Thursday, May 28, 2015

ML Update | No. 22 | 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  18 | No. 22 | 26 MAY - 1 JUN 2015

One Year of Modi Rule:

The Acche Din Hype Unravels 

The self-congratulatory cacophony generated by the Modi government and the BJP to celebrate the first anniversary of Modi's 2014 ascent to power makes us wonder if the BJP believes that time stood still for the last one year. Even as the heat wave claims hundreds of lives across the country, large sections of the people reel under the burden of deepening distress and soaring prices, and the opinion polls reflect growing disappointment of the people who had voted Modi to power a year ago, the BJP propagandists have launched a massive campaign patting their own backs. The government has issued a 180 page booklet listing the government's 'achievements', and in the coming days and weeks the country will be bombarded with 200 rallies and 5000 public meetings. It almost sounds like a rerun of the India Shining propaganda blitz which had boomeranged spectacularly in the 2004 elections.

Modi set the tone of this arrogant and absurd hyperbole when addressing the Indian community during his recent trip to China and South Korea, he said till his government came to power NRIs were ashamed to admit that they were Indian. Indians, according to Modi, used to curse themselves for the sins they must have committed in their previous lives to have merited the shame and punishment of being born in India. Back in India, Modi continued in the same tone. Addressing a rally in Mathura on 25 May, Modi said what his government had already performed was a veritable miracle. Announcing the arrival of 'acche din', he said only looters, thieves and power brokers were complaining of 'bure din' or bad days!

Now in real life, 'acche din' has actually become a joke, a metaphor for the misery that most people find themselves subjected to on a daily basis, whether on account of economic distress, callous governance or dysfunctional basic services. The non-implementation of the tall electoral promises made by Modi and his men has become the talking point among the common people across the country. Even in Modi's own constituency of Varanasi, surveys have revealed widespread disappointment. Apart from some cleaning up operation in two out of Varanasi's eighty-odd ghats, the residents of this VIP constituency have not experienced any improvement in the first year of the Modi government. A few weeks ago, the agriculture minister of Haryana's BJP government, who was earlier president of the farmer organisation of the Sangh Parivar, had dubbed farmers committing suicides as cowards. Now Modi calls people complaining of bad days corrupt!

While the people are waiting for the Modi government to fulfil the basic promises Modi and the BJP had made during the 2014 election campaign, the Sangh parivar is busy advancing what it considers its 'core' agenda. 'Ghar wapsi', 'love jihad', sermons to Hindu women to produce ten children, ban on beef and so on and so forth – BJP ministers and MPs have been working overtime to enforce this agenda. During the election campaign Giriraj Singh had voters who did not want Modi to become PM to go to Pakistan. He has found his place in the Modi cabinet. And now Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, another Modi minister asks those who want to eat beef to go to Pakistan! For other items of the 'core agenda' like Ram Mandir and removal of Article 370, Amit Shah has asked the people to give 370 seats to the BJP so the BJP could amend the Constitution as it wished.

For all the propaganda blitzkrieg of Modi and his men, the actual experience of the first year of the Modi government will go a long way in exposing three mega myths that have played such a central role in making the BJP the number one party in India. Beyond the core support base of the Sangh Parivar, the myth of the Gujarat model and the so-called Modi magic now evokes growing scepticism. The thesis of the mythical metamorphosis of the BJP into a 'normal' rightwing party which will contain, if not shed, the communal agenda is also being questioned by many liberal sections of the middle classes who had thrown their weight behind the BJP in the 2014 elections. And last but not the least, the BJP's 'nationalist' farmer-friendly trader-friendly image has been severely dented with the unmasking of the corporate-encircled FDI-begging real face of Narendra Modi.

For a party like the BJP which has always sought to camouflage its communal agenda as 'cultural nationalism', it is indeed revealing that Modi's first year in office has been overshadowed by the foreign factor – making foreign trips and soliciting foreign investment. As many as eighteen foreign trips claiming two of the twelve months that Modi has been in power have been the highlight of Modi's first year. And on the economic front, Modi has turned out to be a devout worshipper of FDI. Those who argue that 'Make in India' is about creation of jobs and increasing the share of manufacturing in India's GDP do not tells us why FDI has to be at the centre of this strategy. If job creation and manufacturing growth were the real objective, why is the government systematically dismantling the public sector and privileging FDI and private corporate participation to the neglect of the labour intensive small and medium enterprises that can be the real platform for creation of jobs?

It is significant that while the BJP leaders were busy congratulating themselves on the first birthday of the Modi government, peasants, workers and students were out on the streets against the government's policies. The people's experience of the first year of the Modi government will be the biggest ammunition as we take on the corporate-communal offensive of the BJP in the coming days.

A report on CPI (ML)'s Solidarity Visit to Quake-Hit Nepal

Comrade Prabhat Kumar and Com. Dhirendra Jha, on behalf of the CPI(ML) Politburo, made a solidarity visit to Nepal, that is struggling to recover from the quake of Himalayan proportions. During the visit, they attended a volunteer training convention that had been organized by the CPN (UML) and presented a cheque for 1 million INR towards the natural disaster relief fund to CPN (UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Party General Secretary Ishwarchandra Pokhrel.

The disastrous earthquake on 25 April caused indescribable havoc in Nepal. 75 districts including Kathmandu have suffered terrible loss and damage. 8519 lives have been lost and even today 500 people are missing. 638 people were killed in the second quake on 12 May. Most of the dead are women and children. More than 2 lakh buildings have been damaged. Historical heritage sites are in ruins. Cracks are visible in the Army HQ, Rashtrapati Bhawan, PM's house, Parliament, and most government buildings.

The UML Party office has suffered huge damage and has been declared abandoned. The office now functions in a small building, although even this has cracks. Essential work is also going on in tents put up on the campus.

Heavy damage has been suffered by Nepal's oldest school Durbar school (established in 1854) and Trichand College. Around 7000 school buildings are unfit for use.  This devastating earthquake occurred on a Saturday which happened to be a holiday in Nepal and the schools and colleges were closed; otherwise, the loss of lives would have been even greater. The regular aftershocks occurring in Nepal are terrifying for the people. 

Kathmandu appears to be a city of tents. The road sides and maidans are lined by long rows of blue tents. Water supply has been regulated to an extent and electricity has been restored.

Heavy destruction has occurred in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bharatpur, Gorkha, Chadig, Rasua, Nuakot, Sindhupal, Dolkha, Kabhi, Ramechhap, and other districts. Important tourist destinations such as Langtang and Bhaili have been totally damaged. More than half the people in these areas have been killed. Heartrending scenes of destruction due to landslides can also be seen at Sindhupal near the Tibet border.

