A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 19 | No. 16 | 12-18 April 2016
Defend Dr Ambedkar's Legacy From RSS Attack and Appropriation
On the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the country is witness to fresh movements inspired by his egalitarian and emancipator vision. The country is also witness to a two-pronged offensive by the communal fascist forces – that are attacking activists inspired by Ambedkar on the one hand, and seeking to appropriate Ambedkar on the other. The most stark example of this is the fact that the RSS and BJP hounded the Ambedkarite activist Rohith Vemula to his death by branding him anti-national; while RSS journals Organiser and Panchjanya hail Ambedkar as the 'Ultimate Unifier' and 'Craftsman of Samrasta (Harmony),' and the Modi Government plans to celebrate Ambedkar's birth anniversary as 'Samajik Samrasta Diwas' (Social Harmony Day).
Delta Meghwal, a young Dalit woman student in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, was recently raped and murdered by a teacher in her college who used to demand that she clean his room. Her dead body was then transported in a garbage van. The very silence of PM Modi on this atrocity, even as he talks of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' (Save and Educate Daughters), speaks very loudly about his hypocritical claims of 'fulfilling Ambedkar's vision'.
For the RSS and BJP, 'Samajik/Samrasta/Social Harmony' is a code for the existing caste hierarchy; and any anti-caste assertion by the oppressed castes, is branded as a challenge to the 'harmonious' coexistence of the castes. This point is illustrated by the fact that the Modi Government Minister Bandaru Dattatraya branded the activities of the Ambedkar Students' Association and Rohith Vemula, as 'casteist'. For the BJP, the persecution of Dalit students in campuses and schools is not 'casteist', but organizing and agitating against such persecution is 'casteist.'
The RSS student outfit ABVP brands it 'casteist' for students to walk in Ambedkar's footsteps and burn the Manusmriti. Meanwhile, Modi seeks to appropriate and 'harmonise' Ambedkar with Sangh ideology, by terming Ambedkar a 'modern Manu'!
For the RSS and BJP, leaders like Jitan Ram Manjhi, Ram Vilas Paswan or Udit Raj are examples of 'Samajik Samrasta' – because they are willing to maintain 'harmony' with the BJP that funded the Ranveer Sena and has the blood of Dalits on its hands. But for the BJP-backed Ranveer Sena, the Dalits who asserted their social, economic and political rights and challenged feudal hegemony must be killed for "breaking the social fabric of caste harmony." Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh had defended the massacres of Dalits with the words, "Violence for the restoration of peace and harmony is not a sin." The 'Samajik Samrasta' of the RSS and BJP is nothing but the subservience and subjugation of the oppressed castes. Ambedkar called for the annihilation of castes – not for harmonious continuation of caste hierarchy.
Dr Ambedkar was clear that the taboo on eating beef was of Brahminical origin and that "There is no community which is really an Untouchable community which has not something to do with the dead cow. Some eat her flesh, some remove the skin, some manufacture articles out of her skin and bones." Why are the RSS magazines and BJP leaders silent on Dr Ambedkar's historical analysis of the beef ban?
Also significant is the fact that the RSS and BJP try to appropriate Ambedkar as a 'Hindu nationalist' – a 'unifier' of Hindus across caste boundaries. The Organiser's write-up on Ambedkar this year suggests that Ambedkar made his famous 'castes are anti-national' statement because he felt castes prevented Hindus from uniting as a nation. This is a travesty of Ambedkar's thought. The RSS conveniently omits to quote a crucial sentence from Ambedkar's Annihilation of Castes, "A caste has no feeling that it is affiliated to other castes except when there is a Hindu-Muslim riot." The RSS and BJP idea of 'unity' of castes is precisely a violent unity against the Muslim citizens. The same RSS and BJP backs feudal forces that kill Dalit men who marry non-Dalit women or are accused of killing cows, will appeal to Dalits to unite with non-Dalit castes against inter-faith marriages of Hindu women with Muslim men!
