A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 16 No. 44 22 - 28 OCT 2013
Boldly Confront Corporate-Backed Corruption and Clamour for Modi
Even as the Congress tries hard to hit an emotional pitch over its food-for-vote campaign, the spectre of corruption keeps coming back to haunt it hard, challenging its survival in power and threatening to reduce it to its lowest ever tally in the coming Lok Sabha elections. The CBI, the caged parrot of the powers that be as the Supreme Court famously described it, has now named a top industrialist and a retired bureaucrat in a fresh FIR on coal-block allocations. While the naming of Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of AV Birla group and former Coal Secretary PC Parakh has raised eyebrows in some circles, what the nation really wants to know is why the third side of the triangle has been left out.
The corporate-bureaucrat nexus is actually an abbreviated form of the corporate-bureaucrat-minister triangle and in this case the minister was none other than the Prime Minister who officiated over the coal ministry for three years during the first UPA government. The Prime Minister's Office has sought to justify the allocation on the part of the Prime Minister while saying the CBI was free to investigate the case as it deemed fit. The PMO statement also links the allocation to strong recommendations of the Odisha government.
The PMO reply may at best point to the involvement of an additional party in the form of the Odisha government, but it cannot absolve the PM and the CBI has absolutely no excuse not to name the PM in its FIR when it has accused the two other sides of the triangle alleging conspiracy and irregularity. The PM and his Office stand incontrovertibly implicated in the dust and fume of coalgate and even if the CBI is used selectively and shamelessly to save the PM for the time being, or the CBI closes down the case against Birla and Parakh, the government will have to pay for it in the coming elections.
In a significant coincidence, the Supreme Court has now asked the CBI to probe the Radia tapes, bringing not only the 2G scam but the bigger story of corporate grab of resources and manipulation of power and policies back in limelight. Let us also not forget the other scam which has been crying out for years together for due media recognition and judicial cognisance – the oil and gas scam that would expose the true face of India's biggest corporate house and its ever-expanding influence on the Indian state. The real issue for India today is not just corruption but where it springs from and what it signifies – indiscriminate privatisation, unbridled plunder of resources and growing corporate subversion of democracy.
It is obvious that while the BJP is desperate to reap the political benefit of the anti-Congress mood of the people propelled by the scams, soaring prices and all-round economic crisis, it has no alternative policy trajectory or perspective. In fact, the very basis of the corporate clamour for Narendra Modi lies in the expectation that he would replicate the Gujarat model of unrestricted corporate freedom at the Centre and facilitate corporate plunder on an even bigger scale. The BJP therefore wants no policy debate in the elections, and is desperate to employ its tested and trusted tactic of grabbing votes in the shadow of communal polarisation and terror.
The party is working overtime to make this tactic work especially in UP and Bihar where the Congress has little presence left and the non-Congress non-BJP centrist parties stand increasingly discredited. After the groundwork done by his deputy Amit Shah in UP which left Muzaffarnagar ravaged in communal fire, Modi has already made his first appearance in the battleground of UP and is now slated to address his first rally in Patna on 27 October. But however much the BJP/RSS machinery and the corporate media seek to hype up the Modi factor, even to the point of reinventing and repackaging him as a tea-seller who rose from the ranks of the underprivileged poor and made it big in politics through sheer hard work, the people have little difficulty to see the fact that it is the corporate world which has rallied most solidly around Modi.
While boldly resisting the BJP's communal gameplan, the Left must not reduce the 2014 poll campaign to a single-point communal versus secular debate. Any coalition exercise in the name of secularism with discredited and opportunist forces, many of whom have joined hands with the BJP in the past and may well cross over once again for the sake of power-sharing, will lack credibility and only trivialise secularism. And it will weaken the necessary political thrust of a powerful people's campaign at this critical juncture to stop corporate plunder of national resources, reorder developmental priorities in the interest of the broad masses of Indian people, and free India's basic policies and international role from strategic subservience to global capital and US imperialism.
While the Congress is rapidly losing ground, the projection for the NDA in all pre-poll surveys is still short of the 200 mark, not to speak of the magic number of 272. By all indications, the forthcoming Assembly elections will turn out to be a major reality check for the BJP and its Modi hype. Revolutionary communists must make the best use of the developing situation to confront the corporate clamour with the bold voice of the people.
'Save UP-Save Democracy' Rally in Lucknow'
A state wide rally was held by CPI(ML) in the state capital of Uttar Pradesh on 21st October, to highlight the rising danger of communalism and betrayal of the promises made by the ruling Samajwadi Party government of Akhilesh Yadav. The recently engineered communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and the poor state of law and order in the state have been a source of grave concern for the people.