The CPN(UML) has formed a coordination committee for relief and rehabilitation, under the leadership of the General Secretary, which includes Party leaders as well as leaders of mass organizations. This committee started immediate relief operations, playing a significant role in rescuing trapped families, taking the injured to hospital, arranging food, water, and medicines for affected families, and making funeral arrangements for the dead. The Party has taken initiatives to form different groups to attend to arrangements for food, sanitation, medical aid, rescue, damage assessment, and other such tasks. Area wise survey teams have been formed for damage assessment. This survey report will be submitted to the district administration as well as to the national disaster committee formed by the government. 

The rainy season is imminent. A large portion of the population continues to remain bereft of shelter, and most buildings are damaged. In this situation, providing permanent or temporary accommodation for such a vast number is a big challenge. The CPN(UML) plans to press 10,000 volunteers into service in 50 constituencies of 14 districts with the express task of providing shelter. Work in this direction has already started. Money and resources are being collected.

CPN(UML) has already collected more than Nepali Rs 1 crore. In our presence, the Nepali Trade and Industrialists Association donated a cheque for Nepali Rs 10 lakh. Various organizations and people from unaffected areas are contributing generously. 

Talking informally, several Nepali intellectuals, journalists, and social activists said that the immediate cooperation and help from India was very heartening. However, they said their self-respect was hurt by the attitude of some of the Indian media and the publicity war in connection with aid to Nepal.  

On the road from India to Nepal via Janakpur, and back from Kathmandu to India though the difficult hilly roads via Veerganj, it felt as if not only the earth has been shaken, but the people themselves have been left shaken. The beautiful valleys of Kathmandu are in mourning. Nepal faces the dual challenges of making its Constitution, as well as the difficult task of rebuilding the country.

Bandh called by CPI(ML) in Naubatpur and Bihta over farmers' suicide

A series of farmers' suicides has begun in Patna district in Bihar. Most recently two farmers, Gajendra Singh and Ramesh Singh, who were reported to be heavily in debt, were forced to commit suicide in Maner and Naubatpur respectively. During the course of the movement launched under the banner of 'Peasants affected by the Mega Technological Park', to demand compensation for the survivors of the farmers who had committed suicide, the peasant leader Kaushal Baba also passed away. Agitated and enraged by the death of Kaushal Baba, increasing spate of farmers' suicide in Patna district and the continued apathy of the central and the state governments, a massive bandh was called by the CPI (ML) in Naubatpur and Bihta. Protest demonstrations were also held in Paliganj. The main demands raised included waiving off the debts of the farmers and compensation for the family of the farmers who have died. CPI (ML) leaders while addressing the protestors highlighted the increasing agricultural crisis in the country and the increasing incidents of farmers' suicides. They pointed out how the policies of the current Modi government such as 'Make in India' and 'Land Acquisition' had added to the woes of the farmers. They questioned if the Modi government that had recently announced a channel for the farmers or the Nitish government in the state will only confine themselves to rhetoric on the issue of farmers' suicide while continuing to remain apathetic to their state, or will they dare to show some concrete action on ground.

New front to oppose pro-corporate policies- Angry Farmers, workers, and small retailers launch joint struggle

Reeling under the anti-people policies of the central government, farmers, workers, and small retailers in Punjab came together on a united platform to raise their voice. The "Kaarobaar Bachao, Rozgaar Bachao (Save business, save employment) conference was organized on 12 April, 2015 at Manasa in Punjab by the Mazdoor-Kisan-Dukandar-Karmchari Sangharsh Committee. The conference was addressed by Punjab Kisan Union State President Raldu Singh, Kirana Association (Manasa) President Suresh Nandgarhiya, Aadhati Association Secretary Ramesh Tony, CPI-ML (Liberation) Punjab State Secretary Rajvinder Singh Rana, and Mazdoor Mukti Morcha State President Bhagwant Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, Com. Rajvinder Singh Rana said that the people must once again unite to rid the country of the second Company Raj that the governments are trying to inflict upon them, and this effort is an initiative in that direction. The special guest at the conference, Dr. Baldev Singh, an economics professor in Punjabi University Regional Centre Talwandi Sabo, explained in detail how the green signal for FDI in retail is accelerating the process of destroying small shopkeepers and traders.

PKU State President Raldu Singh welcomed the coming together of workers, farmers, small shopkeepers, traders, and karmacharis to protect their rights against the government's destructive policies. He stated that through this united struggle they would stop the homes, shops, and livelihoods of recession-affected shopkeepers and traders from being seized or auctioned,

Kirana Assocation President Suresh Nandgarhiya said that the homes and shops of several shopkeepers (who are unable to repay loans) in danger of imminent auction can be saved through the leadership of this joint committee. Retailers' leader Ramesh Toni said that the governments of the country are responsible for looting and ruining the retailers.  Prof. Bikarjeet Singh Sadhuwala of the Educational Reforms Committee pointed out the loot being perpetrated by private school owners and called upon the people to participate in the ongoing struggle against this loot. The conference was also addressed by Bhagwant Singh Samaon, Sikandar Singh Gharangana, Darshan Singh Khiyala, Vijay Nandgarhiya, Vir Singh Bhasse, Advocate Balkaran Singh Balli, Vasudev Garg, Sukhdarshan Singh Natt, and Sukhbir Khara.

AISA observes National Protest Day against CBCS, RUSA and Central University Act in campuses across the country!

Holds Protest Demonstration in front of MHRD Against Imposition of CBCS in DU!

The All India Students' Association (AISA) observed a 'National Protest Day' in campuses across the country against the imposition of CBCS, RUSA and Central University Act and against bringing education under WTO-GATS. 

As part of the National Protest Day against these policy offensives on higher education by the central government, AISA held a protest demonstration in front of the MHRD in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum.

The protest was held at MHRD, because there is a clear attempt to impose such policy change as the CBCS by the MHRD and several notices are being sent to universities across the country. The protest was also held at a time when the DU administration is once again showing hurriedness in introducing a fundamental change in the course structure without taking the opinion of academicians, teachers and students. The admission process has started in DU; and yet till now, no one, neither the new students and their parents nor the teachers are clear about what would be the curriculum for the upcoming session. Moreover, there is no clarity about the syllabus that will be taught in the upcoming session. Addressing the protest Om Prasad, Delhi State Secretary, AISA said, "Senior DU officials are telling the media that they are waiting for UGC letter to implement CBCS from the next semester. We would like to ask them, will a directive from the UGC or the MHRD solve the problem of complete unpreparedness of the DU administration to introduce such a policy change? Where is the syllabus that will be taught? Where is the infrastructure needed to ensure 'mobility' of students under CBCS? Where are the classrooms and the teachers required, if real 'choice' is to be offered?" A memorandum raising these concerns was also submitted to the MHRD and the delegation met the Jt. Secretary Mr. Mohanty and shared the concerns.

Niraj Kumar, VP, Delhi AISA, said at the protest, "Enough ill-conceived experiments have already been done with DU students through FYUP. When more than 50 staff associations, the DUTA and several students groups have rejected the implementation of CBCS, why is the DU administration and MHRD so desperate to go ahead with CBCS? CBCS is nothing but FYUP brought in through the backdoor, as the course structure aimed at dilution of academic content is the same in CBCS as was in FYUP." A memorandum was also submitted to the MHRD.

