December 18 Pledge:
Let Us Make 2012 A Year of Heightened Struggles and Powerful Initiatives
As the first year of the second decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, we can see a welcome upswing in popular struggles across the world. Reeling under economic recession, corporate loot and dictatorial rule, the people have clearly started fighting back across the world. History will remember 2011 as the year of the Arab Spring and also as the year of the 'Occupy' movement. The impulses behind the Arab Spring and the 'Occupy' movement are still very much alive and so the ongoing battles will surely be carried forward into the coming year. The same holds very much true for our own battle in India against corruption and corporate loot and for securing the rights of the people in various fields of life.
The present crisis of global capitalism is turning out to be quite deep and enduring. It has simultaneously hit both US and Europe, the two biggest centres of global capitalism. And it has hit the financial sector as well as several major manufacturing industries. The dominant capitalist model of neo-liberalism, based on the free-market mantra of deregulation and privatization, seems to have reached a dead-end. The combined effect of growing relocation of industries and outsourcing of labour-intensive production and labour-displacing technological innovation has pushed unemployment levels unbearably high in most advanced capitalist countries.
Global capital is trying to overcome this crisis by grabbing as much natural resources as possible precipitating a mad corporate rush for every conceivable resource – most notably, land, water, forests, minerals, and oil and gas. Together with this drive to grab ever greater share of resources, imperialism is also waging its relentless war on resource-rich countries, ostensibly in the name of combating terrorism and promoting democracy and human rights. After Afghanistan and Iraq, the war is now clearly, though in an undeclared manner, spreading to Iran and Pakistan and also increasingly to Africa as indicated by the US-NATO intervention in Libya. But equally clearly, the war is also running into increasing opposition both in the occupied/invaded countries and also in the heartlands of global capitalism, the US in particular.
Globalisation is thus emerging as a dialectical process. Alongside the globalization of corporate loot and imperialist war, we now also see the other dimension of globalization – globalization of capitalist crisis and globalization of people's resentment and resistance. The global environment today stands in a refreshing contrast to the kind of situation we faced till recently when the US and other Western powers seemed to be dominating the world on their own terms. For communists and progressive forces the world over, the possibilities of a renewed advance are surely knocking on the doors.
This may sound rather wishful in the Indian context if one goes by recent electoral outcomes. But in a situation of growing systemic crisis and heightened popular activism, it is terribly wrong to try and assess political reality merely in terms of elections. For example, election results may suggest that the CPI(ML) has little base left in Bihar, but then the great success of the November 21 rally in Patna and the response evoked by the series of mass initiatives preceding the rally have clearly shown that the party surely retains its capacity to mobilize the masses and intervene in ongoing political developments. In fact, all through 2011 we could sense the potential of expansion and powerful intervention that we possess not just in Bihar and our major areas of work in other states but also in many developing areas and emerging sectors. In 2012 let us better our efforts to realize this great potential.
The Left movement in India is passing through a challenging phase. For every section of the Left, it is time for some reality check. The CPI(M)'s fabled electoral strength has received a body blow in West Bengal and with it, its stature as the leading Left current has eroded considerably. And this has happened not just because the party had spent too many years in power in West Bengal, but because the party's line of implementing the neo-liberal agenda in practice while claiming to oppose it in theory has run into a serious crisis.
The Maoists too have suffered a major setback in West Bengal, and it clearly shows that unless they rethink their strategy, they will not be able to break new ground or hold on to their bases merely on the basis of their military strength. After the disastrous experience of Andhra Pradesh a few years ago, the Maoists have suffered a similar debacle in West Bengal. Their theory and practice of political intervention by military means has been exposed quite thoroughly and it is clear that military strength is no substitute for either mass work or independent political initiatives.
The initiative we took to unite various fighting forces of the Left on a common platform is making steady progress. With the CPI(M) and the Maoists both facing major challenges, we must sharpen the ideological-political debate to assert the correctness of our revolutionary communist line even as we intensify our ongoing national campaign against corruption and corporate loot and for democratic rights of the people. Let us make 2012 a year of heightened struggles, greater political initiatives and closer interaction with fighting Left and democratic forces.
