Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ML Update 51 / 2013


A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  16               No. 51                                                                                                                       10 - 16 DEC 2013

Message from the Latest Assembly Polls and
the Big Battle of 2014

Results from the last round of Assembly elections before the big battle of 2014 have been stunning to put it in just one word. The trends revealed in the polls were discernible to political observers for quite some time, most exit polls had also given a fair indication, but it is the intensity of the final outcome which is really telling. In Rajasthan and Delhi, Congress seat share has been reduced to ten percent or even less. The Congress had gone to these polls with three states in its kitty, the BJP having the other two. Among the five, the Congress is now left with only Mizoram; the BJP has added one more state to make it three, while Delhi has been left with a tantalisingly hung Assembly where coalition engineers are finding it hard to produce a post-poll arrangement with the magic number of 36.

Outside of Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, the Congress has been virtually decimated in these polls. If this sounds like a vindication of Modi's aggressive call for a 'Congress-mukt Bharat' (Congress-free India), it has not exactly translated into an unchallenged domination of the BJP. Even in Madhya Pradesh where the party got a 2/3 majority, several ministers were roundly defeated. In Chhattisgarh it was a close battle till the end. And in Delhi, the BJP just marginally managed to stay ahead of debutant AAP and fell five short of the majority mark. The BJP may well attribute its victories to Narendra Modi, but the jury is still out on how much of an electrifying effect Modi really had in the polls. Of the six seats for which Modi held rallies in Delhi, only two elected BJP candidates. 

AAP has indeed been the biggest story of these elections. For a party that is not propelled by any of those conventional factors like caste, community, nationality or regional identity to make such a powerful impact in its first electoral appearance and rewrite the political landscape in the national capital is indeed a remarkable feat. While there is a lot to be studied within the AAP success-story, the spectacular emergence of AAP perhaps also tells us a larger story about the churning going on in India today. What we see here is a political reflection of India's changing urban demography and the popular quest for an answer to the growing systemic rot. AAP's idea of change however seems to prioritise legal change, some sort of 'governance modernisation' if you will, over basic socio-economic transformation and we will have to see how AAP evolves in terms of economic policies and key questions of democracy and social, environmental and gender justice.

It is interesting that while AAP began by tapping into the popular anger against corruption and the Congress, it attracted not just anti-Congress votes but perhaps primarily erstwhile or traditional pro-Congress votes. As AAP walked away with a highly impressive 29.3% vote, the Congress saw its vote-share drop by 17% while the BJP too lost 5%. From the results it is clear that many sections of traditional or core Congress voters – whether in the resettlement colonies or in Muslim-dominated neighbourhoods or among government employees – have voted for AAP triggering a collapse of the Congress and placing AAP objectively in contention with the BJP. It will be interesting to see how AAP handles this new phase of contention. While AAP has declared its preference to sit in opposition, a senior AAP leader has reportedly mooted the idea of conditional support to BJP. An internal AAP survey had apparently indicated that 31% AAP supporters would like to see Modi as PM.

The polls have been widely described by the media as semi-final before the big 2014 final. Well, there are always two semi-finals before a final. Beyond the states where the polity is marked predominantly by Congress-BJP bipolarity, there are vast areas of multipolarity including areas where the BJP has little presence and the Congress presence has also got marginalised over the years. The big message from these elections is that even one of those conventional bipolar bastions has also turned tripolar leading to a hung Assembly in Delhi. By all indications the battle for 2014 will be an intensely fought multipolar battle in many parts of the country and the key issues of corruption and corporate plunder, communalism and democracy, and the rights and resources of the people will loom large. We must turn it into a battle of the people, for the people, by the people against the dangerous corporate-communal nexus.

Nelson Mandela Will Always Remain an Inspiration for the Struggle for Justice and Liberation  

Nelson Mandela breathed his last on 5 December. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of determined struggle against discrimination and oppression, for liberty and justice.

The plunder and enslavement of Africa, in a sense, laid the foundations of the modern capitalist world as we know it today. When Nelson Mandela waged his struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it is important to remember that the apartheid regime enjoyed the support of the very countries that wage war and occupation in the name of 'democracy' and 'liberation.' 

Mandela will be remembered then, primarily as an icon of the protracted struggle for justice, equality and liberation, of the undying spirit of resistance. People the world over, waging battles for liberation against centuries of oppression and injustice, will always draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela. Mandela passed away on December 5 – a day before the Mahaparinibban Diwas of Babasaheb BR Ambedkar, another icon of struggle against entrenched oppression and injustice.