In parts of the country too AISA activists held protest demonstrations and in some places effigy of Modi in whose prime ministership these onslaughts have been unleashed with renewed vigor, was also burnt.

5th district conference of Nainital unit of CPI (ML) held on 24 May 2015

The 5th district conference of Nainital unit CPI (ML) concluded on 24 May in Ambedkar Hall in Laalkuan. The session began by observing a minute's silence to remember the comrades who had been martyred in the time period between the last conference and the ongoing conference. Addressing the inaugural session of the district conference, the state secretary of CPI (ML) - Uttarakhand , Com. Rajendra Pratholi said that on the completion of the first year of the Modi government, even as the government was aggressively engaging in proclaiming false achievements all over the media, the truth was that the first year of the Modi government was spent in implementing anti-peasants and anti-workers' policies and serving the corporate masters. He added that the peasants and workers had been regularly organising and agitating against the anti-people policies of the Modi government and that a movement founded on a broad unity among peasants and workers alone can provide a new direction to this nation. Only this unity can destroy the corporate-fascist agenda of the Modi government and its' efforts to re-establish company raj in this country. Speaking about the Harish Rawat government at the state, he said that the state government too following the steps of the central government was busy in looting the land of the people and Bindukhatta was a clear example of this. Despite the fact that the residents have time and again thronged the streets to reject the declaration proclaiming Bindukhatta to be a municipality, the state government under the influence of the land mafia has become deaf to the demands of the people.

The conference resolved to double the membership by the next conference. A 7 member district committee was also founded with Com. Kailash Pandey as the secretary.

District conference of AICCTU affiliated ASHA health workers' union held in Nainital

The Nainital district conference of the AICCTU affiliated ASHA health workers' union concluded in the Press Club in Nainital on 21 May 2015.

Addressing the conference, the national Vice President of AICCTU, Com. Raja Bahuguna said that the central government wanted to pulls its hand off the responsibility of the ASHA workers who formed the axis of a fundamental sector such as the health sector. By putting the entire responsibility for ASHA workers on the state, the centre government was creating crisis for the ASHA workers. He added that the governments in this country had only one slogan for the women workers- "Jam kar lenge pura kaam, nahin milega pura daam" (Will fiercely take full work, and not give full wages). The leaders speaking at the conference pointed out that the Uttarakhand government was a pro-mafia government that sacrificed the interests of the workers at the behest of the mafia and hence a united women workers' movement should be built and intensified in Uttarakhand so that that government can be forced to work on our agenda. The state President of Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers' Union, Kamla Kunjwal said that it was only by building a unity among the union members and developing a feeling of a collective leadership that we could fight the- anti women policies of the state and the central governments.  She added that it was on the basis of unity and struggles of the union that the state government had been forced to provide an annual incentive amount and in future also, on the basis of this we could win the fight for the monthly wages. A new district team of ASHA workers' union and office bearers were also elected during the conference.

Friday, May 22, 2015

ML Update | No. 21 | 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 21, 19 ­– 25 MAY 2015

Distress and Despair Everywhere–

Tall-talk Government Completes One Year!

t is now one full year since Narendra Modi became India's Prime Minister. The government continues to indulge in tall talks, but the rhetoric is sounding increasingly hollow. Modi and his men stand exposed on almost every promise they had made to the people.

This was supposed to be a year of respite from rising prices. When diesel and petrol prices dropped initially, though in much less proportion than the global decline in petro prices, BJP leaders went to town claiming it as a gift from the Modi government. Modi himself described it as a sign of good luck he is bringing for the people. But as Narendra Modi completes his first year in office, repeated hikes in diesel and petrol prices have again become the order of the day. Fares and freight rates have gone up; even platform tickets have not been spared, the rate has doubled from Rs 5 to Rs 10!

Agrarian distress is spreading like an epidemic. Farmers' suicides are being reported from all corners of the country, not only from the old suicide belts of southern and western states, but increasingly now from states in northern and eastern zones, and even right in the middle of a rally near the Indian Parliament. Untimely rains have damaged crops heavily across the country and while farmers await compensation to cover their huge losses, central and state governments are only trying to outdo each other in making complacent claims.

Far from taking urgent measures to mitigate the acute agrarian distress, the Modi government has made it clear that it would like to use this crisis as an opportunity to push more and more farmers out of agriculture and grab their land for greedy corporate without even bothering to ask landowners for their consent. Despite countrywide uproar, the government has re-promulgated the notorious land-grab ordinance for a second time. Along with land and other natural resources, the government is also trying to lure corporate investors with the offer of cheap skilled labour.

The BJP may like us to believe that the ascent of Modi to the PM's post has raised India's international profile and his foreign trips symbolise India's growing stature and role in international affairs, but in reality most of his foreign visits have been aimed at attracting foreign investment. In the process he is also trying to help his Indian corporate cohorts like Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani secure business contracts abroad. The controversial coal mining deal for Adani in Australia, backed by a proposed $1 bn loan from SBI, raised eyebrows in both India and Australia. It is another matter that the deal has run into trouble in the face of powerful protests in both countries,

Indeed, consent-free cheap land, and union-free rights-free cheap labour, are Modi's biggest incentives to attract foreign investment. The so-called move to rationalise labour laws and abolish inspector raj, initiated by the Rajasthan government and now taken up with great gusto by the Union government itself, is a brazen attempt at further tilting India's labour laws and factory and business rules in favour of big capital and against the working class. A similar move is on to legitimise child labour in so-called 'family enterprises', a euphemism for the supply chain of sweat shops for big companies. The cabinet has already approved an amendment to this effect in the existing child labour abolition act.

While the government has thus been busy unveiling and executing its economic vision of FDI-dependent corporate-driven restructuring of the Indian economy, the RSS and its affiliates have been systematically vitiating the atmosphere with their majoritarian agenda of communal nationalism and shrill opposition to the democratic aspirations and assertion of the people in every sphere. From the spoken and printed word to the visual and social media, hate speech has become the signature of the Sangh brigade. While the government occasionally tries to distance itself under public pressure, the practitioners of hate speech and other hate crimes carry on with impunity.

The only reassuring component of the new regime's year one balance-sheet comes not from the government but from the people many of whom had voted emphatically a year ago to install the Modi Sarkar in office. The people are making it clear that they cannot be taken for granted. Farmers are up in arms against the anti-farmer land-grab ordinance and the all-pervasive corporate-friendly anti-farmer bias of the government. Workers have also expressed their readiness to resist the government's anti-worker anti-people moves. After powerful strikes of coal miners, telecommunication and financial sector workers and employees, trade unions across the country have now come together to launch a concerted campaign for the basic rights and demands of Indian workers.