2012 will also be the year of preparation for the Party's next Congress. The Central Committee has decided to hold the 9th Congress in early 2013. Let us make the most of the coming year to prepare the Party in every way for the Ninth Congress. The CC has already outlined some key points in this regard with special emphasis on organizational expansion and consolidation and ideological-political mobilization of the entire party. As we prepare for the Ninth Congress, we will also seek and welcome creative ideas and inputs that we can get from our friends and well-wishers.
This December 18 marks the thirteenth anniversary of our beloved leader Comrade Vinod Mishra. Comrade VM had led the Party from its early underground days when the Party was confined to a few pockets to its all-round growth as a revolutionary communist party with an all-India presence and comprehensive practice. He had led the Party in combining serious mass work with vibrant political ideas and initiatives, in waging sustained ideological struggle against sectarian and dogmatic ideas as well as against parliamentary cretinism and all kinds of opportunist ideas and practice, in imparting strategic thrust and national vision to day-to-day grassroot-level work in remote areas. He dreamt of the CPI(ML) emerging as the biggest communist party and leading the communist movement forward to the ultimate victory of revolution.
Today as we begin preparing for the Ninth Congress and the challenging possibilities of "Left resurgence through people's resistance" knock on our doors, let us learn once again from Comrade VM's teachings and rededicate ourselves to the realization of his unfulfilled tasks and dreams.
Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
CPI(ML) Statement on Mullaperiyar Dispute
The CPI(ML) expresses grave concern over the alarming escalation of the controversy over the Mullaperiyar dam. CPI(ML) appeals to the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to maintain patience and peace, rebuffing attempts to whip up competitive chauvinism and violence.
The people living in the area downstream from the dam in Kerala are apprehensive that the 116-year-old dam might burst, endangering the habitations in the region. These long-standing safety concerns have been heightened in the wake of recent tremors in the region. On the other hand, people of Tamil Nadu fear the denial or reduction in water supply in case of construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar and any change in terms and conditions of the 999-year agreement between both states.
Four districts of Tamilnadu have been traditionally dependent on the water rights they have long enjoyed from the dam, and there is a fear that any change in arrangements might endanger agriculture and the livelihood and survival of lakhs of peasants and labourers. These concerns assume even greater proportions in the backdrop of the deepening agrarian crisis and shrinkage of cultivable land in Tamilnadu.
Continuity of the existing water rights for the people of Tamilnadu, and safety for the people of Kerala are both genuine concerns that must be recognised in their full gravity and adequately addressed in a manner that generates confidence among the people.
A large share of responsibility for the present crisis and impasse falls on the Central Government and Central Water Commission, which have failed to act for over four decades, in spite of conflict brewing on this issue since the 1980s. The matter is now subjudice, with the Supreme Court having appointed an Empowered Committee to look into the issue. The Supreme Court must facilitate an expeditious resolution of the dispute.
We call upon the Prime Minister to use his office to facilitate dialogue between both states, generate confidence and allay apprehensions, in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution. We appeal to the Governments of Kerala and Tamilnadu to abjure any hardening of positions, and work towards a reasoned and mutually favourable solution.
In the meantime, the respective state governments must take urgent steps to ensure the security of Tamilians in Kerala and Keralites in Tamilnadu. There have been disconcerting reports of chauvinistic attacks on Tamil labourers and Ayyappa devotees in Kerala, and similar targeting of Malayalees and their shops and business establishments in Tamil Nadu. We appeal to common people in both states to resist forces that are fishing in the troubled waters and fuelling discord among people who have a long history of living in harmony.
Hooch Horror in Bengal
On the heels of the AMRI fire has come another terrible tragedy – the hooch (illicit liquor) tragedy at Sangrampur of South 24 Parganas, that has claimed 190 lives till date including that of an 8-year-old child, and the death toll continues to mount.
