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