A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 18 | No. 49 | 1 - 7 DEC 2015
Modi Government Mocks at the Constitution
November 26, 1949 was the day that the Constituent Assembly finally adopted the Constitution of India, which was promulgated on January 26, 1950, marked in India as Republic Day. This year, November 26 was observed as Constitution Day in Parliament. This should have been an occasion to reflect soberly on the failure of the State to fulfill its obligations to defend the Constitutional rights, liberties and entitlements of vast sections of India's society. It should especially have been an occasion to reflect on the recent instances of Parliamentarians and persons on Constitutional posts, such as Governors, openly mocking at core values of the Constitution. Instead, Constitution Day 2015 will be remembered as yet another day when the Modi Government and the BJP put on display its discomfort with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
In Parliament, India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that "secularism is the most misused word," and "We are facing problems in ensuring social harmony because of the misuse of these expressions." Rajnath Singh suggested in Parliament that secularism in India should mean 'panth nirpeksh' (neutral towards all sects) but instead the Western meaning (dharm nirpeksh or neutral towards all religions) had been imposed on the Indian State.
The Home Minister was reflecting the long-held RSS position, which is that 'Dharma' means Hindutva which should be equivalent to Indianness, while other faiths are sects; hence the State must embrace Hindutva while maintaining a distance from all other 'faiths/sects'. Based on this understanding, the RSS and the Home Minister maintain that "social harmony" can be maintained as long as people of other faiths and beliefs accept Hindutva as 'Indianness.' So the Home Minister was in effect echoing recent statements by several BJP leaders suggesting that if only Muslims would give up beef, if only inter-faith love and marriages could be ended, if only Dalits and Muslims and women would accept social 'Laxman Rekhas,' it would be easy for 'social harmony' to be maintained.
Rajnath Singh implied that the words 'sovereign democratic Republic' reflected 'India's traditional strength', while the words 'secularism and socialism,' inserted later, were somehow alien to India. Actually, the facts show that soon after the first Constitution Day, the BJP's ideological forefathers in the RSS had rejected the Constitution lock, stock and barrel, branded it as a bundle of Western imports, and had instead demanded that the Manusmriti be adopted as India's Constitution! The 30 November edition of the Organiser wrote, "In our constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu's Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing."
This was the same Manusmriti that Dr Ambedkar had deemed fit to burn in protest, since it was a charter of the subordination, dehumanization and humiliation of Dalits, oppressed castes and women.
Dr Ambedkar had made a distinction between Constitutional morality and societal morality, and had stressed that "Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated." The RSS and BJP, on the other hand, try desperately to claim that societal morality of the dominant community (towards inter-caste and inter-faith marriages, towards beef, towards women's social and sexual freedom, towards homosexuality and so on) must be accepted as 'Indian culture' by the whole of India – and any assertion of Constitutional morality is a provocation that justifies violence and breaking 'social harmony.'
Preposterously, Rajnath Singh referred to Ram as "the greatest democrat since he had asked his wife Sita to take the 'agni pariksha' (entering fire to prove her chastity) because a man from the lower strata had raised an issue concerning her." The fact that the Home Minister in the Central Government is not only comfortable with the idea of a husband demanding his wife undergo a chastity test, but actually sees this as evidence of democratic values, shows that the Modi Government replete with feudal societal morality, is lacking in the Constitutional morality that Dr Ambedkar had stressed.
Most shameful was the Home Minister's attempt to harness Dr Ambedkar to the hate-wagon of the BJP and RSS. In a jibe at actor Aamir Khan, Rajnath Singh said that Dr. Ambedkar in spite of facing humiliation, never left India. But what Rajnath Singh and the BJP can never acknowledge is that Ambedkar quit Hinduism and abhorred the notion of a Hindu India. He quit Hinduism calling it a "veritable chamber of horrors," most especially towards Dalits. Explicitly rejecting the agenda of a Hindu Rashtra, Dr Ambedkar wrote in his essays on 'Pakistan or Partition of India', "If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. It is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. It is incompatible with democracy. It must be stopped at any cost." In 1951, on the eve of independent India's first-ever general election, the manifesto of Ambedkar's Scheduled Castes Federation (SCF) ruled out "alliance with any reactionary party such as Hindu Mahasabha and Jan Sangh as communal parties."
