Friday, May 30, 2014

ML Update | No. 22 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17                                 No. 22                                27 MAY - 2 JUNE 2014

Modi Government:

Initial Symptoms and Signals

As Narendra Modi takes over as Prime Minister, and a BJP Government takes the reins of power, what are the signals his Government is sending out?

Even as Modi calls himself the 'Mazdoor No.1', the most powerful 'maaliks' – corporate biggies Ambani, Adani and Hinduja – were prominent at his swearing-in ceremony.      

The invitation to foreign guests was essentially more of an exercise to secure international projection for Modi than a concrete foreign policy initiative. The choice of invitees was also subject to controversy and questions. The invitation to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse, notorious for war crimes and an ongoing policy of majoritarianism and ethnic cleansing of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, has led to anger and protests, especially by the people of Tamil Nadu. Apart from SAARC countries, Mauritius, an invitee to SAARC, was a guest at the swearing-in – begging the question why other SAARC invitees who are also India's immediate neighbours, like Myanmar and China, were not invited?         

Modi's 'minimum government' mantra seems to mean concentration of key Ministries and decision-making in the PM and a coterie of Ministers – effectively a super-PMO and super-Cabinet. The clubbing of Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries indicates that economic policy priorities of the Government will be led by corporate interests.  

  Modi's decision to give a Ministerial berth to Muzaffarnagar riot-accused Sanjeev Baliyan is a deliberate step, intended to display majoritarian arrogance and impunity for the riot-accused. We can recall that Modi had likewise patronised Maya Kodnani in his Gujarat Government, until a Court convicted her for her role in the 2002 communal violence.   

The choice of retired Army General VK Singh for Minister of State (Independent charge) for North East Affairs is also significant. The Modi Government is indicating quite brazenly that it will view the North East from a military prism, mocking the demands for scrapping the discriminatory and draconian AFSPA. 

The statements of various newly appointed Ministers are cause for concern. Najma Heptullah, Minister for Minority Affairs, has declared that Muslims are too large in number to qualify as a genuine minority, and that Parsis – a genuine 'miniscule minority' in her view - will instead be a priority for the Government. The fact is that Muslim and Christian minorities in India are the ones at the receiving end of the maximum violence and discrimination, while Muslims are the minority community that is economically and socially most deprived and stigmatised. To pit the Parsi minority against other minorities, and to declare that Muslim minorities are not really deserving of the Government's protection, is another early display of brutal majoritarianism by the Modi Government.        

Jitendra Singh, MoS in the Prime Minister's Office, has declared that the Modi Government is 'already' taking steps to abrogate Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. How can the PMO claim to move independently to meddle with a key Constitutional provision like Article 370, without any discussion in Parliament?

Given that Modi's USP is his personal leadership over every aspect of his Government, these statements by Heptullah and Singh cannot be seen as mere 'loose canon' remarks, but as indications of the RSS footprint on the Modi Government's policy orientation. With daily RSS-BJP parleys over Cabinet formation and policy-making, the RSS control over this Government is blatant, with no pretence of being covert.  

The Modi Government, right from day one, has displayed its readiness to twist and distort the law to suit its whims. The appointment of a former TRAI Chief to the post of PS to the PM was in violation of the TRAI Act that forbade post-retirement Government jobs for TRAI Chiefs. When this came to light, the Government promptly promulgated an ordinance to do away with this safeguard on conflict of interest, and 'legalised' the illegal appointment post facto!   

There are other worrying signals that the new Government will wield power to ensure impunity for its political partners and its own leaders. RSS leader Indresh Kumar, accused in terror blast cases, campaigned for Modi in Banaras – and has now demanded payback, saying that the Modi Government must 'review' terror cases in which RSS elements are implicated. Why should the politics of the accused be the basis on which terror cases will be reviewed? The induction of Baliyan likewise indicates that the Central Government is likely to back the demand for release of key Muzaffarnagar riot-accused. And the first statement by the new Minister of State (Home) has been that the Government will 'review' the Snoopgate probe – in which Amit Shah and Modi are both seriously implicated in the illegal surveillance of a young woman and several other citizens.   

Emboldened by the Modi victory, lumpen saffron brigades have indulged in violence in several places: these include communal violence and minority-baiting by a BJP victory procession in Karnataka, communal violence in Ahmedabad on the eve of Modi's swearing-in, and the attack by ABVP on a seminar held at the AN Sinha Institute in Patna. Other disturbing signals include the arrest of some individuals for anti-Modi remarks on social media, the crackdown on several protests in the capital city in the name of Section 144.    

Another disturbing symptom is the unwillingness of much of the mainstream media to live up to its professional responsibility. The Supreme Court verdict holding the Gujarat police and then Home Minister Modi responsible for framing innocents in the Akshardham blasts case was buried by most of the media. Likewise the media's discussion of the Cabinet formation and new Government innings largely avoids questioning the appointment of a riot-accused as a Minister, or the issuing of an ordinance to legalise an illegal appointment to the PMO, or the propriety of the Government insulating its leaders from being investigated in the Snoopgate matter.         

The Modi Government is just beginning its innings. It must be held accountable to its promises to end price rise, corruption and unemployment, as well as farmers' distress and the rights of students and youth. The PM who calls himself Mazdoor No.1 must make his stand clear on labour laws and the rights of workers. And the Government must be held accountable to the strictest Constitutional obligations – including the rights and liberties of all citizens including dissenting voices, minorities, women and the oppressed castes. With the diminished Opposition inside Parliament, and the self-censorship embraced by much of the media, the role of the people's opposition on the streets will be crucial.              


The Other Verdict of 16 May 2014

In an ironic coincidence on 16 May 2014, alongside the electoral verdict, the Supreme Court too delivered its verdict on Akshardham Temple Terror Attack case (of Gujarat, September 2002), acquitting all the six accused including three who were sentenced to death by a lower court, and slamming the Gujarat Police for framing innocents. 

Acquitting all the six convicts, the judgment said: "We intend to express our anguish about the incompetence with which the investigating agencies conducted the investigation of the case of such a grievous nature, involving the integrity and security of the nation."

"Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them which resulted in their conviction and subsequent sentencing,"

The Supreme Court in its judgement categorically slammed the then Gujarat home minister – today, Prime Minister of India - for "non-application of mind" and failure to verify the criteria for granting sanction to prosecute the 6 under POTA. 

The Verdict

The verdict says, "We intend to take note of the perversity in conducting this case at various stages, right from the investigation level to the granting of sanction by the state government to prosecute the accused persons under POTA, the conviction and awarding of sentence to the accused persons by the Special Court (POTA) and confirmation of the same by the High Court. We, being the apex court cannot afford to sit with folded hands when such gross violation of fundamental rights and basic human rights of the citizens of this country were presented before us."

The verdict notes that for a year after the Akshardham attack, "the ATS was shooting in the dark for about a year without any result. No trace of the people associated with this heinous attack on the Akshardham temple could be found by the police." The verdict notes that "Then on the morning of 28.03.2003, the case is transferred to Crime Branch, Ahmedabad. This was followed by D.G. Vanzara giving instructions to the then-ACP G.S. Singhal (PW-126) about one Ashfaq Bhavnagri (PW-50). PW-126 was thereafter made in charge of the case on the same evening at 6:30 p.m. and the statement of PW-50 was recorded at 8 p.m., i.e within one and a half hours." On 29.08.2003, 5 of the accused were arrested, and the next day, POTA was invoked.

The apex court commented on how these dates give rise to suspicions of framing: "This shrouds our minds with suspicion as to why such a vital witness- D.G. Vanzara, who discovered the link to the accused persons, was not examined by the Special Court (POTA). The courts below accepted the facts and evidence produced by the police without being suspicious about the extreme coincidences with which the chain of events unfolded itself immediately that is, within 24 hours of the case being transferred to the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad. ...We are reminded of the legendary lines of Justice Vivian Bose in the case of Kashmira Singh's case (supra) wherein he cautioned that: 'The murder was a particularly cruel and revolting one and for that reason it will be necessary to examine the evidence with more than ordinary care lest the shocking nature of the crime induce an instinctive reaction against the dispassionate judicial scrutiny of the facts and law.' The courts below have not examined the evidence with 'more than ordinary care'."

The court concluded that the confessional statements of the accused were invalid in law, and that there was no evidence of their having participated in any conspiracy. Categorically holding them to be innocent, the court ordered their release without a stain on their character.  

The Innocents

One of those wrongly convicted, Mohammed Saleem, said after his release that the Gujarat Police had given him the "choice" of being implicated in the Godhra train burning, Haren Pandya murder and Akshardham terror! He was sentenced to life under POTA for involvement in the Akshardham case, before being freed by the Supreme Court. Another, Qayyum, was quoted by a newspaper as saying, "The police tortured and forced me to write the letters. They claimed the letters were found from the pockets of the fidayeen killed during the attack. But the Supreme Court noticed that the letters were clean, not torn, or soiled/stained with blood or soil — which was highly unnatural and improbable as the terrorists' bodies were covered with blood and mud, and their clothes had multiple tears and holes due to the bullets." All six were proved innocent after 11 years. Two of those who have been exonerated in the Akshardham case today, have already served the term of their sentence. They have already been punished for a crime of which they are totally innocent.

