A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
The Anointment of Modi and
Yet another Resignation Drama by Advani
Mr. Advani has done it again. In the evening of his life, the sulking leader once again resigned from all his posts in the party only to withdraw it the next day at the instance of the RSS. His resignation had come just after the BJP national executive committee in its meeting held in Goa, which Advani had skipped, anointed Narendra Modi the mascot of the party's forthcoming Lok Sabha poll campaign. Ironically, eleven years ago it was in another BJP executive meeting in Goa where Narendra Modi had managed to save his skin in the wake of the Gujarat genocide and it was none other than LK Advani who had vigorously defended Modi even as the whole country wanted his government dismissed.
This was the third time in last ten years that Advani resigned and then withdrew his resignation, but this time the withdrawal came very swiftly making it clear that Advani had acted in haste and realised that he stood thoroughly isolated in the saffron family. In his resignation letter Advani had level serious allegations against the entire crop of current BJP leadership. He had said that the party had deviated entirely from the legacy of its founders like Shyamaprasad Mookherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Nanaji Deshmukh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leaders who apparently only thought about the country and the people. The present batch of leaders, Advani alleged, was driven only by personal agendas.
Well, Advani knows it very well that these leaders may have laid the foundation of the BJP and its predecessor Bhartiya Jan Sangh, but it was Advani and Modi who raised the party to its current levels of electoral success – Advani on the national level and Modi in Gujarat. And this success has come not by thinking about the country and the people, but by aggressively pursuing the divisive politics of communalism and unleashing bloodbath, by demolishing the Babri Masjid and orchestrating a veritable genocide in Gujarat.
Now that Advani has withdrawn his resignation as advised by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat his hypocritical resignation letter will become a forgotten piece of paper. The blog he had written on the day Modi was being anointed in Goa invoking the mythological Mahabharata metaphor of Bhisma Pitamaha sermonising the Pandavas from his bed of arrows will also be lost in the euphoric 'NaMo-NaMo' chants of the pro-Modi brigade.
Ironically, in his blog Advani had mentioned a story he had heard in his Karachi schooldays, about Hitler telling Mussolini that the two would have to pay a heavy price after death for all the sins they had committed. Is it a veiled confessional warning for his erstwhile disciple Modi that both of them would have to foot a huge bill in hell? Well, Mussolini and Hitler did not have to wait for the afterlife to pay their bills, both of them met with fitting ends in April 1945. The popular slogan 'Jo Hitler ki chal chalega, vo Hitler ki maut marega' captures the sense of relief and justice the world felt when a thoroughly frustrated and defeated Hitler killed himself just two days after Mussolini was assassinated.
With Advani meekly withdrawing his resignation, those in the NDA and in the Congress camp who had thought they could fight Modi by training their guns on Advani's shoulders will have to rethink their strategy. If Nitish Kumar is serious about his opposition to Modi, the time to take a final call has certainly arrived. Of course, formally speaking, the BJP is yet to declare Modi its prime ministerial candidate and the JD(U) has said it will wait till the end of the year for a formal declaration. But with the Advani coup foiled so swiftly, the road ahead for Modi has now become fairly clear within the BJP.
In terms of electoral politics beyond Gujarat, Modi is still an untested and unknown factor. We only know that despite his presence the BJP could not avert defeat earlier in Himachal Pradesh and most recently the ignominious rout in Karnataka. The other bit known about Modi is that the Congress too sees him as the best bet for itself – the only factor the party could hope to benefit from in its thoroughly discredited and declining current state is a grand anti-Modi polarisation. Yet the Modi brigade within the BJP and the vocal upwardly mobile middle class support base he seems to enjoy especially in North India are euphoric about the rise of Modi and virtually believe that Modi has already become the Prime Minister! Advani could perhaps be the best person to awaken them to the difference between an aspiring and an actual PM.
