A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol.19 | No. 37-38 | 13 – 19 Sept 2016
Student Movement Victory:
Left Sweeps JNUSU, AISA Emerges as Third Force in DUSU
The vicious campaign by the Sangh Parivar, Modi Government and sections of the media to brand JNU as 'anti-national' and 'Shut Down JNU' received a resounding rebuff in the 2016 JNUSU elections, with the Left Unity (AISA-SFI) panel sweeping all the Central Panel seats and most Councillor seats. The ABVP was reduced to a single Councillor post and left far behind on the Central panel posts.
The ABVP had used the 'nationalism vs anti-national' plank in both JNUSU and DUSU elections, giving the slogan '9 ka jawab 9 se' (Make 9 September a Reply to 9 February). 9 February was the date of the events in JNU which the Modi Government had sought to project as 'seditious', and students union elections in JNU and Delhi University were held on 9 September - so the ABVP was attempting to turn the elections into a referendum for its campaign against 'anti-nationals'. That plank boomeranged on the ABVP badly. The JNU students did indeed 'Make 9 September a Reply to 9 February' – they trounced the ABVP and overwhelmingly elected those committed to defending JNU against the Sangh Parivar and Modi Government offensive. In DU also, while the ABVP retained three seats, it lost the Joint Secretary post as well as the College Representative posts in 33 out of 40 colleges to the NSUI. Further, the AISA, which the ABVP had attacked as 'anti-national', emerged as the third force yet again and increased its vote share substantially on all seats.
In a case of 'grapes are sour', Union Minister for State for Home Kiren Rijiju blamed ABVP's defeat to the Left in JNU students "getting romanticised by a faulty obsolete and discarded ideology", from which he claimed "fresh-minded DU students" are "insulated." What Rijiju fails to explain is the utter defeat of the concerted campaign by his Government and his party against JNU as an institution and the Left as an ideology. Not only did the Left retain JNU hands down, a larger section than before of "fresh minded" DU students rejected both the ABVP and NSUI and voted for the "fresh" option of AISA!
AISA and other progressive forces made their mark on other campuses also. Shiwani of AISA won the Girls' Representative post in the central panel of the Students' Union in Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttarakhand. And Tajamul of the Azad National Students' Association that had worked closely with AISA in the Occupy UGC and Justice for Rohith Vemula movements, won the post of President of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Hyderabad. In MANUU also, as in HCU and JNU, students protesting against administrative high-handedness had been unjustly punished.
In JNU, the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students' Association (BAPSA) polled second on the post of President – thus relegating the ABVP to the third place. It is a welcome development that the political contest on the key post of President remained between non-ABVP forces. However, the BAPSA's slogan equating 'red and saffron' and its attempts to brand the Stand With JNU movement as a 'Stand With Janeu (Brahminical sacred thread)' movement are extremely unfortunate. The saffron attack on JNU followed the same pattern as in HCU: just as Rohith Vemula was branded anti-national and rusticated in HCU, JNU students were branded anti-national, rusticated as well as charged with sedition. Most of the JNU AISA leaders including current and former JNUSU office bearers who were victims of the witch-hunt – such as Rama Naga, Anant Prakash Narayan, Ashutosh Kumar, Chintu Kumari and Shweta Raj – were from dalit and backward castes and deprived backgrounds. The need of the hour is to emphasise continuities between the historic and inspiring HCU and JNU movements and unite against the Sangh Parivar and Modi Government, rather than fly in the face of facts and seek to paint the JNU movement as a defence of upper caste privilege. At a time when the whole country is witnessing movements in which red and blue flags are coming together to resist the saffron offensive and struggle for the India of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar's dreams, it is to be hoped that all genuine Left and Ambedkarite currents on campuses too will nurture a healthy debate, dialogue as well as unity in struggles.
The Left victory in JNUSU and AISA assertion in DUSU will strengthen the student movements against commercialisation, privatisation and saffronisation of education and against the crackdown on dissent and democracy on campuses and in the country.