The struggle waged by Mandela and Ambedkar is far from over, racism, apartheid and social oppression, hand in hand with neoliberal globalisation, continue to hold people in chains. Inspired by their legacy, fighters for liberation will continue to wage struggles with determination and courage till racism and social oppression are fully eliminated.

Dipankar Bhattacharya,

General Secretary, CPI(ML)  


(We reproduce an excerpt from a speech by Nelson Mandela, which reminds us of Mandela's roots in and concern for the communist movement. Few of the media eulogies for Mandela focus on this aspect of the South African liberation struggle led by him. Also, his thoughts on the working class movement's role in keeping the ANC from betraying the true cause of liberation, is a useful reminder at all times. Looking back on the Marikana massacre of mineworkers in South Africa not long before Mandela's death, and the COSATU's widely critiqued response to it, this speech is especially thought-provoking.)        

"ANC President, Nelson Mandela delivered an opening address to the September COSATU Special Congress.  Having completed his prepared speech, comrade Mandela put aside his notes and spoke directly and spontaneously to the 1 700 worker delegates.  He asked a question that was uppermost in the minds of many." -- The African Communist (1993)

COMRADES, I would like to make one more remark.

I fully believe the ANC will never betray the cause of democracy, the cause of the workers.  We have a track record in which we have worked closely with workers' movements.  But your defence is not just the ANC, it is you, the workers yourselves.  It is you who must take the defence of your rights, your aspirations in your own hands.

How many times has the liberation movement worked together with workers, and at the moment of victory betrayed the workers?  There are many examples of that in the world. . . (prolonged applause)

It is only if the workers strengthen their organisation before and after liberation . . . (applause) . . . if you relax your vigilance, you will find that your sacrifices have been in vain.

You must support the African National Congress only so far as it delivers the goods, if the ANC government does not deliver the goods, you must do to it what you have done to the apartheid regime (prolonged applause, and shouts of "Buwa! Buwa!").

The South African Communist Party, as well, must not be complacent.  I do not think we will ever betray the South African Communist Party.  It has been our ally for more than 70 years, we have fought and suffered together, our comrades have died together.  Many of them remained in the battlefield and never returned.  I don't think with such a tradition, with such a background, it is possible for the ANC ever to betray the South African Communist Party. .. (applause)

But, it will be foolhardy for the South African Communist Party to become complacent and to rely exclusively on the bon

fides of the ANC.

Who ever knew that the Soviet Union would disappear?  Who ever knew that the eastern democracies would disappear from the scene, and become something totally different from a socialist society?  That is an experience which requires the SACP and its leadership not to be complacent.

It is only if all the partners of the tripartite alliance take the defence of democracy in their own hands and co-operate with the broad democratic movement in that capacity.

This alliance is here to stay . . . (applause).  It is this alliance, and not De Klerk, it is this alliance that is going to liberate you, and that is why we must prepare very, very efficiently, very effectively for the 27th of April, and make it in theory and in practice the day of liberation.

Thank you.
Nelson Mandela 

CPI(ML) Liberation Activists Arrested As 'Maoists' In South Odisha

On 12th December, a massive meeting against mining loot in South Odisha is planned in Rayagada, Odisha, to be addressed by the party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. In preparation for this meeting, our activists have been distributing 10000 leaflets in these areas. The BSF detained 6 comrades, arresting them when they failed to stop distributing the leaflet in spite of threats by the BSF. On

December the party protested in front of Odisha assembly, demanding immediate release of our comrades. The actions of the BSF and police are an attack on freedom to propagate political ideas freely. Arresting those engaged in a democratic activity as 'Maoists' smacks of Operation Greenhunt, under the aegis of the Naveen Patnaik Government. 

Countrywide Protests Held on 21st 'Shame Day' Marking Babri Masjid Demolition 

6th December, the day of the Babri Masjid Demolition, was observed by the party as anti-communal day all over the country. 

The AISA, RYA, AIPWA, AICCTU and other organisations held a demonstration at Jantar Mantar on 6th December on 'Shame Day' marking 21 years of the Babri Masjid demolition. They raised slogans demanding passing of the communal violence bill without dilution, and demanded punishment of all communal rioters.

The demonstration was addressed by Kavita Krishnan of AIPWA, JNUSU President Akbar Chawdhury, AISA leader Sunny Kumar, CPI(ML) leaders Prabhat Kumar and Girija Pathak, and activists of AICCTU and CPI (ML). Afterwards, they joined 40 other organisations in a joint dharna against communal violence.

