A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 19 | No. 34 | 16 – 22 August 2016
August 15, 2016: Modi's Deceptive Rhetoric versus the Inspiring Una Resolve
When the people of India fought for freedom from British colonial rule, there was one ideological-political stream which not only stayed away from that great struggle but tried its best to disrupt and derail it with its thoroughly communal and casteist agenda of Hindutva. Today that stream holds the reins of 'governance' in the country and is bent upon appropriating the mantle of freedom even as it uses the state machinery to the hilt to subvert the values and aspirations of the freedom movement. Halfway through his term, Modi asked the BJP to celebrate a 'festival of freedom' around the Independence Day this year as he delivered his third August 15 lecture from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
True to his demagogic track record, Modi made a few astoundingly misleading claims in his speech. He said while previous governments were all surrounded by complaints and allegations, his government only has to confront the expectations of the people. Well, to tell the truth, the expectations were based on the promises he had made in the 2014 election campaign, and with his government going back on those promises much of those expectations have today turned into frustration and anger. The much touted promises of 2014 were of course conspicuously missing once again in Modi's Independence Day address.
Modi claimed to have brought down the rate of inflation when the common people are reeling under soaring prices. When the whole world is heaving a sigh of relief over the declining petroleum prices, his government has inflicted steep increases in railway fares. And now in the name of ending 'tax terrorism' on the rich, his government has drawn up a blueprint of hefty regressive taxation on the goods and services consumed by the common people which will add fresh fuel to the fire of price-rise.
Modi talked about the alleged efficiency of governance he has ushered in and called upon the people to match this efficiency by ensuring 'social unity'. A strong economy and a strong society would make India a strong nation. But we have already seen that Modi's 'strong economy' does not care for either the welfare of the common people or the self-reliance and sovereignty of the nation – all it cares for is faster accumulation of corporate wealth and bigger inflow of FDI. Likewise, Modi's 'strong society' is all about maintaining the status quo within a patriarchal-casteist order and that too on lines drawn by an increasingly aggressive and intrusive Sangh brigade which would like to dictate the terms of inter-personal relationships, social interaction, cultural discourse and constitutional liberties in India.
Modi's deceptive phrase of 'strong society' became very clear when he invoked Ambedkar as a champion of 'social unity'. Everybody knows that the Constitution drafted under the leadership of Ambedkar proclaimed the formation of the Indian Republic on the foundations of liberty, equality and fraternity. Without liberty and equality, fraternity becomes an empty word and unity can only mean subjugation. When Modi eulogises the notion of 'strong economy' and 'strong society' – there is of course also the implicit third element of 'strong' or 'hard state' which Modi chooses not to mention in his Independence Day address – he does it by effectively undermining the modern democratic principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.
It is significant that Modi used his ID address to mention the so-called gratitude that some people from Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have apparently expressed to him while keeping absolutely silent about the continuing spate of civilian killings and injuries and the anguished cries of pain and anger of the Kashmiri people who are ruled by the Indian state. He talked about social unity rising above caste divisions but said not a word about the oppression being unleashed on Dalits and Muslims in the name of 'cow protection' by cow vigilantes sponsored by the RSS and governments run by his own party in different states.
But despite elaborate plans to appropriate the mantle of freedom, Modi's Independence Day address and the BJP's so-called 'festival of freedom' only underscored the growing isolation and failure of his government. For the people of India, the real resolve of freedom this year came from Una where Dalits, Muslims and progressive citizens from other sections marched to Una in their thousands, defying physical attacks and threats of more Unas to come, and resolved to intensify their battle for freedom. They resolved to reject the Brahminical code of labour which despises manual labour and reserves all menial jobs for Dalits and demanded five acres of arable land for every landless Dalit family. By linking the question of social dignity and equality for Dalits with the question of land rights, Una has signalled a new direction for the Dalit movement in the country. Following the Una rally, there are reports of renewed attacks on Dalits in Gujarat and progressive democratic forces across the country must unite to overcome this desperate assault by casteist forces.
Fifty years ago the revolutionary peasant uprising of Naxalbari had addressed the agrarian question as the central question of Indian democracy and in the process it had triggered a massive awakening of the landless poor. It inspired a new wave of communist movement in Bihar where the question of freedom from social oppression became the central agenda alongside the issue of land and wages. The Dalit movement too took a radical turn at this juncture with the emergence of the Dalit Panthers and radical Dalit literature in Maharashtra and elsewhere. Today Una has once again galvanized the radical stream of the Dalit movement, squarely placing the agenda of social equality and land reforms at the centre of the radical democratic agenda of Dalit emancipation.