Who Will Compensate for the Lost Years, Ruined Lives?

Let us not forget, post-Godhra and post-Gujarat pogrom of 2002, a grand narrative unfolded in Gujarat and went on unabated till 2006: there was Akshardham temple terror attack (24 September 2002, 25 dead, 77 injured) and a series of "encounters" of the alleged "Islamist terrorists" out to kill Modi and his men.  These encounters include that of Samir Khan Pathan (2002), Sadiq Jamal (2003), Ishrat Jahan (2004), Sohrabuddin Sheikh (2005), and Tulsiram Prajapati case (2006). All the incidents had more than one similarity: a common narrative of 'terrorists targeting Modi', all under the same set of police officers and political leaders, all involving the killing of 'conspirators' who allegedly belonged to terrorist outfits like LeT or Jaish, and all, now, carrying the taint of fake encounters. Politically, each episode went to build up Modi's image as a 'Hindu nationalist' hero being targeted by so-called 'Muslim terrorists'. 

Many of the top cops involved in these acts are behind bars today. One common actor among them, DIG D. G. Vanzara, languishing in Sabarmati Central jail since 2007, in an explosive letter in September 2013, explicitly charged: "Gujarat CID/Union CBI had arrested me and my officers in different encounter cases, holding us responsible for carrying out alleged fake encounters. If that is true, then the CBI investigation officers of all the four encounter cases of Sohrabuddin, Tulsiram, Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan have to arrest the policy formulators also as we, being field officers, have simply implemented the conscious policy of this government, which was inspiring, guiding and monitoring our actions from very close quarters… I'm of the firm opinion that the place of this government, instead of being in Gandhinangar, should either be at Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai or at Sabarmati Central Prison in Ahmedabad."

In January 2012, a Supreme Court Bench, acting on petitions filed before it since 2007, appointed a Monitoring Authority to probe 22 cases of fake encounter deaths in Gujarat from 2003 to 2006. And a week before the 2014 verdict, another Supreme Court verdict rebuffed the Gujarat Government's plea seeking uniform guidelines for dealing with cases of encounter killings. The highest Court dismissed the pleas saying that there cannot be such an advisory in a federal structure. 

Would the Prime Minister today, who touts his 'Gujarat model' on every occasion, take responsibility for this terrible miscarriage of justice on his watch as Chief Minister? Will he apologise for the framing, torture, forced confessions of innocents, and failure to prosecute the real culprits? Will he offer any compensation and public apology to the innocents? Will he take steps to ensure that FIRs are filed against the cops implicated in framing the innocents in the Akshardham case, and punishment ensured?

The habit of framing innocents, however, is not exclusive to the Gujarat police. Police all over the country routinely use torture as a substitute for investigation. And in terror cases, the media and public opinion also tends to give police a licence to torture and frame innocents, with communal prejudice and the enormity of the crime serving to silence or stigmatise any questioning voices. It is high time that the terror laws like UAPA and NIA Act that legalise the violation of rights and create space for torture, are scrapped.     

Why are protest spaces being closed off even the new Government prepares to assume office?

Why is the Delhi police using Section 144 to arrest protesters or prevent protests in public spaces? JNU students planned to protest at Gujarat Bhawan to demand justice for the Akshardham innocents, but cops hijacked their bus and took it to Jantar Mantar!

The protest was inspired by the Supreme Court acquittal of the 6 Akshardham convicts; the SC held that they were all innocents who had been framed by the Gujarat police, and held that the then Gujarat Home Minister, Narendra Modi, had 'not applied his mind' when he gave sanction for prosecution under POTA. Actually the 'non-application of mind' by Modi in Gujarat's terror cases, is pretty deliberate - just like Manmohan Singh's looking the other way in scam cases.

Students wanted those cops who framed innocents punished, apology and compensation for innocents, also scrapping of draconian laws. But Delhi Police did not allow protesters to reach Gujarat Bhawan - it detained students, entered the bus and made the driver go to Jantar Mantar instead!

Why is Section 144 being deployed like a weapon in Delhi to prevent protests at places where protests have been held routinely for years? Since when is it illegal to hold protests at State Bhawans in the capital?  

Students held the protest at Jantar Mantar; the demonstration was addressed by JNUSU President Akbar Chawdhury, and leaders of AISA, DSF, DSU, AISF, SFI, Untouchable India, Jamia Solidarity Forum, and DU Queer Collective.

After the protest at Jantar Mantar, the cops 'escorted' students back to JNU!

The anger of young people when Section 144 was invoked to prevent/suppress anti-rape protests in 2012 December is still fresh in people's memory, also when Section 144 was used against anti corruption protestors by the Congress and UPA.

Courts have taken Delhi Police to task for illegal, repetitive and unjustified use of Section 144. In its judgment in the Ramlila Maidan midnight crackdown incident involving Ramdev's supporters, the Supreme Court had said that Section 144 must be invoked only in emergency situations having grave consequences. In a May 2011 order, the Delhi High Court had criticised the Delhi Police for "passing of repetitive orders" under Section 144 and had disposed of the writ petition after the police submitted in an affidavit that the "repeated use of power under Section 144 CrPC has been discontinued in the New Delhi district". 

The UPA Govt's prolific use of Section 144 to suppress protests was one of the reasons people punished it with defeat. But now, even before the new Govt has taken the reins, the Delhi Police is going on the offensive, arresting AAP activists for 'violating Section 144 at Tihar Gates' and preventing a peaceful dharna at the gates of Gujarat Bhawan by students! The memories of BJP leaders are notoriously short, of course. The same BJP leaders who waxed outrageous at the UPA Govt's use of Section 144 and raised the cry of 'Emergency' when the Congress and UPA did it, now tell us that indiscriminate use of Sec 144 is perfectly fine. 

Delhi and India have a powerful record of defying arbitrary impositions of Section 144, of fighting attempts to shrink the available public spaces for protest, of reclaiming protest spaces - like India Gate - that the Govt decreed to be 'out of bounds'. The new Govt and PM rode the wave of people's anger - especially young people's anger - against the UPA Govt's craven attempts to choke off dissent and protests. But the signals the new regime is sending are unmistakeable threats to dissent and protest. Well, times of street protests for truth and justice, are truly good times, in every country and clime.

Dalits Evicted for Protesting Rape

On the night of March 23, 4 dalit teenage girls aged 13-18 were abducted from their village of Bhagana in Haryana's Hisar district, drugged and raped. They had gone to a field near their homes to urinate, when they were attacked by five men (from the dominant Jat caste), drugged, gang raped in the fields and carried off in a car. They were found outside Bhatinda railway station in Punjab the next morning.

On March 23rd, when the parents of the missing girls approached the village sarpanch Rakesh Kumar Pangal and his uncle Virender for help, the sarpanch sent them home with reassurances. Within five minutes, he called them back, saying that all four girls were with his relative in Bhatinda, and were to be fetched the next day.

The next day their families, brought to Bhatinda by Rakesh and Virender, found the girls. Rakesh and Virender put the four girls in the car and asked the relatives to go back by train due to lack of space. En-route, the girls allege that Rakesh abused them, beat them and tried to threaten them to stay silent or else lose their lives. When they reached Bhagana around nightfall, Rakesh tried to drive them to his place, wanting them to agree to marry the rapists so he could claim the girls ran away from home to get married. The girls were eventually rescued from the car by Dalit youth.

The police delayed filing an FIR. And when one was eventually filed, Rakesh and Virender's names were absent, despite the girls naming them in their testimonies. When the girls and their families refused to back down from their statement, they have been forced to flee Bhagana, and have since camped in Delhi, demanding justice.

Bhagana, like other parts of Haryana, has a history of atrocities against and eviction of Dalits. The Jats, during Rakesh's tenure as Sarpanch, have socially boycotted the Dalits since 2011, grabbed 208 acres of their common land and not let any social welfare schemes be implemented. In 2011, 138 Dalit families left Bhagana, and have since been living at Hisar's Mini Secretariat. About 150 Dhanuk families stayed back. The protest made no dent in the living conditions. Dalit girls are still harassed, molested and chased by Jat boys on their way to school, Dalit boys are beaten up for standing up for them, Dalit labourers are physically exploited and abused. Three of the Bhagan rape survivors had left school after Std. VIII, unable to face daily harassment. In 2010, Dalits had been forced to flee Mirchpur in Haryana. Now, there are only 40 Dalit families left in Bhagana. The protestors camped at Jantar Mantar in Delhi are very clear – they want rehabilitation in some other safe place, since they fear returning to Bhagana.  

They have held sustained protests – at Jantar Mantar, at Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda's residence, at the SC/ST Commission. The television channels, usually avid to cover rape incidents, and which covered every minute of the protests that followed the December 16th gang rape – have, mostly ignored the Bhagana protests.