The strategy of other BJP leaders on this occasion as well as in the debate on 'intolerance' in the next couple of days, has been to recount the various atrocities against minorities, Dalits and civil liberties committed during Congress rule. The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for instance talked of the Emergency imposed by Mrs Gandhi, while Meenakshi Lekhi spoke of the communal and caste atrocities at Delhi 1984, Nellie, Hashimpura, Bhagalpur and so on. But can the crimes of the Congress provide an alibi for the BJP and the present Government?
The fact is that the erosion of the Constitutional rights has happened steadily over a period of decades. Congress Governments too trampled on the Constitution repeatedly. The communal pogroms of the 1980s from 1984 to Hashimpura and Bhagalpur, happened as Congress Governments steadily sought to cultivate and consolidate Hindu majoritarianism. A Congress Government opened the locks of the Babri Masjid at the same time that it opened the veins of the Indian economy to be bled by global capital. Kashmir and the North Eastern states have for long been a graveyard of democratic rights and the Constitution. Custodial killings of dissenters, of the poor, of Dalits and of Muslims have been 'tolerated' by regimes of all hues for long. It is this systematic hollowing out of the Constitutional mandates and the weakening of the democratic and secular fabric by the Congress that left India vulnerable to the communal fascist BJP, which openly seeks to tamper with the Constitution.
It is not only the secular nature of the Constitution that is under attack. Successive Governments of the Congress and BJP have also eroded India's sovereign character, allowing the WTO, World Bank, IMF and imperialist powers to shape India's economic and foreign policies. This December, for instance, the Modi Government is preparing to sell out India's higher education interests at the WTO Ministerial meeting. These Governments have trampled democracy by ensuring impunity for custodial crimes by the armed forces and the police, as well as for perpetrators of caste and communal massacres; and by failing to uphold the dignity and freedom of women and Dalits. These Governments have mocked at any "socialist" obligations to ensure entitlements of food, jobs and health care for India's vast majority of India's poor and deprived citizens.
In Parliament, Rajnath Singh declared in answer to an allegation, that he had never said that "Modi is the first Hindu ruler in 800 years to rule India." That is true. The statement was in fact made by the VHP leader, the late Ashok Singhal, whom Prime Minister Modi called "an inspiration for generations" following his demise. In July this year, Singhal had called the election of the Modi-led Government in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as the beginning of a "Hindu revolution" in the country, thanks to which "India would be a 'Hindu Nation' by 2020" and would bring about a "Hindu world" by 2030.
Modi in his speech in Parliament called the Constitution a "holy document" and delivered a lengthy homily (pravachan) on the Constitution. But he remained totally silent on the open incitement by MPs, Ministers and MLAs of his party for communal and casteist massacres and murders. Modi and his Government cannot simultaneously swear by Singhal and his Hindu Rashtra slogans on the one hand, and Ambedkar and the Indian Constitution on the other. Its Ministers cannot keep advising detractors and beef-eaters to "go to Pakistan" while paying lip service to Ambedkar and the Constitution. It cannot allow the RSS to impose the laws of Manu in society (massacring Dalits and Muslims, banning inter-caste and inter-faith marriages, killing those who kill cows etc) while citing the Indian Constitution when questioned abroad on growing bigotry. There is a saying 'munh me raam bagal me chhuri' (Ram on one's lips, a dagger hidden under one's arm). For the BJP and RSS, it is 'munh me Ambedkar, bagal me Manu'; 'munh me Gandhi, bagal me Godse aur Golwalkar'; or 'munh me samvidhan, bagal me Mansmriti.'
Martyrs' Day Observed to Pay Tributes to Com. Jauhar, Com. Nirmal and Com. Ratan
On the 40th anniversary of martyrdom of Com. Jauhar, Com. Nirmal and Com. Ratan, CPI (ML) observed martyrs' day on 29 November 2015 in Patna. As the General Secretary of the party during early 1970's, Com. Jauhar had laid the foundation of revolutionary peasant upsurge in Bhojpur and adjoining districts of Central Bihar. Speaking at a function organized to pay tributes to the martyred leaders, CPI(ML) General Secretary, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that Com. Jauhar had led the party through a difficult time during the Emergency. He also added that the country was going through a similar state of unannounced emergency and that as in case of emergency then, even today the people were fighting back. He urged the party comrades to continue the struggles for people as only that would be a true tribute to the martyrs. The function was chaired by Com. B.B. Pandey, editor of Samkalin Janmat and attended by several party comrades from across the state. Tributes to the martyrs were also paid in party offices across the state.