This latest tragedy highlighted the ruling TMC Government's callousness once again. As the tragedy began to unfold, the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's first response was to disclaim the Government's responsibility by blaming the deaths on a 'social evil'! In other words, according to her, the Government had no responsibility to ensure that the lucrative business of bootlegging does not flourish and endanger lives!
Subsequently, as the death toll arose and angry people demolished the illegal hooch 'theks' and ransacked the houses of their owners, the Government was forced to change its stance and order an enquiry. However, the Chief Minister is yet even to pay a visit to Sangrampur, even as the appalling state of healthcare contributes to the death toll. This apathy is in stark contrast to Mamata's show of promptitude in the case of the AMRI fire, and is a measure of how much her Government really cares for the rural poor!
The hooch kingpin running the illicit liquor trade in the area is one 'Badshah', known to have enjoyed CPIM patronage in the earlier regime, and having shifted loyalty to the TMC with the change of guard. He is still absconding. In any case, Badshah is only the tip of the iceberg. There are estimated to be 27,000 illicit liquor brewers in the state – a whole illegal industry that thrives with the patronage of power.
The government, doing nothing to ensure even prompt and adequate medical care, has merely announced Rs.2 lakh compensation for the victims' families, and even that is yet to materialize.
Sankalp Divas in Memory of Comrade VM
December 18, the death anniversary of Comrade Vinod Mishra, was observed as Sankalp Divas (Pledge-taking Day) by Party units all over the country. This year, the December 18 programmes also launched the fund collection drive for the party's forthcoming Ninth Congress.
In Delhi, a cadre convention was held at the party's central office, in which the December 18 call was read out by Comrade VKS Gautam. Comrade Kavita then discussed some of the key tasks outlined by the Call in the context of party work in Delhi, and Comrade Ravi presented a brief paper on the political perspective and organizational principles that underlie the ongoing task of membership renewal, recruitment, transformation of candidate members into party members, branch functioning and party organs. Several district and branch secretaries and party activists introspected on the ongoing work and the tasks ahead. CCM Comrade Rajendra Pratholi also addressed the Convention. Delhi State Secretary Comrade Sanjay Sharma concluded the discussion, calling on comrades to intensify the movement of Delhi's working class and urban poor, and strengthen the party in Delhi.
The Sankalp Divas at Patna was observed with a Cadre Convention by the Patna City Committee, addressed by the Bihar State Secretary Comrade Nand Kishore Prasad, AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee and Lokyuddh editor Comrade BB Pandey, Patna City Secretary Comrade Saroj Chaubey, and was attended by a large number of leading activists. Conventions were also held at 12 blocks in Patna rural as well as Badh. A district level convention was held at Jehanabad addressed by PBM Comrade Ramjatan Sharma and Darbhanga, addressed by CCM Comrade Dhirendra Jha, as well as at Buxar, Purnea, Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Begusarai and W Champaran. Block level Sankalp Sabhas were held at Bhojpur, Siwan and Gaya, as well as Samastipur, Aurangabad, Kaimur. The fund collection drive was launched with great enthusiasm at all places.