The JNU Students' Union and various student groups including AISA, along with many Dalit organisations, as well as women's organisations including AIPWA, have been with the Bhagana protestors every step of the way. The JNUSU has initiated a signature campaign to the President of India and a solidarity fund to support the protestors. 

(This report has been prepared with some inputs from a report titled 'Reliving a Nightmare' by Aradhna Wal, The Hindu May 17, 2014)

JK Dhaundiyal

JK Dhaundiyal, a progressive intellectual and close sympathiser of CPI(ML), passed away in a hospital in the national capital region, early in the morning on June 22. He was 66.

Hailing from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, he had come in touch with the party as a student in Allahabad University, where he studied history. When he came to Delhi in the 1970s, he was among the many writers and young journalists influenced by the Naxalbari movement. He retained that strong sense of social and political commitment, even as he became a copyrighter in an advertising agency and a distinguished maker of ad films, especially about preserving our archaeological heritage.

He had been suffering from diabetes and cancer. CPI(ML) expresses condolences to his family. The revolutionary Left, along with progressive writers and cultural activists, will miss JK Dhaundiyal sorely, and remember him with warmth. 


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:, website:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ML Update | 21 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17                          No. 21                                      21 - 26 MAY 2014


Implications of Lok Sabha Polls 2014 Outcome

If there is an element of surprise in the eventual outcome of the 16th Lok Sabha elections, it lies not in the fact that the BJP is going to head the next government but in the kind of majority that the NDA has secured. The BJP securing a clear majority on its own and adding nearly 100 seats to its previous best tally is surely more than what most opinion polls and exit polls predicted.

Only ten years ago we had seen an NDA government get voted out in India. That was when the NDA claimed Indians were 'feeling good' even as tens of thousands of farmers committed suicides across India and the lives of thousands of Muslim families were devastated  in BJP-ruled Gujarat. The Gujarat genocide and the man who presided over it were counted among the principal factors responsible for that 'shock' defeat suffered by a complacent BJP/NDA.

If ten years later the current elections have catapulted the same Narendra Modi who now promises to be the harbinger of 'better days' to the Prime Minister's chair in Delhi, the irony tells us a lot about the immediate situation and the developing context as well as the peculiarities of the Indian electoral system.

Massive corruption, soaring prices, vanishing jobs and irresponsible and unresponsive governance had become the hallmarks of the UPA government, especially in the last few years, and we could see the severity of the people's anger against the Congress/UPA misrule in the results of the Assembly elections held in November and December. It was clear that in large parts of the country the BJP was destined to be the most dominant beneficiary of that anger and consequent desire for change.

The spectacular rise of the AAP in Delhi did provide a glimpse of a popular quest for change beyond the BJP, but the way Kejriwal and his team resigned after just seven weeks took the AAP out of most middle class minds, and once Kejriwal started questioning the Modi-Ambani-Adani nexus, the corporate media's dalliance with the AAP was all but over. Thereafter the Modi marketing mission virtually took over the mainstream political discourse and the results are now here before all of us.

The Modi campaign tapped the depth of the public despair and sold hopes of good times. Questions regarding Modi's past record were brushed aside as an obstinate obsession with the past and Modi was presented as the fast forward call of the future. Mani Shankar Aiyar's arrogant 'tea seller' comment or Priyanka Gandhi's ill-advised 'neech rajneeti' remark were all lapped up and used to the hilt by Modi to highlight his OBC origin.

And of course there was the systematic use of communal venom – whether it was Amit Shah invoking Muzaffarnagar for 'revenge' or demonising Azamgarh as a den of terrorists or Giriraj asking Modi baiters to go to Pakistan or Modi himself asking Bangladeshis to pack up or attributing the issue of poaching of rhinos in Assam to a grand conspiracy of settling Bangladeshi immigrants and benefiting from 'votebank politics'. This has played no small role in the BJP's electoral mobilisation.

The BJP victory has also benefited immensely from the inherent imbalance of the first-past-the-post system. The BJP's current vote share of 31% - phenomenal going by the BJP's past record and considering that it has got votes from across the country including 15% from West Bengal and 10% from Kerala – which has fetched it more than 280 seats is actually 3 percentage points less than the Congress vote share in 1977 when the Congress got routed almost everywhere beyond the southern states! The BSP with 20% vote share has drawn a blank in UP as has the AAP in Delhi with 31% vote. The DMK and its allies in Tamil Nadu also failed to win a single seat despite a vote share of 27% while the Left Front got just 2 seats in West Bengal with 30% vote. It is time to reform the electoral system and introduce aspects of proportional representation as in neighbouring Nepal if not effect a complete shift to a proportional system based on the party vote as in many European countries.

The verdict has challenged and dented several myths and conventional wisdom. The Congress which now stands reduced to less than 50 seats will have to find ways to re-energise, if not reinvent itself, even though the question of finding a non-dynastic cementing factor has perhaps been deferred for a while with both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi retaining their traditional seats. The hypotheses about the supposed inevitability of coalitions and invincibility of identity politics have also proved to be overrated. The Nitish Kumar plank of trying to create an overarching politics of sub-nationalism or 'Bihari identity' has failed miserably. With 4 seats and 2% vote share, AAP's debut parliamentary election has been significant in its own right, but certainly a massive climb-down from its initial claims of 100 seats and no government at the centre without AAP!

The CPI(M) and CPI attempts at winning seats and intervening in national politics through the 'third front' route have also reached a dead end. The conventional script of a Left revival in West Bengal, banking on the Congress-TMC split and the assumption of a rising BJP eating into the TMC vote, has  not come good and the Left Front has clearly lost sizable chunks of vote to both TMC and even the BJP. We in CPI(ML) are also faced with the challenge of raising our level of electoral assertion by expanding our pockets of work and influence and backing them up with greater interaction and vigorous intervention in the wider democratic arena.

Going by the central slogan of the Modi campaign, the coming days are promised to be 'good times'. The corporate houses who have lavishly funded the Modi campaign will surely insist on quick paybacks and a freer run and greater control over the country's natural and financial resources along the lines already seen in Modi's Gujarat. The RSS, the organisation which even the BJP now openly admits has  played a huge role in managing the BJP's election machinery, will also have a wider role in the affairs of the NDA-III government. And finally there is the whole question of how the Modi phenomenon will unfold. 

The personality cult and the authoritarian mode of the Modi brand of governance – the systematic stifling and even physical elimination of every voice of dissent within or outside of the establishment – which Gujarat has been experiencing and which will now be sought to be replicated nationally along with other core features of the 'Gujarat model' will pose a whole new challenge to democracy as we have known it so far in India. There are already some reports of attacks on minorities and opposition parties. In other words, the 'good times' promised in the Modi campaign will turn out to be 'difficult days' and 'challenging times' for the Indian people and India's parliamentary democracy.

The corporate media has already proved its readiness to crawl even before it is asked to bend. During the dark days of Emergency, the state had imposed censorship on the media, what we see now is 'voluntary censorship' choreographed by 'invisible' corporate-controlled strings. It remains to be seen how far the institutional edifice of India's constitutional order can assert its independence in the face of systematic subversion and manipulation. But at the end of the day India has always defied regimentation and stagnation, and the Indian people will surely not allow democracy to be transformed into Modicracy.

CPI(ML)/AILC Performance in the 16th LS elections

In the 16th Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(ML) had fielded 83 candidates across 15 states and 3 Union Territories. With one nomination cancelled in Uttar Pradesh, 82 had remained in the fray. The party has polled a little above 1 million votes, around the same level it had polled in 2009. But given the increase in the size of the electorate and in voting percentage, our vote share dropped marginally, giving us 0.2% of the all-India vote.

Even though we knew we had no chance of polling 'respectable' votes in most of the seats we contested, we nevertheless decided to field candidates in almost all our areas of work, because elections provide a major opportunity to assess our work and measure our political influence apart from campaigning on the burning issues confronting the people and propagating the political viewpoint of revolutionary democracy.

Our goal was to try and secure at least 10,000 votes in all our major areas of work and a minimum of 5,000 votes in other areas/states. As results stand, we have managed to poll more than 10,000 votes in 15 seats and more than 5,000 votes in another 29 seats. In as many as 21 seats we failed to reach even the 3,000 mark.

The statewise break-up of candidates and votes are as follows: Bihar – 23 candidates, 463,045 votes; Jharkhand – 8 candidates, 319,222 votes; Assam – 5 candidates, 42,015 votes; Uttar Pradesh – 10 candidates, 37,712 votes; West Bengal – 5 candidates, 34,843 votes; Odisha – 3 candidates, 25197 votes; Tamil Nadu – 5 candidates, 13,081 votes; Punjab – 3 candidates, 11,605 votes; Uttarakhand – 3 candidates, 11,392 votes; Gujarat -  1 candidate, 9,702 votes; Rajasthan – 3 candidates, 9,512 votes; Tripura – 2 candidates, 8,670 votes; Karnataka – 4 candidates, 7885 votes; Andhra – 2 candidates, 6,626 votes; Chhattisgarh – 2 candidates, 3,925 votes; Union Territories – 3 candidates, 2842 votes.

