A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 18, No. 51, 15 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2015
CC Call for Pledge Day 2015:
Seize the Moment, Expand the Party and
Strengthen the Communist Movement
(In lieu of editorial)
(Seventeen years ago, on December 18, 1998, we had lost Comrade VM right in the midst of a meeting of the Party Central Committee in Lucknow. Every year since then the Party has been observing this day as the annual Pledge Day, launching the annual membership renewal campaign and renewing the pledge to accomplish the revolutionary mission of the party.)
Seventeen years ago when we had lost Comrade VM, the country had just begun to grapple with the first NDA government and the ideological-political implications of having a BJP-led government at the Centre. Under Com. VM's leadership, the whole Party had launched a determined ideological counter-offensive against the BJP's saffronisation agenda and a powerful "Oust Saffron, Save the Nation" mass campaign. The first NDA government did not last long, but it did return to power with a bigger coalition in 1999. However, in the first opportunity after the Gujarat genocide of 2002, the country managed to get rid of the disastrous NDA regime.
Today, seventeen years later, we can see the contours of a full-scale corporate-communal offensive unleashed by yet another BJP-led government, this time back in power with a bigger majority. But we can also say that we are witnessing the potential of Comrade VM's vision of a powerful revolutionary-democratic resistance. If 2014 was a year of major setback for the Indian people, when Narendra Modi rode a wave of demagogy to central power to systematically unleash the entire gamut of the disastrous saffron agenda, 2015 has indeed been a year of the Indian people striking back.
And between the February washout of the BJP in Delhi to the November drubbing in Bihar, it has indeed been a great fightback on every front. Opposition by peasant organisations and the common people compelled the Modi government to go back on the land acquisition ordinance even after repeated promulgations. The massive September 2 strike by trade unions including large sections of unorganised and contract workers signalled a determination to fight hard to defeat the Modi government's attempts to subvert labour laws and abolish industrial/workplace democracy.
The successful battle for the restoration of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle in Chennai IIT, the FTII strike and now the Occupy UGC campaign have exposed the myth of a Modi wave among the educated urban youth. And the campaign initiated by the country's eminent writers, film-makers, scientists to return awards and resign from posts marked a new high of collective assertion by intellectuals, playing truly the role of public intellectuals representing the pluralist ethos and democratic conscience of India.
The Bihar elections were a key battle for the CPI(ML) and other Left forces in Bihar. The consistent role of the CPI(ML) as the leading centre of people's struggle and the pivot of Left politics helped in bringing together the Left to fight this crucial battle as a united and independent bloc. It is a battle that we had to fight against all odds. After twenty years of uninterrupted presence in the Assembly, in 2010, the Party had failed to win a single seat. The media and the outside political world had written us off. But the Party in Bihar successfully summoned all its strength and led the 2015 battle.
After the 2010 setback, the Party paid renewed attention to strengthening its ties with the people and overhauling the Party organisation. The Party's poll performance in Bihar could not however improve in the 2014 LS election and for the first time we could not poll one lakh votes in any of Bihar's Lok Sabha seats. The Party organisation took up the challenge, launched a massive socio-economic survey, unleashed a whole series of local struggles and put in serious efforts to expand and streamline the Party network on the ground.
The result is now before all of us. In the extremely bipolar elections of Bihar, the Party has successfully stood its ground, improving its performance in almost all major seats and winning three seats amidst highly keen contests. The Party has managed to secure more than 10,000 votes in sixteen seats, crossing the one-lakh mark again in Bhojpur and Siwan.
The Bihar elections have re-established the Party as the leading Left force in Bihar and coupled with our base in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, this can surely help us strengthen our role as a growing centre of people's struggles and Left politics in the entire Hindi belt and intervene in the whole range of ongoing protests and struggles against the corporate and communal fascist offensive of the Modi raj.
The unleashing of the entire gamut of the RSS agenda in tandem with the most brazen appeasement of foreign capital and corporate power and strategic subservience of Western imperialist powers has made the spectre of fascism a growing real threat. But we must not rush into making any alarmist reading of the situation and must not fall prey to defeatist ideas and strategy. The massive and wide-ranging protests have made it clear that the people are alive to the threat and will not allow the BJP to hijack and destroy the country. We must make use of every democratic avenue to raise our voice and strengthen the resistance and unite and cooperate with every positive initiative and struggle to combat the fascist danger.