The infamous laboratory of Hindutva fascism is now witnessing a great resistance that has galvanized the entire Dalit community in protests and is also drawing in Muslims and Adivasis to pose a formidable challenge to an increasingly isolated BJP regime. It is also encouraging to note that Una has struck a chord across the country among the oppressed and fighting people who have come out on the streets to express their fullest solidarity and resolve to grasp this new juncture in the battle for real freedom and democracy. The Una exhortation of unity of Dalits and Muslims, women and workers will defeat the RSS-dictated 'social subjugation' camouflaged as 'social unity'.
Anti-Imperialism Day Observed Across the Country on 9 August 2016
On the anniversary of the August revolution, CPI (ML), AICCTU, All India Kissan Mahasabha and other fronts observed anti-imperialism day throughout the country. In Jharkhand, this day was also celebrated as the world 'Adivasi Day'. Marches were taken out across states in several districts. The purpose of the marches was to expose the anti-people, anti-national, divisive, destructive, pro-corporate, communal and fascist policies of the Modi led central government aimed at forcing India into the stranglehold of imperialism and selling India's natural resources and sovereignty into the hands of the multinational companies.
In Patna, AICCTU leaders and activists offered tributes at the Shaheed memorial outside the Bihar assembly and a protest meeting was organised in which slogans were raised against American imperialism and the pro-imperialist policies of the Modi government. Other trade union leaders and activists also joined the protest meeting and pledged to ensure the success of the 2nd September All India General Strike.
CPI(ML) and AICCTU organized 'Adhikar March' in Ranchi and Bokaro in Jharkhand on the Adivasi Diwas (International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples) which is observed on 9 August. As the politics of both Jharkhand as well as the country remains captured by the corporate houses, the questions of the workers and the masses are at the margins. The assaults on the rights of the Dalits, tribals, minorities and the workers continue unabated. Addressing the march at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi, CPI (ML) central committee member Com. Shubhendu Sen stressed on the need for another August revolution against the Company Raj. Com. Bhuvaneshwar said that celebration of 'Adivasi Diwas' by the government which had failed to put an end to the loot of water, forests, land, minerals and other natural resources was a farce. In Bokaro, an adhikaar march was jointly organized by trade unions. Besides submitting a charter of demands to the steel plant manager, a call was given to ensure the success of 2nd September All India General Strike. In Koderma, a dharna was organized under the leadership of All India Kisaan Mahasabha to protest against the designs of the state government to snatch the land from the poor in the name of wrong settlement. A march was also taken out under the leadership of All India Kisan Mahasabha in Ramgarh, in which several hundred people participated, raising the slogans "Corporate-Company Raj Down Down", "Waive the loan taken by farmers immediately",etc. The speakers addressing the march said that far from supporting and encouraging farmers, the government was determined to discourage them. Modi's favourite Gautam Adani was procuring several million quintal grains from the farmers at the rate of Rs.30/- per kilo and hoarding the same and the Modi government was selling the same grains at Rs. 100/- per kilo. Several farmers were being forced to commit suicide. In Garhwa district, after years of struggle, tribals of Tiwari Marhatiya village were able to procure their legal rights on the Raiyatti land. Since 3 August 2016, they had sat on an indefinite hunger strike outside the DC office. CPI (ML) activists from Garhwa district committee also joined the hunger strike in support of the tribals. They also demanded that immediate compensation be paid to those whose crops were destroyed and the officers guilty of ensuring the destruction of crops be punished. A mahadharna in support of these demands had earlier been organized on 6 August. After the successful completion of the strike, 'a vijay juloos' of the local tribals was also carried out under the leadership of CPI (ML). In Bagodar, a 'chetaavni' (warning) march was taken out by those who have been displaced due to the policies of the state government. They also protested against the inadequate compensation.
CPI (ML) activists also organized protests outside DM offices in several places in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and other states against the oppression and persecution of Dalits and minorities by the associates of RSS in the name of 'cow protection'. In Gorakhpur, several people and Dalit leaders and activists also joined these protests. The speakers warned the local administration that if the provisions of accommodation, ration and work in MNREGA were not ensured for the Dalits, poor and the workers, a gherao of the district office would be done.