The growing disillusionment with the Modi government has also begun to make its presence felt in election results. After facing a resounding rebuff from the Delhi electorate in the Assembly elections, the BJP has also been snubbed in the West Bengal municipal elections. As the Modi government begins its second year, let us get ready for a more decisive and determined popular resistance.


Is the Right to Protest Reserved for Kejriwal Alone, Not for Aam Workers?

DTC Workers' Protests and Ensuing Crackdown

elhi witnesses a series of protests by DTC workers on a variety of issues in the year 2015. The most recent one was a spontaneous flash strike following the brutal murder of a DTC driver of the Rohini Depot.

The DTC is undoubtedly the lifeline of Delhi's transport network. Contractual employees within DTC face inhuman working conditions and are subjected to tremendous work pressure to meet targets given by the management. As many as twelve thousand of DTC drivers are employed on contract. This means that they are not paid equal wages at par with permanent staff, for the same work and the wages are not regularized. They arrive at the depot every morning – but may be turned away and denied work by the depot manager in case the buses have broken down. So, while they are officially 'employed', they are not even sure of getting work throughout the month! They have no right to a paid or even unpaid weekly off.

Right from mid 2014 onwards, both the permanent staff and contractual workers of DTC protested for their rights. The contractual workers especially, supported the AAP and Kejriwal, based on the AAP's promises to regularize contractual employees.

When the AAP Government failed to keep those promises, the DTC contract workers organized a March to the Delhi Secretariat from the DTC headquarters on 13 April 2015 under the banner of DTC Sangharsh Morcha, comprising of all the different unions working within DTC. The mood of the workers sitting on the dharna outside the Secretariat was so militant that they wanted the programme extended to an indefinite one till their demands were met. Unions affiliated to INTUC and BMS faced open challenge, as they tried discouraging the workers and pressurizing them to call off the ongoing programme. The Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai met the delegation but this had no positive outcome. Comrade Shankaran represented the DTC Workers' Unity Centre in this delegation.

While addressing the CII, Delhi, the CM Arvind Kejriwal had declared that it is not his government's duty to run buses, and the corporates will now be encouraged to run DTC. This open declaration of privatization had certainly disturbed the young DTC employees and disheartened the permanent staff.

Young workers comprising the contractual workforce of DTC took the opportunity of the National Transport Strike on 30th April, 2015, against the proposed Road Safety & Transport Bill 2014 by the Modi Government, to again raise their legitimate demands. After several years, DTC Unions had served a strike notice to their management as well as the Delhi Government, certainly under the pressure of those young workers persuaded by AICCTU affiliates.

These young contractual workers had shouldered the entire campaign all over DTC depots and most of the 'official' unions were seen absconding to avoid the campaign. On 29 April, the Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai had invited all the Unions including the DTC Pensioners' Union (no pension had been paid for the past 3 months to DTC Pension holders) for a dialogue. Once again the AAP Government had no concrete plan for the public transport system of Delhi and DTC workers. Gopal Rai merely assured the workers' representative for a budget provision for equal pay, release of 2 months pension and clearly refused to meet any other demands.

INTUC affiliates immediately withdrew the strike notice and had informed the administration of their withdrawal. BMS affiliates had not withdrawn their strike notice but had sent sms messages asking the workers to join their duties. DTC workers had resolved to go with the strike and organised a sit-in in front of the Millennium Depot. The AICCTU affiliated Unity Centre worked hard for the success of the strike. The strike could only be implemented partially, but it certainly demolished a long-standing inertia and inspired enthusiasm in spite of the backstabbing by some of the DTC unions.

The sit-in in front of the Millennium Depot was well attended, focused and full of hope for the young workers and they resolved to continue with their fight. A leader from the BMS-affiliated union came to address the gathering, and began a communal tirade, mentioning the Batla House killings and branding minorities as terrorists. A young DTC worker and AICCTU activist, Rajesh, spontaneously got up to take the mike away from him and tell him firmly to stop trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the sit-in. The BMS leader, faced with this rebuff, stopped speaking and beat a hasty retreat from the sit-in site.  

Ten days after this sit-in, on May 10th, a Rohini Depot driver Ashok Kumar was brutally murdered in a road rage incident at Mundka while on duty. Workers once again went for a flash strike. Mourning his death, they demanded Rs 1 crore as compensation for the deceased worker, a job for his university-going son, education for his school-going daughter, medical care for his critically ill wife, and security for the DTC running staff. The workers reminded the Government that it had offered Rs 1 crore as compensation to the family of a policeman killed on duty, even though the policeman was not a Delhi Government employee; and also Rs 20 lakhs to the family of the farmer who committed suicide at Jantar Mantar at an AAP rally. Compensation should not be decided by political compulsions and media optics. The workers said that the Government is obligated to compensate the family of a worker murdered while on duty.  

This was neither the first nor the only incident of attack on the DTC running staff. The DTC management as well as the Delhi Transport Minister have been informed of several such attacks. The narrow Delhi roads, without any proper planning for public transport, create a situation where drivers are vulnerable to attacks by angry members of the public. With its fleet size of around 4700 buses, DTC caters to 45 lakh commuters everyday in comparison to 21 lakh Metro commuters daily. Every driver under the standard procedure operates a bus for 110 km in 8 hours, a practice which was set in place almost two decades earlier. So it is easy to understand tremendous pressure on these workers.

The Government has been repeatedly informed of their grievances but has done nothing ameliorative so far to redress issues. In response to the flash strike, the Kejriwal Government invoked ESMA on the 11th night itself without even trying to negotiate with its own striking transport employees. The draconian ESMA was invoked as a first resort! On 12th May, the Delhi Government partially agreed to some of the demands including 10 lakh compensation and release of complete salary for the remaining service tenure of the deceased worker, a Government job for his son, free medical care for his ailing wife and free education for his daughter, and deployment of home guards as marshals in DTC buses. But simultaneously, under the directions of Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai, the DTC management initiated action against the DTC employees. Till now, more than 100 workers, most of them, contractual employees, and many of them supporters of DTC Workers' Unity Centre (AICCTU) were given show-cause notices for not attending duties and participating in the protest, and were asked to reply within 24 hours or face termination.

This action of the Delhi government has further agitated the DTC employees. It seems that for Kejriwal, the worker does not enjoy the status of an 'aam aadmi'. Kejriwal has defended his own right to agitate and hold sit-ins on the street – but denies the common workers of Delhi the same right! In the media, the AAP Government has been rightly criticized for threatening journalists with defamation cases for running stories critical of the Government. But while the right to freedom of expression of journalists is talked about, the media remains silent on the way in which the AAP Government has cracked down on the workers' right to freedom of expression. Do workers, then, have no right to show humanitarian solidarity with a slain colleague, to seek adequate compensation and social and economic security for the family of a driver killed on duty? The DTC workers are determined not to bend to the pressures created by the administration and the management but keep fighting for their rights within the ever shrinking democratic space.


