Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ML Update | No. 49 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol.19 | No. 49 | 
29 NOV - 5 DEC 2016

All India Outrage Day:

Anger Against Demonetisation Disaster Spills Out On Streets

WITH EVERY PASSING DEMONETISED DAY, the distress of common people continues to mount. More than 80 people have lost their lives due to demonetisation. Farmers are suffering devastation, workers are losing jobs, and people are denied healthcare. But the Prime Minister has not displayed any interest in acknowledging the colossal disaster that demonetisation has proved to be. Instead of alleviating people's suffering, he launched a self-serving 'survey' in a personal app, and promptly proceeded to claim that the app-survey showed that demonetisation had the approval of 92% of Indians. This, in spite of the fact that a mere 17% of Indians use smart phones and a tiny fraction of these participated in the survey, and moreover that the survey was designed to elicit only approving responses, failing to provide a 'disagree' option on its most crucial questions!

Exposing the farce of Modi's app-based 'survey', millions of common Indians came on the streets on 28 November to express their anger and participate in People's Outrage (Jan Akrosh) protests all over the country. Here, too, Modi himself proceeded to claim that the opposition parties had declared a Bharat Bandh – and since no Bharat Bandh took place, he declared the protests a flop. Just as he declared his demonetisation move 'passed with flying colours' in a test he himself set and examined, Modi declared the people's protests a 'failure' in the imaginary 'Bharat Bandh' that no one had declared!        

If the people's opposition to demonetisation could be seen and heard on the streets, the complicity of certain 'Opposition' leaders like Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in the demonetisation calamity is also glaringly visible. Nitish Kumar won a popular mandate in Bihar on the promise of rebuffing and resisting the BJP. At the earliest opportunity, however, Nitish Kumar has gone out of his way to bail out the BJP, betraying his mandate and leaving in the lurch the common people of Bihar, the bulk of whom, as poor farmers and migrant labourers, are devastated by demonetisation.     

In his latest policy announcement, PM Modi reintroduced the scheme of voluntary disclosure of unaccounted-for cash, even after December 30, the deadline announced earlier. This scheme is essentially a rehash of the Government's income disclosure scheme that ended in September, with the modification that this time, the penalty is 50 per cent – just 5 per cent more than the penalty that had been in place in the scheme that ended in September. In 2014 Modi came to power promising to bring back black money from foreign shores. That promise seems to lie forgotten as Modi instead claimed to have launched a 'surgical strike' in the form of demonetisation, on black money on 8 November. But now, instead of a devastating 'strike' to destroy black money, the Government is once again seeking to whitewash black money! We must expose and reject such attempts to whitewash black money, and instead demand that black money holders be punished and their black money confiscated.         

Shockingly, even as BJP claims to crusade against black money, a Demonetization Scam is unfolding. There is evidence that on the eve of demonetization, the BJP national party, through its local leaders, bought up lakhs of crores worth of land in Bihar, Odisha and, according to the claims of its own Bihar leader Sushil Modi, in every district in India. Modi mocked all criticism of and opposition to the demonetisation decision, claiming that these were just the protests by Opposition parties which did not get time to 'prepare' – i.e get rid of illegally gotten cash. It seems that the ruling BJP was given time by the Modi Government to 'prepare' by converting black money into real estate! An impartial but urgent probe is called for into this Note Ban Scam.   

Modi's latest 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast has once again reiterated the claim that the Note Ban has caused 'small inconveniences' for 'small people' and huge difficulties for the corrupt rich. The evidence is however entirely to the contrary. The super-rich and corrupt continue to hold wedding extravaganzas and indulge in conspicuous consumption while for the poor, demonetisation has become a matter of life and death. More than 4 lakh jobs have been destroyed by demonetisation, the most vulnerable informal sector workers and poor peasants are worst hit.

The PM is doing nothing to cushion the common people from or compensate for job loss, wage loss and other consequences of the demonetisation disaster. Instead he is holding up the mirage of a 'cashless economy' as a pro-poor paradise that demonetisation will create in the long term. The world experience shows that the poor and small businesses in every country depend on cash transactions to survive. In a country like India, where internet coverage is low and services unreliable, the notion of a 'cashless' economy is laughable. The PM's claim that cashless transactions are safer and less vulnerable to corruption is also false: online transactions are just as if not even more vulnerable to theft than offline ones.       

The Modi Government must not be allowed to get away with its outrageous falsehoods about demonetization. The PM continues to assure people that after 50 days the demonetisation 'side-effects' will subside. But he is yet to declare when exactly people will be allowed to withdraw freely from their own hard-earned savings. The PM must be held accountable for the people's sufferings caused by demonetization. The Government must compensate each of India's common citizens with Rs 2000 per day for each day that the demonetisation disaster lasts. If the disaster lasts 50 days, the Government must pay each common citizen a compensation of Rs 1 lakh.       

The resistance to the Demonetisation Disaster and Note Bank Scam must intensify, exposing every false claim and nailing every lie of the killer Modi Government.   

Aakrosh Diwas Against Demonetization Observed Across The Country

The 'Aakrosh Diwas' across the country was observed to protest against the Modi government's anti-poor demonitization move jointly by left parties as well as rest of the opposition. Even as the toll of those who have died waiting in bank and ATM queues continues to rise and the poor remain the worst hit with their employment under grave threat, the PM Modi has only been heard making fun of people's difficulties and miseries.

The CPI(ML) observed the day with the slogan 'Not Notes, Change the Government'. In Bihar, a massive juloos was taken out from Gandhi Maidan in Patna which was barricaded at JP Chowk by the police which clashed with the protestors. The protestors were arrested which included several CPI(ML) leaders and the party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. Earlier, addressing the protestors Com. Dipankar said that the politics of loot will no longer run in the country. Within just 20 days after the announcement of demonetization, people's angst can be seen against the Tughlaqi dictate of the government. Now the PM is saying that people of the country should bear for 50 more days and then all would be fine. However, this is a blatant lie and another attempt to misguide the people. He added that it is the toiling masses who have been affected by this demonetization. Nearly 80 people have died and this is extremely saddening and painful. The PM is calling the money of the toiling classes as 'black money'. We want to tell this government that this is our hard earned money and we will not let it be looted by the corporates.

Throughout the state, thousands of protestors were arrested. The demonstrations were marked by reverberation of slogans such as – 'the politics of lies and loot will no longer work', 'Confiscate the black money of Ambani and Adani', 'Change the government, not the currency, 'Bring back black money', and 'teach the treacherous government a lesson'. Several state and national roadways and railway lines were blocked. CPI(ML) leaders also condemned the Nitish government for siding with Modi in his anti-people move.

In Jharkhand,  a united protest march of CPI(ML) and CPI(M) was called in Jhumri Teliya in Koderma district. The march culminated in a public meeting. An Aakrosh march and a mass meeting was called in Garhwa. In Dhanbad, CPI, CPI (M), CPI (M), MCC and others called for a march. The demands raised included that legal action be taken against those whose names were revealed in Panama leaks, Sahara- Birla Diaries, loan waivers announced to industrialists be revoked and compensation be paid to the families of those who lost their lives due to demonitisation. In Hazaribagh a united march was held. Protests were also called in Bokaro, Jaamtada, Dumka, Godda and Ranchi and all other towns.

In Chhattisgarh, CPI, CPIM, CPI(ML) and Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha jointly held a protest at the SBI office at Raipur. Joint Left protests of the three Left parties were also held at Bilaspur and Korba.

Tamil Nadu Observing the Aakrosh Diwas in Tamil Nadu, a joint protest demonstration was held in front of the State Bank of India Head Quarters at Chennai. The protest was joined by Vidudhalai Chiruththaikal Katchi (VCK). The demonstration turned into road blockade and nearly one thousand cadres were arrested. CPI(ML) Tamilnadu state secretary Kumarasamy led the party contingent here. A joint dharna was held at Tanjore which was addressed by leaders including Balasundaram, CCM of CPI(ML). Joint demonstrations  were  also held at Pudukottai , Valathan , Tirunelveli, Chengulpattu, Salem, Coimbatore, Namakkal and Erode, Tiruvellore, Dindigul, Cuddalore, Vilupuram, Madurai and Tiruchi,

In Mumbai, CPI, CPIM, CPIML, LNP (L), SUCI, Peasants and Workers Party, and Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh jointly held a protest demonstration at Churchgate. Even when the public meeting was on for over an hour, police detained all the protesters.

In Karnataka, CPI(ML) along with CPI(M), CPI, SUCI(C) held demonstrations across the state, including Koppal, Davanagere, Mysore and Bangalore. The demonstration in Koppal was addressed by the CPI(ML) State Secretary Com. Bharadwaj.