Regardless of the electoral future of the BJP/NDA under Modi, it is a fact that Modi has emerged as the most authentic and aggressive face of rightwing politics in India. He enjoys the backing of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar, but more importantly he is an organic product of the economics and politics of a neo-liberal policy regime. Advani may be nostalgic about the foundational moorings of the BJP, but there can be no denying the fact that Modi has emerged as the leader of the party that Advani and all other BJS/BJP stalwarts built through the years. India will have to grapple with the rise of this rabid rightwing and the answer to this looming corporate-fascist threat must come from a popular resurgence of the Left and other democratic forces.
West Bengal Seethes in Protests
over Brutal Rape and Murder of College Student in Barasat
A 20-year old student was gangraped and brutally murdered in Barasat in West Bengal, when she was returning home from college last week. It has since come to be known that the accused were habitual offenders and their regular crimes against women in the area, including harassment, stalking and threatening, were widely known and had been reported to the police by the local people in general, and the victim's father in particular. It has also been alleged by the local people that the chief accused who led the pack of goons is a Trinamool Congress foot-soldier. Hence the police's sitting on the earlier complaints does not come as a surprise. Like numerous recent instances, it exposes once again the openly operative criminal-police nexus and political patronage enjoyed by rapists and molesters, that has earned the town of Barasat in the North 24-Parganas district an ignominious place on the gender violence map in the country.
When food minister Jyotipriya Mullick turned up in the aftermath, he was driven away by the wrath of the people. Mr. Mullick displayed the audacity to keep mum on the continued Police inaction and abysmal failure of the law and order machinery but had the temerity to offer a job to the victim's brother as 'compensation'! This further enraged the masses who identified and shamed this as an attempt of a pre-Panchayat election gimmick and the victim's brother scornfully rejected the 'offer'. One recalls how Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, the current Trinamool MP from Barasat, had angered the people by denying and dismissing an earlier instance of gangrape of a woman as a 'deal gone wrong between a sex-worker and her clients'. The ruling party MLA from Barasat, one Mr. Chiranjit Chakraborty, on the other hand, had advised women to dress with modesty to avoid being attacked. Such overt justifications of gender violence, defense of criminals and denials of crimes against women by the ruling political class coupled with inaction of the police has thus ensured that rape culture prevails and thrives in Barasat. And most often it is the working class and lower middle class people who face the ugliest attacks, like it was in this particular case, where the victim was the first-generation college-goer in a working class family struggling to make ends meet.
People have erupted in response. AIPWA and AISA led a protest rally and demonstration in College Street on June 11, condemning the incident and rising gender violence in the state. An AIPWA team met with the victim's family in Barasat. Rallies, protest meetings, and street corner meetings were held at Barasat, Chinsura, Shibdaspur, and rural and urban areas of different districts, and more protest meetings are continuing as we go to press. Several women's groups and citizens' groups have submitted memoranda and petitions registering their condemnation and demanding immediate redressal of the scenario. The Barasat Police Station has been gheraoed and roads blockaded in spontaneous protests. A PIL has been filed at the Calcutta High Court demanding a special probe.
It is clear that if the ruling dispensation keeps ignoring people's seething anger on the streets, a mass uprising on the question of gender violence is imminent in Bengal.
Widespread Political Vendetta
in the run-up to the Panchayat Poll in West Bengal
As the first phase of submitting nominations for contesting in the Panchayat elections rolls to a close, instances of political vendetta against left and democratic opposition by the Trinamool Congress are on an alarming rise. CPI(ML) is also bearing the brunt of this unprincipled assault on its democratic rights. In Karanda in the district of Burdwan, three CPI(ML) candidates were forced to withdraw their nominations. One of them, a member of the family of a martyr of the bloody Karanda massacre, was threatened with 'a repeat of the Karanda violence'. The village of Karanda was where six agricultural laborers, all CPI-ML activists who dared to challenge the then CPI(M)'s corrupt hegemony in the local Panchayat, were hacked to death in 1993, in one of the most heinous carnage in the state's history. This only shows what sort of 'Parivartan' has happened in rural Bengal. At Bhatar and Kalna, both in Burdwan, two other CPI(ML) candidates were forced to withdraw from contesting elections. In the neighbouring district of Hooghly, two candidates from Belmuri and one candidate from Bandel were also similarly attacked and forced to withdraw their candidature.The Trinamool Congress is thus baring tooth and claw in desperate silencing of its political opponents as it cannot afford to contest elections in a democratic milieu.