Khet Mazdoor Sabha Protest in Supaul

The CPI(ML) and the Supaul unit of the Khet Mazdoor Sabha took out an impressive protest march on 20 April 2015 on people's issues like vaas-bhumi (housing land) for urban and rural poor, drinking water, electricity, roads and other problems. After traversing through the main streets of the town, the march culminated in a dharna at the block-zonal office. A public meeting was held at the dharna venue chaired by AICCTU district President Com. Jitendra Choudhury and a charter of demands was submitted to the BDO and Joint CO, Supaul.

The dharna was also addressed by Comrades Jainarayan Yadav and Arvind Kumar Sharma. The speakers pointed out that the Modi Govt. at the centre as well as the Nitish Govt. in the State are both pandering to the corporate houses and ignoring people's issues like housing, land reforms, education, health, water, corruption, electricity, employment, roads, rising prices, etc. The speakers stressed that the need of the hour was to raise our voices against Company Raj.


Jharkhand Mazdoor Sabha Demonstration in Saraikela-Kharsawa

About 600 villagers under the banner of the JMS (Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Sabha) and holding traditional implements and arms protested in a forceful demonstration in front of the Kharsawa Deputy Commissioner against the construction which has been started at Lakhandih in Kharsawa block. The searing afternoon heat was rent with the sound of hundreds of villagers chanting slogans of "End the conspiracy of dispossessing adivasis". At the Deputy Commissioner's office they raised their voice, warning the authorities that if land was forcibly acquired, it would result in mass agitation and the responsibility for the same would lie with the administration. It is noteworthy that the construction of the reservoir had been stopped under pressure from protests, and further protests would continue for scrapping the project altogether. 205 acres of 5 villages including forest land, raiyaat land and agricultural land will be lost if this project is allowed. A new agitation for scrapping the project was started with a protest march from Kharsawa Bazartand chowk culminating in a dharna and submission of demands at the Deputy Commissioner's office.

Addressing the protest meeting, AIPF council member Xavier Kujur said that the Modi Govt.'s Land Ordinance is a law to destroy adivasis and farmers. The State Govt. is using this Ordinance for the proposed Saraikela-Kharsawa reservoir. JMS leader Gautam Singh Munda said that the Govt. is working for the permanent displacement of adivasis from Jharkhand through forcible land acquisition. Therefore it is necessary to strengthen the agitation for stopping the reservoir construction.


Gramin Chowkidar Union District Conference in Deoriya

The first district conference of the Gramin Chowkidar Union was held in Deoriya district of Uttar Pradesh on 10 May 2015. About 100 delegates participated in the conference which was inaugurated by AICCTU national Vice President Com. Premlata Pandey. Speaking on the occasion she said that the Samjawadi Party Govt. has started several populist schemes in the State, but the chowkidars (working in the police stations since British times) who have been termed "graamin police" in the Police Act, have not yet been given the status of government employees. They get a pittance of Rs 1500 as honorarium. They are subjected to inhuman treatment in the thanas, and are made to do jobs ranging from giving massages to the station chief to cooking and washing vessels. Com. Premlata further said that the job of the chowkidars is to go to the thanas twice a month and give news about happenings in the village. However, though their service is usually taken by police authorities for apprehending accused persons, this work is not recorded in their records. They have not even been insured for accidents. If they are killed during action in the police patrol, they will get nothing. The slogan raised at the conference was "1500 mein dum nahin, 15000 se kam nahin" (1500 is a mere pittance, less than 15000 is not acceptable). It was resolved that protests would be accelerated to demand State Govt. employee status for the chowkidars. At the conclusion of the conference, a 25 member district committee was elected with Jitendra as President and Raja Prasad as Mantri. The conference was also addressed by current district President Ramanand Paswan, AICCTU district convener Ramkishor Verma, and CPI(ML) town convener Dr. Shailesh Pandey. The proceedings were conducted by Kaviji Chowkidar.


AIARLA 5th TN State Conference Held in Chidambaram

The fifth state conference of AIARLA was held on 15th May in Chidambaram (Cuddalore district). The Conference was preceded with an impressive and enthusiastic procession in which several rural young women and men participated and were joined in solidarity by students and youth. Through their placards and loud sloganeering, the participants stoutly denounced Land grab Bill of the Modi Govt. and demanded its immediate repeal. At a time when the ruling AIADMK is celebrating the Bengaluru High Court Judgment acquitting its leader Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case, the participants questioned their jubilation and raised slogans against corruption and questioned AIADMK's support to the Land Grab Bill brought by the Modi Govt.

The masses congregated into the hall named after Com. Ammaiyappan, Cuddalore district secretary and state secretary of AIARLA, who recently passed away. Com. TKS Janardhanan, the outgoing president presided over the conference. After 2 minutes of silence observed in the memories of Comrade Ammaiyappan, tribal workers who had been killed in fake encounter recently in Andhra, and those who lost their lives in Nepal and India in the recent earthquake, the Central Observer Com. Bangar Rao, delivered his inaugural address. He called upon the state conference to develop Panchayats as platform of struggles.

Com. Rani, one of the Tribal activists narrated the unending woes and sufferings of the jailed workers and their kith and kin. Com. Simpson, member of the National Executive of AIKM and national council of AIPF appealed all to strengthen land struggles. In his message to the conference CPI(ML) State Secretary Balasundaram said that it is an irony that conference was dedicated to the memory of Com. Ammaiyappan who had initiated the preparations for this conference in January despite his ailing health condition. Several leaders stressed that preparations for June 30 struggle should also be a task of building AIARLA units at panchayat level.

The conference adopted several political, movemental, and organizational resolutions. 183 member state council, 27 member state executive and 11 office bearers been elected by the house. Com TKS Janarthanan and S. Janakiraman were elected as State President and General Secretary respectively.


Protest against Attack an CPI(ML) Leader

On 29 April 2015, criminal elements made a murderous attack on Com. Umashankar, CPI(ML) leader from Sariya block in Giridih district. However, under pressure from the local MLA, the Sariya police have not yet apprehended the culprits, who enjoy the protection of the MLA. In protest against this inaction, the CPI(ML) took out a protest march on 8 May 2015, from Jhanda Chowk. The protesters went around the entire market and then held a meeting at Jhanda Chowk. Speakers addressing the meeting said that if the police does not take appropriate action, CPI(ML) will further sharpen the agitation.


Protest March against Vandalization of Ambedkar Statue

AIPF took out a protest march in Bhagalpur town to protest against the vandalization of the Ambedkar statue by smearing it with "jootha" (leftovers) on 30 April. The protestors shouted slogans against attempts at saffronization of Ambedkar's ideas by the RSS-BJP and demanded immediate action against the perpetrators of the defacement.

It needs to be remembered that one day earlier when the RYA had burnt the effigy of Mohan Bhagwat in protest against the RSS chief's statement that Ambedkar was a Hindutva supporter, the saffron goons of the RSS had torn down all the posters from that place after the RYA activists left.