Among our best performances, we once again finished second in Kodarma in Jharkhand despite a significant increase in our votes from about 150,000 in 2009 to more than 265,000. In Bihar, we once again finished third in Arrah and Siwan polling 98,805 and 81,006 votes respectively. Among other major seats in Bihar we polled 51,623 votes in Pataliputra, 34,365 votes in Jahanabad, 32,686 votes in Karakat and 19,477 votes in Nalanda, with Pataliputra, Nalanda and Siwan witnessing a modest increase in our votes over 2009 while in Arrah we failed to reach the 1 lakh mark for the first time since 1989.

As far as other seats are concerned, we experienced major decline in these elections in Koraput (Odisha), Autonomous District (Assam) and Katihar (Bihar). Seats where we have made a positive beginning or improved on our previous levels include Lohardaga in Jharkhand, Garhwal in Uttarakhand, Supaul and Bhagalpur in Bihar, Koliabor in Assam, Sriperumbudur and Viluppuram in Tamil Nadu, and Chandigarh among Union Territories.

Our allies in All India Left Coordination have also played an active role in these elections. CPM Punjab put up 3 candidates in Punjab and polled nearly 24,000 votes, LNP(L) contested from Kolhapur in Maharashtra and polled 7,067 votes while RMP fielded 7 candidates in Kerala, polling 50,705 votes. CPRM and CPI(ML) jointly supported independent candidate Mahendra Lama from Darjeeling and he polled 55,767 votes.

CPI(ML) Statement on the 2014 Lok Sabha Election Outcome

The outcome of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections shows an overwhelming countrywide rejection of the Congress and UPA and a decisive majority for the BJP and the NDA. The BJP and NDA clearly emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of the widespread mass anger against the UPA misrule and non-performance marked by massive corruption, price-hike and all-round economic crisis.

Ten years ago the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee which claimed India was 'feeling good' was voted out of power. Narendra Modi and the 2002 Gujarat carnage he presided over were clearly a major factor that determined the 2004 outcome. Ironically enough, ten years later India has elected another NDA government headed by the same Narendra Modi promising to usher in 'good times'.

The unprecedented rise of the BJP on a truly national scale clearly marks a concentrated political expression of the continuing rightward shift in policies and politics and growing corporate domination over the spheres of economy and mass communication. While the BJP has secured close to 300 seats on its own, the Left bloc in Parliament has been reduced to just a dozen seats. The AAP which had captured considerable democratic imagination in the wake of its spectacular debut in Delhi Assembly elections has had to remain content with 4 seats that it managed to win quite surprisingly in Punjab.

The corporate sector which invested massively in Modi's campaign obviously expects an even freer run under the new government, and the Sangh Parivar has already claimed a mandate for rapid escalation of its communal agenda. But a majority among the millions of people who have voted for a 'Modi Sarkar' expect a solution to their pressing economic problems and governance that is responsive, transparent and accountable, a hope which can only be disappointed by the new dispensation. In the difficult days to come the CPI(ML) will stand firmly by the people and their hopes and aspirations, and needs and interests. 

The BJP election campaign did have an unmistakable communal aspect to it. The Muzaffarnagar riots were engineered with a clear purpose of creating a communal polarisation and the election speeches of several BJP leaders, Narendra Modi included, injected enough communal vitriol into the political discourse. In the middle of the elections we saw horrific communal violence in Assam and reports of post-poll attacks on minorities are also coming in from different parts of the country. The election outcome does not legitimise past crimes or exonerate the guilty, nor does it give any licence for fresh crimes against humanity. The battle for equal justice and equal rights for all will surely go on unabated.

The CPI(ML) is committed to continuing and intensifying the struggle against the corporate-dictated policies that are the root cause of corruption, price rise, unemployment and deepening economic crisis. The CPI(ML) is also committed to the ongoing struggles against all kinds of injustice and oppression, and to expose and resist any attempts to whip up campaigns against the rights of marginalised and oppressed sections of people. The party appeals to all defenders of democracy to remain vigilant against any possible attempt to vitiate the socio-political climate, subvert democratic institutions and curb people's rights.

The 2014 outcome has highlighted the inherent vagaries of the first-past-the-post system where parties do not win seats despite securing significant votes. A 31% vote share has fetched the BJP a clear majority whereas 4% vote share for BSP has not translated into a single seat. It is high time to reform India's electoral system and introduce aspects of proportional representation for a more realistic reflection of the political choice made by the people.

While the new government unveils its agenda, the forces of people's movements will step up their vigil and democratic intervention and assertion on every available platform and by all possible means.

- Central Committee

Protests Follow Suicide of Woman Worker at Factory Gate

(With inputs from a news story titled 'Activists demand justice for woman who killed self' by Anumeha Yadav in The Hindu, May 15, 2014, and Comrade Abhishek of AISA, JNU) 

Rakhi Sonkar, a single mother of 3 small kids was terminated by managers of Swiss Auto Pvt Ltd on the pretext of being a few minutes late. After trying in vain to persuade the factory authorities to take her back on the job, she consumed rat poison at the factory gate, in full view of fellow workers and the police. Before doing so, she publicly names the supervisor and other factory authorities who pushed her to take this extreme step.

She died in hospital two days later. Her brother recounted that even the doctor at the hospital slapped him – a reminder that workers cannot expect dignity and respect at their workplace, or even when they accompany terminal patients to a hospital!  

"There were three policemen at the factory gate, but they simply watched while she threatened to kill herself and drink the rat poison. She fell over and they acted only after she showed no signs of movement," said a 25-year old worker, who worked in the crimping section with Rakhi.

He and other workers alleged that the factory owners had fired Rakhi for supporting Amarjeet Singh, a 22-year-old former line manager at Swiss Auto in contesting his dismissal at the Deputy Labour Commissioner's office in 2013.

Further, she had filed a complaint against the Wazirpur labour court alleging mistreatment on factory premises, they said.

"Rakhi helped me get my employment reference letter from the factory when I challenged my termination at Deputy Labour Commissioner's office. She came to the DLC office during my hearing. She was under tremendous pressure and faced verbal abuse and she had complained about this at the DLC office three weeks back," said Amarjeet Singh. He recounted that he had started working at the factory when he was 14.

"I worked there for six years and rose to the position of line manager. I objected to our working conditions — permanent employees were being dismissed on flimsy grounds, a five-minute delay in arriving at work meant losing a day's wage, we were not allowed to go to the toilet for more than a few minutes a day, many workers were not being paid provident fund. When labour inspectors visited the factory, owners would not allow us to speak to them," recounted Mr. Singh. Women workers in Wazirpur say that they are not allowed to visit the toilet when needed, even when they are having their monthly period.

Rakhi was persecuted and eventually thrown out of her job because she spoke up for the rights of other workers. Following her suicide, workers at her factory protested spontaneously. Women workers lay down on the main road near the factory gate, blocking traffic, demanding arrest of the factory authorities whom Rakhi had named as responsible for her suicide. When chased by the police, they would get up and occupy another portion of the road. The police brutally lathicharged the workers, injuring several of them, and detaining them in the police station.

AICCTU held several demonstrations and gate meetings at the factory gate, demanding justice for Rakhi, arrest and punishment of the factory authorities implicated in her suicide, compensation for her family and care of her children, and strict implementation of all labour laws in all factories in the Wazirpur Industrial Area. Every time, the police attempt to prevent activists from distributing leaflets and holding gate meetings, and try to forcibly disperse workers who gather at such meetings. The episode is a comment on the state of industrial democracy in the national capital.  

In another episode in JNU, a woman sanitary worker, employed earlier in Koyna Hostel through SE Services, was not been taken back on work after she went on leave due to pregnancy. Despite the fact  that the worker has the ESI documents, which shows her to be fit for work from date- 12 December-2013,  the Dean of Students office, particularly  the Sanitary Inspector has refused to take the worker back on duty.  This is a blatant violation of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. After this case, another woman worker in an advanced state of pregnancy refused to avail of the maternity leave she was sanctioned, for fear that she would lose her job. AISA activists took up these cases and have been struggling in support of the rights of workers on the JNU campus. In solidarity with the woman worker, and also in protest against the non-payment of monthly salary, workers stopped work for a day. The contractor was forced to make the monthly payment to the workers, while the crucial issue of taking back the woman worker still remains unsolved. It is as though the university administration are implying that the workers must refrain from bearing child in order to save an already underpaid job!   

 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:, website:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fwd: ML Update 20 / 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17                          No. 20                                          14 - 20 MAY 2014


Lok Sabha 2014:

Money Power, Media Power, Mockery of Model Code of Conduct


The 16th Lok Sabha elections are finally over. Spread over as many as nine phases this was India's longest electoral exercise in recent memory and perhaps the average voter turnout has also beaten previous records. But beyond the statistical dimensions of this massive exercise and regardless of the final outcome, this has surely been a watershed election in which money power and media power or the nexus or fusion of the two reached a whole new height, the 'model code of conduct' became an object of brazen mockery and majoritarian demagogy dominated the electoral discourse like never before.