A Brief Overview of the Left Victory in JNUSU and AISA Performance in DUSU
The Left Unity panel of AISA and SFI registered a landslide victory in the JNUSU elections. Comrade Mohit Kumar Pandey of AISA was elected JNUSU President, polling 1954 votes, and defeating the nearest opponent from BAPSA by a margin of 409 votes. Comrade Satarupa Chakraborty of SFI was elected General Secretary of the JNUSU, polling 2424 votes, and defeating the rival from ABVP by 1094 votes. Comrade Amal P P of SFI was elected JNUSU Vice-President, polling 2461 votes and defeating the ABVP rival by 1304 votes. Comrade Tabrez Hasan of AISA was elected JNUSU Joint Secretary, with 1670 votes and defeating the opponent from DSF by 362 votes. The Left Unity candidates won 14 out of 15 Councillor seats in the Schools of Social Sciences, Language, Literature and Culture Studies and International Studies, as well as the lone Councillor posts in the School of Arts and Aesthetics and the Part-Time constituency. Independent candidates won the Councillor posts in the Science schools and the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance. ABVP won only a single Councillor post in Sanskrit Studies.
Despite lower turnout, AISA put up strong show in DUSU Elections, polling third and increasing its vote percentage on every post. In spite of facing slander and physical assaults by the ABVP, AISA managed to increase its vote share on every post. On the posts of President, Vice President, Secretary and Joint Secretary AISA saw an increase of 2, 9,8 and 2 percents votes respectively.
The polling in DU was at its historical low this year due to administrative failure to resolve the DUTA evaluation boycott agitation on time, which resulted in a failure to complete admissions and readmissions on time. In spite of this, the DU administration issued a notification that only those who had paid fees till 31 August could vote, thus disenfranchising a major section of students. Further the DU Administration made the mistake of replacing the cut-off system with a merit list system mid-way through the admissions, leading to thousands of vacant seats in the First Year.
The DU administration also failed to control the hooliganism and brazen violations of DUSU code of conduct. Students' disgust at the waste of paper, the crass display of money power, and open bribery by ABVP and NSUI also contributed to low voter turnout, and was also reflected in AISA's increased vote share as well as high NOTA votes.
2nd Sept. All India Strike
Several trade unions came together to protest against the neo-liberal and anti-workers' policies of the Modi government and ensure the success of the All India General Strike on 2nd September. All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) too campaigned for months and mobilized workers across states for the strike. All India Agricultural Rural Labour Organisation (AIARLA) too extended solidarity to the strikes and actively mobilized for the strike.
In Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Delhi-NCR, Haryana, Punjab, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and several other states where there are huge industrial sectors and manufacturing units, the strike brought the entire states to a standstill. Governments in several states tried their best to threaten the strikers, for instance, in West Bengal the TMC government unleashed physical attacks on striking workers through police and goons protected and nurtured by the TMC. In several places like Faridabad in Haryana, Noida in UP and Karbi Anglong, section 144 was imposed and workers arrested. In Gurgaon, 12 Maruti workers and 22 transport union leaders were arrested. In Bhilai police forces were deployed in huge numbers to force the workers inside the plant. In Siliguri too, hundreds of activists from AICCTU, AIUTUC, CITU and other trade unions were lathi-charged by the police as they tried to observe strike. Hundreds of activists from different trade unions including 18 activists from AICCTU were arrested. However, these measures failed to dissuade the workers from protesting.
Despite section 144 being imposed, a twelve-hour total bandh was observed in Karbi Anglong by AICCTU, the construction workers' union, the mid-day meal workers and others union. A procession was also taken out in Diphu town that was joined by nearly 200 activists. The workers refused to be deterred by section 144 and instead chose to court arrest. Nearly 300 people also courted arrest in Howraghat. AICCTU and AIARLA also took out processions in Tinisukia in Assam. Effective strikes were also ensured by AICCTU and CPI (ML) activists in Tenali in Guntur and they participated in the general strike in Mangalageri in Andhra Pradesh. AICCTU and CPI(ML) also joined the strike in Nizamabad in Telangana.