Release Chhatradhar Mahato and Repeal UAPA

On 12 May 2015, Chhatradhar Mahato, a tribal leader of the Lalgarh movement along with five others was sentenced to life imprisonment by a West Midnapore court under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). A few members of the AIPF were present in the court when he was convicted. Immediately following the sentence, a joint rally was called by APDR and Nagarik Samanyay in which CPI(ML), AIPF and AISA also participated. Over 500 people gathered in the rally and several representatives including Sumit Choudhury of AIPF, Dipankar Bhattacharya of CPI(ML), Sujata Vadro of APDR and several others condemned the verdict.

A protest rally was also called by CPI(ML) in Siliguri on 15 May 2015 demanding repeal of UAPA and unconditional release of Chhatradhar Mahato and others. The rally was led by CPI(ML) Central Committee member and the district secretary of Darjeeling, Com. Abhijit Mazumdar. Several people participated in the rally carrying red flags and placards carrying slogans against draconian laws like UAPA and demanding release of Chhatradhar Mahato. A rally at Jadavpur was also called by common students on 19 May 2015 in which AISA also participated. A fund drive has also been started for carrying forward the campaign as well as the legal battle.




Prof. Amalendu Guha: CPI(ML) expresses condolence on the demise of Prof. Amalendu Guha, a noted scholar and an eminent historian who worked in the department of History, Dibrugarh University, Assam. Among his several contributions to research on history and in particular history of Assam includes his path breaking work on the rice economy of Assam and his highly acclaimed book 'Planter's raj to Swaraj'. Prof. Guha will always be remembered for the crucial role played by him in the advancement of Marxism and historical studies in Assam.


Com. Ramyaad Sharma: CPI(ML) expressed deep shock and pain on the sad demise of Com. Ramyaad Sharma who suffered heart attack on the morning of 10 May 2015. Com. Ramyaad Sharma was associated with Azamgarh unit of CPI(ML) and was also the member of the state committee of the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha, UP. A comrade who was never known to say 'no' for any organizational work deputed to him, Com. Ramyaad Sharma was an embodiment of communist understanding of organizational commitment and discipline. He was extremely active, despite being 80 years of age. The pain of his loss especially among the CPI(ML) comrades of Azamgarh cannot be overstated. He will always remain a source of inspiration for us. Red Salute!!


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 13, 2015

ML Update | No.20 | 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 20, 12 ­– 18 MAY 2015


The Janata Merger: Desperate Leaders, Disinterested Supporters

he proposed merger of six parties of the Janata parivar seems to have run into rough weather. While Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav would like us to believe that the merger has already taken place, senior SP leaders have ruled out any merger before the Assembly elections in Bihar later this year, asking the JDU and RJD to work out an electoral alliance instead. Meanwhile, Jitan Ram Manjhi has declared the formation of his own new party and Lalu Prasad has expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav from the party for questioning his decision to hand over the reins of the party to one of his sons.

The merger of the six siblings of the erstwhile Janata parivar is a peculiar marriage of convenience where the benefits, if any, would accrue to Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad with the other siblings having to guard their shares of the family fortune on their own. But for Nitish Kumar's JDU and Lalu Prasad's RJD, the areas of influence of the other parties are clearly demarcated and rather mutually exclusive. Samajwadi Party calls the shots in UP while Deve Gowda and Chautala run their own fiefdoms in Haryana and Karnataka. Apart from an enhanced profile in Parliament, the merger will yield no real benefit to any of these parties.

While Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad are naturally most desirous of an immediate merger, the complications and challenges will also have to be faced primarily by them. The reality is both parties are faced with internal divisions. Jitan Ram Manjhi has already moved away from Nitish Kumar and it is well known that others who have stayed on with Nitish Kumar in the Assembly are not all happy with his leadership. Lalu Prasad is presiding over a declining and cracking support base – in the 2014 LS elections, his family members lost from Chhapra and Pataliputra, while Pappu Yadav who won from Madhepura defeating Sharad Yadav has had to face expulsion for challenging Lalu Prasad's family rule within the party.

For the last twenty-five years, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar have been at the helm of power in Bihar. Lalu had begun with a huge fund of social support and goodwill; but when his party's tenure finally came to an end in February 2005, his government had come to be identified not only with widespread corruption, crime, utter malgovernance and absolute economic stagnation but also with systematic exclusion and marginalisation of dalits and extreme backward sections. The promised reign of social justice had turned into a reign of serial massacres and grave social injustice. Nitish Kumar had replaced Lalu Prasad promising development with justice, but after ten years in power he has little to show except his opportunist track record of feudal subservience, arrogance of power, bureaucratic governance and betrayed promises.

The two previous occasions when the Janata experiment succeeded at the centre, it was marked by hope. 1977 had come with the promise of restoration of democracy after long nineteen months of Emergency. VP Singh had come with the promise of ending corruption and ensuring universal right to work. Even when he left without keeping these basic promises, he had earned considerable goodwill having partially implemented the recommendations of the Mandal Commission and refused to bow to the communal offensive of the BJP. But whether in Bihar and UP, or Karnataka and Haryana, the Janata regimes have been marked by corruption and compromises with feudal-communal forces.

The Samajwadi Party, the leading component of the Janata Parivar and whose leader Mulayam Singh Yadav is the declared president of the planned merger, is currently in power in UP and its tenure has been marked by dozens of communal riots, corruption, crime and corporate land-grabbing amidst deepening agrarian crisis. The UP government is even ready to allow acquisition of as much as 20% of cultivable land in every district. It is this baggage of betrayal and absence of any policy alternative which explains why the merger plan of the Janata parivar has failed to evoke much political interest or enthusiasm even among the supporters or voters of these parties. The revolt of Jitan Ram Manjhi does not of course provide any answer, for Manjhi continues to seek his political fortune through continued hobnobbing with the BJP and its feudal-communal politics.

Ahead of the forthcoming Assembly elections, the political situation in Bihar thus continues to be marked by fluidity and churning. As indicated most recently by the municipal elections in West Bengal, the Modi wave has begun to subside and the BJP is facing widespread disillusionment of the masses. The merger of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad with the sole purpose of holding on to power has failed to generate any wider appeal. The people are of course not waiting for the elections and are out on the streets with their burning demands. The Left and other fighting forces must come forward at this juncture to provide an alternative political agenda and direction to the common people of Bihar.

AICCTU's 9th National Conference Held in Patna

All India Central Council of Trade Unions' (AICCTU's) 9th National Conference was held in Patna on 4-6 May 2015. The conference began with a "workers' and farmers' rights" march from Gandhi Maidan culminating in a massive public meeting in which thousands of workers and farmers participated. The march was led by Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, Kumaraswamy, Nikolas from Greece, Bahadur Khatri and Kamlesh Jha from Nepal, and Tapan Datta from Bangladesh.