CPI (ML) also held a protest in Karnal, Haryana. A procession was taken out in the city up to DC office where effigy of PM was burnt and a meeting was held. The meeting was addressed by Haryana in-charge Prem Singh Gahlawat, Priti Sahni, Rekha Pal, Krishna Saini and Mahendra Chopra.

Joint left demonstrations were organised in Bhubaneswar and other parts of Odisha.

In Andhar Pradesh, left parties including held joint protest demonstrations in Prathipadu, Yeleswaram in East Godavari district and Vijaywada. Several protestors and leaders were arrested while participating in the protest rally in Vijaywada.

In Uttarakhand,  a protest demonstration was called by CPI(ML) in Lalkuan. The effigy of the PM was burnt amidst loud sloganeering. In Chamoli district, CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML) jointly organised protests and burnt the effigy. They also demanded that the 11 lakh crore loan waiver to industrialists be immediately revoked and loan waiver be announced for the farmers and compensation be paid to those who lost their lives due to demonetization. A protest demonstration was also held in Srinagar (Garhwal).

In Delhi,  a joint left march was led by Sitaram Yechuri, CPI(M), Kavita Krishnan, CPI(M), Atul Anjan, CPI and other left leaders from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. Earlier, CPI(ML), AICCTU, AIPWA and AISA had called for a united workers-women-students march to PM house on 26 November in which hundreds of protestors were arrested at the Parliament Street.

In Uttar Pradesh, Left came to streets on 28 November with marches, protests and effigy burnings in various districts in all parts of the state. CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M) had also protested on 22 November in front of Reserve Bank of India's branch in Lucknow.

Convention against Demonetization in Ranchi

The CPI(ML) organized a people's convention in Ranchi as part of the countrywide protests against the killer demonetization which has wreaked havoc on the daily lives and economy of the common people.

The convention started with a silent tribute to the champion of the deprived, Fidel Castro. Addressing the convention as the main speaker, Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said that it is necessary to understand the politics of demonetization. This demonetization slapped on the people of India by Modi has become an economic emergency for the poor and the common people. The actual hoarders of black money are enjoying the luxury of Five Star hotels while those who have earned money through hard work are standing in queues. The people in Modi's party were aware of this move in advance, enabling them to buy land worth crores in Bihar and deposit billions of rupees in banks in Bengal just a few hours before the demonetization announcement. Now, a new black market trade has started in the form of changing old currency. The beleaguered people are sarcastically saying, "Jio Paytm se, aur Maro ATM pe" (Live by Paytm and Die at the ATM). Exposing the autocratic ways and the cruel joke played on the poor by the Modi government Com. Dipankar called for accelerating the protests and said that the time has come to press hard for the campaign of "Note Nahi Sarkar Badlo" (Change the government, not the currency).

Speaking in the context of Jharkhand, Com. Dipankar said that the amendments to the hard-won CNT-SPT Act are for the destruction of adivasis and for the prosperity of the Adanis and Ambanis. This Modi-Raghuvar conspiracy must be fought through spirited and dedicated people's struggles.

Opposing the demonetization, noted economist Jean Dreze said that tyres of the development vehicle the country was riding have been punctured by the very government who is in charge of steering the vehicle. The worst and most long-time effect of this will be felt by the poor and the rural population. The economic development of the country will be set back hugely. He called the government's pro-demonetization arguments ridiculous and said that deceiving the people is a specialty of the Modi government. The real black money is with all ruling-class parties including Modi's BJP; this fact is being hidden and the common people are being held guilty. We must make the people aware of this truth.

Senior human rights activist Fr Stan Swamy said that the names of the real black money hoarders have already been listed by the people of the country; the Modi government should nab them first. But instead of catching them, the government has waived their loans to the tune of thousands of crores, and the common people are being forced to stand in queues. We must oppose this oppression.

CPI(ML) Jharkhand Secretary Janardan Prasad said that corporate companies and capitalists—the breeders and carriers of black money and corruption—are merrily prospering; it is for their benefit that the havoc of demonetization is being wreaked on the common people and also Modi-bhakts. He stressed that we must expose this conspiracy and accelerate the campaign to convert Demonetization into DeModi-tization.

Social activist Hussain Kachchi said that the common people are not standing in line of their own volition; they have been forced to line up. Advocate Ajablal and Josephina Panna presented government statistics to expose Modi's falsehoods. Several other speakers spoke of the distress faced by common people and exposed the government. Hundreds of activists from different districts participated in the convention.

Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha March

The CPI(ML) took out a Vidhan Sabha march in Ranchi on 21 November 2016 with the slogan "Raghuvar Hatao Jharkhand Bachao" (Oust CM Raghuvar Das, Save Jharkhand). The march passed through the main roads of the city and culminated in a meeting at Birsa Chowk.

The march was in the backdrop of attacks on people's movements against land grab, amendments in SPT and CNT Acts and targeting of minorities in the state. The bandh call was given after the Barkagaon firing on 1 October. A series of statewide agitations were initiated by the CPI(ML) as well as other left forces which in turn compelled other opposition parties to join the agitation, thus leading to a emergence of a united political movement. Earlier, on 22 October thousands of adivasis took out a huge rally under the aegis of 40 people's organizations against the Jharkhand government's wrong domicile policy and amendments in the CNT-SPT Act. During the rally there was brutal police repression and one adivasi was killed in police firing in Khunti.

The march to Assembly was a culmination of the statewide mass campaign by the CPI(ML) from 1 November to 15 November. People's padyatra and village sabhas as well as mobilisations at district headquarters were organized at various places. Mass meetings were held at Giridih, Koderma, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh and Barkagaon, where the firing took place. In Giridih district, groups of 100 to 150 activists from each of 11 blocks held padyatra of 10 km daily and did a person to person campaign among tens of thousands of people. A motorcycle march was held with hundreds of bikes at Barkagaon where a rally and mass convention was held on 15 November, this was followed by the Vidhan Sabha march on 21 November.

Slogans raised at the march called for rolling back of amendments to the CNT-SPT Act, trial of the guilty police personnel in the Barkagaon, Sayko (Khunti) firings and Latehar, Bundu, and Narayanpur (Jamatand) killings in police lock-up under under murder charges, rollback of the killer demonetization, and putting a stop to giving away Jharkhand's resources to Adani-Ambani. Despite it being harvest time, large number of people from all the districts participated in the march.

The Vidhan Sabha march was addressed at the barricades by CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav, former MLA Vinod Singh, and several other leaders. All the speakers emphasized that CM Raghuvar Das has unleashed attacks on the people of the state with his anti-people policies. This is the need of the time for all the Left and democracy-loving forces of Jharkhand to get united for the ensuing political battle. The speakers strongly condemned Modi's demonetization which is a step not for curbing black money but for snatching away the earnings of the workers and the poor and pushing them into starvation and unemployment so that banks can get more money to favour the corporates while the owners of black money have no problem in converting their black income into white money. The meeting was conducted by Nadeem Khan.

Jharkhand Bandh: While the protests in opposition to the amendments in CNT and SPT Acts continue for several months throughout the state, the BJP government in a shameless move formally passed those amendments in the Vidhan Sabha on 23 November amid heavy protests. This led to spontaneous protests all over the state followed by a statewide Jharkhand Bandh on 25 November. The bandh paralysed almost all parts of Jharkhand exhibiting a historic peoples unity and resolve against pro-corporate BJP regime. The bandh, initially called by Left parties and JVM, was jointly observed by all opposition parties and tribal organisations in the state. Thousands of CPI(ML) and other parties' activists got arrested while lakhs of people took out to streets amid police batons, tear-gas shells and lathi-charges.

Movement for Paddy Purchase in Bihar

An agitation for paddy purchase was held all over Bihar on 15 November 2016 in response to a call by Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha. Dharnas, protests and meetings were organized at various Block and District Headquarters on the following demands: (i) government procurement centres should be opened in every village (as has been done in Punjab) and paddy should be purchased from small and middle farmers including sharecroppers without having to show land documents; (ii) while the input costs for paddy crop comes not less than Rs 1600 per quintal, the Central government should pay Rs 2500 and the State government should pay a bonus of Rs 500 per quintal; (iii) Rs 30,000 per acre compensation should be paid for crop loss due to drought and floods; (iv) regions with less than 19% of average rainfall till 31 July should be declared drought-affected as per norms fixed by the government. The programmes during the protests also made the demand that the responsibility for preparing the data base (registration) of farmers should be given to the Agriculture Consultant, Agriculture Coordinator, PACS and Vyapaar Mandal, and they should visit every village within a fixed time frame and guarantee the registration of all farmers including sharecroppers wishing to sell their paddy.

At Jehanabad a dharna and meeting were organized at Modanganj block HQ. The speakers at the meeting said that the current paddy purchase rate fixed by the Bihar government is Rs 1470 and Rs 1510 for A grade paddy; this must be revised and raised to Rs 3000, as the production price itself is Rs 1600 per quintal. Sharecroppers are not considered as farmers by the government and they are deprived of all benefits due to farmers, whereas actually they form 60 to 70% of the State's farmers. Therefore, sharecroppers must get all benefits including crop loss compensation. They also demanded completion of irrigation projects and repairing of defunct tube-wells.