The demonstrators said that 6 December 1992 stands out in India's history as a wound, a tear on the fabric of secularism and democracy. Saying that Modi's campaign represented communal corporate fascism, they said that Modi's communal plank isn't a thing of the past – it's very much his recipe for power in the present and near future.

They said Modi's opposition to the communal violence bill is also predictable. A bill that seeks to penalise police officers on the principle of command responsibility, in case they are derelict in their duty to prevent and curb communal violence, is one that he will, of course, oppose tooth and nail. The politics of the Congress too needs to be questioned – why wait till the volatile and communally sensitive pre-election atmosphere to introduce the Bill?

Speakers also lambasted the conduct of the so-called 'secular' parties that capitulate before communalists. In the case of Muzaffarnagar, the Samajwadi Party's Government wasn't merely inefficient in prevention. It is hand in glove with the communal fascists. BJP's felicitation of the BJP MLAs accused of leading the communal violence, coincided with the Akhilesh Government's order forcibly evicting the riot-hit from the relief camps, and pressurising them to accept a Rs 5 lakh payment in exchange for giving up their right to return to the villages from where they were evicted! When it comes to a positive atmosphere of ensuring equality, dignity and security of minorities, the Congress' record is a dismal one (as it that of the other non-BJP ruling class parties). The failure to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, the complete betrayal of the efforts to secure justice against perpetrators of communal violence (ignoring the Sri Krishna Commission or the Liberhans Commission) are just a few of the Congress' opportunist compromises with communal forces.

Another enabling factor for communal fascists – witnessed at Muzaffarnagar – is the state policy that allows every Muslim to be branded as a potential 'jehadi'. Combined with the patriarchal khap logic against women marrying outside the caste/community, this allows the Sangh to brand Muslims as 'love jehadis.'

So, anti-communal sermons aren't enough to counter communal fascism. A robust campaign and action on the ground is called for – to prevent communal violence, protect the rights of minorities not only from communal mobs but communalised police, to ensure justice in all instances of communal violence, and to ensure a level playing field for minorities.

In Jharkhand, 6th December , CPI (ML) organized a march against communalism with the slogan of Loktantra Bachao (Save Democracy). Several senior intellectuals, journalists, and social activists participated in the march.

Slogans such as "Jharkhand shall not become a Gujarat", "Strengthen democracy against feudalism and communalism", "Long live Ganga-Jamuni culture", "Stop targeting the innocent in the name of terrorism", and "Long live the unity of people's secularism" rent the air as the march proceeded on its way from the CPI (ML) head office, via the main road to Albert Ekka Chowk, led by CPI (ML) State secretary Janardan Prasad, human rights activist Fr. Stan Swamy, film maker Meghnath, Jharkhand activist and veteran CPI(ML) leader Bahadur Oraon, Central Committee member Anant Prasad Gupta, District Secretary Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch State Joint Secretary Soni Tiriya, AIPWA State President Guni Oraon, Shanti Sen, Singi Xalxo, social activist Aloka, RYA leader Bhishma Mahto, AISA leaders  Jagmohan Mahto, Sudama Xalxo, Sukhdev Munda, and other senior leaders.

ML leaders addressing the protest meeting at Albert Ekka Chowk said that the corporate world is building an atmosphere of feudalistic communal passions anew in the country and is conspiring to destroy democracy in order to establish its own system of "lootocracy", and this can be stopped only by the concerted efforts of democratic forces. Fr. San Swami stressed that we ourselves have to build and install our democracy. The meeting was conducted by secretary Anil Anshuman.

Senior journalist Shrinivas, Shri Shekhar from 'Samwad', Nadeem Khan from the Jharkhand Anti-terrorism Committee, Santosh Munda of CPI (ML), senior leader Drona Rai, AICCTU leader Sukhdev Prasad Kaamgar Union leaders George Tirkey, Munna Oraon, Bhim Sao, Elizabba Ekka, Indu Devi and others participated in the meeting.

The participants pledged that the ploy of creating a communal divide for the sake of political gains would not be allowed to succeed in Jharkhand, and the conspiracy to convert Jharkhand into a second Gujarat would be foiled. The CPI (ML) people's campaign for "Save Jharkhand, Save Democracy" would be accelerated during the period from 15 November to 16 January. The meeting expressed deep condolences at the demise of world leader Nelson Mandela.