Addressing the rally, the General Secretary of the CPI(ML) Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the BJP is trying to convert UP into a communal laboratory in the run up to the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Tainted ministers of the Gujarat government like Amit Shah have been send on deputation to UP to re-enact Gujarat-like pogroms here and the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar are a testimony to this nefarious design of the BJP. He said that the SP government has failed in the promises it had made to the people of the state after it voted out of power the unpopular government of BSP one and a half years ago. Be it the promise of checking crime, waiver of loans of farmers, unemployment allowance or fighting the communal forces, the SP government has had a dismal performance. The mafia forces are ruling the roost but forces like the CPI(ML) have pledged to give them a befitting reply.
He cited the example of how the party leader Com. Ramesh Senger had intervened against the sand mafia and the party had to pay a price in terms of the brutal attack on its leader. He said that there is a political vacuum in the country. People are fed up by the scam-tainted UPA whose rule has led to widespread joblessness, inflation and corruption and they are in no mood to allow forces like the BJP to fill the gap. In such a situation, the left and democratic forces can play a major role, particularly in states like UP, Bihar and Jharkhand to consolidate and lead a consistent opposition to the pro-corporate, pro-imperialist policies of Congress, BJP and their regional allies.
The rally was also addressed by Akbar Chaudhary, the president of JNUSU. He said that innocent Muslim youths are languishing in jail and some are even getting killed in police custody in UP like in the case of Khalid Mujahid. There is no justice for them in UP.
Amongst others who addressed the rally include Comrade Arvind Raj Swaroop, the Uttar Pradesh joint Secretary of CPI, Mohd. Shoaib, the Convener of Rihai Manch, which has been leading a struggle for the release of innocent Muslim youth in jail, Comrades K.D.Yadav, Sudhakar Yadav, Krishna Adhikari, Mohd. Salim, Central Committee members of CPI(ML), UP State President of AIPWA Tahira Hasan amongst others.
A notable feature of the rally was the 10 km long march on the streets of the State capital from the railway station to the Jyotiba Phule park, the rally ground. Thousands of peasants, workers, youths and a large number of women carrying red flags and posters made for a very impressive sight.
Modi "Should Feel Ashamed Of Himself In Bhagat Singh's Company"
Recently, there has been news that Modi will release a coffee table version of Bhagat Singh's jail notebooks. Bhagat Singh's family members have vehemently opposed this move, and Bhagat Singh scholar Prof.Chaman Lal has placed all the facts to expose the lie that the Jail Notebooks are being published for the first time ('A short publication history of Bhagat Singh's Jail Notebook', EPW Web Exclusives, Vol - XLVIII No. 42, October 19, 2013.)
What is laughable about Modi releasing Bhagat Singh's Jail Notebook is that the Notebook itself is testimony to Bhagat Singh's Marxist ideology and temperament, including detailed quotes from Marx on religion, Lenin, Trotsky and other communist revolutionaries who are anathema for Modi and his RSS.
It is well known that Bhagat Singh, during his trial, had sent a telegram to the Russian Bolshevik Party on Lenin's death anniversary: "ON LENIN DAY WE SEND HEARTY GREETINGS TO ALL who are doing something for carrying forward the ideas of the great Lenin. We wish success to the great experiment Russia is carrying out. We join our voice to that of the international working class movement. The proletariat will win. Capitalism will be defeated. Death to Imperialism."
In his article 'Why I Am an Atheist', Bhagat Singh writes: "Up to that period (1925) I was a romantic revolutionary. Up till then we were to follow. Now came the time to shoulder the whole responsibility. Due to the inevitable reaction for some time the very existence of the party [Hindustan Republican Association] seemed impossible. Enthusiastic comrades – nay, leaders – began to jeer at us. For some time I was afraid that someday I also might be convinced of the futility of our programme. That was a turning point in my revolutionary career; "Study" was the cry that reverberated in the corridors of my mind. Study to enable yourself to face the arguments advanced by opposition. Study to arm yourself with arguments in favour of your cult. I began to study. My previous faith and convictions underwent a remarkable modification. The romance of violent methods alone, which was so prominent amongst our predecessors, was replaced by serious ideas. No more mysticism, no more blind faith. Realism became our cult. Use of force justifiable when restored to as a matter of terrible necessity: non-violence as policy indispensable for all mass movements. ... As there were no important activities in the field of action, I got ample opportunity to study various ideals of world revolution. I studied Bakunin, the anarchist leader, something of Marx, the father of communism and much of Lenin, Trotsky and others – the men who had successfully carried out a revolution in their country."