The dharna at Bhojpur District headquarters in Ara saw a good presence of people from outside the organization also in large numbers. Dharnas were also held at Hajipur in Vaishali District, in Patepur, Pakribarama Block (Nawada district), Kauakoul, Sheikhpura, Sonho block (Jamui district), Bhavanipur (Purnia district), Dhamdaha, Srinagar, Banmankhi, Barhara, K. Nagar, Daoodnagar (Aurangabad district), Hussainganj (Siwan), Chenari , Kawath, Bikramganj and Silouthu (Rohtas), and Laheriya Serai (Darbhanga). The dharnas were held from 11 AM to 3 PM and the district officials heard the demands and assured the farmers that their demands would be conveyed to the government.

Dharna in Lalkuan

The CPI(ML) held a one-day dharna on 17 November 2016 in Lalkuan tehsil demanding a government order for taking back the announcement of making Bindukhatta a municipality, and to declare it a Revenue Village as per the people's long standing demand.

CPI(ML) Assembly election candidate Purushottam Sharma addressed the dharna and said that the Chief Minister of the State should act according to his earlier announcement issue a government order immediately. He said the government should also without delay take back the false cases slapped on the farmers of Bindukhatta and take action towards the entitlement of lands to farmers in Bindukhatta. He added that the CPI(ML) senior leader Bahadur Singh Jangi said that this dharna has been organized as a reminder to watch what action the State government or the Opposition BJP takes in the final session of the Assembly which begins from 18 Nov on the issues raised by us. At the conclusion of the dharna a memorandum was sent to the Chief Minister through the Tehsildar.

Rural Chowkidars' Struggle in Uttar Pradesh

The Uttar Pradesh Gramin Chowkidars (Guards) have been appointed in the villages since 1862. However, even today their salary remains a meager Rs. 1500 per month. The duties fixed for the rural chowkidars are to go to the thana twice a month and report the incidents which occurred in their areas, and in the remaining time they have to guard the village. But the police officials in the thanas call them every day and make them do their personal work. They oppress them physically and mentally. If they refuse to do personal work they are abused and beaten by the constables and darogas. The Uttar Pradesh Gramin Chowkidar Union (affiliated to AICCTU) organized a 3-day dharna in front of the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha in Lucknow, against this oppression and to demand increase in wages and declaration of State government employee status for them.

The dharna proceeded peacefully for two days. On the third day when thousands of chowkidars wearing red head-dresses came out on the streets to gherao the Vidhan Sabha, the UP police, government and administration got into a panic and courted arrest thousands of chowkidars who were taken in several buses to the Lucknow Police Lines. AICCTU leader Dr Kamal Usari was also arrested. They were released after midnight, after an announcement to increase in the chowkidars' salary was made by the officials. The leader of Chowkidar Union Ram Kishore Verma said that the struggle would continue until the Gramin Chowkidars are declared State government employees. Ramanand Paswan of the Union too expressed the resolve of thousands of chowkidars for continuing the struggle further.

AIARLA Dharna against Eviction of Poor in Guwahati

The Kamrup district  unit of AIARLA organised a sit-in protest on 17 November at Dighalipukhuri Park, Guwahati against the eviction of poor people from forest and government land. The protestors also raised voice against allotment of huge tracts of land to Ramdev's  Patanjali in different parts of Assam and demanded that the land be allotted to the landless families and patta be given to the peasantry.

They also demanded immediate implementation of the Forest Right Act, 2006. Loknatha Goswami, notable singer, Noren Bora of CPI(ML), Arup, Pankaj, Swapna and many others addressed the Dharna. A memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister of Assam through the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup Metro District. A dharna on similar demands was also held at Circle office in Chandrapur.

District Conference in Dibrugarh

The district conference of CPI(ML)'s Dibrugarh district unit was held on 20 November 2016. A 15 member district committee was elected with Com. Bitopan Bakolial as the district secretary. The delegates at the conference resolved to carry forward the movement against eviction of poor people, and for minimum wages to tea workers, for food and land to rural poor, withdrawal of the citizenship act amendments and justice to affected families under land acquisitions.

CPI(ML) in Chandigarh Municipal Elections

Four CPI(ML) candidates including Dr. Navkiran Natt, Rampreet, Ram Ajore and Agin Kumar have filed their nomination papers on November 28 for the elections to Chandigarh Municipal Corporation from ward numbers 2, 14, 20 and 24 respectively. The elections are scheduled to be held on December 18.

Long Live Fidel Castro!

CPI(ML) dips its flag in respectful homage to Fidel Castro Ruz, the iconic leader of the Cuban revolution and towering figure who inspired anti-imperialist fighters the world over.

Fidel Castro led the successful Cuban revolution that overthrew the repressive Batista regime, and defended the tiny nation of revolutionary Cuba in the teeth of successive US regimes that were determined to destroy it. Fidel himself triumphed over 600 assassination attempts by the CIA, passing away at the ripe old age of 90. It is ironic that the new elected President of the USA, Donald Trump, has branded Fidel 'a brutal dictator,' given that Trump's own country, the supposed champion of 'democracy,' resorted to attempted assassinations of world leaders whose politics did not suit the USA.   

Fidel's own stubborn survival and resistance to murderous imperialists reflected the revolutionary grit and determination of Cuba itself and its people. Shackled by imperialist embargoes, Cuba still managed to create systems of universal healthcare and education that shame much more prosperous capitalist countries including its big-brotherly neighbour the USA. Not only that, Cuba stretched its own meagre resources to export free healthcare and education to other needy countries of Latin America and the world. With Fidel at the helm, Cuba also supported the anti-colonial struggles, practicing internationalism with all its might.      

Fidel Castro's life and legacy call to be celebrated, not mourned. Even after his passing, Fidel's legacy will continue to inspire revolutionaries, socialists and anti-imperialists all over the world.

The red flag will fly at half mast at all CPI(ML) party offices to honour the memory of Fidel Castro.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

ML Update | No. 48 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No.48 | 22-28 NOV 2016

'Not Notes, Change the Regime'

Resisting the Economics and Politics of #NoteBan


Two weeks have elapsed since the dramatic announcement of demonetization of 500 and 1000-rupee notes. In one fell swoop, the government has withdrawn more than 80 percent of the total value of the currency in circulation in the country. While the withdrawal has thus been massive and immediate, the transfusion of new notes has been painfully slow. Only about 10 percent of the value has since been replaced in the first ten days, and that too largely in the form of notes of 2000 rupees. The result has been a traumatic cash crunch, a massive disruption in the economy and incalculable hardship for the common people - in short, an unmitigated man-made disaster. On top of it, we have already experienced the shocking reality of dozens of demonetization deaths - people collapsing in queues, succumbing to stress and dying for sheer lack of timely medical care because of the cash crunch.

The government defends demonetization as a decisive blow to corruption, a so-called surgical strike on black money. Now, it is well known that only a small fraction of unaccounted-for income and wealth, which is popularly known as black money, is temporarily held in cash. How much of this cash hoard will indeed be flushed out is anybody's guess. Certainly it is not the corrupt hoarders of black money who are queuing up outside banks and ATMs. On the contrary we have seen a new form of black economy thrive in the country as common people are forced to exchange their old notes for lower amounts while the rich use their myriad ways to launder their black money ('donations' to ruling parties and temples and trusts being two well-known routes) and convert their old cash into more handy stocks of the newly introduced 2000 rupee notes. The Sanghi rumour mills are abuzz with stories of hoards of cash being destroyed by the corrupt, but frenzied conversion of cash into various forms of assets in the run-up to demonetization has been no secret. And we also have it from the horse's mouth (BJP Rajasthan MLA Bhawani Singh Rajawat) that the Adanis and Ambanis and other big business houses all had enough hint of the impending demonetization. So much for the 'secrecy' shrouding the so-called war on black money!

 The other official claim of neutralizing counterfeit currency of course has relatively greater merit. But do we have any idea of the volume of counterfeit currency in circulation? The Sangh-BJP propaganda machinery would have us believe that every second note is a counterfeit pumped in by Pakistan. But according to a study undertaken by the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute for the NIA, the total volume of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) is estimated to be of the order of Rs 400 crore, and this amount has more or less remained the same over the last four years. A large part (not by any means all, because the study estimated as many fake 100 rupee notes as 500, and old 100 rupee notes are still valid) of this FICN has now admittedly been made defunct, but it is only a matter of time till we have new FICN replace the old. The new notes have no enhanced security features and will be as counterfeit-prone, if not more, as the ones that have been scrapped.

Now just compare the monetary cost of the whole exercise of printing and supplying the new notes (some 15000 crore to print new notes plus the logistical expenses of recalibrating the ATMs, reaching the new notes to distribution points and so on and so forth) to the volume of the FICN rendered defunct (say worth Rs 350 crore), and the whole thing looks nothing more than a grand celebration of absurdity. Increasingly we are hearing a third argument – that of India becoming a modern cashless digital economy. Now more than 40% of the adult population in India is still unbanked (which is a fifth of the global unbanked population), and while the figures in India have improved only recently with the increasing practice of direct bank transfers, 43% of Indian bank accounts are still dormant. If the fantasy of a 'cashless economy' is to be achieved on the basis of digital transaction – and not the ancient exchange mechanism of barter – then one must first talk about expanding and improving banking services for the common people of India. All this facile cashless talk is clearly putting the cart miles ahead of the horse while actively excluding and penalising the poor!

Interestingly enough, while upwardly mobile India finds the technological reality and possibility of cashless digital transactions quite an enchanting idea, we must keep in mind that a cashless economy per se provides no guarantee against economic corruption or various other economic crimes. Indeed, in terms of cash-to-GDP ratio India does not compare too unfavourably with the developed world, the Indian ratio of a little above 12 percent is way below that of Japan (above 18%) and Hong Kong (above 14%) and not too high compared to the Euro zone countries (10%) or China (above 9%). And a country like Nigeria which finds itself in the same bracket with Norway and Sweden (all less than 2%) is perceived as one of the world's most corrupt countries! Turning India today into a cashless economy is an elitist fancy quite akin to the bullet train idea. But these whims and fancies are exacting a heavy price – while the bullet train fancy is pushing the railways away from the basic question of infrastructural maintenance and amenity and safety of common passengers, the craze for going cashless has already resulted in the growing demonetization disaster.

At the cost of a huge disruption of the economy and the danger of a major slowdown, the demonetization drive has of course achieved one tangible result: a massive injection of cash into the crisis-ridden banking system. It is well known that the banks had been reeling under a growing burden of Non Performing Assets (thanks primarily to the loans piled up by corporate India, loans that are hardly repaid and now being written off) and they will be the only ones to heave a sigh of relief. But if the easing of the banking crisis only reinforces the existing lending pattern, the whole thing will mean nothing but an adverse redistribution of the burden for the common people.

While the economics of demonetization is clearly dubious, it is the accompanying political process and discourse which are particularly deceptive and dangerous. The government claims that the planning and preparation for demonetization was underway for quite some time. In April 2016 we had the SBI talking of 'rumours' of demonetization, and the previous RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan who held office till 4 September 2016 was known to have been against the idea of demonetization. What then was the institutional mechanism that took this momentous decision and oversaw its planning and preparation? And how did the PM's picture appear overnight in advertisements promoting a particular brand of digital wallet which is aggressively marketing itself using demonetization and the resultant cash crunch as a rare business opportunity?

The Prime Minister made the announcement in a televised address to the nation but refused to face Parliament on this issue. And now he has launched an app to ascertain people's views on demonetization (and that too without offering them an option to disagree on most questions!), making it absolutely clear that it is only the manufactured consent of the digitally empowered that he cares about, the experience of the digitally excluded and dissenting views just do not matter. The subversion of parliamentary democracy and the arrogant flaunting of the digital divide have never been starker. Equally revealing has been the reaction of Narendra Modi and the Sangh-BJP establishment (ranging from outright denial and trivialization to sadistic derision and emotional blackmailing) to the disastrous fallout of demonetization, the traumatic economic disruption and mounting miseries of the people including scores of demonetization deaths.

All the miseries being inflicted on the people, and the violation of so many rights, including the most basic right of being able to access one's own hard-earned money, are being trivialized as a temporary inconvenience and glorified as a sacrifice for a corruption free India. And audaciously enough, the government is packaging the whole thing as a measure to promote economic equality and punish the rich. But it is not difficult to understand that just as the principle of one person one vote has not stopped the concentration of political power in the hands of the super rich, the temporary rationing of notes too is not going to bridge the growing rich-poor divide in the society. It is also instructive to note that when the UPA government went for a partial demonetization exercise by withdrawing currency notes printed before 2005, the BJP had dubbed it an anti-poor diversionary exercise to obfuscate the real issue of black money stashed away in foreign banks! Interestingly, the Modi government has raised the limit of the Liberalised Remittance Scheme to allow Indian citizens to remit annually as much as 2.5 lakh US dollars abroad apart from the right to carry another 2.5 lakh dollars per year for every person going on foreign trips. 

Revolutionary communists and all other forces of people's movements must boldly resist the disastrous economics and populist politics of demonetization. The government must be held accountable for the reckless manner in which it inflicted the ill-conceived idea of demonetization and the disastrous fallout that has engulfed the common people in its wake. There can be no scrapping or restricting any widely used currency without adequate availability of replacement notes. The cooperative banks, which are the lifeline of the rural economy and the bank of first resort for the bulk of India's agricultural population, must be allowed to discharge their full functions.

The government must answer for every demonetization death and must compensate the people for the loss of livelihood and economic disruption. For the peasantry, reeling under successive droughts and a chronic agrarian crisis, the demonetization has been a brutal blow in the midst of the busy sowing season, and the least that the government must do is to waive all farm loans and ensure free supply of inputs. Similarly, agricultural labourers, other rural workers, small traders and transporters, unorganized/informal sector workers and daily wagers, street vendors and greengrocers who have all been hit hard by the reckless note ban must be adequately compensated for their loss of livelihood.

The government must also be held accountable on the issue of combating the menace of black money and corruption, the pretext on which it inflicted this disastrous course on the people. The list of willful mega defaulters must be made public and they must be forced to pay up, failing which their property must be confiscated and companies blacklisted. The Panama Papers on foreign account holders and now the explosive Sahara-Birla Diaries with details of political payoffs to facilitate tax evasion are both in the public domain and the government must be made to answer and act on them. And last but not the least, there can be no cleaning up of black money without breaking the business-politics nexus, without making it mandatory for political parties to make public their entire finances, stopping corporate funding and excessive electoral expenditure.

For the Modi government, demonetization is of course part and parcel of its autocratic agenda. The way the government went about the whole thing reminded many of the Indira-Sanjay era of Emergency four decades ago. The attack on the press, the forcible imposition of family planning in rural areas and mass eviction in the name of urban beautification, the suppression of dissent, the crushing of the people's democratic rights and political liberties, the suspension of parliamentary democracy and arrest of all opposition leaders and activists – all these trappings of the Emergency resonate in the air as the Modi government goes about politicizing the Army and militarizing politics, curbing the media and inflicting an unmitigated disaster like the ongoing trauma of demonetization in complete defiance of economic logic and parliamentary procedures.

The people of India have of course begun to sense this danger. And the cry of 'Note Nahi, Sarkar Badlo' (Not Notes, Change the Regime) being heard increasingly across the country reflects this realization of the people. It is the urgent task of every defender of the interests of the people to champion this democratic spirit and wage a determined resistance against the reckless offensive of the Modi government.


Protests against Demonetization

CPI(ML), AISA and AICCTU are conducting a campaign against demonetisation from 16 November onwards in different working class settlements of Delhi, which is due to culminate in a March to the PM's House on 26 November to demand its rollback.

Demonetisation is causing harm in tragic proportions in working class colonies. The first day of campaign was conducted in the Wazirpur industrial area in Delhi, where workers and their families living in slum clusters said that they are struggling to meet expenses of food, medical expenses, school fees, transport and other essentials ever since the demonetization move. One 70-year-old woman said that after she had waited in the queue for hours, a policeman shoved her away and told her to come another day. Another woman who had stood in the queue from 3 am onwards was told that she could not be allowed to withdraw money because they claimed she had already made a withdrawal. One worker lacked enough cash to get medicines for his wife who is a cancer patient. Several people said they are eating once a day so that they can stand in lines and not miss their chance to get their hard earned money. Children are going hungry because parents are standing in the line.

Workers are being forced to convert their factory owners' money and they just can't refuse because otherwise they risk losing their job. And when they are getting paid, they are being paid in old currency that has no purchasing power at all. And now the indelible ink is making it difficult for them to convert their own wage. Their wage in old notes can't get anything from the shops. They have no credit worthiness so no one lends them anything. Landlords have refused to take the old currency and school fees are pending.

Those who get a monthly salary had just been given the salary a day before the announcement and they were stuck with money which they were running from pillar to post to get converted. No leave is available for standing in line. 

Banks were busy converting money of people close to them, obviously the more well connected factory owners and managers, as serpentine queues of workers stood there waiting for cash to get over.

Women said they fainted while waiting and were brought back home - of course without any cash. Several people lost their wage and got no money either at the end of the day.