The fact is that Dr Ambedkar was crystal clear in his rejection of the Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation) espoused by the RSS and BJP: "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. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost." (Pakistan or Partition of India, 1945) It is obvious that the RSS and BJP brand Rohith and his comrades as 'anti-national' for their anti-communal activism, their solidarity with Muslims and their rejection of 'Hindu Raj'. 'Samajik Samrasta' demands that Dalits accept 'Hindu Raj' meekly.
If the RSS magazines strive to poison Dalits against unity with Muslims, they also display their discomfort with the emerging unity of Ambedkarites and Marxists, branding such unity as 'heinous.' Such statements by the RSS are in fact confirm that the communal fascists are rattled by the inspiring unity of progressive forces uniting to resist the attempts to impose 'Hindu Raj' on the campuses and the country.
For every section of India's fighting people, Dr Ambedkar's writings are an inspiration and a resource. Workers defending labour laws remember Ambedkar as a robust defender of the right to strike and form independent unions. All those who defend caste-based reservations or special laws protecting the rights of workers and women against the allegation of 'inequality' take strength from Ambedkar's insight that "Equality is not necessarily equity. In order that it may produce equity in society, in order that it may produce justice in society, different people have to be treated unequally." Civil libertarians and al citizens demanding justice in fake encounters and police/army firings recall Dr Ambedkar's assertion that "so far as the law is concerned, there is no difference between an ordinary citizen and a police officer or a military officer," and that freedom for India must not mean the freedom of Indian policemen or soldiers to shoot Indian citizens with impunity. Defenders of the rights of LGBT people, of the rights of citizens to express rationalist ideas, and of women's freedoms all draw strength from Dr Ambedkar's emphasis on the need to cultivate "constitutional morality" as opposed to the dominant social notions of morality. Ambedkar's insights into the fundamental contradiction of capitalism with democracy, and his advocacy of state-ownership and redistribution of all agricultural land, along with his call for the annihilation of caste, are a marker of his radical socio-economic vision.
At this juncture, when the fundamental principles of the Constitution drafted by Dr Ambedkar, as well as his broader socio-economic vision are under attack as never before, the unity of fighting forces to defend Ambedkar's vision of a truly democratic and egalitarian India would indeed be the best tribute to that great visionary.
PRICOL Struggle continues
Pricol workers—and workers across the country in solidarity with them—are struggling to free the 8 Pricol comrades who have been sentenced to double life imprisonment through a well-calculated conspiratorial judgement in order to control and threaten workers' unions. Meanwhile the Pricol management, in a despicable move, is trying to 'advise' the workers to break relations with AICCTU and return to the control of the management.
The management has put up a letter on the factory notice-board giving details of the great 'losses' suffered by workers since they joined the union affiliated to AICCTU and comparing this to the 'peaceful' times in the past before the formation of this union. The letter appealed to the workers to leave this union and return to the 'comfortable' times offered by the management. The management refused to provide a copy of the letter on the notice-board to the union as has been the previous practice.Earlier also in 2008 the management had issued a similar letter, when the union had not got recognition and the workers were agitating for recognition of their union.
Meanwhile, in another shameful move, the management fired a contractual worker who had contributed to the flood relief fund being collected by Pricol workers. The management has also issued a show-cause notice to another permanent worker on the pretext of some other excuse.
Between 2009-10 and 2013-14 Pricol workers used to get 35.34%annual bonus. During the period of their concerted struggle (from 2007 to 2009) they received no bonus at all. In 2014-15, they got only 8.33% bonus; this amounts to an average loss of about Rs 25,000 for every worker. The management cited losses in the factory as the reason for this reduced bonus. (However, Pricol workers have researched the internet and found that according to documents submitted by the management the profit for this period was Rs 23.27 crores). The management has made a unilateral cut in bonus and has not respected the provisions of the long-standing agreement between the management and the Pricol Workers' Union, the only organization relentlessly confronting the management and which has repeatedly proved its majority in the union election process. When the union opposed this, the management deposited the reduced amount in the workers' accounts; this is what it generally does when it is preparing to go into some major confrontation with the workers. This happened when the workers were participating in the hearing of the murder case and were anxiously awaiting the verdict on their falsely implicated leaders. The management thought they could take advantage of the situation as the workers would not be able to launch any significant agitation at this time, however the workers continue to protest against this.