His last major writing, the "Draft Revolutionary Programme", which conveys the collective understanding of comrades incarcerated in Lahore Central Jail, states clearly, "We want a socialist revolution, the indispensable preliminary to which is the political revolution. That is what we want," while putting the 'abolition of feudalism' as the first point on the General Programme. The General Programme clearly owes a debt to his study of Lenin: "The present situation demands of us a clear and responsible programme of revolution. Just before the revolution of October 1917, Lenin mentioned three necessary conditions of a successful revolution: Political and economic situation; the spirit of rebellion among the masses; a revolutionary party, fully trained to lead the masses at the decisive hour....In India the first condition has already been fulfilled while the other two are waiting for complete realisation. To work for their fulfilment is the first task of every fighter for freedom and the programme should be worked out with this end in view."
In the context of Modi's attempts at appropriation, it's worth reading what Jagmohan Singh, Bhagat Singh's nephew and former Professor at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, had said in a 2007 interview (Frontline Volume 24 - Issue 21 :: Oct. 20-Nov. 02, 2007). The interviewer, S. Irfan Habib, had asked, "All political parties today seem to appropriate Bhagat Singh to push their political prospects. What do you have to say about this phenomenon?"
To which he replied, "It is our duty to liberate Bhagat Singh from current misinterpretations. Mere emotional reference to Bhagat Singh's sacrifice by most of the political parties helps them to misuse his legacy for selfish political ends. Bhagat Singh cannot be frozen merely in a cheap emotional and nationalistic frame. How could a communalist propagating hatred against one another feel comfortable with his thoughts. Rather he should feel ashamed of himself in Bhagat Singh's company."
Further, he was asked, "How does Bhagat Singh inspire us in the era of globalisation and neoliberal politics?", to which he replied, "Bhagat Singh's views are very relevant today in the context of globalisation. He stood for the end of exploitation of man by man and nation by nation. His slogan of 'Inquilab Zindabad' was always followed by 'Down with Imperialism'. For him revolution was the complete reorganisation of society so that everyone gets an opportunity to grow and contribute to the national progress. We got rid of colonial imperialism but today, under globalisation, we have the imperialism of corporations, most of the time led by the U.S. Bhagat Singh provides the most clear ideas to fight against this 21st century monster."
Cyclone Phaillin: Devastated People Await Relief
On the night of 12 October cyclone Phaillin with a wind speed of 250 kmph hit the entire coast of Odisha with the eye of the storm centred at Gopalpur in Ganjam district. Around 17 districts were affected, Ganjam, Puri and Khurda being the worst hit. Other districts like Jagatsingpur, Kendrapara, Nayagarh, Kandhamal, Gajapati were also affected.
Two days after Phaillin severe floods affected 6 districts including Baleswar, Bhadark, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj. In addition to loss of human lives, Phaillin wreaked havoc on agriculture, natural resources, educational institutions and infrastructure. The combined disasters of cyclone and floods took a toll of around 44 lives. 1.37 lakhs were affected, and over 6.71 lakh hectares of agricultural land, 4.19 lakh houses and 26 lakh trees damaged.
Apart from coastal damage, Phaillin has devastated forests as well as communication and tourism infrastructure, with the electricity board suffering a loss of 900 crore. 1.70 lakh birds have died. In all 18,374 villages and 2164 grampanchayats of the State have been affected.
In spite of continuous news and alerts about the cyclone in the print and electronic media, a panic situation prevailed with prices of essential commodities spiraling and the BJD government unable to control it. The Naveen Patnaik government is basking in the praise being showered from different quarters for the success of the much publicized evacuation exercise. While timely evacuation has certainly minimized human casualty, the real challenge now is to rehabilitate the evacuated people most of whom have lost their all and will have to virtually rebuild their lives.
Relief measures in cyclone shelters are far from adequate or satisfactory. Even after 7 days of the huge devastation in Ganjam, people are yet to receive any relief or rehabilitation in spite of the state and central governments declaring compensation of Rs 4 lakh and 2 lakh respectively to the families of the dead.
The Central government is trying to compete with the state government to claim credit for disaster management, but is yet to make any specific commitment to expedite and improve relief and rehabilitation efforts.
The CPI(ML) is trying to organize relief work in some of the worst affected villages. Party workers braved the violence of ruling party goons in Pipli block where they organized a gherao demanding proper relief work with full transparency and without any discrimination. In the Chilka area, many fishermen have lost their boats and nets, but so far no government officials have even undertaken an assessment of their losses. The CPI(ML) and mass organizations like AIKM, AIALA and AICCTU are fighting for provision of adequate compensation and effective rehabilitation measures for the disaster-hit population.