The government claimed it has collected "lakhs of black money" from people – people are saying: in that case, use that money to ensure free rations to the affected workers households; make travel free in buses and metros so that people can get to their workplaces without worrying about cash; ensure free health and education; ensure compensation for wages lost while standing in line.

Such a move is a violation of the right of workers to manage their own wage, in whichever way they like, without being arm twisted into a digital system and plastic money on which they have absolutely no control.

The day 2 of this campaign took a team of students and workers to Industrial Area in Narela. The miseries of the daily wage earners was apparent here. Some live in the fear that tomorrow their electricity might be cut-off, as despite having 500 rupees it wasn't accepted at the electricity office as the bill was for 200 and they can't get the change back. They are eating just one meal a day. 'Sara karkhana bandh hai', they said, "no work in the nearby mills for past one week." A Bengali worker said, 'Bhat daal dik totodin sorkar, maach to chahichhina', (the government should provide us rice and dal till then, we are not demanding fish). A young mother said, "How can a withdrawal of Rs 4500 suffice? More than half of that is paid in rent, how can we survive on the balance?" Another young woman worker said, "It is workers who are in the queues, the moneyed are sitting pretty in their homes." Another woman angrily asked, "We found it hard enough to get Rs 1000 notes changed. Now how can we get change for Rs 2000 notes?" The rage could be heard in the voice of a woman who said, "He (Modi) said 'Accha din' (good days) would come! Are these the good days?! He has shoved us into a pit!"      

On the 3rd day of the campaign, teams reached Batla House Area of Jamia Nagar. Scarcity of daily food, medicine, wages, cash crunch, anger, desperation, helplessness - the same story was repeated there.

On 4th day the AISA-AICCTU team reached Kusumpur Pahari in Vasant Kunj area. This is one of the biggest working class slums in South Delhi, hardly 2 km away from JNU, the narrow lanes are surrounded by Priya Shopping Complex on one side and DLF Promenade mall on the other. A highly expensive private hospital is also close by. Residents of Kusumpur Pahari told us, "How do we buy daily ration when we are missing our Dihadi (daily wage)? But is it the same for those who goes to the malls, who can pay with cards?" Children and the elderly are not getting much-needed medical attention because the shops would not accept old currency for medicines.

On the 5th day team reached NOIDA industrial area where many shops remain closed, no job for contractual workers, cash crunch in banks, no money for treatment or essential medicines- the story was the same. But that is how it is for every worker, women, small shop owner and senior citizens. Some workers also said that factory owners are giving advance salary for 3 months with old 500 and 1000 to get rid of their old currency, which is of no use.

The campaign is continuing and on the coming 26th November, workers, women, students will march in Delhi towards Prime Minister House demanding-

1. Roll Back of Demonetisation.

2. Free distribution of food items and medicine for the poor till then.

3. Free transportation in railways, DTC and Cluster buses.

4. Punish the wilful corporate defaulters of bank loans.

5. Investigate the Birla-Sahara scam in which lakhs of rupees were given by corporations to Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat CM

6. Bring the list of names who have deposited money in off-shore tax havens. Bring back this unaccounted money and punish the culprits.

In Bengaluru (Karnataka) on 17 November, several organisations including the CPI(ML), Garment and Textile Workers Union, Bangalore Jilla Beedhi Vyaapaari Sangathenagala Okkuta, National Hawkers Federation, New Socialist Alternative, Karnataka Tamil Makkal Aikyam, NCHRO, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali, Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Yuvakara Vedike, Aam Aadmi Party, Swaraj Abhiyan and others held a protest in front of the RBI, with the slogan 'Occupy RBI'. The protesters raised slogans against the Modi Government's ill-conceived, poorly implemented move to demonetize which is nothing but a political gimmick to hide the failures of the central government while also stealthily move to a corporate controlled digital economy, the implications of which are neither studied not discussed. The Bangalore police, in a blatant effort to deny the right to freedom and expression detained many protestors even before the protest and the arrests continued while the protest was on. Those arrested included CPI(ML) leaders Balan, Clifton, Raghu, Maitreyi and Appanna. This just shows that when it comes to thwarting democracy, Congress and BJP are partners. Even as crores of people are suffering, Congress and BJP politicians shamelessly attended the wedding of Janardhan Reddy's daughter only shows their lack of intentions to fight the evils of black money.

The Bihar unit of CPI(ML) gave a statewide call for protests which were held on 16 November in all the districts and has since been conducting an intensive Week-long Protest Week from 17-22 November, with effigies of the PM being burnt and protests held in every corner of Bihar.  Protests were also held in different parts of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Bengal and other states where marches, propaganda campaigns and effigy burnings took place.


7th AIPWA National Conference in Patna

The 7th AIPWA National Conference was held in Patna on 13-14 November 2016, at the Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir. The Conference called for women's resistance to patriarchy and the growing fascist threat and intensified struggles to defend democracy and assert women's freedom. 

The Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir complex was named after Rama Gairola for the occasion in memory of departed young AIPWA leader Rama Gairola. The hall was named after noted writer and activist, the late Mahashweta Devi and the stage was named after AIPWA Founding President the late Comrade Geeta Das.

On 13th November, the conference started with the hoisting of the AIPWA flag by veteran AIPWA leader Arti Devi, and tributes to martyrs and departed leaders of the revolutionary women's movement. Tributes were paid to the Naxalbari martyrs, those killed in the Bathani Tola and other massacres, Kamleshwari Kunwar, noted activist of the revolutionary Bhojpur struggle and life partner of Comrade Jagdish Master, Rama Gairola, Mahashweta Devi, Geeta Das, Chinta Singh, Jeeta Kaur, Ajanta Lohit, Aparna Tyagi, Siyamani Mukhiya, Manju Devi, Agni, Sheela, Lahri and others.

This was followed by the inaugural session of the Conference, which began with the rendering of songs by women's cultural teams Chorus (of Bihar) and Prerna (Jharkhand).

A reception committee headed by Prof. Bharti S Kumar welcomed all the guests and presented mementoes to noted activists of the women's movement, including senior academic and AIPWA mentor since its founding days Maya Bhattacharya, Neelam Katara who is an activist against honour crimes; Kashmiri writer and activist Natasha Rather, Nirjhari Sinha of Jan Sangharsh Manch, Gujarat, Vidya Dinker, activist from Mangaluru; Advocate Asha  from Kerala, Sanjeela Ghising, leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Women's Federation, Darjeeling; and veteran activist of the revolutionary communist movement Comrade Meera.

At the inaugural session, Neelam Katara spoke about her struggle for justice for her son Nitish Katara who was killed on the pretext of 'honour', and the struggle for women's right to choice in matters of relationships. Natasha Rather, co-author of the book Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora spoke about her perspective as a Kashmiri on the struggle for self determination in Kashmir, and about the struggle of the rape survivors of Kunan Poshpora for justice. Nirjhari Sinha, founder of the Jan Sangharsh Manch, Gujarat, spoke about the struggle for justice for victims of the 2002 state sponsored Gujarat riots and for fake encounter victims Ishrat Jahan, Kausar Bi, Sohrabuddin and others. Vidya Dinker, an activist from Mangaluru, spoke about the way in which fertile land is being grabbed and environment destroyed in the name of 'economic corridors.' She spoke about the ways in which RSS outfits morally police women in Mangaluru, and called upon women to wage a jehad of love to uphold inter-caste and inter-faith love, as well as love for farms, environment and natural resources.

The inaugural session was addressed by AIPWA General Secretary Comrade Meena Tiwari. The inaugural session was conducted by AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan.

The delegate session of the Conference began with the delegates listening to a recording of a song composed and sung by the outgoing AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan. Comrade Srilata, who could not attend the conference because of ill health, was sorely missed by all, and her song was a celebration of AIPWA as a source of hope and strength for women.        

AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari presented AIPWA's work report and a note on the social and political situation in India and the world. The note observed that BJP and RSS forces are working to push back progressive shifts in consciousness that had been achieved by movements. They are poisoning the social and political discourse and trying to establish divisive, hate-filled and regressive ideas as 'normal' and even 'nationalist.'          

On the night of 13th November, Chorus presented a play, 'Paro', followed by a traditional Jharkhandi dance by the Prerna team and cultural performances by several other activists. 

On 14th November, delegates from all over the country discussed the issues facing the women's movement and shared experiences of their struggles. The note was adopted unanimously after discussion in the house.

The delegates then elected the new AIPWA leadership, including a 101-member National Council. Comrade Meena Tiwari was reelected National General Secretary, Comrade E Rati Rao was elected National President; Prof Bharti S Kumar, Tahira Hasan, Farhat Bano, Iqbal Udasi, Pratima Engheepi, Krishna Adhikari, Raju Barua and Saroj Chaubey were elected Vice Presidents; and Prof Sudha Choudhary, Indrani Dutta, R Nagamani, Geeta Mandal, Shashi Yadav and Kavita Krishnan were elected National Secretaries.   