The Election Commission and its notion of a free and fair poll have taken a huge beating in this election. In the name of cleansing the election process, the EC raised the expenditure limit for every candidate to seven million rupees. But when parties are allowed to spend any amount of money, the limit set for individual candidates just loses all meaning. The amount of money the BJP has spent in marketing its dream theme of 'Modi Sarkar' will easily run into scores of billions of rupees. Instead of finding ways to curb this massive domination of money power, the EC goes on raising nomination fees and expenditure limits, making the electoral battle increasingly unequal for parties and individuals who have to rely on the people for funding their election campaigns. The EC in this election seized over Rs 331 crore, 225 lakh litres liquor and 1.85 lakh kg drugs.

Another rule that became meaningless is the requirement to stop electioneering 48 hours before the end of voting. The BJP systematically circumvented and violated this rule by running prominent frontpage advertisements on newspapers on polling days, releasing its poll manifesto right on the first polling day and with Narendra Modi himself holding a lotus-waving media session right outside his polling booth and issuing a televised message to the people on the last polling day.    

Even more disturbing has been the way BJP leaders were allowed to get away with their vicious hate speeches. The ban on Amit Shah's hate campaign came pretty late after he had already revealed his sordid Muzaffarnagar game plan, but the EC quickly revoked the ban after Shah tendered a so-called apology and the master of hate speech thanked the EC with his mischievous description of Azamgarh as a terror haven. Modi himself time and again injected the 'anti-Bangladeshi' vitriol in his election speeches even going to the extent of alleging that rhinos were being conspiratorially eliminated in Assam to accommodate Bangladeshi settlers. All this became the new 'normal' level of BJP electioneering with the EC being a helpless spectator.

Derogatory remarks about dalits and women are also becoming part and parcel of India's election discourse. Mercifully, Mulayam Singh's remark trivialising rape as 'mistakes boys are prone to make' attracted all-round condemnation. So did Abu Azmi's decree calling for death penalty for rape victims or Baba Ramdev's anti-dalit misogynistic comment accusing Rahul Gandhi of celebrating honeymoon in dalit homes. But the important issue of Snoopgate, of the Modi administration in Gujarat using the state apparatus to carry out the illegal task of snooping on a woman, was not subjected to the kind of public scrutiny it deserved. The Congress and BJP made it look like a trivial private matter of a few individuals with the UPA eventually giving up on the idea of ordering a central probe.

There can be no overstating the point that years of pro-corporate policies and brazen pro-corporate governance have pushed the country into an acute all-round crisis. The scams and the utter failure of the Congress-led UPA government have created a huge disillusionment and vacuum in the country. The euphoria created by the AAP's spectacular debut in the Assembly elections in Delhi in last winter could not sustain itself for long, especially after Kejriwal's ill-conceived resignation after 49 days in power. With the fullest backing of the RSS and the entire spectrum of the corporate media, the BJP has stepped into this vacuum, seeking to present itself as the alternative and market Modi as the magic solution to all that ails India. The CPI(ML) and other forces of people's struggles have run a vigorous and spirited campaign against the policies that have resulted in the current crisis as well as against the BJP's divisive and despotic agenda, upholding the progressive vision of a pro-people shift in policies and priorities. While the Congress seems all set to be voted out of power, the conflict between the BJP's real agenda and the issues and interests of the Indian people is bound to sharpen in the coming days.


Long Live Comrade Suniti Kumar Ghosh

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) pays homage to the memory of comrade Suniti Kumar Ghosh, one of the founder members of our party and founder editor of our central organ Liberation, who passed away in Asansol, West Bengal, on 11 May. He was 96.

Comrade SKG, as he was better known in the party, joined the Communist movement in mid-1940s. Externed from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1949, he settled in Calcutta. He worked as a lecturer in English in Vidyasagar College, Kolkata. After the formation of the CPI(M), he worked as an important organizer of the party's lecturers' cell. Like many other revolutionary intellectuals, he immersed himself completely in revolutionary political activities in the wake of the Naxalbari upsurge.

Comrade Ghosh was a member of the All India Co-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – in both cases from the very inception. Liberation started appearing from November 1967 under his able editorship. It became the organ of AICCCR from May 1968 and carried the ideological, political and organizational line of the revolutionary communist party, then in the making, to communists scattered across the country and thus helped unify them on that basis. From April 1969, as the central organ of CPI(ML), it played an exemplary role in revolutionary journalism and party building.

After the setback in the revolutionary communist movement around 1972, comrade SKG devoted most of his energy in writing books and articles with the same revolutionary fervor and theoretical rigor. The books he wrote include The Indian Big Bourgeoisie: Its Genesis, Growth and Character; India and the Raj 1919-1947: Glory, Shame and Bondage (in two volumes); Imperialism's Tightening Grip on Indian Agriculture; The Indian Constitution and Its Review; Development Planning in India: Lumpen-development and Imperialism; The Himalayan Adventure: India-China War of 1962 — Causes and Consequences. He also edited The Historic Turning Point: A Liberation Anthology (in two volumes), a selection from the writings which appeared in Liberation during 1967-1972. Published in 2009, Naxalbari: Before and After: Reminiscences and Appraisal was his last major work.

Red salute to Comrade Suniti Kumar Ghosh!

-          CPI(ML) Liberation Central Committee 


Red Salute to Comrade Mukul Sinha –

Courageous Crusader for Truth, Justice and Democracy


Activist and lawyer Mukul Sinha succumbed to lung cancer in Ahmedabad on May 12. He was 63. A trade union activist, Sinha also fought many landmark battles for civil liberties and justice – many of them in the heart of Narendra Modi's Gujarat, valiantly keeping alive the hope of justice for victims of communal pogroms and custodial murders.  

As a young researcher in a university in Ahmedabad, Mukul Sinha became a trade union organiser when 133 persons were laid off from the university in 1979. Throughout the 1980s, he, along with his wife and lifelong comrade Nirjhari, organised many labour struggles. He acquired a law degree to be better equipped to take up such struggles.

He and Nirjhari formed the civil rights organization Jan Sangharsh Manch, which did sterling work in the struggle for justice for the victims of the 2002 pogrom.

Manoj Mitta, in his book The Fiction of Fact Finding: Modi and Godhra, recounts how in proceedings before the Banerjee Committee, Sinha representing the Jan Sangharsh Manch, sought evidence of the Gujarat carnage: "The upshot was that the mobile phone evidence of the Gujarat carnage became officially public. This enabled lawyers, activists and victims to cite the data...while pressing for action against influential persons such as (former Gujarat minister) Maya Kodnani, (former Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader) Jaydeep Patel, and senior police officers in carnage cases".

Zahir Janmohamad writes of him, "After the 2002 pogrom, Sinha became known as a human rights lawyer and a Gujarat riot activist. Neither term sat well with him and he always saw himself, and his work, through the lens of a labour organiser. 'What both 1992 and 2002 did was to fool people into believing that the communal divide is greater than the class divide,' Sinha said. 'As soon as you convince a society that Muslims or whatever group is the problem, you have tricked them into overlooking the real problems like labour laws, corruption, housing shortages, and poor infrastructure.'"

Mukul Sinha played an immensely courageous part in the legal struggle to expose the truth of the fake encounters in Gujarat, involving Sadiq Jamal, Ishrat Jahan, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati.

Mukul Sinha will also be remembered for assisting families of fake encounter victims in Congress-ruled Manipur to secure justice. The Supreme Court set up a high powered commission chaired by former Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hegde and two other members, former Chief Election Commisioner JM Lyngdoh and a former DGP of Karnataka, to look into some of the 1000s of custodial killings by security forces in Manipur. Assisting Manipur's young widows' association before the commission, Sinha conducted most of the cross examinations of the police and Manipur Rifles personnel. The result was a landmark report by the Commission that declared all the 'encounters' to be cold-blooded murders. Writing about the Gujarat and Manipur fake encounters, Comrade Mukul Sinha observed, "The encounters of Gujarat and the encounters of Manipur have several similar trends, but the motives appear to be quite distinct and different. While Gujarat encounters are purely politically motivated to profile the Chief Minister as a Hindu icon, the Manipur encounters are entirely in connection with the siphoning of Government grants. The common thing is that the ordinary citizens are being slaughtered for the benefit of the political leaders be it BJP or Congress."

Mukul Sinha was among the founder members of a Left party, the New Socialist Movement (NSM).

Comrade Mukul Sinha fought so-called 'lost causes' in Gujarat, challenging Modi's authoritarian regime: as a result of those battles, many of Modi's top cops are in jail, and the battles for justice continue to be fought.  