Against Custodial Death of Muslim Youth
CPI(ML) held a protest dharna in front of UP Assembly on 31 May against custodial death of Khalid Mujahid, a muslim youth who was arrested in the name of terrorism and later was released by the court but died while on way back from the court. It was demanded to punish the guilty officials who are responsible for his death on 18 May. The demand to release all innocent muslim youth kept in various jails in UP was also raised through this dharna. While speedy justice must be met, fast track courts should be constituted in this regard. The RD Nimesh Commission's report, which was constituted to inquire into the causes of Khalid's death, also be made public. Demands of a timely enquiry by the CBI, to stop repetitions of such incidents, and to ensure security of other muslim youths lodged in jails was also raised. A memorandum was sent to the Governor of UP with these demands.
The speakers in the dharna criticised SP Govt. in UP which is actually in nexus with communal forces in the garb of secularism only to ensure its vote share. This govt. has been exposed again by the incident of Khalid's death, but even before that, acquittal of Varun Gandhi in Pilibhit and a number of communal riots in different towns in the state has made it amply clear that this govt. is not interested in protecting the minorities and fighting against communal forces. The dharna was presided over by AIPWA leader Tahira Hasan, while CPI(ML)'s Ramesh Singh Sengar was the main speaker.
Workers Convention of Closed Mohini Mills
On 17 May, 2013 a workers' convention was organised by AICCTU & Mazdoor Baachao Manch at Samaj Sadan Hall, Kamarhatti, Belghoria, 24 Parganas (North) on the issue of immediate disbursal of PF dues, gratuity & pension to all the workers of Mohini Mills, a Central Govt. Undertaking, under NTC and of all other closed industries.
A workers' rally was organised where a significant number of women workers participated, which started from Belghoria Railway Station upto the Convention Hall. More than 300 workers took part in this rally. It is to be noted that Mohini Mills was an unit of National Textile Corporation. The Central Govt. undertook the management on 23 Oct. 1981, but denotified it on 21 June, 1988. Since then the Mill is lying closed and the workers have not yet received them PF dues and other retirement benefits.
Though the State Govt. Of West Bengal acquired the land of Mohini Mills in the year 2004, no initiative has been taken to disburse the legitimate dues of the workers. The PF dept. has mentioned that at the time of closure, total PF fund accumulated was 85,73,494.61. The Convention was addressed by Naba Dutta of Nagarik Manch, Amal Sen, AIUTUC leader, Kalachand Das, worker of Mohini Mill, Debashis Pal, Civil Liberty activist, Atanu Chakravarty, General Secretary, BCMF & Basudev Bose, General Secretary, AICCTU, West Bengal. The convention resolved to (a) File mass FIR against the corrupt members and Secretary of Board of Trustees. (b) To organise rally & handing over deputation before the Minister of Industry, West Bengal, and pressurize for immediate disbursal of all the retiral dues. (c) To pressurize the municipal Corporation of Kamarhatti for immediate renovation of workers quarter of Mohini Mills. Nabendu Dasgupta, President of BCMF reported on the initiatives taken on behalf of the organisation and Shibshankar Guha Roy presided over the entire proceedings.