Addressing the delegates at the end of the Conference, newly elected AIPWA President Rati Rao said that just as Dalits were refusing to perform caste-based labour, it was high time women also refuse to do our gender based traditional work. She stressed the need to uphold a Marxist perspective on the women's movement and also draw strength and insights from the writings of Dr Ambedkar, Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule, Periyar and Bhagat Singh as we address class, caste and gender issues together and confront fascist Hindutva forces.


People's Awakening March

A Jana Jagaran Yatra, to commemorate 50 years of Naxalbari movement began from School Dangi, in Naxalbari block on November 19, 2016. The Yatra started by felicitating 15 comrades who had actively participated in the Naxalbari movement in the early years. Amongst the comrades felicitated were Khokan Mazumdar,  Mujibur Rahman,  Shanti Munda,  Khudan Mullick,  Khemu singh, Dulal Chanda, Thadu Munda, Suniti Biswakarmakar, Nemu Singh, Nathuram Biswas, Kandra Murmu,  Shiril Ekka, Amulya Das of PCC CPIML, Govind  Chhetri of CPRM and others.

A big gathering that included local residents of Jhoru Jote, of Naxalbari block, that had seen the beginning of the movement with the killing of the notorious police officer Sonam Wangdi by the peasants and locals, was present to begin the Yatra. The gathering was addressed by veteran Com. Khudan Mullick and Com. Khemu Singh as well as by CPI(ML) leaders Kartick Pal, Partha Ghosh and Abhijit Mazumdar.  The programme began with revolutionary songs sung by the revolutionary cultural organisation under the leadership of Com. Nitish Roy. The speakers highlighted:

• The revolutionary legacy of the Naxalbari movement, and its enduring inspiration for today's struggles

• The need to resist land grab by corporates and their mafia nexus.

• The condition of tea garden workers who are living in abject poverty with low wages coupled with starvation on account of closures and non-payment of wages.

• The demonitization that has hit the poor section of the society the hardest while adversely affecting the low income, middle class and small traders. The rural poor is affected especially in the peak agricultural  season  where people not only do not have money to buy seeds but are also forced to stand in long queues to get their own hard earned money out from the bank.

• The failure to provide irrigation facility to the farmers of the terai region despite crores being spent on the Teesta barrage irrigation project.

The Yatra travelled through the various villages of the three blocks of Naxalbari, Kharibari and Phansidewa where the Naxalbari movement began, and culminated at Chotopothu Jote on November 21, 2016.


Indore-Patna Train Accident Result of Railways' Criminal Negligence

CPI (ML) expressed deep condolences for the victims of the Indore-Patna train accident. This accident is a result of criminal negligence on the part of the Railways. 

On the one hand the Modi government talks of starting bullet trains in the country but on the other hand it is not even able to ensure minimum safety of the passengers. The railway tracks are very old. The number of trains is increasing every year and train fares are also being raised, yet there is corresponding increase in the number of railway tracks or expansion in the workforce. 

The inadequate workforce affects the crucial issue of maintenance of railway infrastructure and safety. Whereas there were 16 lakh workers in 2006, the number is reduced to 13 lakh in 2015-16. This laying off of workers has badly affected the maintenance of the tracks.

The CPI(ML) also appealed to the Bihar Government to make arrangements for the best available treatment for all the injured and demanded Rs 10 lakhs and government jobs as compensation for the the family members of the victims.

The CPI(ML) Patna city unit took out a candle march in the evening at Buddha Park to pay tributes to the dead and offer heartfelt condolences to the family members of the victims. The march included State Secretary Kunal, Politburo members Dhirendra Jha and Amar, Patna City Secretary Abhyuday, CPI(ML) leader Murtaza Ali, State Committee members Samta Rai, Prakash Kumar and Santosh Jha, AISA State President Mukhtar, Tariq Anwar, Sudhir and other leaders.

The condolence meeting was addressed by Dhirendra Jha and Abhyuday who said that the Modi government was responsible for several deaths through demonetization; and now more than 100 people have been killed due to criminal negligence on the part of the Railways, exposing the failure of the government.


CPI(ML) Statement on Mine Accident in Nawada

CPI (ML) State Secretary Kunal expressed deep concern and grief over the death of 10 workers trapped in the earth during illegal mining by the Sharda Mines Company at Abrakh in Chatkari Panchayat of Rajauli Block, Nawada District. He strongly condemned the attitude of the administration and the government in this matter.

Com. Kunal said that such illegal mining is going on and the country's resources are being looted under protection from the government; at the same time, poor workers are losing their lives during this illegal mining. Till now only 2 bodies have been excavated; the remaining 8 are still trapped under the earth. The administration shows no concern about retrieving these bodies. The workers who have lost their lives belong to the Adivasi community of Jharkhand.

Com. Kunal demanded that the Bihar government should take immediate action in this matter. The CPI (ML) District Committee will protest at the District Collector's office on 21 November to demand an end to illegal mining, retrieval of the bodies of workers still trapped in the earth, proper compensation to the families of the victims, and ensuring the safety of workers.


Joint Left Rally in Lucknow

On 9 November 2016, a joint Left rally was held in Lucknow against price rise, unemployment, corruption, corporate loot, attacks on democratic rights, and in defence of communal harmony was addressed by the national and state leadership of CPM, CPI, CPI (ML), Forward Bloc, and SUCI (Communist).  The rally took place on the banks of the Gomti at Laxman Mela Maidan. People from districts from all corners of the State including Poorvanchal, Awadh, Bundelkhand and Western UP participated in the rally. The rally was addressed by CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI (ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI Rajya Sabha member D Raja, Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrat Biswas. Other leaders who addressed the rally were CPI State Secretary Girish Sharma, CPI (M) State Secretary Hiralal Yadav, CPI (ML) CCM Sudhakar Yadav, Forward Bloc State Secretary Shiv Narayan Singh Chouhan, CPI (M) former MLA Subhashini Ali, and SUCI (C) National Staff member Arun Kumar Singh. The proceedings of the meeting were conducted by CPI State Joint Secretary Arvind Raj Swarup and the vote of thanks was proposed by CPI (ML) State Secretary Ramji Rai.



Comrade Rohtas Bharati

Comrade Rohtas Bharati from Narela, Delhi, passed away in the early morning of 18 November 2016 in a hospital in Faridabad after a long battle with cancer. A veteran comrade, he was active since the days of the Indian People's Front.  He was the Party's candidate from Narela in the last Assembly elections in Delhi. Till the very last he was active in organising various party initiatives in Delhi.

His cremation was attended by Delhi state CPI(ML) Secretary Ravi Rai and other comrades as well as many local people who remembered him fondly.

Red Salute to Comrade Rohtas Bharati !

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

ML Update | No. 47 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  19 | No. 47 |15-21 November 2016

Note Ban: Assault on People's Hard Earned Cash, Livelihood and Dignity in the Name of Attack on Black Money

IT HAS NOW BEEN A WEEK since Narendra Modi made his Tughlaqi 'Note Ban' announcement. In one fell swoop the government junked all the 500 and 1000 rupee notes. People were asked to deposit their existing notes and collect their weekly 'ration' of new notes from banks, post offices or ATMs. For those living beyond or on the margins of the banking network and having no access to the digital world of plastic money and internet banking, it has meant a disastrous descent into growing chaos, insecurity, darkness and even death. The much-vaunted 'surgical strike' on black money has truly turned into 'carpet bombing' on the common people.

The government says it had been meticulously planning for this ban for the last six months. The indications of advance planning can of course be seen in BJP leaders posing with the new Rs 2000 note before it made its formal appearance and curious cases of huge deposits in certain accounts, including official accounts of the BJP, just a few days and hours before the announcement of the ban. But if what the country is experiencing for the last one week is to be attributed to meticulous high-level planning, then we must say that this government is utterly incapable of governing and the sooner we can get rid of such a bunch of incompetent rulers the better for the country.

The government took away 500 and 1000 rupee notes from the people and what the people got back in return in many places were the newly introduced 2000 rupee notes. But the new 2000 rupee notes being smaller in size than the old 500/1000 rupee notes, many ATMs have been rendered dysfunctional till they are made compatible with the new size of notes. In the absence of currencies of lower denomination, the everyday economy of the common citizen has been completely disrupted. No wonder, 100 rupee notes have been selling in the black market even as the government now inks the fingers of people drawing their own 'rationed' money after queuing up for hours outside banks.

The Modi government has proved to be not just thoroughly inefficient not to anticipate the chaos created by its ill-conceived demonetization drive, but it has also been exposed to be deriving a sadist pleasure from the sufferings of the people. With his characteristic histrionics, Modi said he had got all the scamsters and black money hoarders in the country standing in the queue for sheer two notes of 2000 rupees. He said the poor were sleeping peacefully while the corrupt rich couldn't get any sleep even with sleeping pills. This when people are forced to give up their day's work and earnings to stand hungry and sleepless for hours in queues to get a ration of their own hard-earned money!

