A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 37, 06 – 12 SEPTEMBER 2011
Bellary Scam Punctures BJP's Anti-Corruption Claims
The Karnataka Lokayukta's report as well as many other studies have documented that the mining scam run by the OMC and the Bellary brothers is conducted on both sides of the Andhra-Karnataka border. In fact, Karnataka's Bellary district is the epicentre of this massive loot of mineral resources. Most of the OMC's illegal mining operations took place in Karnataka. The Bellary mining mafia received the patronage of the Congress Government headed by the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, as well as the BJP Government in Karnataka in which the Bellary brothers themselves were Ministers. Any through probe into the mining scam has to cover not only Andhra Pradesh but Karnataka as well.
The BJP Government of Karnataka is yet to prosecute the former CM Yeddyurappa or the Bellary brothers in spite of the mass of evidence provided by the Lokayukta report. In fact, the BJP organized protests in Karnataka and a bandh in Bellary against Janardana Reddy's arrest. At the same time, the BJP's top leadership is trying to claim 'distance' from the Reddy brothers! It is well known that the Reddy brothers provided money-power and political clout to the BJP in its political machinations in Karnataka. The infamous 'Operation Kamala' where the BJP poached rival parties' MLAs was reportedly powered by Bellary money. The close links of the Bellary brothers with BJP's top leaders is no secret. Now, if the BJP claims that the Reddy brothers' mining operations have nothing to do with the BJP, it must answer why its Karnataka Government is failing to initiate any action against the Reddy brothers in Karnataka?
In the case of the Bellary mining scam, which involved the outright loot of thousands of crores of mineral wealth as well as the destruction of forests, the Reddy brothers enjoyed the patronage of both BJP and Congress leaders. For any probe to be effective, the Reddy brothers, their close partners and associates, as well as their political allies in both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – all need to be investigated for their involvement in corruption.
The BJP has been trying to make capital out of the anti-corruption wave in the country. But the ignominy of Bellary has punctured their anti-corruption posture. They hoped to save face by replacing Yeddyurappa as CM. But the BJP's continued protection to the Reddy brothers who are the kingpins of the Bellary mining scam shows that when it comes to protecting the corrupt and patronizing corporate plunder, the BJP and its state governments are no better than the Congress or the UPA Government. In Bihar, too, the Nitish-led NDA Government has been striking an anti-corruption posture, with promises of an empowered Lokayukta. But there too, the Government's refusal to allow any credible probe of the treasury scam, or of the BIADA land allotment scam which is Bihar's own Adarsh scam, reveals the NDA's own complicity with corruption.
Be it the 2G scam or the Bellary mining scam, it is clear that the worst corruption today is a fallout of the private plunder of natural resources like land and minerals. Such plunder is made possible by the policies of privatization of natural resources, and also by the corrupt nexus of politicians and corporate interests. The Congress and BJP both defend those policies that promote plunder, and they are both equally complicit in the corrupt nexus between political power and corporate plunder. The anti-corruption movement must expose the Congress and BJP's pro-corruption agenda and intensify the demand for a reversal of the policies that breed corporate loot and corruption.
AIKM Protested Tabling of Anti-Farmer Land Acquisition Bill
Burnt Copies of Bill All Over the Country on 7 September
Draft Land Acquisition Bill Is a Mockery of Peasants' Rights
AIKM General Secretary Rajaram Singh said that this Bill seeks to replace the notorious Land Acquisition Act, 1894, but in reality it retains all the worst features of the 1894 Act. This new Bill is nothing but a ploy to legalise land grab and declare a war on peasants and agriculture.
Even the original draft Bill seriously compromised farmers' interests. But now the Cabinet has backtracked even further. Cabinet has done away with the restriction on acquisition of irrigated, multi-crop land; it has withdrawn the provision that land would be returned to the original owner if not used in 5 years for the purpose for which it was acquired; it has provided that government will acquire all the land for private companies which seek more than 100 acres of land for 'public purpose.' These provisions show that the UPA Government, far from seeking to protect farmers from land grab, is intent on smoothing the way for land grab to serve private corporate interests.