Addressing the meeting, CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya pointed out the atrocities on workers and farmers in the Modi regime and said that this 9th National Conference of AICCTU was an important milestone in the fight for the rights of workers and farmers. He saluted the brave struggles of workers in the Maruti agitation, of contractual workers, of workers in Greece and Bangladesh, and all workers fighting for justice. Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, Rameshwar Prasad, Dhirendra Jha, Rajaram Singh, Shashi Yadav and others also addressed the meeting and pointed out that Bihar's Nitish government is equally guilty of suppressing workers' and farmers' rights as the Central Govt.

After the meeting, the inaugural session was held at Ravindra Bhavan. In his report, AICCTU national General Secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee detailed the challenges before the working class and the dangers of the Modi Govt's pro-corporate policies. He called for greater unity of the working class to fight these challenges. He condemned the proposed amendments in the existing labour laws which would further kill workers' rights. He spoke of the historic all India labour strike of 20-21 Feb 2013 and other workers' agitations, including the 26 February 2015 "jail bharo" agitation and presented the "charter of struggles".

The second day of the conference started with the guest session addressed by Comrades Kumaraswamy (AICCTU's National President), Nikolas (WAFTU representative), Kamlesh Jha (Nepal Trade Union Mahasangh's EC member), Lal Bahadur Pakhrin (KONEP (Nepal) leader), Tapan Datta (Bangladesh Trade Union Centre), AK Padmanabhan (CITU President), DL Sachdeva (AITUC National Secretary), Shivgopal Mishra (AIRF General Secretary), and also by representatives from UTUC, AIUTUC, TUCC, and HMS.

The delegate session started in the second half of 5 May and continued on 6 May. 54 delegates including representatives of construction workers, contractual workers, ASHA and midday meal workers, as well as delegates from organized sectors like rail, steel, bank, coal, tea estates, jute, transport, and government services, expressed their views on the General Secretary's report. They spoke of the challenges faced by workers in their fields and were unanimous in stressing the need for unity of all workers for a successful fight for justice. Com. Swapan Mukherjee said all constructive suggestions would be included in the report, after which the report was passed unanimously.

Finally, a 195 member national council was formed, and from among them a 66 member national executive and 39 office bearers were elected. Com. Kumaraswamy was elected national President and Com. Rajiv Dimri was elected national General Secretary. 21 Vice Presidents and 16 Secretaries were also elected.

The conference resolved to fight for regularization of ASHA and transport workers, stopping of attacks on migrant workers and their voting rights, protesting against the plan to dissolve Coal India, as well as other issues of workers' rights. The resolutions that were passed included- announcement of a nationwide hartal on May 26 during the joint trade union meeting; active participation in the 100-day AIPF workers' and farmers' rights campaign; opposing the amendments in the child labour laws; supporting the teachers' hartal in Bihar, and actively supporting the central government workers' hartal on 23 November. The conference was energized and enthused by songs and programmes by units of Jan Sanskriti Manch and Hirawal. Around 600 delegates participated in the conference.

Kisan Mahasabha Hunger Strike in Lucknow

The Uttar Pradesh State unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha sat on a hunger strike at the Lakshman Mela Maidan in Lucknow on 4-5 May with a 13 point charter of demands including passing a law for protection of sharecroppers' rights and including them in compensation for loss of crops through unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Farmers from various districts sat on the hunger strike after a march from Charbagh station, under the leadership of comrades Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha and Jaiprakash Narayan.

Addressing the dharna, Com. Kushwaha said that in a State where farmers were desperate and committing suicide, the plight of sharecroppers was the worst. He pointed out that sharecroppers had to bear the brunt of a double disaster; they had paid 10-20,000 per acre, and now their crops were also destroyed. He exhorted the sharecroppers not to commit suicide but to fight for their rights of compensation and relief. He said that the rich were taking the benefit of the compensation money as the land is in their names. He demanded compensation for the sharecroppers and also waiver of loans for poor farmers and sharecroppers.

CPI(ML) CC member Krishna Adhikari said that while farmers were committing suicide in distress, the Akhilesh government was snatching land from them in the name of the Project Tiger. She demanded immediate scrapping of Project Tiger. The meeting was also addressed by Comrades Ramdarash, Allauddin Shastri, Kamlesh Rai, Rajesh Verma, Rama Gairola, Rajiv Kushwaha, Ram Singh, and Ramesh Singh Sengar.

A 13 point memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister which included the following chief demands: immediate steps to correct the heavy irregularities in the survey and loot of compensation money; 25 lakh compensation for families of suicide and shock deaths; free diesel, seeds and fertilizers to the affected farmers; minimum monthly pension of 5,000 to farmers above 60 years; MNREGA to be associated with agricultural work; immediate payment of arrears to sugar cane farmers; immediate stopping of oppression of farmers affected by the Kanhar project in Sonbhadra district; and re-issue of the notification on the project.

Farmers' Dharna in Vaishali

33 mahadalit families have been for years settled on Bihar government land in Chainpur Baghel village of Sahdeyi Bujurg block. The government had arranged for 1.5 decimal housing land for each of them, in which houses had been built under the Indira Awas Yojana. Now the number of families has increased to 150 who manage by living in thatched houses made of dried grass. These 150 families are mainly sharecroppers who also do construction work in their spare time. As they refused to work in a neighbouring landlord's land, a case of encroachment of Bihar government land was put against them in the High Court and a fake impostor was produced in court who gave it in writing that they had encroached upon government land meant for roads. The HC had issued directions in 2011 for removal of the encroachments. These poor mahadalits had no knowledge of any of these events. They came to know about it when on 1st March the authorities came with JCBs to raze down their settlement. People protested in hundreds and the administration had to turn back.

Under the banner of the Kisan Mahasabha it was decided to hold protests and agitations and file a petition in the HC for review of the verdict. Poor from the neighbouring villages also extended support and solidarity to these families. A case for review of the decision was registered in the HC on 11 March and on 12 March hundreds of farmers staged a dharna in front of the DM demanding– suspension of the old verdict until fresh directions from the HC; 5 decimal housing land for each family; and fixation of sharecropping rates by the government.

Presently the district administration has stayed the proceedings to implement the HC decision of removing the settlement. The dharna was led and addressed by Kisan Mahasabha leaders comrades Vishveshwar Prasad Yadav, Arvind Kumar Choudhury, Pramod Kumar, Harinarayan Singh, and CPI(ML) District Secretary Com. Yogendra Rai.

CPI(ML) Leader Brutally Attacked in Bihar

Com. Upadhyay Yadav, a young CPI(ML) leader and a member of Jahanabad Zila Parishad, Bihar, was shot by miscreants on the morning of 2nd May and was admitted to hospital battling for life. Com. Upadhyay Yadav had been in the forefront of a movement in Ratni block on the issue of paddy purchase. During the movement, the block headquarters had been blocked completely for three days and due to the pressure generated by the movement the administration had to relent. The daylight attack on leaders raising the issues of the marginalized and oppressed once again expose the shallow claims of 'good governance' (sushaasan) in Bihar. Protesting against the attack on Com. Yadav and demanding immediate arrest of his attackers, a Jahanabad-Arwal bandh was called on 3 May 2015. The call for bandh found massive support from the people and the roads remained swarmed with the protestors. CPI(ML) has called for another protest in front of the DM's office on 15 May demanding the arrest of the attackers.

