A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16, No. 3 & 4, 15 -21 JANUARY 2013
Towards the 63rd Republic Day:
People's Aspirations versus Rulers' Design
Indicted by the whole world as the key mastermind of the 2002 Gujarat genocide, Narendra Modi had turned to the barons of big business to bail him out. Just as crisis-ridden corporations look to the state for economic bail-out packages, here was Modi seeking a political rescue package from global capital. Thus was born the mega marketing show of 'Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors' Summit' – the biennial jamboree to showcase state-corporate bonhomie in Modi's Gujarat. This year, VGGIS completed its sixth edition. With Modi's third successive and emphatic post-genocide victory in the immediate background, the latest edition of VGGIS surpassed all the previous ones in terms of corporate promises of economic investment in Gujarat and political investment in Modi as the next potential Prime Minister.
The 6th VGGIS is reported to have delivered as many as 16,719 business proposals, promising an incredible Rs 40 lakh crore of investment for Gujarat. Critics have been quick to point out that the promise is too big to turn true, that hardly 15% of the investment promised in the first four VGGIS shows had been realised till date. Aware of the reality on the investment front, Modi downplayed the investment angle in his address, delivered again in Hindi like his recent post-victory address, and tried to posit VGGIS not just as a platform for the branding of Gujarat, but for marketing of India as an investment destination. When the delegates from the 121 visiting countries go back they would say we had been to India, to Bharat, said Modi, his sights now firmly trained on the throne in Delhi.
The marketing of the myth of vibrant Gujarat has been central to Modi's aggressive discourse of Gujarati pride. A brochure distributed among the participating delegates by the Industrial Extension Bureau, one of the government organisations hosting the summit, listed 50 golden facts about Gujarat. Some of these 'golden facts' clearly reveal the historical and class roots of Modi's Gujarat model – that out of 562 princely states in India before independence, 366 were in Gujarat; that over 25% of Indian population in North America is Gujarati, and that 10 of the 25 richest Indians are of Gujarati origin.
Of course, no official factsheet would acknowledge the terrible record of Modi rule in terms of human rights and human development – the ravages of the 2002 genocide, the series of staged encounter killings, the all-pervasive malnutrition in Gujarat's children (69.7% of children below the age of five are anaemic and 44.6% malnourished), the extensive pockets of starvation alongside enclaves of consumerist ostentation and opulence (India ranks 66 among 88 countries listed in the Global Hunger Index and Gujarat is among the 5 worst performers among the 28 Indian states).
What Modi has done in Gujarat is in many ways what the Thackerays would have loved to do in Maharashtra. The Thackerays had risen to prominence in the 1960s and 70s as thugs serving the big business in Maharashtra by breaking the trade union movement in Mumbai, and then jumped on to the Hindutva bandwagon since the Ayodhya campaign in the late 1980s. But despite the horrific Mumbai riots of 1992-93, a precursor to the Gujarat genocide a decade later, the writ of the Shiv Sena never really ran beyond Mumbai and adjoining pockets of urban Maharashtra. By contrast Modi has successfully converted his post-genocide domination into an all-embracing authoritarianism running across the whole of Gujarat. And under Modi's stewardship, corporate barons have got a free hand in Gujarat to pursue the whole gamut of their agenda from land-grab to union-free industrialisation. This is the key to the 'vibrant Gujarat' of corporate-fascist dreams, and the Ambanis and Tatas and the Goenkas and Birlas would now love to replicate this model on an all-India scale.
Reacting to the corporate adulation for Modi, the Congress has advised corporate India to shed its fascination for Modi's rabid right-wing charm, warning it of the disaster that had befallen Germany under Hitler's Nazi rule. It is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. The floodgates of corporate plunder have been opened in India by the neo-liberal policies pushed most relentlessly by none other than the Congress. And today Congress rule in the country has become an apology for a most corrupt and ever-expanding business-politics nexus, leaving the entire country aflame in the fire of corporate greed. Interestingly, the Congress answer to Modi's 'vibrant Gujarat' is Maharashtra and Karnataka – the two states that apparently attract more FDI than Gujarat. Karnataka is the only state in South India to have already been bagged by the BJP, and Maharashtra under Congress-NCP rule is not particularly known for any vibrant democratic environment.
The Congress-BJP collusion is however not limited to a competitive feeding of corporate greed. Whether it comes to fanning the fire of anti-Pakistan jingoism or spearheading the witch-hunt against Muslims and adivasis, the Congress and BJP have always been competitive partners. Once again, the Congress is pursuing the same line of wooing FDI and fanning up a jingoistic frenzy against Pakistan in the hope of containing the BJP, the reported murder of two Indian jawans allegedly by Pak troops in Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir marking the latest flashpoint in Indo-Pak relations.