AIKM's 7 September protest pointed out that food security was a key promise of the Congress and the UPA in the last Lok Sabha elections. Today the notion of food security has been reduced to monthly supply of 35 kg foodgrains to families earning less than Rs. 15 per day in rural areas and less than Rs. 20 in urban areas. If food security has to guarantee the nutritional requirements of 1.2 billion Indians, India needs to produce much more food, and this in turn needs more land for agriculture. There can be no public purpose which is bigger than this. Defending agricultural land from diversion and grab ought to be a priority for us all. Not acquisition, but protection of agricultural and forest land by all means is the cry of democracy.
Students Visit Maruti Workers in Solidarity
When the busload of students reached the site of the strike, the 2000 workers at the dharna site leapt up to greet them, waving scores of red flags and shouting slogans.
The Maruti-Suzuki authorities have transformed the whole factory into an iron curtained ghetto with private security guards and security cameras and video-cameras watching the workers' movement. Two police vans, (vans provided by Maruti) were always at the site and the police officers were seen taking refreshments from the security guards employed by the authorities.
The leader of the workers' independent union (Maruti Suzuki Employees' Union- MSEU), Comrade Sonu Gurjar gave us a brief summary of the struggle, and invited students to address the workers. Sandeep Singh (National President, AISA) addressed the workers. Kavita Krishnan and Prabhat Kumar, central committee members of the CPI(ML) also addressed the workers. Students sang revolutionary songs and the poet Vidrohi recited his poetry.
The present struggle of the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) is against the illegal lockout, termination of 11 workers and suspension of 38 workers. Since 29 August, the Maruti management has declared that only those workers who sign a 'Good Conduct Form' (which denies the workers the minimum rights of grievance redressal through protests and strikes) can enter the factory. Near the factory's main gate, a recorded message is played repeatedly, announcing that workers can enter only if they consent to signing the 'Good Conduct form.' Copies of the 29 August notice are pasted outside the walls of the factory. The entire workforce of the Manesar plant has refused to sign away their rights, and have demanded that the 'Good Conduct form' be revoked and the (undeclared) lockout called off.
Groups of workers attend the dharna in 'shifts.' As we waited for the workers of the evening shift to arrive, student activists interacted with groups of workers. They eagerly shared with us details of their working conditions. Talking to them, a clear outline emerged of the inhuman conditions in which the workers of one of the most prosperous industries of the country have to work. We were told that:
• The production capacity of the factory is 1200 cars per day where as the workers are forced to produce 1400-1470 cars per day in the factory, which makes the production conditions stressful and inhuman for the workers.
• All workers have to pass through a 3 year training period during which no labour laws are applicable. At the end of the 3-year period they receive uniforms, and are supposed to be made permanent. Instead, many of them remain frozen as 'trainees' and their permanent appointment is delayed.
• Working period of 8 hours exclude lunch and tea breaks. The workers are provided with a recess of 7 minutes between 2 hours of continuous work. In this limited time the worker has to have refreshments as well as visit the toilet.
• The electronic attendance machine installed by the administration marks a worker absent for half a day and cuts his salary even if he is one minute late and continues to work through that half day.
• There is no provision of casual leave or sick leave and if a worker goes on holiday for 1 day the amount deducted is Rs. 1500, for 2 days it is Rs. 2200, for three days it is Rs. 7000-8000.
• If a worker goes on holiday the amount deducted is 1500 but if he works overtime on a holiday then he will be paid Rs. 250 only.
• There is no proper health facility. Only when a worker is admitted to a hospital for 24 hrs only then the company reimburses 80% of the expenditure. No reimbursements are offered for medical expenditure on family members.
• Conveyance is a major problem, as the buses though apparently provided by the company, charge fare from workers.
• The management stints on safety equipment. Gloves become unusable soon – but they are made to turn the gloves inside out and re-use, resulting in rashes and allergies.