CPI(ML) Leader Arrested for Leading Popular Agitation for Electricity

Com. Vinay Santhalia, CPI(ML) leader from Rajdhanwar (Giridih, Jharkhand) who has been leading a popular agitation in Giridih for electricity, was arrested on 10 May on false charges filed against him for leading this agitation. Several CPI(ML) leaders and locals have been framed in false cases. In fact it was the police which had injured several agitators by firing bullets at them. Under the pressure from CPI(ML) leadership, the administration had apologized and promised to withdraw false charges, however, this arrest exposes the administration's plan to repress the struggle. The agitation and resistance will continue till the demands of the people are met and false framing withdrawn.

AISA's 8th National Conference held in Delhi

AISA's 8th national conference was held in New Delhi on 10-11 May, in the north campus of the Delhi University. The inaugural session of the 2-day national conference was addressed by CPI(ML) general secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, human rights activist Prashant Bhushan, DUTA President Nandita Narain, AIPWA secretary Comrade Kavita Krishnan and leaders of SFI, AISF, DSF and AIDSO. Around 300 delegates from Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karbi Anglong, Madhya Pradesh, Maharshtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu attended the conference.

Welcoming the delegates and guests at the inaugural session, AISA's national president Sucheta De pointed that the conference was being held in the backdrop of several dangerous policy changes being mooted by the Modi government. She stressed that the student community and the student movement has the historic responsibility to oppose the systematic saffronisation of education, the choice-based credit system, the common Central University Act and RUSA.

DUTA President Nandita Narain said that the proposed CBCS was just FYUP in another form, and should be opposed by another movement on the scale of the anti-FYUP movement. She underlined the fact that the blueprint of privatisation of education was put in place by the previous UPA government, and is now being aggressively pursued by the Modi government. Pointing out that various Indian governments are following WTO diktats to declare education as a 'tradeable commodity', she added that the script of selling out education is being written globally. Human rights advocate Prashant Bhushan also addressed the conference and said that sycophants and ideologues of the RSS are being placed at the head of all the institutions of our country. All dissent is being curbed and activists are being hounded. Prof Saibaba who is 80% disabled is denied bail, while Salman Khan who has been clearly convicted is granted bail immediately, he added.

CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, addressing the conference, noted that the conference was being held on the anniversary of the historic 1857 war of independence against the colonial British rule. He said that the significance and relevance of 1857 is all the more relevant now, when the ruling government is hell-bent on instituting a new form of 'Company Raj' and carrying forward the British legacy of divide and rule. Kavita Krishnan welcomed the conference on behalf of AIPWA as well as the All India Peoples' Forum (AIPF), and said that students have a historic role to play in challenging the ideological assaults of the ruling powers. "Today, the likes of Dinanath Batra try to tell us that it is 'anti-national' to blow candles and cut a cake on one's birthday, while it is perfectly patriotic to deny Indian students the right to a decent, quality and affordable education! They try to tell us that it is 'women's empowerment' to prevent women from marrying men of their choice - the entire patriarchal and communal Love Jihad campaign is being run in the name of protecting women's rights. In such a situation, it is students and youth who can play a very crucial role in redefining the meaning of 'nationalism', and women's rights", she said.

 Addressing the conference, Vishwajeet, national secretary of AISF, said that the need of the hour was to unitedly oppose the blatant commercialisation of education as well as the replacement of history and science with myth. Ashok, national secretary of AIDSO, also spoke in detail of the nature of assaults on the education sector. Sunand, Delhi secretary of SFI and Ishan from the DSF also addressed the conference, and stressed on the need for collective, united resistance of left and progressive student organisations to the ongoing policy assaults. Several speakers pointed out that the so-called 'reforms' were actually 'deforming' the education sector as well as workers, peasants and the poor.

During the 2-day conference, student leaders and activists deliberated in detail on the need to oppose CBCS, RUSA, the common Central University Act and the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. Detailed documents on the intent and content of all these policies were presented at the conference. The conference discussed AISA's initiatives and plans for the future in various states. It also planned nation-wide protests and agitations against these policy assaults - demanding their roll back and also demanding thoroughgoing efforts to ensure social inclusion in education. Implementation of the Thorat Committee report, the Sachar committee recommendations, setting up cells to address sexual harassment in all campuses, enhancement of funds for financial assistance, and for SC/ST hostels and scholarships were also discussed. It was also resolved to oppose the Modi government's plans to officially accept the addition of education under WTO/GATS.

A 57-member National Executive and a 115-member Council was elected. Comrades Farhan Ahmed, Ranjeet Kramsa, Rinki and Ranajoy were elected as Vice Presidents. Comrades Sunil Maurya, Ajit Kushwaha, Saikat Maity and Abhilasha were elected as joint secretaries. Comrade Sucheta De was elected as AISA's National President, while Comrade Sandeep Saurav was elected as national General Secretary.

AIPF's Convention against Communal Riots Held in Bhagalpur

The All India People's Forum (AIPF) held a day-long convention against communal riots, violence and hate-mongering on 10 May at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Bhagalpur. It has been twenty five years since the horrific communal riots in Bhagalpur, and AIPF's convention, titled 'How to understand and fight communalism: Questions arising 25 years after the Bhagalpur riots', was organised to reflect on the current challenges of aggressive communal fascism in India. Several riot survivors, intellectuals and human rights activists participated in this convention.

At the convention, several riot survivors talked about the horrors they had faced, and the nature of their ongoing battle for justice. Many of them pointed out that for two decades, so-called forces of 'social justice' have been ruling in Bihar, and yet they have received absolutely no justice. A film on the Bhagalpur riots was also screened at the convention. This film showcased the sham behind the so-called 'relief and rehabilitation' of the riot victims. The riot survivors pointed out that after the riots, hundreds were displaced from their homes. Even now, twenty five years after the riots, feudal forces in the area are still in control of the victims' homes and hundreds continue to remain displaced. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation still continues, even as riot victims as well as activists continue to take forward the battle against communal hate-mongering, riots and violence.

Activists who have been campaigning against communal fascism, such as Mani Khan, Prof. Manoj, Prof. Farooq Ali, Anisur Rehman Qasmi, Mohd. Shahbaz, Mallika Begum, as well as CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Dhirendra Jha, former MLA Satyadev Ram and Dr. Sharad Jaiswal from Kanpur also addressed the convention. The convention was conducted by AIPF's national council member Dr. Mukesh Kumar, and RYA leader comrade Om Sudha gave the valedictory speech. The convention resolved to strengthen the struggle for adequate compensation, rehabilitation, pension, basic rights such as education, healthcare and housing and justice for the victims of the Bhagalpur riots.

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: