12 December 2007

A Resounding Victory for AISA in JNUSU

The Left Front Government’s commitment to corporates has taken the toll of the lives of Rajkumar Bhool, Tapasi malic, Rizwanur Rehaman – and has reaped a bloody harvest at Nandigram in March and now again this month. Spontaneoursly, democratic minded people have poured out on the streets in Kolkata as well Delhi in outrage, and the newly elected Students Union leadership at JNU has been at the forefront of such mobilizations. This has been possible only because of AISA’s decisive victory in the JNUSU this year. This year’s JNUSU polls also reflect a determination on the part of the students of JNU – that the student movement must have a Left leadership that can stand firm with the struggling people rather than in defence of corporate land grab and state terror. For the first time ever, the All India Students Association (AISA) swept all the four central posts in the JNU Students Union elections. This is also a rare occasion in JNU’s bistory where the SFI-AISF has failed to find a single place on the central panel; and where a sitting JNUSU President from a Left organisation seeking re-election has been rejected. AISA has also achieved its highest-yet tally of councillor seats, winning two seats each in the Schools of Social Sciences (SSS), International Studies (SIS), and Language, Literature and Culture Studies (SLL & CS ) respectively. Sandeep Singh,...

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Long Live Comrade Yogeshwar Gope’s Legacy!

(Veteran Trade Union leader and indefatigable Communist Comrade Yogeshwar Gope passed away on 25 October 2007. Swapan Mukherjee, All-India General Secretary of AICCTU, pays tribute to him.) Comrade Yogeshwar Gope was born in Kankol village of district Begusarai, Bihar, in 1925 in a poor peasant family. He was a brilliant student studying on government scholarship but left school to participate in 1942 Quit India Movement. But the idea of condemnation of violence during this movement disillusioned him and he gradually shifted towards the communist ideology and got membership of Communist Party of India in 1944. While he involved himself actively in student movement, he studies for his graduation in Patna, simultaneously, toiling hard doing tuitions for sustenance. He joined state govt. as lower division clerk (LDC) in Patna and got elected as General Secretary of Secretariat Employees in 1957-58. His commitment was such that in 1956 Vidhan Sabha elections he took leave from duty to campaign for CPI candidate Chandrashekhar Singh from North Begusarai. The Congress candidate was defeated in the election for the first time. For this, Comrade Gope was victimised as he faced suspension from service and he could resume his job only after long months of struggle. Bihar Non-Gazetted Employees’ Maha Sangh was formed in 1958 comprising ten organisations, and Comrade Gope was elected its General Secretary in 1966 in Chhapra Conference. And after that it...

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More on Bhagat Singh and Our Times

In Bhagat Singh — The Lighthouse of the Revolutionary Mindset of Indian Youth Vinod Misra observes that, even more important than his immense popularity rivalling that of Gandhi, it was Bhagat Singh’s transition from revolutionary terrorism to Marxism that “formed the main basis of the tacit agreement between British rulers and the Congress leadership to send Bhagat Singh to the gallows.” This did not, of course, prevent Gandhi from praising the patriotism of BS and other ‘terrorists’. Such duplicity of the ruling classes continues to inform Indian state policy and the attitudes of both the Congress and the Sangh Parivar. A pamphlet titled “Movement for Freedom and Democratic Institutions” issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat in December 2005 described freedom fighters like BS as terrorists who allegedly believed in the philosophy of insurrection, assassination, destruction of public property and subversion to achieve their objective. Naturally there was a furore and one of the first to protest was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh! Yet the heinous custom continued and the birth centenary of BS witnessed a redoubled effort to depict him and his comrades as terrorists and extremists. For example, the UPSC in its Civil Service Examination in Chandigarh (October 2007) asked, ”Evaluate the contribution of revolutionary terrorism represented by Bhagat Singh to the cause of India’s struggle for independence.” The NCERT, BSE (the Board of Secondary Education in Orissa) and...

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Thousands on the Streets against Operation ‘Nandigrab’

(The Nandigram movement in West Bengal and all over the country achieved even greater heights and broader sweep this November, as the repression at Nandigram crossed all boundaries. Kolkata has seen a remarkable upsurge of mass mobilisation on the issue. Meanwhile, as we go to press, Kolkata has erupted in a bizarre episode created by a protest by a low-profile minority group targeting Taslima Nasreen. This episode has the disturbing potential to create a rift between the democratic intelligentsia and civil society, and the Muslim minorities; to derail and divide the remarkable popular upsurge on the Nandigram issue; and to provide a pretext for police and army clampdown on the slightest signs of any democratic protest in Kolkata. CPI(M) State Secretary Biman Bose deliberately added fuel to the fire of the Taslima non-issue by declaring that Taslima was to blame and ought to voluntarily leave Kolkata in order to restore peace. Though he later retracted his statement, effectively his words have been implemented. Taslima has been shifted out of Kolkata to Rajasthan. This capitulation by the CPI(M) Government and the UPA Government is bound to provide grist to BJP’s mill. It is vital that the movement on Nandigram remain vigilant to any attempts to divide and derail it. Liberation takes a look at the highlights of the latest round of Nandigram struggle. Inputs on Kolkata HC verdict by Sankar...