Relentlessly carrying forward their struggles, the workers had organized a programme on 13 March 2016 to mark the beginning of the 10th year of their struggle in which Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya participated and gave an impetus to their confidence and resolve. More than 1200 workers and their families gathered at the programme and resolved that they would leave no stone unturned to strive for the release of their comrades. They were confident of doing so because their leaders had not gone to jail for charges of corruption as in the case of Jayalalithaa and Kanimozhi and Raja; on the contrary, they had gone to jail like VO Chidambaram whom the British had sentenced to double life imprisonment for fighting for the rights of workers. Coincidentally, the Pricol worker-leaders are also lodged in the same jail where the British had incarcerated VO Chidambaram.
The response of the workers who participated in this protest does not augur well for the management. One worker, an AIADMK supporter, said that his wife had attended such a gathering for the first time and was now insisting that she would vote only for a CPI (ML) candidate because that is the only Party fighting for a better life for workers. He further said that if, after attending just one meeting she is persuading me to change my political thinking, what would be the effect if she started attending such programmes regularly?
Some workers said that they normally meet only in protests and agitations; such a 'family gathering' had been organized for the first time after 10 October 2010. That programme in 2010 had also played an important role in breaking the siege by the police and the state after the first phase of state repression. Some other workers said that they often eat together inside the factory but those meals were mechanical and under pressure, whereas the spontaneous togetherness and exchanging of ideas and sharing of meals in the present programme was very inspiring and motivating. The workers were in favour of organizing such programmes more often.
For the Pricol workers, their struggle is almost like a celebration. The management might attack them; the state might attack them; even the court verdict can be an attack on them. But they will fight, and they will win, and each time they will emerge stronger and more united than ever. Now they are preparing for bigger political struggles. They are fighting elections from 2 Assembly constituencies in Coimbatore. Their slogan is, "Workers' vote for a worker!" Can there be a better answer to the state and the management from the Pricol workers!
Gorakhpur Party District Convention
The 3rd district convention of the CPI (ML) was held in Gorakhpur on 20 March 2016 at the Commissioner Court Bar Association hall. Senior leader Com. Hari Prasad hoisted the Party flag, following which a minute's silence was observed to pay tribute to departed comrades. The outgoing district Secretary Com. Rajesh Sahani presented the annual report on which the delegates expressed their views. He said that Gorakhpur district continues to remain a stronghold of communal forces. He pointed out that there was a deep dissatisfaction among the people with the working of the SP government; in the current situation the CPI (ML) has become the focus of hope for the marginalized and oppressed sections of the society. We must strengthen and expand the Party and sharpen the struggle on issues relating to Gorakhpur.
Convention observer and CCW member Com. Sudhakar Pathak said that the Modi government has totally failed to keep its promises to the people and is bent on murdering democracy. Democratic institutions are being attacked. Students and intellectuals questioning the government's anti-people policies are being attacked and being sent to jail under the sedition Act which is a relic from the British Raj; at the same time Vijay Mallya is allowed to flee the country after embezzling 9,000crors of the country's hard-earned money. He called on Party workers to strengthen people's struggles. The convention announced a dedicated struggle against the Central and State governments' anti-farmer, anti-worker, anti-poor, anti-women, and anti-youth policies. The convention passed a 17-point resolution relating to encephalitis, AIIMS, crop loss compensation, sugar mill closures, weavers' distress, forest people's rights, river pollution, failure of MNREGA and PDS, rising crime rate, non-payment of Dalit and OBC fellowships in Gorakhpur University, and other issues. The convention strongly condemned the assault by the Modi government and RSS on HCU, JNU, and other institutes for higher education, and resolved to strengthen the struggle against these assaults.
The convention elected a new 17 member district committee which unanimously re-elected Com. Rajesh Sahani as district Secretary.
Scrap 124-A Sedition act : AIPF convention at Chennai
Tamil Nadu state AIPF organized a convention on 3rd April 2016 at Chennai demanding repeal of Section 124-A sedition act, Enactment of Rohith Act to end discrimination in institutions and a law to protect couples of inter caste marriages from caste killings. Main speakers in the convention were Ms.Vasanthidevi, Ex.Vice chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar university, Com. Gnani, a well-known journalist and dramatist , Prof.A. Marx, National campaign committee member of AIPF, Com. Kumarasamy, National president of AICCTU, Com. Shehla Rashid, Vice president of JNUSU.