In Gujarat ASHA workers were in the forefront in leading the strike in Savarkhanta, Banaskantha, Aravalli, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Surat districts. In Ahmedabad, they blocked the gates of a multi-storey complex where several government offices including the labour court are located. Later a massive rally joined by ASHA workers, forest workers, power loom workers and workers from various unorganised sector led by AICCTU was taken out that culminated in front of the office of the Gujarat Labour Commissioner. Later an AICCTU delegation also met the Deputy Labour Commissioner focusing on the demands of the ASHA workers.
A successful strike was also observed throughout the state in Tamil Nadu. AICCTU and AIARLA along with other central Trade unions took part in Rail and Road roko programmes in 45 centres in 16 districts. More than 3000 workers including factory workers, migrant labourers, construction workers, power-loom workers, beedi workers, civil supplies corporation load men, electricity board employees, defence sector contract labours, agricultural workers, among others took part and more than 2000 workers courted arrest. In Coimbatore Workers of AICCTU affiliated Pricol and Shanthi gear unions went on strike and participated in the Road rolo agitation. In Chennai, workers of major industries such as Ashok Leyland, Ennore foundries and Murugappa group of companies went on strike. There was also an active transport strike. More than 80% of workers took part in BHEL and Ordnance Factory.at Trichy.
In order to ensure the success of the general strike in Bihar, nearly 20 thousand workers of AICCTU and the unions affiliated to it came out on streets and played a crucial role in ensuring a historic success of the strike. The state capital Patna was brought to a complete standstill and trains were also stopped in Masaurhi, Jehanabad, Ara, Rajgir, and Supaul. In Nawada nearly a thousand mid day meal workers, rickshaw pullers, footpath sellers and construction workers kept the Nawada main road block for over two hours under the leadership of AICCTU-AIPWA leaders. Similar bandhs and jams were also ensured in places like Darbhanga, Gaya, Saharsa and Arwal and rallies were taken out in Nalanda, Chapra, betiya, Purnea, Hajipur and several other places.
In Jharkhand, a massive rally was taken out in Ranchi under the banners of AICCTU and Jharkhand Construction Workers Union. In the coal belt of Jharkhand – Dhanbad, Bokaro, Ramgarh, Palamu and others districts the production and distribution was coal was brought to a stop.
In Uttarakhand too, massive demonstrations were held in several places like Dharchula, Ramgarh, Pithoragarh, Haldwani and Srinagar, Garhwal, in the support of the general strike. In Uttar Pradesh, activists of CPI (ML), AICCTU and AIARLA took to streets to participate in the strike. A huge numbers of workers joined the march called by AICCTU from Chaarbagh to Hazratganj GPO. Marches and protests were also organised in Aligarh, Bundelkhand, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Sonebhadra, Kushinagar and other places.
In Odisha, AICCTU along with other trade unions took out a rally in Bhubaneswar. The operations of the East Coast railway were affected by the strike. A protest demonstration against the Steel Authority of India was held in Rourkela. Demonstrations were also held in Gajapti, Kendrapada, Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and other places in which several comrades were arrested.
During the strike, AIARLA raise the concerns of the agricultural and rural workers as national concerns.
Convention in Moradabad against Communalism
A joint anti-communalism convention organized by six left parties was successfully concluded in Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), RSP, SUCI(C) and Forward Bloc participated in the convention. People from Moradabad and nearby districts participated in huge numbers in the convention that was held in the local Panchayat hall.
In the resolutions passed during the convention, a key resolution was to take watchful and strict steps at the local government and administration level to stop the communal tensions being increasingly built in Uttar Pradesh and after identifying the elements responsible for this strict action against them must be taken. The convention condemned the wrong statement issued by the Prime Minister during his speech from Red Fort on 15 August regarding the total outstanding payments of the sugarcane farmers and demanded that the long pending payments of the sugarcane farmers by the sugar mills along with the interests be immediately paid. A resolution demanding that distribution of land, illegally captured and post ceiling to be distributed among the Dalits and other weaker sections of the society.
It was decided that left parities will jointly initiate struggles at local levels against the communal campaign being run in the state. The next in the series of these anti-communal conventions will held in Mathura on 10 September. A joint left rally has been called on 9 November.