If the BJP is taking the fullest advantage of the decline of the Congress, if a completely new force like AAP is now ruling in Delhi and making its presence felt in Punjab, the challenge before the communists is, first and foremost, to shape a powerful communist resurgence on every major plane of class struggle – ideological, political and organisational. And to do this we must combat the defeatist liberal idea that fails to address this key question and seeks to reduce the battle against the fascist danger to a bankrupt defence of the status quo.
At the same time we must concretely grasp the challenge of expanding the Party organisation and strengthening its role at the present juncture. The Ranchi Congress and the Lucknow Workshop have delineated the appropriate policy framework and key organisational tasks and targets. The entire Party must now rise to the occasion with powerful advances on every front. On the seventeenth anniversary of the demise of our beloved visionary leader, let us rededicate ourselves to Comrade VM's dream of making CPI(ML) the biggest communist party of India and making the communist movement a powerful national political force.
Six Left parties organized a joint campaign from 1 to 6 December on the 23rd anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition against the Modi govt's drive to spread communal hatred and destroy the secular fabric of the country. Reports received so far from different states are as follows:
Bihar: CPI(ML), CPI(M), CPI, SUCI (C), Forward Bloc, and RSP held anti-communal protest marches and meetings in Patna and many other places in Bihar.
In Patna, with the permission being refused in the main regions, the march was taken out from the public library and it culminated in a meeting at Gardanibagh thana. Addressing the meeting, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that in spite of electoral debacles in Delhi and Bihar, the BJP continues to pursue its agenda of communal hatred; recently Home Minister Rajnath Singh even questioned the Country's secularism. He pointed out that the Babri demolition was part of a chain of events which started with the Bhagaplur riots and ended with the Surat and Bombay riots. Today those very people are in power and we must unite to oppose their communal agenda. The Bihar Govt, showing scant respect for the peoples' verdict, is not playing the role it should, and even refused permission for the protest meeting to express the peoples' protest against the communal agenda of the BJP. Comrades Sarvoday Sharma (CPI-M), Arun Kumar Singh (FB), TN Azad (SUCI (C)) also addressed the meeting. CPI(ML) PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha conducted the meeting.
In Bhagalpur a protest march and a meeting were held, latter at Shaheed Bhagat Singh memorial in which activists from the 6 Left parties participated, shouting slogans and carrying banners against the attacks on secularism, assault on the Constitution, politics of hate, attacks on education, and the fascist-communal attempts to destroy secularism and transform India into a Hindu-rashtra.
In Supaul protest march culminated in a meeting presided over by Com. Jitendra Chowdhury. Speakers said that the RSS and Modi Govt are going all out to destroy the Country's Ganga-Jamni culture of diversity, curb the freedom of educational and cultural institutions, and intimidate and attack free thinking intellectuals. The workers, farmers, youth and intellectuals of the country must unite to fight this evil design. Protests were also held in Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Bhojpur, Sasaram, Masaurhi, Gaya, Jehanabad, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Champaran, Nawada, Purnea, Paliganj, and other places. In Siwan, a protest meeting was held at martyr Comrade Chandrashekhar's memorial.
Uttar Pradesh: Anti-communal protests were held in the midst of panchayat elections (7 Nov-13 Dec) in many districts of UP including capital Lucknow. In Lucknow hundreds of activists from Left parties and peoples organizations, workers, farmers, students, youth, women, writers, and intellectuals protested vociferously against the Sangh's hate campaign and in favour of India's collective culture and collective heritage. The meeting was presided over by Com. Ramesh Sengar of CPI(ML), Com. Madhu Garg (CPI-M), Com. Asha Mishra(CPI), and it was conducted by Com. Jayprakash of the SUCI (C). The protest meeting was addressed by leaders from the Left parties as well as organizations like IPTA, JASAM, AIDWA, AIPWA, PRALES, JALES, Mahila Federation, KALAM, SFI, AISA, DYFI, CITU, AITUC, AICCTU, Nirman Mazdoor Union, and Dalit Soshan Mukti Manch.