Addressing the media on the Army Day, the Army chief has issued a veritable war threat to Pakistan, saying India reserved the right to retaliate at a time and place of its own choosing. The Army Chief must be aware that in real life the logic of war does not respect any pre-designed script. A war with Pakistan bringing in its wake greater American intervention in the entire region including India is the last thing that India needs at the present hour of deepening economic crisis. Instead of flirting with war, the governments of both India and Pakistan must be compelled to abide by the 2003 cease-fire agreement.
2012 had ended on a high note of popular upsurge calling for freedom and justice that left the ruling classes jittery. The shrill corporate clamour for a strong state emanating from the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, and the language of war being mouthed by the Army and its political bosses are both desperate signs of the ruling classes seeking to regain their initiative and stopping the people. Meanwhile, as a prelude to the forthcoming budget session, the Railway Minister has already announced a steep hike in passenger fares with the oil ministry too giving signals to follow suit with an across-the-board hike in fuel prices. As we approach the 63rd Republic Day, it is important to beat back this ominous design of the ruling classes and carry forward the spirit of the mass upsurge of 2012.
Protests in Uttarakhand Against Delhi gang-rape
The Uttarakhand people expressed deep anger and sorrow on hearing the news of the martyrdom of Delhi gang-rape victim on December 29, 2012. A convention which was planned in Pithoragarh on the issue of women freedom and sexual violence in wake of Delhi gang-rape was cancelled as news poured in early morning of Dec 29, 2012 of martyrdom of gang-rape victim and instead a rally was organized against Union government. The protest rally saw participation of hundreds of people with increased participation from girl students. The slogans 'Ensure Women's Freedom without Fear', 'Conviction Rate in rape cases is only 26 percent, Union Govt Must Reply' and others were raised. The rally was later addressed by CPI(ML) leader Comrade Jagat Martoliya, AISA's Hemant Khati and leaders of AIPWA.
In Pantnagar, on the evening of December 29 and 30, a poster exhibition and rally on the same issue was organized in University under the leadership of AISA Comrade Rubi Bhardhwaj. A two minute silence was observed in the rally to pay tribute to the Delhi gang-rape braveheart. Addressing the rally the speakers stressed that this struggle for women's freedom should be sustained. They observed that this fight is not of one woman alone but of half the population which is demanding freedom and equality.
CPI(ML) Protests Rape of Adivasi Girls in Chhattisgarh
CPI-ML, AIPWA and AICCTU staged a protest at the Durg Collectorate against the heinous and systematic rape committed on minor Adivasi girls for the past two years at the Govt Adivasi Girls Hostel at Jhaliyamali village, Narharpur Block, Kanker District. After the protest demonstration, a memorandum was submitted to the Governor of Chhattisgarh through the Additional Collector, Durg.
The memorandum demanded strict punishment for the guilty, proper medical treatment and compensation for the victim girls whose age range from 5 to 13 years, high level enquiry into the case, strict action against the responsible officials, strict laws to deal with violence against women, all rape offenders in the State to be given punishment, guarantee for equality and freedom without fear for women. In addition, they also demanded the immediate release of Soni Sori who was gang raped and stones and rocks shoved into her private parts in the Dantewada jail in Bastar two years ago and punishment for the guilty police officials in Soni Sori case, and withdrawal of the rape-accused SP Ankit Garg's gallantry award.
The protest rally was addressed by Brijendra Tiwari, Shyamlal Sahu, Jaiprakash Nair and others. The speakers stressed that the government, administration and police were totally ineffective and lacked the will to control crimes against women. The Narharpur incident had come to light in August last year but was suppressed by government officials as well as people's representatives. The protestors expressed concern regarding the safety of girls in many other such Adivasi Girls Hostels in the State, fearing that the Narharpur case might be only the tip of the iceberg. The Raman Singh government has proved totally ineffective in guarding the rights, freedom and safety of women, dalits, adivasis and weaker sections. The speakers sharply criticized the anti-people policies of the BJP government in the State, and at the same time pointed out that the Congress had also failed in the role of a responsible Opposition. The anti-women statements of leaders from political parties across the board, Sangh Parivar and so-called spiritual gurus were roundly criticized.
Candle Light Vigil in Bangalore
AIPWA and AICCTU jointly organized a candle light vigil on January 6 against the Delhi gang rape and the increasing incidence of rape in Bangalore.