Singur Verdict is a Victory for Peasants,
Warning to All Govts Against Land Grab and State Repression
The Supreme Court verdict setting aside land acquisition for the Tata Nano project in Singur and ordering return of the illegally-acquired land to the peasants of Singur is a historic victory for the peasants' movement.
The verdict vindicates the position argued by the Singur peasants and a range of democratic supporters throughout – that the land acquisition was illegal and immoral and robbed the peasants of their land, livelihood and rights in order to appease the corporate Tata.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front Government that had all along defended the Singur land grab was punished with electoral debacles. The Supreme Court verdict should be an occasion for the introspection and apology that the CPI(M) has resisted till date.
The Singur verdict should serve as a warning to the Modi Government and every other Government in the country that is trying to usher in land grab laws and snatch land from peasants and adivasis to hand over to corporates. It will serve as a boost in the arm for the ongoing struggles to scrap land grab laws and instead enact laws to protect agricultural, fertile, coastal and forest land from grab.
CPI(ML) Protest Against the Firing in Gola, Jharkhand
In the Gola block of Ramgarh district in Jharkhand, land was procured for the Inland Power Limited in 2007-2008 by Girirraj Jhanwar and Sanjay Singh. They procured 4-500 acres of lands in Badhani Byang, Tonagaatu and Bariyaatu villages at Rs.1550/- per dismil and also promised employment and development for the villagers. No compensation however was paid to the farmers working on the gairmarjua land and they also illegally captured the Raiyat land. The land was thereafter transferred to Naveen Saagwaani and Maadna and the work on the Inland Power Plant started in 2011-2012 and the production in the factory began in 2013. During this while it has been only CPI (ML) that has consistently raised the issue of compensation, employment, rehabilitation, development and pollution and undertaken movements 4-5 times. Recently the struggle is being fought by forming the 'Naagrik Chetna Manch'. On 22 August several rural farmers had gathered near the factory to raise their genuine demands but at around 4 pm in the evening the police unleashed a brutal assault on them. Two people- Dashrath Nayak and Ramlakhan Mahto died in the police firing and nearly a dozen people were injured. Post this firing the entire Bariyaatu region was turned into a police camp and the police patrolling was increased by imposing section 144. CPI (ML) leaders, activists and supporters gathered in hundreds in Gola Bazaar Main road and Ramgarh city to protest against these killings. They demanded that the genuine demands of the farmers be met, guilty policemen be charged with section 302 and arrested, 25 lakh compensation for the families of the dead and 10 lakh compensation for the families of the injured along with proper medical treatment of the injured. A memorial meeting was also called on 1 September.
Left parties Unite to Fight 2017 UP Polls
6 left parties including CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) have agreed to fight the upcoming the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections to be held in 2017 together. Prior to this a state-wide joint left rally will be held on 9 November. This decision was taken in meeting of state secretaries held in Lucknow on 29 August and it was announced during a joint press conference called on 30 August. During the meeting and the press conference, CPI (M) state secretary Com. Hiralal, CPI state secretary Com. Girish Chandra Sharma, CPI (ML) state secretary Com. Ramji Rai, Forward Block state secretary Com. Shiv Narayan Singh Chauhan and a representative from SUCI(C) were present while the state leadership of RSP had conveyed their agreement with these decisions earlier.
Memorial Meeting Held for Comrade Mulkraj
A memorial meeting was held for veteran Delhi activist of the party Comrade Mulkraj who passed away early this month. The memorial meeting was attended by party PB member Prabhat Chaudhary, Delhi State Secretary Ravi Rai, State Committee members Comrades Amarnath Tiwary, VKS Gautam, Surendra Panchal, Satbir Shramik, as well as district committee leaders and activists including Satyaprakash Baudh as well as family members of Comrade Mulkraj. Representatives of CPI and CPI(M) also attended the meeting.
Comrade Swapan Mukherjee
The CPI(ML) Central Committee is deeply shocked and grieved to announce the untimely demise of CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Swapan Mukherjee. He suffered an unexpected heart attack and passed away suddenly around 4.15 am this morning at a comrade's home in Chandigarh, where he had gone for a meeting.