Regardless of which party forms Government after May 16th, we know that Governments will not defend democracy and fight for the rights of workers, minorities, women, activists. It will always be the Mukul SInhas of the world who are the true life and soul of our democracy. The likes of Mukul Sinha do not die – they live on in the struggles they inspired and in the courage and perseverance of other activists.

At a time when ruling class politics peddles the cult of the individual, it is worth recalling what Zahir Janmohamad says about Mukul Sinha: "Sinha was also mistrustful of the term leader because his whole life was dedicated to finding new voices and empowering them. During the many times I visited Sinha, I met some of Gujarat's most respected judges, journalists, and activists. But just as often, I also met bus drivers, railway workers, and labourers, each of whom Mukul was training. This was perhaps his finest quality—he taught others and amplified their voices, even if it meant muting his own." Mukul Sinha's legacy will live on in those bus drivers, railway workers and labourers, as well as young lawyers and activists. 

And Mukul Sinha's outlook on activism – as told to Zahir Janmohamad - is a useful reminder to us all: "If you believe in a person or work against a person, you are bound to be disappointed. You will develop false hope and you will become fatigued. But if your goal is to change ideas, then this will sustain you."       

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:, website:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ML Update 19 / 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17                          No. 19                                                                                                                             7 - 13 MAY 2014


Remembering Karl Marx on his 196th Birth Anniversary

If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for humankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people.

- Marx, Letter to His Father (1837)

Yes, Comrade Karl, your deeds and words do, indeed, 'live on quietly' – and sometimes not so quietly – but 'perpetually at work'!

Long Live Karl Marx!


Communal Poll Rhetoric Takes Deadly Toll in Assam

Venomous communal election rhetoric, adding fuel to long-simmering ethnic and communal fires, has taken a terrible toll in Assam. Over 30 people, most of them Muslim women and children, were massacred in Assam's Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).

The BTAD region has witnessed a communal massacre in 2012, and is well known to be at high risk for such violence. Why, then, did the State Government headed by the Congress' Tarun Gogoi fail to monitor the activities of militant groups and provide proper protection for the vulnerable minorities?   

The latest massacre took place in the wake of a series of communal statements during the election. In one such statement, an MLA of the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), Pramila Rani Brahma said that the BPF candidate for the Kokrajhar constituency was likely to lose as Muslims did not vote for him. She indicated that the BPF, which is now an alliance partner of the Congress in Assam, might now join hands with the BJP.

In its manifesto for Assam, the BJP's Assam unit promised to identify and evict all 'illegal immigrants' from Assam; making it clear that it would treat only Muslims as "illegal immigrants" while welcoming "Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and members of the Scheduled Castes" as "refugees" from Bangladesh.

Speaking at election rallies in Assam, Modi had stoked hate against Muslims, suggesting that rhinos were being killed in Kaziranga to clear the ground for "illegal Bangladeshi immigrants." He spewed more venom in Srirampur, West Bengal, on April 27th, saying that "illegal Bangladeshis" must keep their bags packed, since he would evict them on May 16th once he became PM. Undoubtedly, this hate-speech, branding Muslims in Assam and W Bengal as "illegal immigrants", contributed to the horrendous election-time massacre in Kokrajhar.

Those wishing to convince themselves or us that Modi has turned a new leaf since 2002 should pay attention to Modi's conduct after the Assam massacre. At a rally in Asansol a day after the massacre, the man projecting himself as PM-in-waiting did not utter a word of grief for the women and children killed in cold blood. He did not mention the killing at all – much as he did not mention the Gulbarg Society massacre in his address to the press on 28 February 2002, five hours after 69 Muslims including Ehsan Jafri had been massacred on his watch. Instead, Modi rubbed salt into the wounds of those killed in Assam, suggesting that after all, they were Muslims, and therefore not Indians. He said in his Asansol speech, "Those (from Bangladesh) who observe Durgashtami, they are a part of our Hindustan and they will stay here. But we will deport those who are infiltrators." In a tweet on 4 May, Modi said, "Those who were children of Bharat Mata, those who observe Durgashtami they are my brothers. We must treat them like children of India."

Modi's Asansol speech and his 4 May tweet are dangerous hate-speech, above all because of the way he defines 'Hindustan' and 'children of mother India' in terms of Hindu religious customs. His speech clearly states that in his view, the acid test for whether someone is to be treated as an Indian or an illegal infiltrator, is whether they 'observe Durgashtami' or not. His words are thoroughly unconstitutional because they imply that those of non-Hindu faith are not "part of our Hindustan", not "children of Bharat Mata." Modi is making it clear that he intends to act as though India (Hindustan) is the 'Hindusthan' or 'Hindu Rashtra' of the Sangh's fanatic dreams.

The politics of branding Muslim citizens in W Bengal and Assam as 'illegal immigrants' must be challenged and defeated, and at the same time, a humane and secular policy towards refugees from neighbouring countries fleeing persecution, as well as economic migrants must be evolved urgently.

After Jammu and Kashmir, Assam has the second largest proportion of Muslims, roughly a third of the state's population, and a significant part of this population is concentrated in the districts bordering Bangladesh. However, what is important to note that much of this mass migration of Muslims who settled in these districts, happened during the period of India-Pakistan partition and again during the emergence of Bangladesh. The Assam accord fixed 1971 as the cut-off year to decide the legality of immigration. Thousands who settled after this cut-off date have already been deported. Calling the bluff of the bogey of incessant influx of 'illegal Bangladeshi infiltration', census figures show that since 1971, the decadal growth rate of population in Assam has been lower than the all-India growth rate. To brand Muslim citizens and voters as "illegal immigrants" is therefore a deliberate communal falsehood. The worst part is that in every pogrom in Kokrajhar, the internally displaced Muslims living in relief camps, having lost their papers in the arson, are threatened with loss of citizenship and eviction.

Modi's 'refugee vs infiltrator' distinction also needs a strong rebuff. Instead of a false distinction between (Hindu) refugee and (Muslim) infiltrator, we need to stress that there are refugees and economic migrants in India across religious divides.

BJP's Manifesto claims "India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here." This is a deliberately misleading formulation. India is the natural destination of many refugees fleeing religious persecution in neighbouring countries. These include Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindus, Hindu and Muslim Tamils from Sri Lanka, and also, Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. India, unfortunately, is yet to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, according to which signatory nations are obligated not to deport refugees back to countries where they face persecution. If India were to sign this Convention, refugees would be assured of humane and dignified treatment within India.

Moreover, the use of the word 'infiltrator' (with overtones of 'terrorist') for economic migrants who happen to be Muslim, is deliberately communal. India is a natural labour destination for a large number of workers from neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh. The economic migrants from Bangladesh include both Hindus and Muslims, and like those from Nepal, deserve recognition of their right to work, and other rights in the country where their cheap labour is exploited. 

In countries across the world, labour flow of economic migrants from across borders is a reality. In the US, the Obama administration has recently had to issue work permits and extend amnesty to so-called 'illegal aliens' from Mexico, and the huge contingent of Latina workers in the US have been demanding recognition and comprehensive rights. In India, too, a humane policy is urgently called for, to protect the rights and safety of economic migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh.

Modi and his henchman Amit Shah, throughout the election, have been using coded communal language to send signals to a potential Hindutva votebank, while avoiding action by the EC. But when Amit Shah, in his Bijnor speech, branded the whole Muslim community as a community that 'violates the honour of our mothers and sisters', the EC has no excuse for failing to take sterner action. Now, Amit Shah has branded the whole of Azamgarh as  'base for terrorists', while Modi has declared that Hindu religious practices will be the litmus test for who is Indian and who is not. These are openly communal utterances that the EC should not ignore.  

Meanwhile the battle for democracy goes on. With every communal signal sent out by Modi and Co. in the hope of communal consolidation, the determination of democracy-loving Indians to defeat his dreams of turning India into a totalitarian Hindu Rashtra intensifies.   

CPI(ML) Perspective on Banaras Elections and More

(Ajaz Ashraf interviewed CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya for Livemint, on the party's stand in Banaras, and other questions. Courtesy Livemint, May 5 2014)

Why did the CPI(ML) take the decision to support Kejriwal? What does the battle for Varanasi signify to you?

Our decision to support Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi is determined by the specific political context of the battle for Varanasi in 2014. The BJP's bid for power in the current elections has taken the shape of a thoroughly Modi-centric campaign.

And Modi has chosen Varanasi to stake his claim for national electoral legitimacy and leadership. So it is important to oppose Modi's Varanasi expedition and expose and challenge his variety of corporate-driven communal politics. Modi's choice of Varanasi is also heavily loaded with political symbolism. It is a city which epitomises India's multicultural, pluralistic legacy in a most poignant, evocative way. The Sangh brigade is out to distort this legacy and give it a communal twist. During the Sangh's Ayodhya expedition, we often used to hear the slogan Ayodhya toh jhanki hai, Kashi-Mathura baki hai (Ayodhya is only the preview for Kashi and Mathura).

During Modi's nomination procession we heard another ominous cry: UP Gujarat banega, Kashi shuruat karega (Gujarat will be replicated in UP and it will all start from Kashi). Coming in the wake of the Muzaffarnagar carnage, such slogans have an unmistakably horrific resonance.