Many workers participated in the protest with their family – introducing a new precedent in the protest culture of unions. AICCTU has always been the pioneer in involving workers' families in a protest that is not at all linked to their wages or bonus. Some workers even said that this is the first ever such initiative in Karnataka where families are involved in a democratic struggle fighting patriarchal/male chauvinistic mindset of workers in general. Interestingly, union notice boards in many companies in Bangalore declared a fight against male chauvinism, for women's equality. Women and men together responded warmly to the call of candle light vigil and participated in the protest in good numbers.
Comrade Shankar, CCM, called upon women to march on streets for a stringent law and special session of parliament against the harassment of women. He also said that Delhi incident is not just about punishment of rapists in a particular incident but about huge mass awakening on the issue and about the women's freedom without fear. He also called upon people to fight against the BJP and its government's patriarchal measures in Karnataka.
Comrade Ranjani condemned the moral policing brigade's systematic attacks on women to curtail their freedom and criticized the BJP Government for promoting such hooligans and failing in its responsibility to protect women. She stated that the Karnataka's Sec 354 of CrPC degrades the rape victims by allowing a maximum punishment of two years of imprisonment for rapists and demanded for a uniform, stringent law against rape with rigorous punishment. Gandhimathi, State Convenor of AIPWA, said that increasing incidents of rape in the city is leading to further restrictions on girl students, including in institutions like National Law School, and that such measures, in the name of safety, go against the very spirit of women's freedom. Sumita Mukherji condemned Mohan Bhagawat, Kailash Vijayvargeeya and the likes for their misogynist remarks on the Delhi incident. Appanna, AICCTU State Secretary, said that we should stop questioning women regarding their dress, behaviour, company, timings as a first step to stop blaming women for safety issues, and despise the feudal ideas of men as protectors and hold the state as responsible for the safety of every citizen. Putte Gowda, AICCTU District Secretary, said that Laxman Rekhas are pretexts for protecting the rapists and that such restrictions should be violated to reclaim all spaces and times for women. Comrade Somu, AICCTU District President, Narayan Swamy, AICCTU District VP, Vijayalakshmi, CGHSEU leader, Bharathi and others spoke. Syed Sajjad Ahmed brought a poster-covered car against violence on women to the protest.
Earlier, too there had been many initiatives against the gang-rape. AISA students went around HDKote town, Mysore district, enforced strike in many colleges on 24 December 2012 against the gruesome Delhi gangrape and the subsequent crackdown on peaceful protestors by the police in Delhi. Hundreds of students led by Javaraiah (CPIML), Shivkumar (RYA) and Javara (AISA) marched on the streets carrying AISA banner and staged Rasta Roko in front of the HD Kote taluk office of Mysore district.
On January 1, 2013, AIPWA, AISA and RYA activists held a protest demonstration in Gangavati on the Delhi Rape Issue and the increasing rape incidents in Karnataka. The protestors demanded the resignation of Karnataka CM Jagadish Shettar, Delhi CM Sheila Dixit and PM Man Mohan Singh for failing to take any action. Comrade Bharadwaj condemned the sheer apathy and unwillingness of the Koppal district administration in registering the case in Hatty rape, where a 16 year old girl was gangraped by four men and the panchayat fined Rs 30,000 each on the accused. The victim committed suicide. Despite several protests by AIPWA, AISA, RYA demanding COD enquiry into the case, the police and the administration in connivance with the perpetrators of the crime buried the issue. He said it is a matter of shame for the entire nation that from Panchayats to Parliament this attitude of protecting rapists and denying justice to the victims is rampant. Virupakshappa, Basavangouda, Gangamma, Saraswatamma, Raghavendra Basapatna, Paramesha Basapatna, Arun Rashid Basapatna, Mallesh Basapatna, Kumar and others participated in the protest.
A condolence meeting was held by AISA activists in Davangere on 29 December. Activists raised slogans against Sheila Dixit and Manmohan Singh and pledged to take forward the struggle of the Delhi gangprape victim. Prakash and Manjunatha, national council members of AISA took the lead in mobilizing students.
AIPWA-AISA Protest against Rape in Odisha
On January 9, a protest was held by AIPWA and AISA in Odisha's Rayagada district against the gang-rape of a 13-year-old girl, who attempted to commit suicide in terror after her 3 rapists threatened to kill her, and was badly burnt in the suicide attempt.
The demonstration demanded that the Government bear all expenses for the treatment of the survivor of rape and burns, and take her to Delhi for treatment. They also demanded stringent punishment for the rapists and Rs 5 lakh compensation to the survivor.
Around 300 people participated in the protest led by AIPWA State Committee member Padmini Gomango. CPI(ML) district secretary Tirupati Gomango, AISA leader Pralay Behera, AIALA leader Sharad Tripathi and several others leading activists also participated in the protest. The demonstrators marched up till the district Headquarters and submitted a memo to the Governor via the DM.