Com. Shehla said that student community of this country are challenging those enjoying power with the power of ideas on the streets. She appealed to the people of Tamil Nadu to put pressure on the political parties in the time of assembly elections for repeal of sedition act, enactment of Rohith Act and to bring an act to protect couples of inter caste marriages."
Ms. Vasanthi Devi explained the provisions of the draconian sedition act which has also been misused against people and activists fighting for the closure of Liquor shops in Tamil Nadu. She stressed on the need to repeal it. She also ridiculed the posting of Mr. Appa Rao again as Vice chancellor of HCU. Overwhelmed by Com Shehla's speech, she described her as a red star in the blue sky.
Com .Gnani, in his address narrated his experience of the court battle which led to the scrapping of draconian Drama censor act 1954 of Tamil Nadu. He also emphasized on the need for a student and democratic movement in the present juncture of Tamil Nadu. Prof A.Marx, dealt in length on the political right of the citizens and criticized the policies of Government on the functioning of universities.
Com Kumarasamy said that, "When the colonial era sedition act has already been repealed in England, the state of origin of the act, it is high time that the Indian government should scrap it". He also recalled the role of Ambedkar in the struggle for the rights of workers and reiterated the legacy of his " educate, organize and agitate" that needs to be followed by Trade union and democratic movement of the country."
Com. Arivalagan of Dalit study circle concluded the convention with vote of thanks. Constituents of AIPF Puducherry also attended the convention.
'Utho Mere Desh' campaign continues: Reports from Bihar and Jharkhand
AISA-RYA activists have been taking out the Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar sangarsh yatra in several towns and villages of Bihar, raising the slogans of 'Inquilab Zindabad' and 'Educate, Agitate and Organize'. The response of the people has been tremendous. RYA Bihar President Com. Raju Yadav, AISA National Jt. Sec. Com. Ajit Kushwaha and AISA leader and ex JNUSU Gen Sec. Com. Chintu have led several of these yatras which will culminate in Ara on 14 April.
In Patna, a student-youth Assembly was organized under the AISA-RYA campaign 'Uttho Mere Desh'on 31 March to mark the martyrdom anniversary of Com. Chandrashekhar. The chief speakers on the occasion were- CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, JNUSU Vice President Com. Shehla Rashid, JSM General Secretary Com. Pranay Krishna, PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha, Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Com. Rajaram Singh, and others. The programme was attended in huge numbers by students, youth, activists, and intellectuals.
Addressing the assembly, Com. Dipankar said that the youth spring for which Chandrashekhar sacrificed himself is in bloom again. He said that the students and youth will not rest till they defeat the unholy fascist-communal forces, and this can be done only by following the road shown by Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar. He pointed out that for the first time the slogans of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar are intermingling across the country and only on the basis of this unity we can defeat the pseudo-nationalism of the Sangh and bring in the true progressive nationalism of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar. He stressed that we must take this struggle forward and take it beyond campuses into every corner of the country.
JNUSU VP Shehla Rashid said that PM Modi has become afraid of students because they are asking pertinent questions about the promises he had made to the country. Having no answer, he has launched an attack on campuses across the country. The government was afraid of Rohith Vemula because he was talking not only for dalit interests but raising questions of democracy. She said that today when farmers are forced to commit suicide, dalits are oppressed and massacred, women are subjected to violence and rape, the government and Sangh are trying to whitewash all the issues by raising the nationalism bogey and forcing the chanting of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'. She pointed out that it is futile and hypocritical to chant this slogan when we cannot give justice to Rohith's mother, Irom Sharmila, Soni Sori, and countless such oppressed people. She said the RSS is trying to create a divide between students and the army, but people will understand that we oppose not the army but war and the government which makes our jawans cannon-fodder.