Comrade Swapan was born on 17 November 1953. His father was a central government employee. He played football for both for his school and his college, representing the Delhi University team in 1971 when he played as a creative mid-fielder.
As a B.Sc. student in Kirorimal College, Delhi University in the early 1970s, he was among the many young people inspired by the Naxalbari struggle to join the ML movement. Even as an undergraduate college student, he became a committed revolutionary, working among workers in the Azadpur area and Delhi Transport Corporation as well as among teachers and students.
Even in the midst of the all-pervasive confusion and demoralization in the wake of the setback suffered by the first phase of the CPI(ML) movement, Comrade Swapan stood resolutely for the Party and for the revolutionary orientation and legacy of Comrade Charu Mazumdar.
Before the reorganized CPI(ML) Central Committee with Comrade Jauhar as General Secretary was constituted on 28 July 1974, Comrade Swapan along with some other comrades (led by Com. Ishwarchand Tyagi) had already established contact with the party's Bihar comrades who were working under the leadership of Comrade Jauhar. He was very actively involved in party work in Delhi from the time of reorganization to the 2nd Party Congress held in early 1976.
For a brief period from mid-1976 to 1978, around the time of the Emergency and its immediate aftermath, Comrade Swapan had to leave Delhi to evade the police witch-hunt. After the Emergency, Comrade Swapan joined the Times of India in Delhi as a member of the clerical staff and worked actively to help build the nascent Party organization in Delhi.
Comrade Swapan was very active in the civil liberties movement (mainly led by PUCL and PUDR) that took shape in the wake of the Emergency, maintaining close contact with Justice VM Tarkunde, Gobind Mukhoty and others. He was very active in the 'Release Nagbhushan Patnaik' and 'Release Nelson Mandela' campaigns. He was also very active on behalf of the CPI(ML) Liberation in the many struggles and campaigns on national and international issues in Delhi in the 1970s and 1980s – including the initiatives against the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, and protests in support of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist resistance in Vietnam and Africa. He helped organize the Seminar Against Autocracy in Delhi in early 1982, and was a key organizer and living link in the process of formation of the Indian People's Front (IPF) on 26 April 1982.
All this while, Comrade Swapan was employed with the Times of India, while working as a member of underground Delhi State unit of the Party. In 1984, he left his job at the TOI to become a fulltime organizer once again, becoming the Delhi in-charge of the IPF and taking up the task of organizing amongst Delhi's working class. He took up the challenging task of organizing a trade union centre under CPI(ML) and became its founding General Secretary in May 1989 at the first conference of the AICCTU held in Chennai.
Com. Swapan became a member of Central Committee of the CPI(ML) in 1993. The same year, he became the in-charge of the Party organization in Punjab – where he continued to play a role for the next three decades. Comrade Swapan again became General Secretary of AICCTU in 1998, and continued to discharge this responsibility till May 2015 at the 9th Conference of the AICCTU at Patna, after which he became a Vice President of AICCTU only to take up more direct responsibilities of the Party. At the time of his shocking demise, on behalf of the Politburo he was in charge of Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh, Maharashtra and Odisha.
In recent years Comrade Swapan played an important part in the formation of the All India People's Forum (AIPF). He was a brilliant party organizer, always accessible and open to discussions, debates and fresh ideas, with reserves of patience and perseverance in guiding comrades and party units to understand and implement the party's line. He will especially be missed by many young men and women working in the party in Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab and Chandigarh, who benefited enormously from his mentoring and comradeship. As an organizer, he embodied the principle of meticulous planning and was committed to executing all plans while leading from the front. A patient and modest learner and listener, he shared mutual admiration and respect with many activists from a range of other ideological streams, people's movements, intellectual and cultural pursuits, and Left and democratic parties.
Comrade Swapan's loss is an irreparable one – not only for the CPI(ML) but for the entire spectrum of democratic movements. He died as he had lived – active, optimistic, enthusiastic and tireless to the very last.
The CPI(ML) extends condolences to Comrade Swapan's wife Comrade Sharmila, his son Soubhik and daughter Upasana, and all other members of his family.
Red Salute to Comrade Swapan Mukherjee !