CPI-ML activists conducted State-wide protests against the arrest of Jagat Martoliya and 40 comrades who have continuously been fighting for the cause of those affected in Dharchula-Manusyari by the Uttarakhand disaster in June. Protesting against the arrest, Uttarakhand Chief Minister's effigy was burnt at the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk, Car Road, in Bindukhatta.
It is noteworthy that the CM was to arrive at Dharchula on 22nd October when the flood victims, under the leadership of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha, were to discuss with him the question of rehabilitation on the basis of "land for land" and "house for house". However, the people who wished to put their points forward in a democratic way were arrested before they could do so, on the 21st itself. 40 comrades were released late on the night of the 21st, but Jagat Martoliya still remains under police lock and key at the time of going to press.
In the meeting conducted prior to the effigy burning, CPI-ML State committee member Bahadur Singh Jangi condemned the arrest of those fighting for the rights and rehabilitation of the victims. He demanded that Jagat Martoliya be immediately released, the victims' demands accepted and action be taken against the police and administrative officials responsible for oppression of those voicing their views in a democratic manner. CPI(ML)'s Nainital District secretary Kailash Pandey said that the Congress government is resorting to oppressive tactics in order to hide its failure to provide relief and rehabilitation. Voluntary financial assistance has been pouring in from national and international sources and from the people in general but the State government has failed miserably to put these funds to proper use. Winter has set in but the disaster management officials have no answer to the question of providing security to the thousands of victims. To make matters worse, those who are proposing an effective rehabilitation plan are being arrested and put behind bars. He further said that the CPI(ML) would organize State-wide protests against such anti-people policies.
Activists in large numbers including Anand Singh Sijwali, Pushkar Dubadiya, Kamlapati Joshi, Daulat Singh Karki, Man Singh Pal, Lalit Matiyali, Rajendra Shah, Kamal Joshi, Harish Chandra Singh Bhandari, Ajay Pal were present at the effigy burning which took place amidst slogans of "Release Jagat Singh Martoliya", "Fulfil the Victims' demands" , "State Government Shame Shame" and "Punish the Guilty officials".
Wooden Log Workers Union formed
Hundreds of workers are deployed in the depot of Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation for loading, unloading and grading of wooden logs and are paid on piece-rate basis. These workers are not even paid at the rates officially fixed by Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation. The approved rates are manipulated in an arbitrary way by the officials of the corporation in connivance with the contractors while signature of the workers on payment sheet are acquired under pressure. Workers are also denied EPF benefits and there is no proper safety arrangement for workers employed in this dangerous industry where many have lost their limbs nor is there any provision for accidental insurance. These workers don't even have an identity card despite working for several years and the facility of ration, provisions and firewood which was earlier available has also been withdrawn.
AICCTU has decided to form Wooden Workers Trade Union with the objective to intensify their struggle. After the registration of Union a public meeting was organized on October 20, 2013 in which the following agenda was approved on which struggle would be taken forward-
1. The workers to be paid at the official rates for loading, unloading and grading of wooden logs by stopping the prevailing arbitrary payment method. The official rates should be displayed in all corporation depots.
2. EPF facility to be provided to workers.
3. Pension facility to be provided to workers.
4. Proper safety arrangement to be ensured along with provision for accidental insurance. The Corporation to take complete responsibility for immediately providing all medical aid in case of accident.
5. Identity Card to be immediately issued to all workers.
6. The facility of ration, provisions and firewood which was provided in past to be renewed.
7. While taking signature/thumb impression of workers for payments the official rates should be clearly mentioned.
8. The contract system of hiring workers should be abolished and Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation should provide regular employment at fixed pay to all workers.
9. Wooden Log workers should be given permanent employment.
Addressing the public meeting the State General Secretary K.K. Bora said that the government is continuously making policies against the workers and they should unite to fight against such policies. Wooden workers are being denied minimum facilities and they should organize themselves to struggle for their rights. The public meeting was also addressed by Union President Mubarak Shah, Vice President Ranjit Singh, Secretary Kailash Pandey, Cashier Gaidal Singh, Organizational Secretary Meku Lal, Joint Secretary Udaiveer Singh, Propaganda Secretary Narendra Kumar and Executive Council members Nazakat Ali, Mahendra Singh and Babulal.
Com. Madhav Nath
Red Salute to Com. Madhav Nath who passed away in Bindukhatta, Nainital, after a long illness. From the 1960's, Com. Madhav Nath had played an important role in movements like the Prague Farm Movement demanding land for the landless and the movement demanding "Not Addiction but Employment". He was active in the land-for-landless movement of the 80's, joined the CPI-ML during this time, and went to jail many times for taking forward the people's struggle. The Party held a condolence meeting on 19 October to pay tribute to Com. Madhav Nath.