Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ML Update 38 / 2011

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 38, 13 – 19 SEPTEMBER 2011

Advani Rides His Rath Again –

Corrupt BJP's Farcical Attempt to Play the Anti-Corruption Card

Lal Krishna Advani has once again decided to trot out the tired horse of a 'rath yatra' – this time, for 'good governance and clean politics.' The UPA Government is implicated in multiple scams, and the country has just witnessed a huge public demonstration of anger against corruption. Advani's latest rath yatra is an obvious attempt to capitalise on the prevailing anti-corruption climate.

However, Advani's anti-corruption chariot stands deeply mired in mud even before his yatra can take off. In quick succession, the BJP has had to replace two Chief Ministers in BJP-ruled states (Karnataka and Uttarakhand) in desperate damage control attempts following corruption scandals.

In Karnataka, the possibility of arrest looms large over former CM Yeddyurappa, who was implicated in the Bellary mining scam by the Lokayukta report. Former Minister in the BJP's State Government, G Janardana Reddy, has already been arrested in an illegal mining case filed by the Andhra Pradesh Government. Although the bulk of the Reddy brothers' illegal mining empire lies in Karnataka, the Karnataka state government is yet to initiate any action against them. Instead, even as the BJP's leadership tried to distance itself from Reddy's mining interests, the Chief Minister Sadanand Gowda has defended Janardana Reddy and the BJP held protests in Karnataka against Reddy's arrest.

In BJP-ruled Uttarakhand, former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank was forced to step down, facing the heat from a series of scams, notably the Kumbh Mela scam, illegal sand mining, the disaster relief scam, hydro-electric projects scam and the Sturdia land acquisition scam. Meanwhile the NDA Government of Bihar too is implicated in the BIADA land allotment scam and the Indira Awas scam. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP Government and BJP-RSS leaders are being questioned in the murder of a woman anti-corruption activist. Try as they might, the BJP and Advani cannot shrug off the taint of BJP-NDA Chief Ministers and leaders being involved in some of the most notorious scams of recent times.

In Gujarat, the Modi Government is under a cloud. In the wake of the acquittal of the accused in the former Minister Haren Pandya's murder, Pandya's family has reiterated their allegation that CM Narendra Modi had Pandya killed because the latter had given evidence of Modi's green signal for the 2002 communal pogrom. Several police officers also have given evidence of the role of the Chief Minister and other BJP leaders in the 2002 pogrom and fake encounters. Although the recent Supreme Court order in the Special Leave Petition filed by Zakia Ehsan Jafri disappointingly leaves the case and investigations in the hands of the discredited Trial Court and the SIT respectively, the SC order is not an exoneration of Modi, as the BJP has been claiming. On the contrary, the SC order directs the SIT to chargesheet Narendra Modi and 61 other accused on the basis of Zakia Jafri's petition, and submit the SIT report, report of the Amicus Curiae and affidavits containing evidence to the Trial Court. With the Gujarat genocide and fake encounters coming to national attention again, Advani's rath yatra will only remind people of his Mandir rath yatra of the early 1990s, with its legacy of hate-mongering and communal violence.

It is clear that wherever Advani's 'rath' goes, its slogans of 'clean politics' and 'good governance' will be mocked by the embarrassing instances of rampant corruption, corporate plunder, communal violence and brutal repression in BJP-ruled states of Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, MP, Chhattisgarh. Advani is timing his rath yatra to coincide with the birth anniversary of Gandhi and JP, hoping to harness their patriotic and democracy-loving image for his own politics. But with the BJP's own credibility on corruption and democracy in tatters, Advani's yatra is instead being widely seen as an attempt to outdo rivals within the BJP's internal leadership tussle, and project himself as the BJP's next prime ministerial candidate.

Advani and the BJP may imagine that they can ride the anti-corruption wave and coast to strength and power. But the tsunami of people's anger against corruption and assaults on democracy cannot be tamely channelled by the BJP. Even as it rocks the boat of the UPA Government at the Centre and the Congress party and governments, it will not spare the BJP and its state governments either.

Worst Floods in Odisha: Partly Man Made

Pro Corporate Hirakud Authorities Create Havoc in Mahanadi Delta Region

Insensitive and Inhuman Orissa Govt. Fails in Providing Relief

Senior CPI(ML) Leaders Camping in the Affected Areas

A massive tragedy, partly made by pro-corporate authorities, has struck 3/4ths of Odisha as 19 out of State's 30 districts are inundated by one of the worst floods in its history. Out of these 19 districts, four districts – Puri, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Nayagarh are worst affected. As per the reports so far 90 blocks, 825 gram-panchayats and 3000 villages have been hit by the floods affecting 23 lakh people with 15 lakh marooned. 15000 thatched houses have been completely devasted and 33 people killed.