9th August also marked the end of the second phase of CPI (ML)'s countrywide campaign- 'Utho Mere Desh, Naye Bharat ke vaaste, Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar ke raaste' (Rise my nation- for a new India, in the path of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar). A huge dharna was organized to in Kanpur as a part of this campaign. The speakers talked about the increasing attacks on Dalits and minorities and the anti-people policies of the government. In Lucknow, a dharna was called near the Ambedkar statue in Hazratganj. The meeting was presided by Com. Kaushal Kishore, state president of Jan Sanskriti Manch (JSM). Addressing the meeting he said today once again slavery was being enforced on us by the Modi government. This slavery, besides being economic, is also social and cultural. However, we are also witnessing an unprecedented resistance. The Dalit upsurge in Gujarat, the resistance from Kashmir to Hyderabad, the coming together of youth and students across states shows that struggle for a new India against the sanghi nationalism is gaining strength. The participants raised slogans against cow protection vigilante groups, demanding a ban on them. Marches were also taken out in Gazipur, Varanasi, Chandauli, Lakhimpur, Badohi, Sitapur, Mirzapur, Faizabad, Allahabad, Baliya, Mau, Muradabad and other places.
A pratirodh march was organized in Lalkuan in Nainital, Uttarakhand, against false cases filed against protestors in the struggle against making Bindukhatta a municipality. Several hundreds of people including a large number of women joined this march called by Uttarakhand unit of All India Kisan Mahasabha. CPI (ML) state secretary Com. Rajendra Pratholi urged people to rout out the anti-farmer Rawat government.
Safai Karmchari Sankalp Karvaan in Solidarity with Una upsurge
In solidarity with the massive Una upsurge and standing shoulder to shoulder with fighting sanitation workers in Delhi and in support of 2nd September All India Strike, the Safai Shramik Vikas Morcha (SSVM), affiliated to AICCTU and CPI (ML) Delhi State Committee organised a "Safai Karmchari Sankalp Karvaan", from 10th August to 15th August, 2016. As a part of the campaign, meetings and events were organised with workers in Wazirpur, Kalyanpuri, Jahangirpuri, Narela, Dakshinpuri (Ambedkar Nagar) and Kusumpur Pahari (Vasant Kunj). The main slogan of the campaign was 'Eradicate Dehumanising Occupations and Caste Oppression.
On 15th August, as Azaadi Kooch reached Una, the Safai Karamchaari Sankalp Karvaan also convened its final pledge taking observance at Kusumpur Pahari in South-West Delhi to vouch against dehumanizing occupations and caste based atrocities. Over the course of the last few days, similar gatherings have been mobilized in East Delhi, Narela and Ambedkar Nagar where several sanitation workers joined the campaign to fight against dehumanizing occupations and caste based atrocities.
In its concluding gathering at Kusumpur, many residents, most of whom are employed as contractual sanitation workers, came together to take the pledge - pledge to never enter another septic tank or sewer, to stop cleaning animal carcass. Comrade Anju, Vice President of AICCTU, JNU Unit in her address raised many important questions such as why only a particular people are forced to do work that should be done by machine and not by hand. Why, those who claim dire love for the cow shy away from tending to dead carcasses? She recalled the JNU contractual workers movement and how their union fought tooth and nail against the JNU administration to reject being forced to clean up dead carcasses. DUTA President Nandita Narain, also addressed the meeting extending her full support. The meeting ended with the strong resolve to make the upcoming all India general strike, scheduled for 2nd September, a thumping success.
An Inspiring Victory for the Protracted Struggle of Dalits in an UP Village
Comrade Manju has been elected village Pradhan of Ramgarh under Dadri subdivision of district Gautam Budh Nagar in UP. Comrade Shyamveer has been elected for the post of BDC member. This victory brought tears of joy in the eyes of dozens of families who had fought a very difficult struggle for their dignity, equality and for land in this village. The smile they saw on Tinku's face doubled the joy of rest of dalit villagers.
It is the same Ramgarh where a young B.Ed. student Tinku Ram was forcibly put on railway tracks four years back on 15 July, 2012. He lost both his legs under the wheels of the running train. The reason was that some dalit youth of this village dared to assert for the possession over the lands allocated to dalits but were under the unauthorised possession of the dominant Gujjar landlords who are backed by the Samajwadi Party. Ever since Brahm Jatav, husband of Manju, submitted an application in January of 2012 to the SDM of Dadri demanding distribution of village land allocated to the dalit community, all the families are in a continuous state of battle for life and survival in the face of attacks by the goons led by former village Pradhan Kuldeep Bhati. Members of Dalits families (man and women both) were brutally attacked with swords and axes in broad day light in March 2012 when nearly 30 people were seriously injured. They have been facing, and valiantly resisting regular attacks and false criminal charges forged with the help of the administration by the attackers. Many families have lost their all money in the court cases and to the police, many of them have come under severe debt, the lands belonged to them remained occupied by the goons of the dominant castes. Their complaints never got attention from administration as well by the police and their cases are still pending in the court.