Chakka Jam of MNREGA Workers in Bihar
From the scrapping of the Amir Das Commission and acquittal of massacre-accused, dumping of the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission, and failure to distribute 3 decimals of homestead land to the landless poor, Bihar's Nitish Government has had a long track record of broken promises. The latest in this series of assaults on the poor is the Bihar Government's withdrawal of the state-level allocation of Rs 30 to the Central Government allocation of Rs 138 as the wage for MNREGA, as a result of which the wage of Rs 168 announced by the Bihar Government was reduced to Rs 138. On May 7th, 2013, MNREGA workers and rural poor under the banner of AIALA held a massive demonstration in Patna to demand an answer from the Chief Minister.
MNREGA workers and AIALA declared a state-wide hartal (strike) and chakka jam to be held on June 8th. In response, Nitish Kumar sent a proposal to his Cabinet of MNREGA wages at Rs 162, which is still below the minimum wage.
On June 8th, more than 50000 MNREGA workers in 35 districts at more than 250 places struck work and hit the streets, blockading roads and railways. Several senior officials, MLAs and Ministers remained stuck for hours as a result, including the DGP at Fatuha (Patna), the SP at Jehanabad, the Land Reforms Minister Ramai Ram at Musahari in Muzaffarpur, BJP MLA from Pipra Dilip Verma at Gaunaha (West Champaran). Thousands were arrested at Patna, Gopalganj and several other districts. The DGP who was caught for hours in the blockade at Fatuha made it a prestige issue, and ordered a raid if a village the same night, arresting and jailing 5 MNREGA workers on charges of extortion and other cooked up charges. Efforts are on by the police to identify and arrest workers and leaders on the basis of video footage.
The participation of thousands of MNREGA workers in the protests is an indicator of the anger of the poor against the Nitish Government's betrayals of promises.
Block-level Protests in Uttar Pradesh
Last week of May witnessed block level protests demanding food security, ensuring BPL cards to all poor, universal PDS, 50 Kg foodgrain to every poor family at the Rs. 2 per Kg, works in MNREGA and payment of pending wages in this scheme, and against atrocities against dalits and women in Uttar Pradesh. CPI(ML) called for these protests all over the state. Protests were held on 27 May in Navanagar and Maniar of Balia district; Niyamatabad, Sadar and Dhanapur blocks in Chandauli; Jamania, Sadar, Karanda, Manihari and Jakhania blocks in Gazipur; Surianwa in Bhadohi; Kalpi and Jalaun blocks; Puranpur and Marauri blocks in Pilibhit; Kalyanpur in Kanpur; Bakshi Ka Talab tehsil in Lucknow; Nichlaul in Maharajganj; A protest was also held in Mau city in front of Municipality offices on these demands. Similar protests were organised in Uruva and Bansgaon blocks in Gorakhpur distrist on 28 and 29 May, while on 23 May these were held in Palia and Nighasan tehsils in Lakhimpur-Kheri and on 24 May in Hargaon and Mahauli of Sitapur district.
AISA Demands Proper Implementation of
Post-Metric Scholarship for SC-ST Students of Tamilnadu
On 9th July AISA's Madurai unit organized a meeting at Subramaniyapuram, Madurai, on the post-metric scholarship scheme. Prof. R. Murali (Principal, Madura College) delivered a key note address on the scheme and other benefits declared by Government. However, the participants, most of them were from dalit community, repeatedly deposed that nothing is available to them, and asked where all the money is going.
The meet was presided over by Com. Arun, District organizer, AISA. Later a group discussion was conducted by Comrades Arvind and Hari (AISA) on the implementation of GO 92 (SC& ST Department) of 2012. The GO declares that any SC student applying for any course in a private institution or self-financed course of any institution need not pay any non-refundable fee. The amount will be paid by the Government. Earlier in 2012, the TN Government issued a GO No 6 of the same department which was intended to pay back the amount already paid by the SC students. However, the participants are not aware of any scheme and said that none of them got their fees reimbursed as per GO No 6. Nevertheless, all the institutions are asking for money as if there is no GO of this sort and even the principle of free application for SC students is not honoured.