A state-level cadre convention was held at Saria (Giridih) in Jharkhand. The conventon began with floral tributes to Comrade VM as well as Comrades Mahendra Singh and Ibn-ul Hasan Basru. Cadres held a motorcycle march in Bagodar preceding the convention. The Convention was conducted by Jharkhand State Secretary Comrade Janardan Prasad. SCM and the party's MLA in the state Assembly Comrade Vinod Singh presented the December 18 Call for discussion. 16 leaders then discussed their work in various districts and fronts. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya addressed the Convention in conclusion. PBM Comrade D P Buxi, and CCMs Comrades Manoj Bhakt, Shubhendu Sen as well as SCMs were present. In the Convention, workers' leader from Bokaro Comrade JN Singh was greeted with enthusiastic applause when he contributed the amount of Rs 15,000 received as a 'best worker' award from SAIL to the party's Ninth Congress fund. Contributions received at the Giridih district convention and the state convention amounted to Rs 4700. The Convention resolved to conduct a campaign against corruption and corporate loot, the first phase of which would culminate in Comrade Mahendra Singh's martyrdom day on 16 January. On that date, a big rally will be held at Bagodar, and mass meeting in other districts. Another decision was to launch a campaign against the state government's betrayal of the people, in which four teams will march in four Assembly constituencies in Giridih from 25 December onwards. From 16 January to 23 March, a second phase of political-organisational campaign will be conducted, concluding with a rally on 23 March and the State Conference of the party on 23-25 March at Koderma. From 18 December, women comrades will take up the task of full scale preparations for the AIPWA National Conference. A memorial meeting for Comrade VM was also held at Garhwa.
In Uttar Pradesh, Sankalp Sabhas were organized in many districts. The programmes included a rally to district HQs at Devaria, with the slogan 'People's Power Against Money Power', attended by about 2000 people including ASHA, anganwadi and mid-day meal women workers in addition to party members. Block level GBMs of party members were held at Ballia, Gorakhpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Allahabad, Sonebhadra, Lakhimpur Kheri. At Mirzapur, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Gonda, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jalaun, Sitapur and Pilibhit, pledge-taking GBMs were held at district HQs.
The Tamilnadu state committee organized a state cadre meeting to observe the 'Pledge Taking' day. 83 leaders and cadres of the party participated in the meeting. At the meeting, the December 18 Call was read and discussed, with Com S Kumarasamy, PBM, explaining various key aspects of the call and the key tasks before the party, and calling on comrades to implement the CC call with full vigor and determination. The cadre meeting earnestly embarked on the challenge of turning the Tamil party organ, 'Theepori' into a fortnightly from January 1, 2012. District secretaries, in-charges and other comrades shared their experiences of 'Theepori' subscriptions promotional campaign in a very lively manner. A total of 1,900 subscriptions (Rs 1,90,000 collected in these 15 day campaign presented to Com G. Radhakrishnan, Manager of 'Theepori'). Chennai committee crossed 600, Coimbatore achieved 500 and Kanyakumari, 350. The meeting overwhelmingly endorsed the target of 5000 to achieve before the party's state conference to be held in end March. The meeting pledged to strengthen the party organ, a key tool in party building and political advance.
Party State Secretary, Balasundaram, announced decisions taken in the 2-day state committee meeting that concluded a day before the Pledge-taking Day. The meeting resolved to take up vigorous mass political campaign against the anti-people Jayalalitha Government which will culminate in a party rally and state conference of the party to be held on March 30, 31 and April 1 at Coiambatore. Responding to the CC's call the cadre meet contributed Rs 17000 towards 9th Party Congress fund. This was presented to PBM, Com S Kumarasamy.
In Andhra Pradesh, the pledge-taking day was observed at East Godavari, Jaggampeta, Yeleswaram, Prathipadu, Krishna, and Khammam. In W Bengal, Sankalp Sabhas were held at branch and area level in most districts, while district-level cadre meetings were held at Nadia and Jalpaiguri on 18 December. The cadre meeting at Jalpaiguri was addressed by PBM Comrade Kartick Pal. On 19 December, a Sankalp Sabha was held at Darjeeling. In Uttarakhand, party activists gathered for a Sankalp Sabha at Bindukhatta, addressed by Uttarakhand In-charge Comrade Raja Bahuguna. On the same day, the Almora District Conference of the party was held at Deghat preceded by a procession and mass meeting. The Sankalp Divas was also observed at Pithoragarh.
The party units in five districts – Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Ajmer, Jhunjhunu and Jaipur – of Rajasthan celebrated Sankalp Divas with cadre meeting. At Chhattisgarh, a meeting of party cadres was held at the party office in Bhilai, and at Lal Khadan in Bilaspur. A meeting was held in Raipur on 19 December. A cadre convention was organized at Ahmedabad (Gujarat), addressed by the party's Gujarat in-charge Comrade Ranjan Ganguly, as well as party leaders Lakshmanbhai Patanwaria and RYA leader Amit Patanwaria.