In Kanpur a dharna was staged at the Gol Chauraha Park on 5 December under the aegis of Trade Union Ekjutta Manch to protest against injustices towards dalits, minorities, and workers. Activists from 7 trade unions participated in the dharna. Com. Arvind Kumar and Hari Singh addressed the dharna.
Joint Left protests, marches, and meetings were also held in Mau, Ghazipur, Allahabad, Varanasi, and Lakhimpur Kheeri.
Jharkhand: CPI(ML) and AIPF jointly organized a meeting and discussion on Politics of Intolerance and the Left in Giridih on 6 December, presided over by Com. Manoj Bhakt. He said that the BJP is doing this as a conspiracy to divert attention from people's issues such as price rise, education, health and employment where the govt. has cheated and betrayed the people. The meeting was also addressed by Rajesh Sinha of AIPF.
Assam: A convention against communalism was organized by 4 Left parties– CPI(ML), CPI(M), CPI, and SUCI(C) at Nagaon. The meeting was presided over by a 4 member presidium. Comrades Rubul Sharma, Iftaqur Rahman, Achyut Akerya, Jyotirmay Jana and others addressed the convention, which was followed by an impressive rally.
Haryana: Left parties jointly conducted a campaign against the politics of communal hatred being carried out in the Country as well as the State. Sankalp marches were taken out in Yamunanagar on 5 December and in Karnal on 6 December. Presiding over the Yamunanagar march, Com. Prem Singh Gehlawat said that the BJP Govt. is carrying on a reign of loot and divisiveness; their narrow thinking and fawning over the rich stands exposed thoroughly. Intolerance and hatred in the State have risen sharply since the Khattar Govt. came to power, but the people will fight and oppose this and put an end to this divisive agenda. Com. Jarnail Singh Sangwan, Dharam Pal Chauhan and Mahendra Singh Chopra highlighted the anti-poor and anti-workers/farmers character of the govt. The Karnal rally on 6 Dec was attended in large numbers by women, and addressed by Com. Gehlawat, Com. Jagmal, Shyam Lal Jaisinghpura, Kartar Singh, and others.
Joint protests against communalism and growing intolerance were also held in Delhi and Chandigarh.
AISA's National Convention
Today when the govt. elected by people is gearing up to sell the future of students of this country by submitting Indian Higher education in WTO as a commodity of free trade, thousands of students are today out in the streets to remind the govt. about its responsibility to ensure quality and affordable education for all Indian citizens. If sell out of coal and 2G against peoples interest can put UPA out of power, then sell out of education can also throw NDA out of power, said Sucheta De, AISA's National President, at the mass students rally on the morning of 8 December.
More than 1500 Students from JNU, DU, AMU, Allahabad University, HCU, EFLU, Jadhavpur University and numerous universities marched on the streets of Delhi and raised slogans against fund-cut and sellout of Indian higher education. The students reached the site of OCCUPY UGC movement early morning and marched into the streets of central Delhi and reached Jantar Mantar where the National Convention began from 1.30 pm and went on till after 7 pm. The convention was a part of the ALL INDIA RESISTANCE CAMP against WTO, organized by All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE).
Students were joined by prominent intellectuals and activists such as Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan), Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj Abhiyan), Nandita Narain (President DUTA and FEDCUTA), Anand Teltumde (Dalit intellectual and activist), Kavita Krishnan (Woman Rights Activists and Gen Sec, AIPWA), Tanika Sarkar and Harbans Mukhia (historians), Anil Sadgopal (President, AIFRTE), Aditya Nigam (Political Scientist, CSDS) and others who also addressed the convention.
Addressing the National Convention Medha Patkar said, since three decades our govts have been shamelessly destroying the resources of this country so that some people can make enormous profits. Prof. Yogendra Yadav, from Swaraj Abhiyan addressed the students and pledged his full support to the OCCUPY UGC movement. Apart from these scholars and activists, many cultural activists like Sambhaji Bhagat (Maharashtra), Hirawal (from Patna), Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (Tamilnadu), Sangwari (Delhi) performed at the Convention. DUTA president Nandita Narain mesmerized the students by singing Faiz's poem "Hum dekhenge". The programme ended with a Dastangoi performance (Dastan-e-Awaargi) by Ankit Chadha and Himanshu Bajpai.