Due to high level of flooding water in Mahanadi river about 46 bridges have been damaged and many National Highways and rural roads have been damaged or washed away. Though six days have passed since the flooding began, there is no food and no drinking water being made available by the State Govt to the flood-victims. The Govt. is shirking away from any meaningful and serious relief work by just giving press releases about its (paltry) measures.

The flood is partly man made and if the ministry of water resources had shown commitment to people first, the havoc and the ravage could have been avoided. But the pro-corporate Hirakud authorities chose to serve the interests of the nearby industrialists- Aaditya Birla, Bhushan Steel and Vedanta – to save whose industries the massive amount of water was released from the Hirakud dam. Again, despite a clear and advance warning from the meteorological department about massive downpour in the catchment areas located in Chhattisgarh, the dam authorities did no preparation whatsoever to handle the outcome.

Senior level and other CPI(ML) leaders are camping in the affected areas to co-ordinate relief work. The Party has demanded higher level enquiry into the decision of the Hirakud authorities to release massive discharge from the dam thereby causing the havoc. Party has also demanded serious and adequate relief measures from the state.

At the time of this report many rivers are still flowing above the danger mark including the Mahanadi and Subarnarekha.

Massive Dharna at Parliament by ASHA/Sahiya Workers

Braving heavy downpour in Delhi on 5 Sptember, thousands of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) from different states, especially Jharkhand, Assam (including Karbi Anglong), Bihar, and Uttarakhand held a maha-dharna at Jantar Mantar near Parliament in New Delhi under the banners of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and ASHA/Sahiya, demanding immediate fixation of monthly salary at Rs.11,000 for ASHA/Sahiya workers and granting them status of permanent govt. employees, apart from several other work-related demands were raised.

More than 7 lakh ASHA workers in the Country are struggling for dignified life and wages in different states and they are compelled to slog on commissions while denied even minimum wages and honorariums. 5 September was their first ever national-level protest. (The National Rural Health Mission was introduced in 2005 with a view to making provision for the masses and particularly the women and children to get quality treatment at the door-step. And it was possible only with the help and sincere service of ASHA for they being at the very base of NRHM.)

A six member delegation from the dharna handed over a memorandum to the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad on the same day. The Govt.'s representative said that it was seriously considering ASHA workers' conditions of work.

The main speakers who addressed the dharna were- AICCTU's national General Secretary Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, Beena Devi (Convenor of the All India ASHA/Sahiya Association), Shashi Yadav (Co-convenor), Subhash Sen (Co-convenor and AICCTU's national Secretary), Hemlata Som and Mukul Bhhatacharya (Co-convenors), ASHA leader from Assam Pramila Ingti, leader of Bihar State Non-Gazetted Employees' Federation (Gope) Rameshwar Singh, TP Kamat (Jharkhand State Non-Gazetted EF) and AICCTU's national Secretary Santosh Rai. The dharna was also addressed by ASHA workers' leaders from different regions.

The speakers strongly condemned Centre's and state govts' criminal neglect and disregard for the ASHA workers and said that the very basis of recruitment of ASHA as honorary volunteers makes the future course of their dedicated service totally a source of inhuman exploitation of their labour. These ASHA in lakhs spreading over every nook and corner of the country are forced to toil only on incentives or rewards and do not have any duty hours and have to work for twenty four hours a day in extreme insecurity even in remote villages and hill areas without having any communication. This is nothing but a pretext to underpay and deny them right and astonishingly enough, the list of their responsibilities is always being added to with newer items (such as health surveys) and thus their area of activities is ever broadening. The condition and treatment meted out to these workers tells the truth about the women's empowerment in our Country.

On the one hand, there are tall talks of bringing about revolutionary change in healthcare and on the other, lakhs of basic workers of this Govt. Deptt. who form the foundation of NRHM are subjected to work without any emolument, whereas at the same time other categories of employees belonging to NRHM excepting 'ASHA' get regular salary varying from Rs. 7000/- to Rs. 24000/- per month.

