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.


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