All things considered, it is really important for all who stand for democracy and people's movements to put up a bold fight against Modi's communal and autocratic campaign in Varanasi. When Kejriwal announced his plan to contest from here, we decided to support him from the point of view of defending democracy and our pluralist legacy.

Had Kejriwal not jumped into the electoral fray in Varanasi, would the CPI(ML) have fielded a candidate from there?

Varanasi was not on our list, as we are concentrating our forces in several other seats in the region including Chandauli, Robertsganj and Mirzapur. But had Kejriwal not chosen to contest we might well have considered fielding our own candidate or supporting some other candidate against Modi.

The CPI(M) has also fielded a candidate from Varanasi. Do you wish the CPI(M) withdraws its candidate?

I respect the CPI(M)'s decision to contest. If AAP would like to secure the CPI(M)'s support, it is for the AAP leadership to reach out to the CPI(M) leadership, but I guess it's a bit too late now. This is AAP's debut Lok Sabha election and they decided to expand their presence by fielding as many candidates as possible. It did not really reflect a serious approach to building a party or a movement, and (after) elections (are) over, I'm sure AAP will also have enough inputs for introspection.

Why is it that a party like AAP catches the popular imagination in a way the Left hasn't been able to?

It is true AAP has won spectacular electoral success in its very first attempt in Delhi and that has helped catch the popular imagination elsewhere. In various phases in the past and even now, various sections of the Left have also caught the imagination of the people in terrains that are much more complex and difficult than the metropolitan milieu of Delhi. The question of catching the imagination and arousing the hopes and aspirations of the people must be viewed in the larger context of serving their interests and securing and expanding the rights of the people. AAP's journey has just begun, its ability to serve the interests of the people and, more importantly, its ability and willingness to take on the well-entrenched structures and patterns of institutionalized oppression and injustice is yet to be tested.

To be sure, the Left movement in the country is passing through a challenging phase of transition and reorientation following the decline of the CPI(M)-led model, whether in West Bengal or in national politics. The CPI(ML) and various mass organizations associated with it are playing an important role in advancing the democratic movement and upholding the revolutionary banner in a whole range of conditions and contexts.

The rise of AAP at this juncture is surely an interesting development with lots of possibilities. As the battle against corporate plunder and corporate subversion of democracy intensifies, the revolutionary Left and AAP will hopefully assess their respective positions and explore possibilities of meaningful cooperation.

How does the Left handle the culture of consumerism, in which there are people whom it looks upon as its natural social base?

The social base of the Left movement still predominantly comprises the rural poor and the unorganized sector of the working people who are not really considered eligible consumers by the globalizing Indian economy. Their consumption demands are driven by basic needs and surely not by luxury and greed.

Far from promoting the mythical prosperity of an ever-expanding middle class, capitalism today is seen to be polarising the society into a tiny top of the super-rich with their extravagant and elitist lifestyles and an overwhelming majority of working people subjected to the pincer attacks of the state and the market leading to acute under-consumption and forced austerity.

The extreme inequality and massive environmental degradation that stare us in the face will definitely catalyse a major social, political and cultural churning. Rather than worrying about the pitfalls of consumerism, we would like to get the most out of this churning.

MAY DAY 2014

This year the 128th May Day poses a challenge before the working class to root out the communal, fascist, and corporate capitalist nexus. The challenge is for changing the present policies and taking forward the struggle for pro-people policy building and fighting for all democratic rights including trade union rights. Taking inspiration from the historic two-day strike on 20-21 Feb 2013 and the ongoing democratic movements across the country, it is only through a strong and pervasive workers' and people's movement that the ugly rearing head of fascism can be crushed. AICCTU organized programmes across the country to take the message of this challenge and responsibility to the working class. May Day was observed in all the states and working class centres all over the country, while the reports from many places are still awaited here are some we have received so far.

In Delhi, as in the past years, May Day was celebrated jointly by May Day Organising Committee of which AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, HMS, UTUC, TUCC, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, and various workers' federations are the constitutents. The May Day procession attended by thousands of workers proceeded from Ramlila Maidan to Town Hall (Chandni Chowk) where a public meeting was held. On behalf of AICCTU the meeting was addressed by Delhi State Secretary Santosh Rai. The meeting was also addressed by AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta, CITU Secretary Swadesh Debroy, and HMS General Secretary Harbhajan Singh Siddhu among others.

May Day programmes were also organized at Wazirpur, Narela, and Noida by the unions affiliated with AICCTU.

In Karnataka, an impressive and enthusiastic rally of 3000 workers was organized in the capital Bangalore under the banner of AICCTU, which was the biggest May Day rally in the State. Different sections of the working class, including the most oppressed, took part in the rally, from sanitation workers to computer operators, contract workers from Central and State public sector units (HCSCL, HAL, BHEL, etc.), nursing staff from government hospitals, vendors, and workers from various corporate and multinational companies like Bosch, Lafarge, Stump Schule, Somappa Spring, etc.

A gate meeting was organized at Bharat Earth Movers Limited in Kolar Gold Fields which was attended by workers in large numbers. Flag hoisting and meetings of construction and stone workers were organized throughout Kolar district.

May Day celebrations at Mangalore and Manipal started with flag hoisting at Prism Cements and Readymix plant at Manipal. At Mangalore's Bekampadi industrial area, hundreds of workers took out a rally from the LPG plant of Bharat Petroleum.

At Sakleshpur in Hassan district AICCTU workers from the power sector (IPCL etc.) hoisted the flag and took out a rally followed by a meeting.

In Bihar, After flag hoisting at Patna AICCTU office by State General Secretary RN Thakur, a rally was taken out. A procession was taken out in Phulwari. The joint rally and meeting at Patna was addressed by ranvijay and RN Thakur on behalf of AICCTU.

In Bhagalpur town hundreds of unorganized sector workers affiliated to AICCTU observed May Day by remembering the martyrs who strengthened the foundation of the workers' movement with their martyrdom. On the occasion workers' rallies were taken out from the four central points of the town, participated in by hundreds of workers from AICCTU affiliate Bihar Rajya Nirman Mazdoor Union, Riksha-Thela-Tam Tam Chalak Sangh, Asangathith Kamgar Mahasangh, Mahila Kamgar Union, and Bidi Bunkar Motor Transport Mazdoor Union. All the rallies converged into a public meeting at Ghantaghar Chowk. The meeting demanded taking back of CCA put on kissan leader Randhir Yadav and false cases slapped on student and workers' leaders. In the evening a joint rally was taken out with AITUC and CITU addressed by SK Sharma and Mukesh Mukt on behalf of AICCTU.

A meeting was organized at Patepur in Vaishali which was addressed by CPI-ML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya after tributes were paid to the Chicago martyrs. Flag hoisting at Hajipur Industrial Area was followed by a mass meeting.

At Purnea a huge rally was taken out from the stadium with the largest participation of unorganized sector workers, which proceeded through the main roads of the town and culminated in a meeting at Ajit Sarkar Chowk.

At Ara, AICCTU and Karmchari Mahasangh Gope Group organized a discussion and meeting. The speakers included Yadunandan Chowdhuri, Balmukund Chowdhuri, Madan Prasad, Janki Singh, and Akhilesh Prasad. At Khagariya, construction workers' Union and Karmachari Mahasangh (Gope Gut) organized a rally. At Gaya, a seminar was held in which workers from various sections participated. In Darbhanga the flag hoisting and meeting was organized. A rally and meeting with an impressive participation by unorganized sector workers was taken out at Jehanabad.

JHARKHAND:  At Ranchi, AICCTU affiliate Jharkhand Nirman Mazdoor Union took out an Adhikar rally under its banner from Harmu Bijli Market which proceeded from Harmu Chowk and culminated in a meeting at Harmu Mazdoor Maidan. At the outset a 2-minute silence was observed to pay tribute to the May Day martyrs. The meeting was addressed by senior CPI-ML leader Bahadur Oraon, and other leaders.

In Khunti, May Day was celebrated for the first time organised by AICCTU. The meeting at Manda Maidan, was attended by hundreds of workers.

At Mugma area (ECL) of Dhanbad district prabhat pheri was taken out in all the collieries and tribute was paid to martyrs by flag hoisting. Prabhat pheri and flag hoisting was also organized at all the collieries in BCCL area 12 of Patlabadi. In the evening a meeting was organized at Junkudar of BCCL area 12. Programmes were also organized at all the collieries in ECL of Mugma area. In the evening a seminar was held in Dhaura (basti) with the participation of workers from Baijna colliery. Prabhat pheri and flag hoisting was also organized at BCCL area 10 and 11. Meetings were also organized in area 11 AICCTU office and Dhanbad district office.

At Bokaro a prabhat pheri proceeded from sector 3, through sector 2 and 4, and returned to sector 3 where a meeting was held after flag hoisting. Pamphlets were distributed in the Steel Plant.