The speakers also said that it was due to these ASHA workers that improvement in health indicators has been achieved - as will be depicted by some of the facts, such as – infant mortality rate reduced from 460 in 1984 to 254 deaths per 100,000 live births in the period of 2004-06. Total Fertility Rate reduced from 5.2 in 1971 to 2.6 in 2008 and Infant Mortality Rate reducing from 129 deaths per 1000 live births in 1971 to 53 in 2008.

The dharna also demanded that resolutions be passed in state assemblies in support of the ASHA workers' demands.

CPI(ML) Demands Higher Level Inquiry in Firing on Dalits in TN

The Madurai District Committee constituted a team headed by Com. Mathivanan to visit the victims of brutal police firing on Dalits at Paramkudi, Tamilnadu. Most of the victims have been admitted in Government Rajaji General Hospital, Madurai. Coms Murugesan, Shanmugam and Divya were the team members.

The team found that the treatment provided is inadequate and the victims are in inhuman conditions. Victims requested the team to do something to ensure better treatment. The District Committee has decided to meet the District Collector and the Dean of the Hospital to draw their attention towards ill treatment provided to the victims.

From the interaction, the team felt that the version of the government is mostly false and police had attacked the Dalits with discriminatory vengeance. The firing is unwarranted, the team felt.

The team has requested the SC to form a higher level fact finding team to investigate the case further. The District Committee has planned to organize a protest on 16th and had brought out poster to condemn the Government.

AICCTU Solidarity With Maruti Workers' Struggle

On 31 August, a nine-member team including AICCTU and CPI(ML) leaders visited Manesar to extend support to the Maruti workers' ongoing struggle. The team included Santosh Roy, Delhi State Secretary, AICCTU, Prem Singh Gehlawat, CPI(ML)'s Haryana In-charge and Vice President, All India Kisan Mahasabha, VKS Gautam, Delhi State President of AICCTU, Mathura Paswan, Vice President of the AICCTU Delhi State Committee, AICCTU activists Comrades Rajesh, Veerpal, Om Prakash Sharma and others.

The team interacted with the Maruti workers who are on dharna outside the gates of the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki, and met Sonu Gujjar, President of the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU), which is leading the struggle.

On 29 August, the Maruti management had declared that only workers who signed a 'good conduct bond' (which amounted to denying them any right to protest in any form) would be allowed to enter the factory. When workers refused to sign the bond and protested, the management barricaded the factory gates with tin sheets and began an illegal lockout. The management took this offensive soon after the Trade Union Registrar's office in Chandigarh rejected the application for registration of the new Union MSEU on technical grounds. The rejection of the registration of the independent union emboldened the management to launch an all-out offensive on the workers' basic right to protest.

The AICCTU then held a protest demonstration on 1September at Parliament Street where the effigy of Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda and Maruti Management was burnt. The effigy burning was followed by a protest meeting which was addressed by Comrade Santosh Roy and Mathura Paswan of AICCTU and Kavita Krishnan, CCM, CPI(ML). CPI(ML)'s Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma and AICCTU National Secretary Rajiv Dimri also participated in the protest.

After the protest, a memorandum was sent though the Haryana Resident Commissioner to the Haryana CM, demanding that action be initiated against the Maruti management for its unjust labour practices and its illegal lockout.

12 September Rally: On 12th September students and leaders of All India Students' Association (AISA) participated in a joint rally and blockade of Gurgaon called by the workers of MSEU and six students' organisations including the AISA. On 11th September, the MSEU after its joint meeting with representatives from around thirty Unions, reiterated its demand of the right to organise and unionise, to withdraw the charge-sheet, withdraw termination and suspension of 57 workers, and to stand with the just demands of the contract workers for their wage-hike and withdrawal of suspensions and against the company's easy hire-and-fire policy and that till these are met, they will not enter the factory.

Scamsters in Bihar Diverting Fertilizers to Black-market

Road Blockaded in Patna in Protest

The fertilizer meant for the farmers in Bihar is being fraudulently siphoned off by black-marketeers in connivance with government officials and bureaucracy to black-markets.  The connivance of the Govt officials is evident from the fact that so far not even a single godown (where siphoned fertilizer is being hoarded) has been raided despite the fact that these godowns are overflowing with fertilizers about which Nitish Govt. is feigning ignorance and saying it is in short supply.

What happened was that as soon as sowing was over and farmers went to the market for buying fertilizers they were shocked to know that the fertilizer bags which sell for Rs.150/bag were being sold Rs.200 above their price. When the infuriated farmers met the division's agriculture development officer in their respective divisions/blocks they were given nonsense reasons. Even lathis blows were rained on them when they protested at some places. At Masaurhi the attack was so severe that one farmer Arvind Singh s battling for his life at Patna's PMCH. The State Govt is making an excuse that Bihar has been granted only 5.65 lakh tonnes instead of fixed 7.25 lakh tonnes of fertilizer. However, the question is that if the supply from Centre has declined then howcome the black-marketers have their godowns brimming with it.