On 9 December, thousands of students from all over the country gathered in Delhi. As the students began their march to Parliament, they were brutally assaulted by the Delhi Police. This shameful and cowardly crackdown on OCCUPY UGC march to parliament received unequivocal criticism from all across the country as photographs and videos of unprovoked lathi-charge, tear shells and water-cannon went viral on social media. Several students were seriously injured. On 12 December, a protest was called against the police brutalities. Comrade Ashutosh Kumar, AISA State President speaking at the protest said that we will not let the just demands of the millions of students of the Country be silenced by such brutal attacks. Students from all across the country cannot be so brutally beaten up on the streets of Delhi by the Police without the BJP governments nod.
As the WTO negotiations are starting from 15th December, AISA has given a call of people's vigil on WTO meet through series of protest actions from 15th to 18th December. In press statement, Com. Anmol Ratan, Delhi State President, AISA said- We will not let the Government of India to silently sell out education, future and sovereign decision making power of our country to WTO. We are going to hold mass public demonstrations during 15-18 December when the WTO Ministerial Conference is held at Nairobi.
All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) organised a protest on 8 December in solidarity with the 8 workers of Pricol Ltd, of an auto company in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu outrageously sentenced to 'double life-term sentences' by a Trial Court in Coimbatore in connection with a case of tragic death of the Company's HR vice-president, without any evidence whatsoever. For the past decade Pricol witnessed a massive workers' movement against the Company for its notorious anti-worker, anti-union activities, continuous exploitation, arbitrary dismissal, wage cuts, employing contractual labour in core production and so on. The company management as part of its ploy to crush and deny industrial democracy, tried to frame the Trade Union including AICCTU All India President S Kumarasami for the tragic death of the HR vice president in 2009.
The Pricol movement was part of the nationwide labour struggles against the increasing exploitative and anti-worker and violation/erosion of labour laws seen from Pricol to Regent Cements (Puducherry) to Maruti Manesar and so on. Since the Maruti Manesar struggle the country has witnessed quick and 'pro-corporate' judgements and observations like "denying bail to workers because it affects the investment atmosphere". And at the same time, millions of Indian workers are reeling under the intense anti-worker environment perpetuated by the government- judiciary- corporate nexus in India. Comrade Agnitra from AICCTU giving a brief about the Pricol movement spoke on the increasing worker exploitation and changes in labour laws. Comrades Nayanjyoti from KNS, Vasudevan of NTUI, and Santosh Rai of AICCTU expressed their solidarity with the struggling workers of Pricol and that the trade unions will fight against the anti-labour laws and assault on rights of workers. The increasing confrontations between workers and company management are results of attempts to change the already anti-worker atmosphere drastically in the favour of corporate companies by enacting anti-worker and anti-trade union rules and regulations.
At a time when many parts of Tamil Nadu have been devastated by deluge and several have lost their lives and livelihoods because of the maladministration of the government of Tamil Nadu, at a time when most of the water bodies and canals that carry flood waters are occupied by land mafia enjoying political patronage even as the ruling Jayalalitha government continues to be inept with relief operations and at a time when the Coimbatore sessions court has sentenced 8 of the Pricol workers with double life imprisonment, the CPI(ML) has taken up the Save Democracy, Save People campaign in Tamil Nadu.
In keeping with this campaign, on 8 December 2015, a massive demonstration was held at Plant 1 and Plant 3of the Pricol factory. About Rs.4 lakhs were collected for flood relief from the workers at the gate of the factory itself. Shanthi gears also witnessed powerful demonstration which was addressed by Com. S .Kumaraswamy, PB member of CPI(ML). In Chennai in spite of the heavy showers, workers demonstrated at Ambattur demanding relief work on war footing. The workers also expressed their solidarity with Pricol workers. Com. Munusamy led the protest. Currently, there are many teams collecting relief material both in cash and kind from the residential areas and both collection and distribution of relief material are being taken up. In Tiruvellore, more than 600 people were mobilsed in front of the BDO office demanding relief as part of the campaign. In Vandalur of Kanchipuram district, flood affected people were mobilised in front of the Tahsildars office, as a result of which he immediately distributed dhotis and sarees. In the demonstration held in Salem, the protestors demanded Industrial democracy and the right to form unions and bargain collectively in the wake of the Pricol verdict. Leaders of AITUC, HMS , Pattali thozhir sangam also joined with us. At Viluppuram also, hundreds of people were mobilised demanding relief and rehabilitation. The Viluppuram protest was addressed by the state secretary of CPI(ML), Com. Balasundaram.