When reports have started coming in of people dying while spending hours in queues for notes or without getting medical treatment because of lack of notes, a BJP leader from MP says people can also die while standing in queues for food. Modi's media managers are telling us that the poor do not have 500 or 1000 rupee notes, so the move has only inconvenienced the corrupt and the rich. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is asking the people to use this passing inconvenience as an opportunity to go cashless and switch over to digital transactions! The arrogance of the power-drunk rulers and the contempt of digitally empowered elite for the common people of India has seldom been so transparent. Like the proverbial 'let them eat cake' advice given by the French royalty to the hapless people not having bread to eat, the BJP government is asking cash-strapped poor Indians to use cards for transaction! 

Designating this Tughlaqi demonetization drive as a surgical strike on black money is thoroughly misplaced and deceptive. We all remember that in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Modi campaign had relentlessly talked about repatriation of black money from foreign banks. Every Indian was promised Rs 15 lakh share in this repatriated treasure, something which was later trashed as 'jumla' or plain rhetoric by the BJP President. Now, in two years of Modi rule the discourse is being shifted from holdings in foreign banks to domestic hoardings, as though black money tycoons have literally stashed cash under their beds and with this one single blow all that cash will now come out in the open. A government which has refused to act against illicit outflow of wealth or obscene accumulation of domestic wealth or ostentatious extravagance by corporate defaulters and tax offenders is trying to deceive the people by presenting demonetization as a war on black money.

In real life, we all know that only a small portion of black money is temporarily held in cash, the rest is continually converted into illicit wealth (whether in the form of real estate, jewellery, shares or any other lucrative investment asset) and/or used for transaction as a politico-economic lubricant (political funding, payment of bribes and so on that in turn is used to fund sundry luxury expenses of power-brokers and various parasitic classes). If at all demonetization addresses the issue of black money, it covers only that small part of the problem where black money is currently held in the form of cash. But just as demonetization in the past did little to tackle the problem of either black money or fake notes, it is highly unlikely that the present drive will prove to be any more effective.

The roots of black money and economic corruption lie in the close nexus between big capital and state power, and the intimacy of the two defines every economic policy decision and its implementation in the era of crony capitalism and corporate loot. With Modi repeating his promise to end black money – earlier he wanted 100 days to repatriate black money from foreign banks and now he wants 50 days to act against black money inside the country – the government must be exposed and challenged on this very issue. Corporate bank robbery (sucking people's hard-earned money into the banking system only to write off corporate loans) and tax tyranny (exemptions for and evasion by the rich while crushing the common people under the weight of the GST, the most regressive tax policy which targets mass consumption while exempting wealth and inheritance) are the two big crimes of this government to hide which it has now inflicted the Note Ban Emergency on the people. After SEZ and forcible land acquisition, this has been the biggest economic assault on the common people and we must resist it with all our might.

The BJP is talking about converting surgical strikes – the much-trumpeted one across the LoC and now this one on our wallets – into votes in the coming Assembly elections. We must foil this design and make it backfire by mobilising the people to use the coming elections as an opportunity to punish the perpetrators of undeclared political and economic Emergency. The attack on the honest cash economy and livelihood of the common people, and the sadistic celebration of the people's misery by the Modi government and the Sangh brigade must get a fitting rebuff when the people queue up outside polling booths in the forthcoming elections.

Protests against Attacks on Freedom of Press

The CPI(ML) had given a call to observe 9 November 2016 countrywide as National Unity Day to protest against the Modi government's attacks on freedom of the press and freedom of speech, bans on news channels and newspapers, ban on journalists in Bastar, repression of human rights in Kashmir and States in the North-East, and other issues. In response to this call, human chains, protest marches and other programmes were held across the country.

Bihar: Under this nationwide protest programme a human chain was formed from JP Chowk, Gandhi Maidan in Patna on 9 November 2016. CPI(ML) State Secretary Com. Kunal, PB member Amar, Central Control Commission Chairman Ramjatan Sharma, Samkaleen Lokyudh Editor Brij Bihari Pandey, former MLA and Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh and several other party leaders along with activists from AISA, AIPWA, RYA, Hirawal, and Chorus participated in the human chain and protested against the Modi government's bid to inflict fascism on the country. Eminent intellectuals like Baldev Jha and Tarakeshwar Jha also took part in the human chain.

CPI (ML) leaders said that the attacks and bans on newspapers, channels and freedom of speech in the present time bring to mind the horrors of the days of Emergency imposed by Indira-Sanjay Gandhi. The Modi government is bent on suppressing every voice that disagrees with it and expresses dissent. The continuing attacks on democracy and freedom of the press are cause for grave concern. Therefore, a pervasive unity against fascist forces is the need of the hour today.

They pointed out that after facing pressure from across the country the government has only stayed the one-day ban on NDTV; the ban has not been rolled back. Bans on other channels are still on. Crushing freedom of the press amounts to dictatorship. Only a few weeks earlier an important Kashmiri newspaper Kashmir Reader was banned so that it could no longer report the ongoing movement in Kashmir. Journalists are being driven out of Bastar at the behest of the police and paramilitary forces. Now, whereas some channels which work as tools for the government are on velvet, one channel which, along with commercialism, was still maintaining some credibility in journalism, is being punished with a ban. What is this if not undeclared Emergency?

The protesters forming the human chain held placards displaying slogans such as: Stop attacks on the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression; Take back bans on news channels and newspapers; Stop repression and witch-hunt of journalists in Bastar (Chhattisgarh); Attacks on democracy will not be tolerated; Down with conspiracy to inflict fascism on the country; Nahin Chali Jab Hitlershahi, Modishahi Nahin Chalegi!; Nahin Chali Jab Indirashahi, Modishahi Nahin Chalegi!; and Jo Hitler ki Chaal Chalega Who Hitler ki Maut Marega.

The protest march in Darbhanga started from Polo Maidan and culminated in a meeting at Laheriyaserai Tower addressed by State Committee member Abhishek Kumar, Neyaz Ahmed of the Insaf Manch, and leaders from other parties and people's organizations. Protest marches were organized in several other places in Bihar such as Darbhanga, Bhojpur, Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Siwan, Gopalganj, Betiya, saharsa, Gaya, Nalanda and Purnea.

In Jharkhand too, a statewide Protest Day was observed. CPI(ML) activists led by State Committee members Mohan Datta and Bhuneshwar Kewat, AIPF national advisor Fr Stan Swamy, MZ Khan (Janwadi Lekhak Sangh), Anil Anshuman (Jan Sanskriti Manch) Nadeem Khan (Awami Insaf Manch), and others, wearing black badges, led a citizens' protest march at Albert Ekka Chowk.

In Ramgarh a protest march raising slogans was taken out through Subhash Chowk and Bus Stand and came back to the Party office where it culminated in a meeting. At Naya Mor, Gandhi Chowk in Bokaro Steel City slogans were raised with flags, banners and placards and then a meeting was held under the leadership of District Secretary Devdeep Singh Diwakar, JN Singh and Mohan Prasad. In Garhwa town activists marched through the town. At Lohardaga a protest march against attacks on democracy and freedom of the press was taken out led by District Secretary Mahesh Singh.

National protest day opposing the ban on TV channels and press was also observed at Lenin centre Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh.

In Lalkuan, Uttarakhand CPI(ML) leaders and common people took out a march in protest. The participants in the marh covered their mouths with a black cloth a mark of protest and condemned the authoritarian ways of the Modi regime. 

Protest Against Amendments to CNT and SPT Acts in Jharkhand

CPI(ML) organized dharna in front of the Commissioner's office in Dumka on 3 November in which thousands of people took part. A large number of adivasis participated in the protest. The rally which preceded the dharna branched off in two groups—one group marched from the railway station; the other group marched from DC More to reach the Commissioner's office where the rally culminated in a meeting.

The issues raised by the protest were: amendments to the SPT and CNT should be withdrawn; the erroneous domicile policy should be withdrawn and the 1932 khatiyan or the first electoral rolls should be made the basis for domicile; judicial enquiry should be held into the Barkagaon and Khunti firings and the custodial killing of Minhaj Ansari in Narayanpur thana; the people who vandalized the idol of Siddho-Kanho in Bhognadih should be punished; mid-day meal workers should be regularized and paid a monthly wage of Rs 18000, along with other issues.

The dharna was addressed by CPI(ML) leaders Vinod Singh, Geeta Mandal, Sahdev and others. The main slogan of the dharna was, "Raghuvar Hatao, Jharkhand Bachao" ("Remove Raghuvar, Save Jharkhand").