Joint Convention against FDI in Retail
A State level joint convention against FDI in retail was held at Guru Tegh Bahadur Bhavan, Raipur, on December 30, 2012 by CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), CMM (Janaklal Thakur), LSP, JD(U) and Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch. Brijendra Tiwari represented the Party on the Presidium. Central Committee member Rajaram addressed the convention on behalf of the Party. The convention was also addressed by Probodh Panda of CPI, Nilotpal Basu of CPI(M) and others. The keynote address was delivered by MK Nandi, State Secretary, CPI(M). The convention gave a call for the successful conduct of the general strike of all central trade unions on February 20 and 21, 2013.
CPI(ML) delegation Visits Nepal
A CPI(ML) delegation recently concluded a three day visit to Nepal. The visit was planned in order to invite the Communist parties of Nepal to the 9th party congress of CPI(ML) which is scheduled in April month of this year and also to get firsthand account of the prevailing political situation in Nepal in the period of transition. The delegation on the three day visit met and exchanged views with all the three communist parties, intellectuals, student-youth activists, women leaders and also with political leaders of tarai region of Nepal.
The delegation visited the office of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) where they had a detailed discussion of prevailing political situation in Nepal with Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel and other leaders of the party. The delegation also had individual and collective level meetings with CPN(UML)'s senior leader and ex-PM of Nepal Comrade Madhav Kumar Nepal and Comrade K P Sharma Oli, in-charge of foreign affairs.
The delegation also had discussions in office of Maoist Party led by Comrade Prachanda with the Polit bureau member Comrade Ram Karki along with other comrades of Maoist party. The delegation also communicated an invitation to the CPI(ML)'s Congress with the Kiran group which separated from Prachanda led Maoist party recently.
Once again Nepal in passing through difficult times. The achievements of people's movements and people's war seem in danger in this protracted transition period. In this situation, right wing forces have become active again. They have started a movement on the pretext that symbols of Kingship and 'Hindu' religion are the very foundation of Nepal as a nation. The delegation witnessed rallies of this right-wing mobilisation at several places in Nepal. Posters and hoardings against this right-wing movement were also visible at several places. It can be only hoped that Communists will rise to the occasion in this difficult times to give new direction to Nepal nation and to safeguard the achievements of the people's movements and revolutions.
AICWF Protest Day
Contractualization of labour as a neo-liberal ploy is increasingly evident in all sectors of the economy but is most visible in construction sector. The plight of crores of casual labourers engaged in construction sector in most horrendous working conditions at miserable salary and without any social security whatsoever, is in sharp contrast to multitude increase in profits of companies and contractors engaged in real estate, infrastructure and other related sector in last decade or so. With intention to raise the voice of casual labour and organize them around a set of specific demands to intensify their struggle, AICWF observed January 8, 2013 as 'day of demand'. Protest Marches, dharnas and sit ins were organized throughout the country with thousands of workers enthusiastically participating in them to register their demand in front of Union and State governments in forceful way, who are apathetic and insensitive to their plight. Along with the most important demand of putting an end to system of Contract labour, the other important demands raised on the occasion were-
(1) Raise minimum wages to Rs 500/day and provide Rs 3000 p.m. pension, (2) Construct residential colonies for construction workers, (3) In absence of adequate information in case of death of contract labour, provide Rs 3 lakh compensation to the heirs of deceased from State exchequer, (4) Renew Registration of construction workers for free in five years instead of one years as at present, (5) Union government should make nationwide rules which guarantees equal benefit to construction workers of all states, (6) Inter-State residential laws should be strictly implemented and National Commission on lines of SC/ST commission should be formed for immigrant labour, (7) Bring all construction labour under BPL list, (8) Implement Unorganized Workers (Social Security) Regulations, 2008 in all States, (9) Put an end to gender discrimination with women construction workers and strictly implement the principle of 'Equal Pay for Equal Work', (10) Register all Labour Unions within 45 days, (11) Increase the limits of benefits determined for Construction Workers, (12)Bring all construction workers under PF/ESI rules.
The program amidst other places in the country were also organized in Salambur tehsil in Udaipur and Pratapgarh district of Rajasthan and in several district headquarters of Jharkhand. Addressing the rally in Salambur, Chandradev Ola, Udaipur District Secretary of CPI (ML), said that the government is increasingly siding with capitalists and ignoring the interests of the toiling workers who creates wealth in society. The struggle against this injustice can only be successful if the workers are willing to organize themselves to pressurize the government of the day to concede to their just demands.
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