• Against all such inhuman conditions, the workers at the Maruti's Manesar plant sustained a 13-day long strike from 4 June-17 June. The right to form an independent union emerged as the key demand of this strike
• The workers who are inside the plant are brought to the work site in covered trucks and are under continuous surveillance of the police. The Maruti authorities have brought workers from other plants and trying to run the production but production in these unusual conditions are associated with life risks and other hazards. Some workers reported that under similar situations in 2006, six workers who were brought by the authorities from outside died inside the plant in an accident. The death of these workers was completely erased from public notice by surreptitious means by the Maruti authorities.
Towards evening, workers had to shift their dharna tent to across the road, as the management had obtained a court injunction against any protest within 100 metres of the factory. As the evening shift of workers gathered, once again, there was enthusiastic slogan shouting. Kuldeep Janghu, General Secretary of the Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (which holds sway in the Gurgaon plant of Maruti-Suzuki), came to address the workers. He reported that he had received a letter proposing talks on 5 September to resolve the dispute. Students again greeted the new batch of workers before leaving in the late evening.
Most of the workers at the Manesar plant are young, educated and skilled. These young men have sustained two major agitations within a span of a few months – in the face of severe odds. The road ahead is certainly not smooth for them, but their spirit is inspiring and contagious. The Congress Government in Haryana as well as at the centre are silent on such flagrant flouting of labour laws.
The UPA Government and main opposition NDA have a consensus in favour of doing away with the labour laws that protect workers' rights. In this backdrop of a countrywide offensive against labour laws, the Maruti Workers' struggle assumes significance far beyond that of a single factory. Their struggle is a defiant sign of workers' refusal to surrender the hard-won rights or to relinquish the bare minimum norms of industrial democracy.
Tamil Nadu: In support of the Maruti Suzuki workers' struggle a dharna is ongoing at Erode (7th September) and demonstrations at Chennai, Coimbatore and Sriperumbudur (7 Sept) and there will be a gate meeting on 8th September by Diamond Chain Workers Union. All this protest is being led by AICCTU.
Demonstration in Patna dist on the Issue of Housing for Poor
Politics of Indira Awaas: permanent programme for cheating the poor
Demonstrations on the issues of housing and flood relief: Nitish's spell is waning
On 27 August demonstrations were held in 11 blocks of Patna district as per statewide plan of All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA) on the question of housing for the poor. In Punpun, Dhanarua, Fatuha, Daniyawan, issues of flood relief and crop compensation were also raised. The programmes saw large mobilization of the rural poor. Except for 2-3 blocks where mobilization was thin, the mobilization was generally thousand or above – Punpun 5000, Dhanarua 3000, Fatuha 3000, Daniyawan 1000, Phulwari 700, Bihta 1000, Paliganj 2000. In Fatuha the demonstrators grabbed the stage and mike setup for distribution of Indira Awaas and held their meeting, whereas in Bihta 800 people courted arrest. The wider and large participation of rural poor in 27th August demonstration held with only 4-5 days of preparation shows that Nitish's spell is waning and now the poor are getting mobilized in struggles against his government.
For the last 2 months "fulfill promises" campaign against Nitish government is underway. The main issues of this campaign are- including names of all 1.5 crore (15 million) families in the BPL list and providing them food grains, 3 decimal homestead land, and providing work under NREGA to all the poor people. Along with the campaign the membership campaign of AIALA is also underway to organize the rural poor. The reports from the overall campaign points to the fact that the poor people are feeling cheated and their anger against government is increasing.
The devastation due to floods has also played its role in large mobilization in many blocks. The government is not taking any concrete steps to seek permanent solution for the flooding. And it shirks away from its responsibility by merely distributing food grains to the flood affected.
However one of the reasons behind 27 August demonstration was also to expose the politics of Indira Awaas. The government had decided that on 27 August it will hold block level camps (where even its MLAs and ministers or senior officers will be present) and distribute in a single go all of the houses under Indira Awaas (around 7,37,486) for the year 2011-12. This was to make political benefit from the routine distribution of Indira Awaas to a few people in every village. The CM and Dy. CM were themselves present at Danapur block. On this day the Union Rural Minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh was also present in Bihar. Therefore, instead of the decentralized distribution the government held camps this year and distribution through MLAs and Ministers, the government tried to display itself as the government for the poor.