Climate change talks in Paris
Negotiations have to be based on the fundamental equity of the world's citizens
Elected representatives and leaders of 150 nations of the world, and 40,000 delegates from 195 countries are currently attending the Conference of Parties (COP) summit in Paris to deliberate upon global interventions to tackle climate change. CPI(ML) demands that all negotiations at the COP summit should be based on the principled and democratic idea that every individual citizen anywhere in the world has an equal right to the environment and global resources. Over the years, the US and other 'developed' nations tried their level best to escape their own culpability and responsibility in this crisis. They have used climate change negotiations as platforms to bully poorer nations, and to undermine precisely this fundamental and democratic principle. There is an absolute urgent need that the COP summit at Paris should enforce legally binding emission reductions on those countries that have historically been responsible for creating the current climate crisis, and also force these countries to fund emission reductions across the world. Negotiations and legally binding emission reductions should be based on per capita emissions, and not on total emissions of each country.
At these crucial climate change talks, the Indian government has to ensure that it stands by democratic principles of global equity, that it resists US and EU bullying, and that it forges strong ties with poor nations against the habitual bullying of the developed nations. There are unfortunately indications that the Modi government will not do so. If the government capitulates to the undemocratic demands of the US and the EU, it will indeed be betraying not just common Indians and India's sovereignty, but also the rights of the poor and the underprivileged across the world.
CPI(ML) also strongly condemns the brutal crackdown by the Paris police on thousands of protestors who are demanding environmental justice at the COP summit. The widespread dissent and protest is a telling signal that people across the world want their representatives to act, and act quickly, rather than serve the agenda of big business and corporate greed.
Famished Workers of Closed Panighata Tea Estate on Hunger Strike
AICCTU calls for a Strike
The Panighatta tea estate, a member of the Tea Association of India, located at the foothills of Darjeeling district was shut down on 10 October, leaving thousands of workers unemployed and without means to livelihood. The owners had been refusing to give bonus to the workers and when then workers protested, the estate was shut down. The shutting down of the estate poses severe threat to the survival of the workers and their families who have not even been paid wages of the month before the estate was shut. This snatching of livelihood of workers already taken five lives. Five workers have died in a week's time owing to lack of basic amenities like food and health care. The shutting down of Panighatta tea estate has brought the number of closed and abandoned gardens to 32. The famished workers of the closed Panighata Tea garden have been on hunger-strike for the last 8 days demanding opening of the garden and payment of 20% bonus. AICCTU leaders of the district have visited the garden and met the striking workers. AICCTU has also called the workers to participate in the tea sector strike on 1st December. Relay hunger strike will also be organised at 45 different spots on 30 Nov. from 8 a.m. through to 8 p.m.
'OCCUPY UGC' EXPRESS in Several States
Lucknow: The 'Occupy UGC' Express under way as part of the 'Save Education, Save the Country' campaign, made its way from Aligarh, Banaras and Allahabad and reached Lucknow on 19 November 2015. Arriving on the Express, former JNUSU President Ashutosh Kumar spoke with students of Lucknow University and BBAU and appealed to them to participate in this agitation. Speaking at the press conference organized in the afternoon at the Lenin Book Centre, Lalkuan, Ashutosh Kumar gave details of the Occupy UGC agitation being carried on since 21 October 2015 in protest against the ending of Non-NET fellowships. He called upon students to join the 'Dilli Chalo' agitation called by AISA to oppose these policies on 8 and 9 December 2015, for whose success AISA and JNUSU are campaigning in different universities of the country.
Rajasthan & Gujarat: Comrades Anant (former JNUSU Vice President), Mohit and Sandeep Shivam reached Central university of Rajasthan as part of the #OccupyUGC express and the national campaign against fund cut and WTO, after having taken the campaign to universities in Hyderabad (HCU, MANUU, EFLU and Osmania). A meeting had been scheduled in the university in this context. However, the ABVP once again along with the support of the university administration obstructed the meeting and the campaign and farcical reason offered for withdrawing permission for scheduled meeting was that "it was a different territory". When the AISA activists along with university students started distributing the campaign leaflets, the administration once again obstructed from them doing so and threatened the local students, who had expressed solidarity with the movement, with dire consequences. However, undeterred by such obstructions, the activists tried to meet maximum number of students, distribute the pamphlets and invite them for the massive anti-WTO agitation on 8 and 9 December 2015.