Since the protest of the peasants/farmers was not united they were easily suppressed. The All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) called for blockading all national and state highways leading to Patna to unite and strengthen the protests. This was responded by farmers at several places and police stood as mere spectators. Hundreds participated in each of these road blockades that lasted for hours and that took place at Fatuha, Masaurhi, Dhanarua, Punpun, Sampatchak, Naubatpur, Dulhin Bazar, Bihta, Maner, Patna city (Jalla crossing) led by AIKM's State President Comrade KD Yadav.

In all thousands of farmers and peasants participated in these blockades and expressed their anger exposing the lies and fraud of the Govt. The agitators were successful in exposing the fact that the Nitish Govt in the garb of another green-revolution and development is actually scripting a cruel chapter that is bound to severely hurt wider peasantry and farming community if left unchallenged.

Despite the fact that the time was very short for preparing this protest campaign (due to which mobilisation could not be organised at some big centres), but the popular support it received (e.g. vehicle drivers stuck in jam at one place supporting the blockade) from the farmers is pointing to the declining currency of Nitish Kumar's fraud. At many places the officials approached the agitators and assured action, including written assurances at some places.

Feudal Attempts at Evicting Poor from their Land is Rising in Bihar

On 30 August 2011, Kavindra Singh and Bhola Yadav, two local oppressors hailing from Chhaati village, shot and killed Comrade Sukhu Manjhi. Bhola Yadav was forcibly holding up two brick-kiln labourers and was trying to extort money from them. Villagers led by Comrade Sukhu Manjhi freed the two labourers from Bhola's stranglehold. The goons associated with these two feudal elements made this incident as an excuse to unite and kill Comrade Sukhu Manjhi. Their real intention was, however, to capture the 6 acre and 86 decimal land controlled by the extremely poor people of Musahar toli and Comrade Sukhu was biggest obstacle in this.

Next morning the enraged villagers blocked the Patna-Dhanarua main highway and raised slogans against anti-mahadalit Nitish Kumar demanding immediate arrest of the killers and proper compensation to the family of Comrade Sukhu. On 1 September protest was observed all over the district and Dhanarua bazaar remained closed. Except Paliganj, Bikra, and Daniyawan, protest marches were organised at 10 blocks headquarters of the district and Chief Minister's effigy was burnt. Highways were blocked at several points and effigies of CM burnt.

Another mahadalit, a young Santosh Manjhi of Bihta's Adli Musahar toli was killed by feudal goons associated with the BJP. Santosh Manjhi used to oppose unacceptable excesses on Musahars by the feudal elements. This issue too was raised in our protests at Bihta. Chhaati is among those villages of Patna which responded to the call of Naxalbari. Prior to that the CPI(M) had influence among the oppressed and poor. During that period itself the said 6acre and 86 decimal land was freed for the use of Musahar people. Family of Kavindra Singh Yadav, who is a tyrant has so far killed 13 people. Earlier his elder brother used to target people and when he paid with his life at the hands of people for his crimes, the younger brother doesn't seem to have learnt any lesson. He is the one who killed Ganauri Manjhi in 1974, Binesar Manjhi in 1975 and Chanesar Manjhi in 1982. Comrade Dinanath Manjhi wa martyred at the hands of police in 1985. Comrade Sukhu Manjhi is the fifth martyr from this village. Other nine people killed by him also include some of his relatives who were killed by him in property dispute.

Currently he is being patronised by leaders of JD(U). However, due to people's anger in Comrade Sukhu Manjhi's case the police has arrested him and some of the killers also have surrendered in court. On 15 September a mass meeting will be held here on this issue and proper documents of the land to Musahar people. The people this time have resolved for decisive battle against feudal crimes and excesses.


Long live Comrade Sukhu Manjhi

55 year old Sukhu Manjhi got involved in CPI(ML) from his childhood years only. He played a heroic role in several anti-feudal struggles in Punpun-Masaurhi-Dhanarua blocks, apart from struggles of his own village. He even got jailed in 1987 but returned to active Party work once released. Currently he was Branch Secretary of Chhati village Party Branch.



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: mlupdate@cpiml.org, website: www.cpiml.org

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