During the discussion a body was formed to organize Dalit students studying in self financed/ institutions and courses. The meeting resolved:
• The Tamil Nadu government should take adequate steps to popularize the Post-Metric Scholarship scheme and issue orders to the private, self-financing and government-aided colleges to strictly implement the Government Order and issue warning that failure to abide by it should result in invocation of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.
• The Collector should establish monitoring committees to see that the act was implemented by the colleges. Madurai Kamaraj University should set an example by fully implementing the scheme in its constituent colleges, affiliated institutions and in its self-financed courses.
• The Adi Dravidar Welfare Department and Finance Department should disburse the funds to the respective institutions during the start of the academic year itself.
• Further AISA decided to meet the Collector and VC of MKU to press the issue and to organize struggles to expose the 'eye wash' programs of State Government for students.
Com Pandia Rajan AISA, MKU thanked Prof Murali and local youth for successful program.
Justice Convention by Maruti Workers
Continuing with their determined struggle, which includes 57-day long dharna in Kaithal, hundreds of workers of Maruti industry under the banner of their union MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION (MSWU), their families and other organizations held a Nyay (Justice) convention on 11 June 2013 in Kaithal, Haryana and a march to DC office against the repression and for restoration of democratic rights. They demanded release of workers and other people lodged in Kaithal jail on 18-19 May, permission to hold continuous sit-in at DC office, release of 147 workers in Gurgaon Jail and reinstatement of terminated workers.
A team of four leaders of AICCTU from Delhi – Rajiv Dimri, Santosh Roy, Ranjan Ganguly and Rajesh Kumar- participated in this convention to express solidarity with the struggling Maruti workers.
Addressing the convention and rally on behalf of AICCTU, Santosh Roy, national secretary, hailed the heroic and determined struggle of Maruti workers and called upon them to also take this struggle to Chandigarh, the capital of Haryana and pledged full support to them in holding protest in Chandigarh. The convention was addressed among others by leaders of CITU, MSWU and Jan Sangrash Manch.
Protesting Attacks on Workers in SIDCUL, Pantnagar
A contract worker died on May 30 while operating heavy machines in Automotive Stamping and Assemblies Limited (ASAL), a subsidiary/vendor company of TATA in SIDCUL industrial area of Pantnagar in Uttarakhand. It is illegal to use contract/casual workers in heavy and regular nature of works. Moreover, most of the workers are not statutorily 'workers' in that company, like many other industries, they are mere 'Trainees' who are not considered as workmen, and not given the wages as required, nor they have any job security or any kind of workers' rights. After massive protests by workers for compensation and to abolish such 'trainee' system, company management had to declare compensation and arrived at a settlement to halt work till the problems of workers are amicably resolved. Since it is TATA's vendor company there has to be an impact on latter's production too, and this ultimately led to the reopening of factory with all workers shunted out and new contract workers employed, without any notice and any legal procedure. This was done under pressure from not only TATA, but also Uttarakhand government. On June 6, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna himself assured a delegation of TATA group that he will ensure the said company reopens irrespective of the facts that workers demands are justified. On same night it was opened under heavy police presence, after arresting many workers who were present on the site. More arrests were made in the morning. Around 98 workers have been sent to jail, including AICCTU's District President Anand Singh Adhikary.
There is widespread resentment against this repression and highhandedness of Uttarakhand govt. which is only obeying TATA's orders. AICCTU held out protest next day on June 7 at District Magistrate office where workers from many factories in SIDCUL took part and demanded to arrest ASAL's management, release of all arrested workers, to stop 'trainee' treachery, and to constitute tripartite committees to resolve disputes. An effigy of DM was also burnt in protest.
Again on 8 June, a big protest demonstration was organised in Rudrapur city which was attended by hundreds of workers of SIDCUL, and any effigy of Chief Minister was burnt. While struggle is on, workers are organising themselves across factory lines, towards a broader unity.
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: 22518248, e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org