The speakers vowed to expand this agitation towards a bigger movement in order to remove Raghuvar Das because the very existence of adivasis and original inhabitants of Jharkhand will be in jeopardy under this government which has made policies to ensure that corporate companies get full control over the forests, land, and minerals of Jharkhand. The society is being divided in a communal and fascist manner. After the incidents at Latehar, Pelawal, Jamtara and the killing of Minhaj Ansari, RSS goons have now vandalized the Siddho-Kanho idol at Bhognadih in a conspiracy to break the Muslim-Adivasi unity in the Santhal Pargana.

At the conclusion of the dharna a 9-point charter of demands was submitted to the Commissioner. The dharna called upon the people to initiate mass mobilization in order to make the gherao of the Vidhan Sabha during the next Assembly session a huge success.

Rally Against Killing of An Adivasi in Police Firing

On 22 October, thousands of adivasis participated in the 'Mahakrosh rally' against the amendments in the SPT and CNT acts responding to the call of Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha (comprising of 40 adivasi organisations). In order to stop the thousands of adivasis joining from Khunti, the police fired in which the life of an adivasi, Abraham Munda was lost. On 11 November, CPI(ML) organised a protest against this killing at Sayko Bazart and in Khunti.

Hundreds of adivasis holding banners and traditional weapons participated in the protest march. Later addressing the protest meeting, CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav said that the political assertion of the adivasis cannot be stopped by use of bullets and batons. In order to ensure water, forests, land and natural resources for the corporates, the police engaged in firing on the adivasis. This is also being done to end the freedom and independence of adivasis' lives and livelihood in Jharkhand. The workers, farmers, adivasis are presenting a strong political claim against these oppressive measures and loot.  Hence, it is certain that the Raghuvar government will have to go. The protest meeting was also addressed by Bhubaneshwar Kewat and other leaders. In the end, tributes\ paid to Abraham Munda's martyrdom and demand was made that 25 lakh compensation and a permanent job be given to his bereaved family members.

Public Meeting to Commemorate 100th Anniversary of Russian Revolution

A Public meeting to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Russian revolution was held at Tanjore on 7 November 2016. It was titled- "Prepare for Indian revolution in the light of Russian revolution". The meeting was presided by Rajan, District committee member of CPI(ML) and addressed by State committee member Desikan, Pudukottai District Secretary Asaithambi, Tanjore District Secretary Ilangovan, state committee member AS Kumar, central committee member, Balasundaram and and state secretary S Kumarasamy.

Com. Balasundaram in his address elaborated on achievements of Soviet revolution including the introduction of maternity benefit to women workers. Kumarasamy in his speech said that the meeting is being held at Tanjore where the campaign for Assembly election is going on which was earlier withheld by Election Commission citing flow of money. Now also the same candidates are in the fray making mockery of democracy.  He also questioned that even as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu all along claims that she is living for the people, it is ironical that the people of the state are unable to know her health condition so far. While on one hand she was not in a position to order for the release of pending NREGA wages of the poor, she managed to affix her thumb impression in AIADMK candidates' election nomination forms as party's General Secretary. This reflected the lack of concern for the people of the state by the ruling party. After narrating the achievements of Russian revolution for the mankind, he called for a strong and vibrant left movement to check money and muscle power. Apart from state cadres, masses from Tanjai-Nagai district and Pudukottai district also attended the meeting.

CPI(ML) to Launch A Signature Campaign on People's Demands in Tamil Nadu

CPI(ML)'s state level cadre meet was held at Tanjore on 6 November 2016. More than 150 cadres from all over Tamil Nadu participated in this meet. The party cadres discussed 'November revolution and its relevance to India', an article published in Theepori (Party's Tamil organ). During the meeting, ways and means to collect 10 lakh signatures on people's demands throughout the state were also discussed. S Kumarasamy, state secretary, summed up the discussions. Com. Balasubramanian, Puducherry state secretary greeted and Com. Balasundaram and Com. Manjula were also present.

About 1400 subscriptions of Theepori for the year 2017 were handed over at the meeting and It was resolved to complete more than 3000 subscriptions by December 18, 2016.

Com. Dipankar Addresses Student and Youth Activists in Chandigarh

Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(ML) General Secretary visited Chandigarh on 12-13 November. During his two days visit he addressed a meeting of the CPI(ML) Union Territory Committee of Chandigarh and  a meeting of students and youth comrades. A get together of intellectuals and activists was also organized on 13 November where Com. Dipankar spoke on the "Footsteps of emergency and the fight for democracy". Prominent persons from media like SP Singh, Sandeep Dikshit, Adv. Arjun Sheoron of PUCL and theatre artist Samuel John participated in the discussions.

The UT Committee took the decision to contest eight wards in coming municipal elections of Chandigarh. A list of six candidates was also announced by Kanwaljeet, Secretary, CPI(ML) Chandigarh.

Land Satyagraha in Darbhanga

CPI(ML) Darbhanga district committee and AIARLA started an indefinite land rights satyagraha in front of the Darbhanga Collectorate from 20 October 2016 on the issues of giving possession over the lands to parcha holders (allottees), land for the landless, and legal land rights for people who have been settled on land for many years. Tens of thousands of parcha holders have not given possession over lands in Debna (Tardih), Godaipatti (Hanuman Nagar), Kaligaon (Singhwada), Eastern and Western blocks of Kushewarsthan, Biraul, Bahedi and other places in Darbhanga for years. Nothing has been done in this matter despite repeated requests to the administration who are responding with ifs and buts on the question of dakhal-dehani.

During the land satyagraha agitation thousands of rural poor raising slogans of "Roar of the Landless Poor, Will Settle for Nothing Less than Our Land Rights" protested at the Darbhanga District Collectorate. The protest started from Polo Maidan and marched past the Commissioner's Office, Collectorate and Laheriyaserai Tower. The protest was led by CPI(ML) District Secretary Baidyanath Yadav, AIARLA District President Jangi Yadav, District Secretary Prof. Kalyan Bharti, State Vice President Laxmi Paswan, ML State committee member Abhishek Kumar and others. Addressing the meeting at Polo Maidan presided over by Ashok Paswan the speakers said that the government and administration are playing paper games on the issue of land for the poor and landless. They are even conspiring to displace those poor who are already settled on some land and the administration has become a puppet in the hands of land thieves.

A Party delegation had talks with the DM on a 11 point charter of demands. The DM agreed to the demand of constituting a committee with political and social activists as members on the issue of dakhal-dehani. The Party also demanded the following: the conspiracy to displace the mahadalits settled in Kataiya Musahari of Biraul block should be stopped; people settled on canals and dams should not be displaced without alternative arrangements being made first; and positive action should be taken on the thousands of applications given by the landless in various zones. The Party gave the district administration a month's time and said that if concrete action is not taken a "ghera dalo, dera dalo" agitation will be started on 21 November.

United Action against War Mongering

A united campaign against war mongering- 'War, Chhod na Yaar' (Say No to War my friend) was called by more than 30 organisations on 9 November at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. The 9 November programme was preceded by screening of anti-war films and holding discussions at several venues in Delhi. The organizers included AIDWA, AIPF, AIPWA, AISA, AICCTU, ANHAD, CITU, Dwarka collective, DYFI, Sangwari, Jan Natya Manch, IPTA Delhi among several others. The programme on the 9 November saw poets, singers and other cultural, social and political activists, retired military officers and family members of military personnel killed in wars, who came together against war-mongering and appeal for peace. The speakers included AIPWA national Secretary Kavita Krishnan, Activist John Dayal, AISA activist and Ex JNUSU VP, Shehla Rashid Shora, Jagmati Sangwan, Admiral Ramdas and several others. Addressing the people who had thronged Jantar Mantar, AIPWA national Secretary Kavita Krishnan appealed to the people to think about the consequences of militarism, war and hate-mongering for India. She added that at a time when citizens are being told openly that they cannot ask questions even when citizens are being killed openly, as happened this week in Bhopal, it is time for those who believe in peace and democracy to speak up. Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD said that people had gathered here to send out a message against the climate of war-mongering that has taken over the country post the Uri attack in Kashmir and the subsequent military stance by India. She emphasized that we needed to be wary of that and go for peace.

Artists from Delhi Sultanate & Begum X, Sangwari, Jan Samskriti and other cultural organisations raised voices against war mongering through their performances. 

Protest in Solidarity With Para Teachers

CPI(ML)'s Jaynagar block committee, Koderma district, organised a protest against the attacks on the para teachers by the Raghuvar government in Jharkhand and expressed solidarity with their demands. The protestors also demanded the release of the teachers who had been arrested during teachers' agitation. The pressure of the people's protest forced the authorities to release the teachers. The protestors also raised the slogan of 'Remove Modi, Save Democracy' followed by effigy burning. In Birni, Raising the slogans of 'Save Teachers, Save Education' took out a protest march and a joint public meeting was held at the block headquarters with the agitating para teachers.