In Sriperumbudur, a memorandum demanding Rs.20,000 for unorganised workers was submitted, since they have been unable to go for any work. Demonstrations were also held at Tirunelveli, Mayiladuthurai, Karur, Pallipalayam and Kanyakumari. The RYA leaders and activists aided in removal of encroachments in water bodies.
In the past many years construction workers Puducherry UT were demanding lean period relief to all members enrolled in the welfare Board. In the last two months due to inundation of all low lying areas of Puducherry and Karaikkal regions where the majority of construction workers lived, caused by incessant rains, all work came to a standstill and workers' dwellings were lost.
Almost all workers are now jobless. The ruling ALL INDIA NR Congress government showed scant attitude towards the just demands of workers. On 10th December AICWF of Puducherry unit organized a big demonstration in front of the Construction Workers Welfare Board. The demonstration was led by P Murugan, AICWF working committee member. A large number of women workers participated. A memorandum was submitted to the Chief minister through the labor commissioner cum member secretary Puducherry building and other construction workers welfare Board. The labour commissioner had conveyed that to the agitating leaders that the government had agreed to extend relief to all welfare board members.
CPI(ML) Liberation held a protest demonstration and burnt Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu's effigy at Jantar Mantar on 15 December to protest against the inhuman demolition in Shakurbasti. The party condemned the anti-people move by the government and submitted a memorandum to the General Manager, Northern Railways listing its main demands. The party demanded that all the affected people be provided proper houses by the government without delay and strict action be taken against officials involved in conducting such drives in Delhi be it in Shakurbasti, Wazirpur or Mansarovar Park.
Mathura Paswan, State Committee member, CPI ML said , "The sad demise of a child happened during the demolition drive which started at 9 am. This government takes care only of the rich and not only neglects but kills the poorest." Sucheta De, National President, AISA and CPI ML state committee member described the incident as being similar in nature to earlier demolition drives conducted by the railways in Mansarovar Park and Wazirpur. She said, "After all in whose interest is a child being killed and people rendered homeless? It is the duty of the government to ensure right to shelter for all, in which it has miserably failed".
Earlier CPI(ML) team led by State Committee members Mathura Paswan, Amarnath Tiwari, Rooplal, VKS Gautam and Ajay had visited Shakurbasti. While talking to the affected people forced to stay outdoors in the chilling winters of Delhi team had found that the people were very angry with the state government as well as the Railways. Javed, a migrant worker from Bhagalpur, Bihar while talking to the team narrated the demolition as happening without prior information. "Humlogon ko mauka hi nahin mila, JCB lekar sab aa gaya aur bhagdad mach gaya" said Javed, which clearly describes the way the poor are being shattered by the government.
The team also found out that the stretch of dwellings which have now been razed to ground were shelters for migrant workers from mostly Bhagalpur, Araria, Khagaria districts of Bihar as well as Jhansi, UP and Bilaspur, Chattisgarh. Most of the people are engaged in loading and unloading goods trains on daily wages, many women are employed as domestic workers in nearby colonies. Md. Moinuddin, a tea shop owner who has been a resident of the area for more than two and a half decades accused the AAP government of playing with people's emotions. "It is our home that we demand not their alms- they are distributing AAP caps, what will we do with that, just let us be in peace." The team saw the precarious condition of relief facilities with water tankers having long queues and tussle among local people for essential commodities like blankets and ration packets.
The protest was attended by people who had been affected by demolitions in Wazirpur area as well. One of the residents of Wazirpur, narrated how the residents of Wazirpur have been forced to live in constant fear of getting displaced since the railways bulldozed their homes without notice an year ago. The protest also saw participation of students from JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia and DU.