Protest marches and meetings were held in various districts as well as in the State capital. Party MLA from Bagodar Vinod Singh, labour leaders Devdeep Singh Diwakar and J.N. Singh and others led the anti-communal march and meeting of around 300 people at Simandih.  Marches and meetings of 200 people at each Block headquarters in Giridih district were addressed by Politbureau member Manoj Bhakt, Rajkumar Yadav, Parmeshwar Mahto, Puran Mahto and others. A 200-strong protest march at Ramgarh culminating in a public meeting at Subhash Chowk was led by Bhuneshwar Bediya. The dharna at Dhanbad was led by CPI(ML) secretary Nagendra Singh and addressed by senior leaders. Protest marches and meetings were led in Garhwa district by Mohan Dutta, Sushma Mehta, Akhtar and Palamu district secretary RN Singh, in Panki by Kavita Singh, in Patan by Ravindra Ram, and in Harihar Ganj by Ramraj Paswan.

CPI(ML) and AIKM held a dharna in Asandh (Haryana) which was addressed by Party's Haryana in-charge PS Gahlawat. He cautioned against the danger of communalisation by khap panchayats and appealed to unite against communal forces and increased dalit atrocities in Haryana. Om Prakash Arya, Balkar, Krishna Saini, Ishwar Pal, Johny Kashyap, Satyawan, Dinesh, Lalit Saini, Ramkumar, Indra Singh, Karmvir Kashyap and many others from Asandh and adjoining districts took part in dharna.

People's Convention at Bareilly

The Kisan Sangharsh Samiti against forced land acquisition and the CPI(ML) organized a People's Convention on November 28 at Seth Damodar Swarup Park Chowki, Bareilly to discuss the issues of the injustices perpetrated upon the farmers of Bareilly by the SP government for land grab, and the communal politics engendered in the State through Muzaffarnagar.

Addressing the convention, chief speaker CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya saluted the courage and commitment of the farmers' movement in Bareilly. The old ploy of breaking people's movements through lathis and bullets does not work any longer, as we have seen in the case of the Singur farmers' movement in West Bengal. The general perception is that the intellectual middle class does not support such movements, but in Bareilly people like Dr. Mohd. Israr Khan, Prof. in Economics at Ruhelkhand University are not only supporting the movement but leading it. The manner in which the SP government arrested Prof. Khan from the university campus for supporting the farmers' cause, and sent him to jail slapping false charges against him, and had him beaten in the thana, brings out the ugly truth of this government. Com. Dipankar said that this has only brought other fighting social forces to the support of the farmers' movement and made it stronger and more widespread. He pointed out that former BJP MP Santosh Gangwar was being given a compensation of Rs. 61 lakhs while other farmers were given Rs. 25 lakhs and asked on what basis these rates had been fixed. He stressed that this movement is a fight for the rights of the people. 

Com. Dipankar said that as a BJP-RSS leader Modi was not much talked about but with the backing of the corporate like Tata and Birla, he has become a much touted figure. The trick of the BJP to use Muzaffarnagar as a laboratory for communalism to facilitate Modi's PM bid must be foiled by the united farmers' movement.

Erstwhile colleague of late BKU leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, Ghulam Mohammed Aula said that those who were dissatisfied with the BJP-ization of the Bharatiya Kisan Union have broken off to form the Kisan Mazdoor Sangh. He further said that the communal politics of Muzaffarnagar,which has caused much harm to the farmers' cause must be strongly opposed and overcome. 

Co-ordinator of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and Professor in Economics at Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Ruhelkhand University, Prof. Israr Khan said that over 3 lakhs bigha of land in Bareilly is being grabbed in Bareilly under the pretext of various projects.  The State government is acting as the agent of big companies and builders. For many years the people were under an illusion about the government and the system but the past two years have made it obvious that the government and the system are anti-farmer and anti-worker, and are acting only in the interest of the capitalists. He pointed out that for some time after independence people were living in camps around Delhi, but 66 years after independence, lakhs of riot-affected people have been living for months in camps around Muzaffarnagar, for which the BJP, the SP and the Congress in Delhi must be held accountable.

The people's convention was addressed by All India Kisan Mahasabha National Vice President Prem Singh Gehlawat, CPI (ML) CCW member Com. Krishna Adhikari, AIKM State Secretary Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha, United Muslim Morcha State President Iqbal Ansari Advocate, Satish from Inqalabi Mazdoor Kendra, and others. The Convention was presided over by CPI (ML) State in-charge Com. Ali Kumar Rishi and conducted by Party State Standing Committee member Afroz Alam.

A resolution was passed in the Convention to demand a stop to forcible acquisition of farmers' land in Bareilly, taking back of all cases against Prof. Israr and other farmers, and fair compensation for the lands grabbed in the name of the 'Big By-pass' project. The Convention condemned the State government's bowing down to the sugar cane farmers and not making the payment due to the sugar cane farmers.

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