All India Kisan Sabha and CPI(ML) Haryana held a Sankalp Sabha at Sonipat in which many peasant organization leaders participated. The peasant leaders protested against the government's policies of corporatizing agriculture. Peasant leader Om Prakash Arya, Hansraj Rana, AICCTU leader Satbir Shramik, CPI(ML) CCM Prabhat Kumar and AIKS Vice President Prem Singh Gehlawat addressed the meeting, and a cultural team presented a revolutionary Ragini (folk music of Haryana). Sankalp Divas was also observed at Odisha, Tripura and Karnataka.
The Pledge day was observed at Puducherry with a meeting, in which state secretary Comrade S Balasundaram presented and explained the December 18 Call. Many new members were recruited during the meeting. The meeting passed resolutions for an amicable resolution to the Mullaperiyar issue, protesting the PM's statement in Russia on Koodankulam, and demanding that the government of Puducherry implement the interstate migrant workmen (Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979, which was pending more than 32 years.
'People's Rights Declaration' at Coimbatore
On 17 December, a massive CPIML-AICCTU 'People's Rights Declaration' mass meeting was held at Periyanayakanpalayam, Coimbatore. A huge number of Pricol workers participated in the mass meeting, which was presided over by Com Krishnamurthy. Party PBM and National President of AICCTU, Com. S Kumarasamy, State Secretary Balasundaram, AICCTU Dy. General Secretary Com. Bhuvaneshwari, AIALA State General Secretary S Janakiraman, AISA State President K Bharati, LMW workers and staff union Treasurer Chandran and other spoke. The newly elected Coimbatore District Secretary of the party delivered a vote of thanks. Workers assembled in the mass meeting enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of holding state rally and party's 9th State Conference in Coimbatore in late March.
Comrade Nandji, party leader in Delhi, passed away early morning on 20 December. He was 59. He had suffered from a paralytic stroke not long ago, but was fast recovering, and was recuperating at the party's NOIDA Sector 10 office when he suddenly suffered another fatal stroke and passed away.
Comrade Nandji was a district committee member of East Delhi. He was one of the senior-most party members in Delhi. He was founder President of the IPSS Security Workers' Union, and that union fought many militant struggles in his leadership. Though he took VRS and retired, the IPSS Union continued, being one of the few unions where all the labour laws are implemented thanks to workers' struggles.
Active in the party from his early youth, he had been a squad member in Bhojpur when the party was underground. Subsequently he had come to Delhi as a migrant security worker. When the party's first MP was elected from Bhojpur in 1989, he sought out the party in Delhi and remained active with the party in Delhi since then.
Comrade Nandji, till the very end, played a very active role in building the unions of rickshaw pullers, domestic workers, and street vendors in NOIDA. The Delhi party could rely upon this sturdy comrade in every situation. His demise is a shock and a great loss, but his commitment and loyalty to the party will be a role model for all party members.
Party activists and leaders including Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, CCM and General Secretary, AICCTU, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma as well as CCM Comrade Rajendra Pratholi, as well as Delhi SCMs Shyam Kishore, Santosh Roy, Shankaran, VKS Gautam, Mathura Paswan, Ramabhilash, Aslam, Uma Gupta, and many others gathered at the NOIDA office to pay tribute to Comrade Nandji. Comrades marched in a procession with the cortege, wrapped in the party flag, to the cremation ground, bidding farewell to Comrade Nandji on his final journey.
[On December 15, in keeping with the call issued by AIALA's National Conference, the AIALA held countrywide Block-level protests demanding inclusion of all the poor in the BPL category, housing plots for agricultural labourers, 200 days of work at Rs 300 per day under MNREGA and other demands. A detailed report of this protest will be covered in the next issue of ML Update.]