Tinku Ram lost his legs but he and his people continued their struggle. It is because of their struggle and indomitable spirit that won the hearts of many, leading to the victory of comrades Manju and Shyamveer on 31 May, 2016 in the Panchayat Elections. This is certainly a big and inspiring victory for the protracted struggle of dalits of Ramgarh. Tears of joy and happiness on their faces were an inspiration for those who witnessed this long journey. The gram panchayat results were declared between 1-3 AM in the morning amidst loud revolutionary slogans outside the counting center (Mihir Bhoj Inter College, Dadri). A victory rally was held in the village and their joyous slogans of ' Baba Saheb Ambedkar Zindabad, Bhagat Singh Zindabad, CPI(ML) Zindabad, Inquilab Zindabad' resonated throughout the morning.
Joint Trade Unions Demonstration in Puducherry
On 9th August 2016, commemorating the launch of the Quit India Movement, a joint demonstration led by by AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, INTUC, LPF, LLF (an affiliate of Vidulai Siruthaikal Katchi), MLF (an affiliate of MDMK) and PMPTS (an affiliate of PMK) was organised and held at Puducherry. The demonstration focused on highlighting the twelve points charter of Indian working class to the proposed second September all India general strike. The demonstration was held in front of the famous Swadeshi Mill Cottons which has been there for more than hundred years now. Com. Balasubramanian, state president of AICCTU recalled that the twenty-five years old liberalization policy followed by Indian ruling class had been crushing the hard won rights of working class. He appealed to hit back hard with a firm resolve. State leaders of CITU, AITUC, INTUC, LPF, MLF, LLF and PMPTS also addressed the demonstrators. A joint call was given to observe total hartal on 2nd September and to make the 2nd September All India General strike a success in the UT of Puducherry.
Protest in Odisha against Construction of Barrages on Mahanadi River
A protest was organised by CPI (ML) on ''Save Mahanadi and Save Odisha''. The BJP led state government in Chhattisgarh has proposed to make barrages on the Mahanadi River in order to ensure storage of water for the use of corporate. Registering a strong protest against this decision, the protestors raised three main demands: (i) maintain status quo on the construction of barrage on Mahanadi by the Chhattisgarh Government (ii) publish white paper on Mahanadi River; and (iii) build pressure on the central government to formulate a River Board as per the River Boards Act 1956.
Around 300 activists joined the rally which was led by Com Yudhishthir Mahapatra, CC member of CPI (ML), Com. Mahendra Parida, state committee member, Com Radhakant Sethy, Com Ashok Pradhan and Com. Mandakini Sethi of AIPWA. The speakers while addressing the protest meeting besides criticising the decision of the Chhattisgarh government, also criticised the addressed the Naveen Patnaik government for its on callousness on the Mahanadi issue.
Demonstration In Darbhanga Against Police Brutalities
On 30 July, a demonstration was organised under the banner of CPI (ML) to protest against the police atrocities in Usmamath, in Pator Village in the Bahadurpur block of Darbhanga district. The demonstration was led by block secretary Com. Abhishek Kumar and other leaders. The protestors raised the slogans against the Pator station charge, condemning the police brutalities and interference in land issues. Hundreds of protestors gathered at Usmamath Chowk and marched till the police station raising loud slogans. They entered the police station and met the Sadar inspector, CO Bahadaurpur and others and raised their concerns with them.
Rallies in Punjab by Joint Front on 'Save Farming and Water'
On 29 July, huge rallies and demonstrations were organized in 20 districts in Punjab and memorandums were submitted to the Punjab CM through district magistrates. The districts included Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Patiala, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, NavanShahar, Taran Taaran, Amritsar, Pathankot, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and others. The rallies saw massive participation from the farmers. All India Kisan Sabha, Jamuhri Kisan Sabha, Punjab Kisan Union, Pagdi Sambhal Jatta and several other struggling forces joined the rallies. The first demand of the farmers was that all the demands that have already been accepted by the government be immediately implemented. The agricultural leaders said that both the central and the state government were trying to discourage agriculture and as a result the farmers were being forced to incur huge debts and resort to suicides. First and foremost, the loans of farmers with only about 10 acres of land must be waived irrespective of whether the loans were taken from government or private organizations or individual money lenders. The families of the farmers who had committed suicide should be paid five lakh compensation, the loan be waived and a government job must ensured for a member of the family. They also demanded that the practice of obtaining signatures on blank stamped pronote papers or white papers must be immediately brought to an end. Pro-farmer policies must be formulated for incentivizing farming, making farming debt-free and ensuring food security in the country. The protestors also demanded that land ceiling limit be reduced from 17.5 acres to 10 acres and the additional land be redistributed among the landless farmers. The government must also guarantee procurement of crop yields and the procurement rate must be fixed at least 1.5 times the cost incurred. They also demanded to curb the corruption and monopoly by mill owners who are exploiting the farmers.