The government has been providing assistance for housing for the poor since 1950 and Indira Awaas Yojana is in force since 1985. But there is hardly any village in the state where all the poor have got a pucca house. Central government has also set a target of transforming kacha houses into pucca by 2017. However this is another eyewash for the poor as decades after decades they have been cheated. Whether the pucca houses for the poor come up or not, agents in every village-tola have surely come up who prevent the poor from getting closer to any revolutionary movement and keep them aligned with the establishment. The government surely has had a success in this. Due to the smaller number of houses being distributed the poor compete amongst themselves which is utilized by the mukhias (village head) of the ruling parties. They even extort large sums from the poor in the form of commission.
The demonstration of 27 August demanded that instead of limited number distribution all the people be given pucca houses in one go.
Each beneficiary is given Rs.45000, with this amount the recipient has to construct a dwelling in 20 sq. metres (215 sq. ft.). Within this amount they also have to construct lavatory as well as smoke free oven. The layout is that there will be a room of 10x12 ft and a verandah of 4ft. How can parents, children and animals along with other family members be housed in this dungeon of a place. Even for a small family 2 rooms and a verandah is surely required. Somehow a family can manage in a 40sq. metre housing in which 2 small (10x10) rooms and a slightly bigger verandah can be constructed. This government scheme clearly reflects the anti-poor and inhuman character of the state. It is another matter that in these times of price-rise, even one room cannot be constructed in Rs.45000. There are also reports of the receiver's committing suicide due to a large portion of this meager amount being pocketed by the agents. In Bhatan Bigaha village of Aurangabad district a poor family comprised of a couple and their three children committed suicide out of fear that they won't be able to construct the house in Rs. 25000/- (20000 pocketed by agent out of 45000) and then they won't be able to return the money to the Govt. There are far too many cases of corruption in this scheme. The AIALA appealed to all the poor people of the state to reject this brutal apathy and unite to fight for decent and livable housing with all basic amenities.
AIALA has demanded a CBI enquiry into the corruption in Indira Awaas Yojana and punishment and immediate termination of the BDO who is responsible for the family of five committing suicide. The protest of 27 August also declared that if the Govt. doesn't distribute 3 decimal land per family then AIALA will soon start land capture campaign in the State.
Tamil Nadu: Fast against Corruption
In the background of anti-corruption protests all over the country, 14 organisations in Coimbatore including workers' unions of LMW and KSB Pumps, Perianaickenpalayam Traders' Association, National Movement against Corruption, Peasants Association and National Advocates Union came under the joint banner of 'People's Joint Forum Against Corruption' led by CPI(ML) and organized one-day fast in Perianaickenpalayam on August 25.
Perianaickenpalayam Traders' Association called for a one-day bandh in the area and all the shops in the area was closed on the day of Fast Protest. Com. S Kumarasami, Politburo member of CPI(ML), addressed the gathering in which over 800 workers and traders and other sections participated.
Human Chain Demanding Clemency
On 29 August, over 500 workers of Pricol participated in a Human Chain demanding commutation of death sentence for Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. Com.S.Kumarasami, PBM, who addressed the gathering, said that death sentence for the three was pronounced under the draconian TADA without adequate proof and that TN CM Jayalalitha has all the powers to commute the death sentence. He also said that Jayalalitha had to bow before the struggles of people of TN in the issue of Uniform Syllabus and struggles on this issue also is now intensifying and these struggles have to be further intensified till the sentence is commuted.
In the back ground of protests all over TN the TN Assembly passed a resolution on August 30 demanding commutation of death sentence for the three. Protest demonstrations were held on this issue- TIDC workers on 28 August, Solidarity Forum led by Hyundai workers on 5 September, Villupuram comrades on 25 August, AISA and RYA on August 30 in Kanchipuram, in Pudukottai and Kanyakumari on August 30, in Kumarapalayam on 31 August.
On September 5 Pricol workers organized a one-day fast protest in Perianaickenpalayam against the Pricol management demanding early solution on their issues. Com. S Kumarasami also joined the protest. Over 1000 workers observed lunch boycott and visited the fast site.
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