business community downed their shutters without any pressure from us and petrol pumps too remained closed in Bhubaneswar.
At Patatmendei AICCTU cadres led by comrades Rama Krishna Dash, Bidhan Das, Ananta Kar and Ramakrishna Patra held mass rally and handed over memorandum to the BDO. The workers of Motor Workers Association, Khet Mazdoor Sabha participated in this demonstration. In Rourkela, AICCTU and CITU jointly held a demonstration in front of Rourkela Steel Plant and 100 comrades of Ispat labour union and construction workers union joined with us under the leadership of comrades Kedar and RP Singh.
IN Bhadark, under leadership of Samar Bala, around 200 workers of construction workers union, and AIALA members participated in the rally to DM's office and handed him a memorandum.
CHHATISGARH: Workers organised under the banners of by AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, HMS and INTUC jointly blockaded all the five gates of Bhilai Steel Plant and held demonstration. AICCTU blockaded the Maroda gate and held a meeting. Thousands of contract workers participated with great vigour. AICCTU also took out a rally from Maroda gate to Bhilai Power House and held a dharna at Ambedkar chowk. Workers from CMM struck work in industrial area and participated in this dharna. Dharna was addressed among others by comrades Brijendra Tiwari and Rajaram.
In Raipur, workers from State warehouse and Central warehouse participated in the rally led by AICCTU's national VP Com. Bhimrao Bagre. Programmes were also organised at Jagdalpur in Bastar.
GUJARAT: Himmatnagar (Sabarkantha district) - Building and transport workers struck work and 300 attended the rally at District Collectors office under AICCTU banner. Comrades Dashrath Sinhali (AICCTU working committee), Ranjit Sinh Rathod (national councilor) Vinod Modi, Babubhai Parmar, Navin Varma, Nanjibhai Pagi, Jivaji Parmar among others addressed the rally.
PUNJAB: Chandigarh: In Chandigarh AICCTU's two main unions Punjab Engineering College (PEC) Mess Workers Union and Prehari Security Men's Union took part actively and this strike was a complete success in Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. All mess workers gathered in the morning and put locks on the mess gates. Security Men Union members also joined the gathering and later all marched to Nehru Park in Sector 22 where all other trade unions were also present. Total gathering was 400 and AICCTU's participation was 150. From there all marched to Sector 16 which is a stretch of nearly 4 km. In Sector 16 the main program organiser was AICCTU. Mess Worker Union President Com. Satish Kumar was one of those presiding. AICCTU Punjab's Co-Convenor Com. Kanwaljeet addressed the rally.
Total gathering in Sangrur was 450 and AICCTU's participation was 107. The newly formed Mobile Tower Guard Union affiliated to AICCTU participated with 60 members. From AICCTU Convenor Harbhagwan and Brick-kiln Workers union President Gurjant Mansa addressed the rally.
Total gathering was 200 at Mansa and AICCTU had half the share. From AICCTU main participation was from Brick-kiln workers union and Construction Workers' Union. Bhagwant Samao, Sukhcharan Daanewalia and Jasveer Natt addressed the gathering.
AISA and RYA teams blocked the Mansa Highway for 2 hours with strength of 200 youths.
At Barnala, total participation was 300 and our participation was 125. Brick kiln workers and Majdoor Mukti Morcha members mainly participated.
At Bhathinda, total participation was 500 and from AICCTU Ammi Lal addressed the gathering.
Annual Conference of Building Workers' Union in Mandawli
Second Conference of Building Workers' Union of Mandawli zone was held on 22 August. Leaflets were distributed among wider section of workers in the area. Despite heavy pours in Delhi prior to the Conference date wider public campaign was conducted.
Conference began with paying homage to martyrs by observing silence for two minutes in their remembrance. CPI(ML)'s Central Committee member Comrade Prabhat Kumar Chaudhary inaugurated the Conference and called upon the Union and workers to expose and resist the corrupt, pro-corporate and anti-worker Congress Govt.
Various issues icluding membership renewal, retrying for Ward based structure, building chowk based structures and fixed participation in programmes, politicization of workers etc. came up in the discussion. Mandawli has 500 members of the Union. Against the commonly held perception of frequent inter-state migration and movement of workers it came out that the workers have been permanently residing in Delhi. The Conference resolved to continue resisting and fighting against the loot and corruption in the name of Commonwealth Games, fight for inclusion of names inn voter list, rashan card, health and education. Conference has elected 23-member executive body that includes three women and 8-member office bearer. The Conference was addressed by Comrade Sanjay Sharma and VKS Gautam among others.
Protest in Delhi against Massive Displacement of Poor, Violations of Workers' Rights and Loot of Public Money in the name of Commonwealth Games
CPI(ML) held a week long campaign in Delhi asking the people to join a massive protest at parliament Street in New Delhi on 15th September to condemn the huge displacement of poor and working class people in the name of Commonwealth Games and to ask for immediate resettlement of all. The campaign also exposed the massive corruption and violation of labour laws at Commonwealth games sites.
On 15 September, CPI(ML) activists, workers, students from universities in the Capital and affected people from various parts of Delhi marched on Parliament Street demanding punishment to the corrupt officials and Organising Committee members, strict implementation of labour laws and immediate rehabilitation of those displaced. The protest and rally was led by CPI(ML) Delhi State Secretary Comrade Sanjay Sharma.
16th anniversary of Subbu's martyrdom was observed by Subbu peravai. CPI(ML) State Committee members Balasundaram, Asaithambi, Usha and comrades from Sivagangai, Pudukottai, Madurai participated. Scores of Dalit organisations and groups too attended the anniversary.
Martyrs Chandrakumar Chandrasekar's 26th anniversary was observed at Manaloor. CPI(ML), AIALA, AISA, and AIPWA leaders, activists and local people participated. Balasundaram, Ammaaiappan, Kannaian, Rajasankar, Bharati, Rajesh, Gurusamy, Prasad spoke at the occasion. Manaloor Party Branch Secretary Thangasamy presided over the meeting. State secretary hoisted the Party flag.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org