The activists as a part of the #OccupyUGC express than visited Gujarat where several programmes such as street plays were organized and the campaign was met with a tremendous support from the students of Gandhi Vidyapith and Central university of Gujarat. They also visited Mahatma Gandhi Hindi University in Wardha (Maharashtra).
Bihar: AISA activists in Bihar were joined AISA national president and former JNUSU general Secretary, Com. Sandeep Saurav to take the #Occupy UGC and anti-WTO campaign in various colleges and universities in Bihar. During the visit, several conventions, public meeting and student contact programmes were organized in Darbhanga, Bihta, Naubatpur (Patna district), Veer Kunwar Singh University (Ara), Central University of Bihar, Gaya and several other colleges on the issue of fund-cuts in education and the dangers of making higher education a tradeable service following WTO dictates. Com. Ajit Kushwaha also led several teams to other parts of Bihar.
Diphu: On 27 November, AISA national president, Com. Sucheta De met with students in Diphu and also addressed the local media about the ongoing fight against committing higher education to WTO. She was joined by comrades from Karbi Students Association. Com. Sucheta is currently in Mansa (Punjab) for the campaign.
The campaign will intensify in days to come and activists will visit several other states and institutes to mobilize students against the assaults on higher education!
CPI (ML) Protest Against Death of a Worker in Dhanbad
A CPI (ML) party activist from Dhanbad, Com. Kamdeo Gop, belonging to Govindpuri, lost his life while working in a coal tar factory in Dhanbad. A CPI (ML) team soon visited the site of the accident and found that it was the negligence of the company which cost the worker his life. The team also reported that workers were being made to work for nearly 12 hours and excess amount of work was being taken by them. The party cadres blocked the gate of the company demanding 50 lakh compensation for the family of deceased comrade and better security for the workers. The protests will continue till the demands are met by the company authorities.
Red Salute to Com. Tapan Bhattacharya
Our beloved leader comrade Tapan Bhattacharya, secretary of Murshidabad District Committee, West Benga, died on 30 November at 11 am at the age of 66 years. Com. Tapan was one of the leading comrades at the time of the reorganisation of the party. He was one of the leading state team member in West Bengal in 1974 after which he was sent by the party to Assam for party work. His uncle comrade Ananta Bhattacharya, had also been the secretary of the Murshidabad District in the undivided communist party. After working in Assam, when Com. Tapan came back to West Bengal, he was entrusted with the responsibility to do party work in his home district of Murshidabad. He played a leading role in party building and in organising the peasants and the democratic movement in the district. He was a popular leader in the district. He had been suffering from chronic diseases and he had completely lost his vision. However, despite illness and loss of vision, nothing could deter him from his full time party work. His exemplary role is an inspiration to all of us.
Red Salute to Com. Rani Devi
Com. Rani Devi, residing in the Kurji area of Patna, passed away at the age of 82 on the morning of 21 November 2015. She was the mother of Bihar State committee member Com. Anita. In the 80s during the underground phase of the Party, her home was a dependable shelter for the Party where many leaders stayed. During that period she undertook this responsibility with great dedication and sacrifice. She even brought up the children of Party comrades with great love and devotion, never letting the economic constraints of a lower middle class family bring a murmur or a frown to her face. Even afterwards, Patna comrades used to frequent her home. Many comrades joined her funeral procession including Com. Pawan Sharma, Com. Kunal, Com. Brijbihari Pandey, Com. Shashi Yadav, Com. Ranvijay, Com. Vibha Gupta, and others.
A memorial meeting in her memory was held at her home on 25 November, conducted by Com. Ramkalyan. Apart from Party comrades, around 50-60 people from the neighbourhood also attended the meeting, addressed by Com. Madhu, Com. Vibha Gupta, Com. Damyanti, and local comrades. The concluding speech was given by Com. Pawan Sharma who had stayed at her home for several years in the 80s while he was Bihar State Committee Secretary. He said that we are inspired by every unselfish act performed in the interests of social change, and so today we remember her, whose qualities we would like to imbibe. Just as domestic work is often not counted as labour, so also we often forget the sacrifice of the women who gave shelter to Party comrades in difficult times. The contribution of Com. Rani Devi and women like her in keeping the Party alive in that phase is extremely important and unforgettable.
Red Salute to Com. Rani Devi!