At Bandhedih power plant in Koderma district a morning meeting with flag hoisting was held with the participation of hundreds of workers and tributes were paid to the martyrs. The meeting was also addressed by CPI-ML leader Rajkumar Yadav. In the evening a meeting of construction workers was held in the CD Girls' School grounds at Jhumri Talaiyya in Koderma district.

In Chhota Govindpur mohalla of Tatanagar a meeting and flag hoisting was organized at Veer Kunwar Singh stadium. At Ramgarh hundreds of workers gathered under the banner of Jharkhand Nirman Mazdoor Union to take out a rally in the town and organized a meeting at Subhash Chowk. This gave a call to step up the workers' movement. A meeting was held with the participation of hundreds of workers from the Jharkhand Ispat factory. The flag was hoisted by district President Vijendra Prasad. A 11-point charter of demands was also submitted to the factory administration. May Day programmes were organized at CMW office in CCL Ara Kanta. Flag hoisting was done and the meeting was held. A meeting was held at Topa colliery after flag hoisting. A joint programme at Giddi colliery was addressed by Bhaiyyalal Besra and Baijnath Mistry on behalf of CMW. Arajpatrit Karmchari Mahasangh organized a meeting and flag hoisting at Hazaribagh town.

UTTAR PRADESH:  May day was celebrated in several places in UP by AICCTU and affiliated unions. At Labour Chowraha of Jhunsi in Allahabad a public meeting and flag hoisting was organized. A public meeting was held at Jal Sansthan, Allahabad. A rally was taken out by Safai Mazdoor Ekta Manch from the municipal office to Subhash Chowraha civil lines followed by a public meeting organized by May Day Samaroh Samiti.

At Jalaun the Palledar union organized a rally and public meeting. At Faizabad the construction workers' union organized a public meeting. The contract workers' union in Ayodhya held a public meeting. At Lucknow the construction workers' union organized a public meeting. On the occasion of May Day, Paliya Bajaj Sugar Mill Mazdoor Union, Paliya Kalan, Kheeri, organized a public meeting at Colony gate.

At Kanpur Sajha Manch organized a joint meeting at Ram Aasre Park which was addressed by State President Hari Singh on behalf of AICCTU. A charter of demands to be submitted to the next government was also passed at this meeting. AICCTU also organized a sankalp sabha at Nirala Nagar Mazdoor Chowk and paid tribute to martyred workers.

ASSAM: In Tinsukiya, AICCTU and affiliated union Asom Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangh observed May Day in village Gutibari, the home of martyr Gangaram Kol. Thousands of tea garden workers participated in the meeting. Prior to the meeting a rally was taken out in Panitola area. Many new tea garden workers participated in this programme. The flag was hoisted by AICCTU State Secretary Subhash Sen and the tribute programme at Shaheed Smarak was inaugurated by Gangaram Kol's wife Sokhila Kol. Two resolutions were passed in the meeting: first, to speed up the CBI enquiry into the murder of Gangaram Kol, and to strengthen the protests against the attempts to shield the guilty in this matter, and second, to accelerate the movement to include the tea workers' ration at the rate of Rs. 14.20 in their basic pay for the purpose of calculating their bonus.

May Day programmes were organized at Mariyani, Jorhat under the leadership of Bibek Das and Jiten Tanti, at Nungati, Guwahati under the banner of United Workmen's Union, and at Silchar and Naugaon under the leadership of Tea Garden Union and Asha Karmi Union. A rally was taken out at Dibrugarh and Tingkhong with good participation of tea garden workers and construction workers.

At Guwahati May Day was observed under the joint banners of central trade unions and federations. At Dibrugarh AICCTU, AITUC and CITU took out a joint rally.

In Bhilai, Chhatisgarh, a rally and meeting was organized with good participation of Bhilai Municipal Corporation sanitation workers at Supela Chowk. A memorandum was submitted to contract company "Kiwar" through the meeting, and talks were held with the management on the problems faced by workers. Rallies of contract sanitation workers  were also taken out in the municipalities of Bhilai, Charoda, and Kumhari. In the morning hours, parchas were distributed at the Maroda and Joratarai gates of Bhilai Steel Plant.

A public meeting was organized at Rasmarha (Durg district).

In Puducheri town and Karayakal, flag hoisting and meetings were organized at AICCTU and CPI-ML offices. All the unions affiliated to AICCTU participated in these programmes.

In Tamilnadu, after 148 days of strike in Jimkhana club, agreement reached between management and the union and 250 workers observed this May day on a victorious note. They re- entered into the premises on 2nd May – 150th Day  of their strike. In Child trust hospital, where AICCTU affiliated union put forth Charter of demands for the new settlement, workers enthusiastically participated in this May day. Workers of Agarval bhavan, known for its sweets and savories' took part in the May Day programmes at the Ayanavaram union office.

Ambattur is our traditional area of work, where flag hoisting in factories such as On load gears, Standard chemicals, Sai meera, Climax, Jay engineering works Siracal automotive and Mercury fittings were organized and also Flag hoisting by construction and Workers right movement in five  branches in workers residential areas. Two newly affiliated unions M K P Casting and Topaz tools (P) Ltd also observed this May day by hoisting of AICCTU Flag in their respective gates.

Management, Police and Local thugs tried to prevent Mayday rally and Public meeting at Automobile hub of Sunguvar chatram of Kanchipuram district which was thwarted by Trade Union activists and 200 workers participated in a colourful rally jointly organized by AICCTU and RYA. Rally with banners, placards and festoons of Bhagat Singh was flagged off by Iraniappan, State Secretary of AICCTU. Public meeting was addressed by Kumarasamy, National President of AICCTU. About 20 workers victimized by MNC managements of Huyandai, Nokia, Asian paints, Nippon exports, C&F, etc. were felicitated at the stage. A public meeting jointly organised by Asian Paints and Nippon Exports was also held. Thousands of pamphlets were distributed among workers of this area and hundreds of wall posters also released.

In Thiruvellore district, May day flag hoisting were organized in 33 places. It was jointly taken up by CPI(ML), AICCTU and AIALA. Rally was participated by various sections of working class including street vendors, rice mill workers, van and car drivers, load-men, auto drivers, factory workers of Jumbo bag and Kiran Global, construction workers and onion basket making workers. At the end of the rally a public meeting was held. Pamphlets were distributed and posters displayed on the eve of the May Day. Meeting also paid tributes by observing 2-minutes silence for the Victims of bomb blast at Chennai railway station.

Surface Transport drivers and cleaners association held a May day public meeting and flag hoisting at the entrance of Shereif Logistics, Minjiur, Kavundar Palayam, Thiruvellore district. About 150 drivers belonging to Indo Transport, Shereif & sons, Orange transport, ASK transport and Nijapatham Transport took part .

A joint trade union rally in Viralimalai was organised. Workers of Xomox, Irizar TVS, Rane power steering, Rane engine valves, SRF, Cethar vessals held meetings and union flags were hoisted at respective factory gates. At the end of the rally a meeting was held. In Namakkal district May day was observed by hoisting flags at 13 places at Kumarapalayam and Thanttankottai areas. In Salem Flag hoisting took place at 24 centers including 3 in rural areas and 1 by the Co-optex employees union. There were meetings held at 6 places. In Tirunelveli workers took out a two-wheeler rally in the city and addressed gatherings at 5 places. Flag hosting took place at 10 centers.

In Coimbatore, workers assembled in front of the Pricol plant-3 and hoisted flag rendering slogans remembering May Day martyrs. Then workers in 400 two-wheelers with flags reached plant-1 in a rally. Workers of Suba Plactics also joined them. May Day was observed in plant-1 also. In Shanthi Gears flags were hoisted at three entry points with the participation of more than 500 workers.

May day was observed in Civil Supply Corporation by hoisting flags in 13 centers throughout Tamilnadu including Dharmapuri, Tirupur, Vilupuram and Coimbatore. May day was also observed in Dindigul, Theni, Tanjore and Karur districts.


Father Thomas Kocherry passed away on 3 May. Thomas Kocherry was a social activist, priest, and lawyer who helped found the independent fishworkers union, the Kerala Swatantra Matsyathozhilali Federation. He was committed to organising fishworkers against the big fishing cartels and mafias. He was also a Special Invitee at World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) and Executive Committee Member of National Fishworkers' Forum (NFF), India.

He had been part of the campaign for justice for Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe, and had expressed solidarity with CPI(ML)'s initiatives and struggles on many occasions. 

Just hours before he passed away from a heart attack, he had written an article exposing Modi's model of development and his communal, corporate-driven politics. When Amit Shah said the Modi wave was a tsunami, Thomas Kocherry had reminded people that fishworkers recognise and fear a tsunami as a force of destruction – and India's people should, likewise, beware of the Modi tsunami.

CPI(ML) Liberation and all democratic movements have lost a very good friend and comrade. But Thomas Kocherry's legacy will live on – in the struggles of working people, in movements challenging plunder and exploitation, in anti-communal struggles, everywhere.  

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