The farmers also raised the issue of depleting ground water for agriculture. They demanded that large scale government mechanisms for recharging water bodies must be put in place. Steps must also be taken for creating more canals and ensuring that they reach all agricultural lands. The infiltration of national and foreign corporate in procuring and selling seeds must be brought to an end. The other demands included- A monthly pension of Rs. 5000/- must be paid to elders above the age of 60, stable jobs and free education must be guaranteed for the youth, 24 hours electricity, free electricity connection for farmers having 5 acres of less land, compensation in case of natural calamities and provisions for safeguarding agriculture from stray and wild animals. Cases filed against farmers during movements must also be withdrawn.
Midday Meal Workers' Protest
On 2 August, a huge dharna was staged outside the Bihar Assembly under the banner of Bihar State School Rasoiya Sangh against the plan to hand over midday meal scheme to the NGOs. The dharna was led by state president of the Rasoiya Sangh, Com. Saroj Chaubey and the meeting was moderated by secretary of the Rasoiya Sangh, Com. Sohila Gupta. Addressing the dharna, National general secretary of AIPWA, Com. Meena Tiwari said that the condition of midday meal workers working in Bihar government schools was extremely pitiable. They used to receive only one thousand as monthly honorariums and it was after much struggle that the amount was increased by Rs. 250. The announcement of ex gratia grant of 4 lakh in the case of death of a midday meal worker was not being implemented anywhere. On the contrary two months honorarium is cut in the year and on several occasions, owing to various reasons, honorarium is not paid for several months. There is no provision of accident insurance, health insurance or pension for these workers. Additionally, the workers are often subjected to humiliation at work place. Com. Shashi Yadav said that even as the workers are forced to struggle to demand their basic rights, the government has planned to hand over midday meal schemes to NGOs in around 28 districts. Given that workers' rights are denied by the state, one can imagine their plight under private NGOs. The governments at the centre and state make tall claims about women empowerment but have not bothered once to talk to agitating women workers. The dharna was also addressed by CPI (ML) MLAs Com. Mehboob Alam and Com. Sudama Prasad. The protestors demanded that the government to revoke the move, else, the future of the workers would continue to remain in dark and the students too will not be assured of a healthy and fresh meal. They also warned that they will intensify the struggle.
Red Salute to Com. Mitranand Singh
Com. Mitranand Singh, district secretary of CPI (ML)'s Nalanda district unit passed away in the morning of 14 August. He was in the ICU for past several days after suffering a brain haemorrhage. His body was brought to the CPI (ML) state office and party cadres paid tributes to him. Bihar state secretary Com. Kunal expressed deep condolence at his unfortunate demise and said that his passing away was a loss for the party that could not be filled. The party stands with his family in this hour of grief. In the 80's while working in the private sector in BiharSharif, Com. Mitranand came into the contact of senior CPI (ML) leader Pawan Sharma. He soon became a part member and in 1986 he started working as a whole timer of the party. He was assigned the responsibility of Bihar Sharif and he then became of the Nalanda district secretary of the AIPF. He was the CPI (ML) candidate from Nalanda in the Lok Sabha elections in 1991 and he received huge support from the poor and Dalits. Besides Bihar Sharif he also played a crucial role in the expansion of the party in Jagdishpur in Bhojpur. His presence will always be missed.
Red Salute to Com. Bhura Singh
Com. Bhura Singh, Mansa block President of All India Kisan Mahasabha, who had been sitting an indefinite dharna led by AIKM president Com. Ruldu Singh for the loan waiver of famers and peasants, passed away on 14 August, 134th day of the dharna owing to heart attack. The comrades sitting with him rushed him to the hospital but doctors declared him dead. AIKM comrades forced the government to realise the gravity of the situation and the government decided to give 5 lakhs to his family, assure job to a family member and promise withdrawal of his loans. Instead of cremation, his whole body was donated to Patiala Hospital. Com. Bhura Singh, besides being the Mansa Block president of the All India Kisan Mahsabha, was also a member of tehsil Committee member of CPI (ML). Revolutionary tribute to Com. Bhura Singh, the great martyr of the ongoing "karja-mafi movement"!
Red Salute to Com. Manjulaben Patanwadia
Comrade Manjulaben Patanwadia passed away in the night of 16 August 2016 in Ahmedabad after multiple organ failure. She was 57. She had undergone surgery in her both knees recently which somehow resulted in further complications resulting in her sad demise. Revolutionary tribute to Comrade Manjulaben!