Comrade Swapan Cremated,
Memorial Meetings Held
Leaders and activists of many Left parties, trade unions and democratic organizations, as well as teachers, workers, and students paid homage to Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, CPI(ML) Politburo member and noted leader of the trade union movement, before his funeral on 7 September 2016. Comrade Swapan had passed away on 6 September of a sudden cardiac arrest.
Comrade Swapan's body was laid out in state, wrapped in the red flag and wreathed in flowers, in the CPI(ML)'s Central Office this morning. Among those who paid homage to him were CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(M) Politburo member Prakash Karat, CPI National Secretariat member Amarjeet Kaur, Mangat Ram Pasla, Secretary CPM (Punjab); Uday Bhat, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist); Amaresh Kumar, Central Committee member, All India Forward Bloc and Dharmendra Verma, Delhi State General Secretary of All India Forward Bloc; CPI(M) Central Committee member Pushpendra Grewal; RK Sharma, SUCI(C) and National Secretary, AIUTUC; noted rights activist John Dayal; ND Pancholi of PUCL; CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen and Swadesh Debroy, CITU; AITUC leaders DL Sachdeva and Vijaylakshmi; TUCC National Secretary AK Mishra; NTUI General Secretary Gautam Mody; CPI(M) Delhi State Secretary KM Tiwary; CITU Delhi State General Secretary Anurag Saxena; Leena Dabiru of AIPF and many others. All expressed condolences to Comrade Swapan's wife Comrade Sharmila, his son Soubhik and daughter Upasana, as well as other members of his family.
Professor Vinod Khurana, journalists Urmilesh, Anand Swaroop Varma and Anil Chamadia, cultural activists Shamsul Islam, Neelima and Shubhendu Sen, Professor Vijay Singh and several others who knew him as an activist since his days as a student of Kirorimal College, Delhi University in the 1970s, also attended the funeral.
CPI(ML) PB members Swadesh Bhattacharya, Ramji Rai, Kumarasami, Kartick Pal, Prabhat Kumar, and Kavita Krishnan, CCMs Manoj Bhakta, Vinod Singh from Jharkhand, Ravi Rai and Sanjay Sharma from Delhi, Rajendra Pratholi and Raja Bahuguna from Uttarakhand, Mohammad Salim from UP, Gurmeet Singh, Rajvinder Singh Rana from Punjab, AIKM General Secretary Rajaram Singh, AICCTU General Secretary Rajiv Dimri, AISA National President Sucheta De, RYA General Secretary Om Prasad, AIPWA leaders Iqbal Udasi and Jasbir Kaur, Haryana in-charge of CPI(ML) Prem Singh Gehlawat, Chandigarh Secretary of CPI(ML) Kanwaljeet, AIKM leader from Rajasthan Phoolchand Dhewa, Comrades Sukhdarshan Nat and Bhagwant Samaon from Punjab, Kapil Sharma of Sangwari paid homage to Comrade Swapan.
On his final journey to the cremation grounds, Comrade Swapan's pallbearers included several young women comrades whom he had mentored – Comrades Aditi, Navkiran, Eisha and Abhilasha. All Delhi leaders and cadres of CPI(ML) bid goodbye to Comrade Swapan with rousing slogans.
Comrades Shamsul Islam and Neelima presented revolutionary songs saluting the red flag and the departed and martyred comrades. Comrade Swapan's last journey and cremation were accompanied with the singing of the Internationale.
On 6 September a memorial meeting was held in the Bihar State CPI(ML) office at Patna, which was addressed by party GS Comrade Dipankar as well as Bihar-based CCMs of the party. A memorial meeting was held in Chandigarh where comrades pledged to take forward Comrade Swapan's unfinished work.
Memorial meetings on 8 September were held by AICCTU and CPI(ML) all over Jharkhand including at Ranchi, Ganday, Dhanbad, Jai Nagar, Bagodar,Garhwa, Jamua, Giridih, Sariya, Rajdhanwar, Vengabad, Kumardhubi, Godda, Bokaro, Domchanch, Koderma as well as by Mugma Area Motor Workers' Union.