Com. Pranay Krishna, remembering Chandrashekhar, said that Chandu is the symbol of student-power which has always given a fitting reply to murderous communal-fascist forces. Com. Dhirendra Jha said that JNU had shown the anti-fascist, anti-communal road to the country during the Babri destruction days and continues to do so today. Com. Rajaram Singh said that JNU is an institution that unites, not breaks, India, and the people will not allow its reputation to be tarnished.
In the first week of April, AISA and CPI(ML) leaders leading the Utho Mere Desh campaign were attacked in Jharkhand. CPI (ML) MLA, Com. Rajkumar Yadav and AISA leader and ex JNUSU president, Com. Ashutosh, were two of the several activists attacked. On 2 April, protests were organized in several parts of Jharkhand including Ranchi, Deogarh and Koderma. In Ranchi, a protest march was led by CPI (ML) state secretary Com. Janardhan and the march culminated in Albert Ekka Chowk where the effigy of the state government was burnt. CPI(ML), AISA and RYA activists challenged the Raghubar Das government that none of the state launched attacks against forces of struggles will scare the campaign from being taken forward. They further resolved to ensure maximum mobilization on 14 April, birthday of Dr. Ambedkar, in all districts of Jharkhand.
CPI (ML) CANDIDATES IN ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS 2016
6 Left Parties—CPI, CPM, CPI (ML) Liberation, RSP, Forward Bloc and RCPI--have together formed a Joint Left Front in Assam.
The following are the names of the CPI (ML) candidates:
Chhabua Debnath Manjhi
Tingkhong Meera Tanti
Duliyajan Sunil Tanti
Bihali Bibek Das
Gohpur Halan Tanti
Batadraba Arup Mohanta
Tiyok Jiten Tanti
Mariyani Biren Tanti
The CPI (ML) is supporting 4 candidates representing the Autonomous State Movement in Karbi Anglong:
Diphu Dr Jayant Rongpi
Howrahghat Chomang Cro
Bokajan Jagat Sing Ingti
Baithalangso Holiram Terang
The CPI(ML) Liberation has formed collaboration with the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM). The CPI(ML) is fielding candidates for 35 seats and the CPRM for 3 seats. Apart from this the CPI(ML) has also formed an understanding with SUCI and is in friendly contest on a few seats. On seats where none of these Parties is fielding candidates, the CPI(ML) has called for the people to reject the BJP, Congress, and TMC.
Mainagudi Rupeshwar Roy
Phansideva Lalu Oraon
Kaliyaganj Jagdish Rajwar
Tapan Ram Kisku
Gajol Subhash Singh
Vaishnavnagar Ibrahim Sheikh
Khargram Sadhan Marjit
Kandi Manirul Islam
Kaliganj Altaf Hussain
Nakashipada Shishir Basak
Chapda Dhananjay Ganguly
Krishnanagar North Amal Tarafdar
Navdveep Parikshit Pal
Krishnanagar South Ancharul Haq
Bangaon South Pranballabh Pathak
Ashok Nagar Jayshree Das
Naihati Sarit Chakraborty
Kamarhati Archana Ghatak
Bashirhat South Debabrat Biswas
Satgachchiya Dilip Pal
Bajbaj Kajol Datta
Baghnan Dilip De
Uttarpada Swapan Mazumdar
Balagarh Gautam Mandal
Pandua Niranjan Bag
Saptagram Sajal Adhikari
Dhaniyakhali Sajal De
Chhatna Ramnibas Baske
Ranibandh Sudhir Murmu
Onda Baidnath Cheena
Kalna Piyush Sahana
Bardhaman North Tarun Majhi
Purbasthali South Ziaul Sheikh
Purbasthali North Ansarul Aman Mandal
Haasan Manik Pal
The CPRM candidates are as follows:
Darjeeling Gobind Chhetri
Kurseong Arun Ghatani
Kalimpong Kishore Pradhan
Madhavaram S. Janakiraman
Ulundoorpettai M. Venkatesan
Kumarapalayam A. Govindaraj
Kolachal S. M. Anthonimuthu
Ambattur K. Palanivel
Mettupalayam P. Natarajan
Gondampalayam M. S. Velmurugan
Sriperambudur V. Rajesh
Vedasandur P. Jainath
Mangalam P. Murugan
Neravi TR Pattinam A. S. Singaravelu
Embalam R. Elammal