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Resolution on Agrarian Crisis and the Way Out (Draft)

Addressing the Agricultural Summit in Delhi on April 9, 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh disputed the notion of the country passing through an agricultural crisis. Just after a year and two months he had to rush to Vidarbha on June 1, 2006 with a relief package to stem the wave of farmers’ suicides. His package however failed to prevent farmers from committing suicide and since his 2006 visit, the number of farmers who have committed suicides in Vidarbha alone has crossed 1200. The agrarian crisis is a cruel counterpoint to the heady euphoria of a soaring Sensex and tall talks of double-digit economic growth. Marked by virtual stagnation in agricultural growth and increasing unviability of farming itself, agriculture is in a state of veritable disaster. Suicides by highly indebted farmers incurring heavy loss in farming have been continuing as a phenomenon in successive NDA and UPA regimes, and the “packaged” panaceas of the governments have hardly been able to stem this suicide wave. The failure of the government to even ease the crisis with its packages and remakes of the same packages, only proves that the government’s contention that the crisis was transient, partial and localized only in some regions of the country is totally wrong. Rather, the crisis is more fundamental and structural and its aggravation is very much rooted in the neo-liberal policies of liberalization and globalization....

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Resolution on International Situation (Draft)

The present world situation is marked by a desperate attempt by the US in particular and imperialist countries in general to reinforce their economic, political and cultural domination and opposite endeavours on the part of developing countries as well as resurgent and emerging powers to shape up a multipolar world order; a groundswell of popular resistance to imperialism in various forms; and certain new trends and features in the global economy. America’s Desperate Drive for Hegemony During the past five years the aggressive superpower in league with other imperialist powers continued with its pet scheme of world domination. Our seventh party Congress was held soon after the American colonisation of Afghanistan and in the shadows of an impending full-scale war on Iraq. When within a few months that threat became a reality, we categorised it as a war launched by petrodollar imperialism for oil, dollar dictatorship and world domination. The US has also been bullying countries like Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, expanding the NATO and multiplying its nuclear firepower, enormously enhancing its capacity for high-tech war including space war, egging on Israel to finish off Palestine and cripple Lebanon, launching the “Asian NATO” and recruiting new client states like India, and so on. Very recently the Bush administration moved a step closer to military conflict with Iran with the unprecedented step of imposing punitive measures on its...

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8th Congress Draft Documents : Resolution on National Situation and our Tasks (Draft)

(Towards the Eight Congress of the CPI(ML) to be held in Kolkata, 10-18 December 2007, we carry below the Draft Resolution on National Situation and Our Tasks, as well as abridge versions of the Draft Resolution on Agrarian Crisis and the Way Out and the Draft Resolution on International Situation.) 1. The BJP-led NDA suffered a decisive defeat in the May 2004 general elections and the BJP has since not quite recovered from that blow. The party is suffering from a crisis of direction, identity and leadership; and in the crucial state of UP, the state that had once propelled it to power at the Centre, the party has also lost much of its erstwhile electoral support. The defeat of the NDA government was caused by a number of factors. The raging agrarian crisis illustrated most glaringly by the phenomena of farmers’ suicides and starvation deaths evoked tremendous mass anger against the BJP’s pompous rhetoric of “India Shining”. At the same time, the genocide in Gujarat, the Sangh Parivar’s growing communal fascist campaigns and the NDA’s pro-US policies alarmed the secular, democratic and anti-imperialist opinion across the country and generated a popular resolve to end the NDA’s disastrous run. 2. The Congress has regained power at the Centre with the help of a two-tier coalition (UPA backed by the Left), but it has not experienced any revival in Bihar...

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Towards Gujarat Elections

Does it surprise you that Sonia Gandhi, the supremo of the ‘secular’ dispensation ruling in New Delhi, in her election-launching speech in Anand, did not even dare to mention Gujarat genocide, recently captured live on camera in the perpetrators’ own gory confessions? Perhaps not, given that her Government failed to take any action against the Modis and Bajrangis despite such clinching evidence. In the wake of the damning Tehelka expose of Modi’s personal involvement in the 2002 genocide, the immediate arrest and prosecution of Narendra Modi was a minimum first step in securing justice for the victims of the genocide. If the revelations of a sting operation in the ‘cash-for-questions’ scandal could lead to action against MPs, revelations of mass murder surely called for the arrest and prosecution of the man who masterminded it. But Congress developed cold feet on the issue. And when the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation headed by Sonia appreciates investment and development in Gujarat and her Commerce Minister Kamal Nath declares that “when we showcase India, we showcase Gujarat”, one can only infer that the main opposition in Gujarat has de-facto accepted its defeat even before the battle has begun in Gujarat. If in spite of such a spineless and benevolent opposition, BJP loses, it can only be a loss of its own making; the result of the pent-up mass fury against the patently anti-poor, genocidal...

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The Battle for Naya Bihar Goes On

(This piece is a slightly abridged version of one written in response to a request by the Patna edition of Hindustan Times. – Ed/) I am not among those who treat Bihar as an epitome of backwardness or barbarity. Bihar for me is certainly not a metaphor for stagnation. On the contrary, it is a crucible of ceaseless social and political churning and change. It is one of the most innovative and indelible signatures of radical popular mobilization in today’s India. It is easy to cite any number of economic parameters to show the degree of Bihar’s backwardness. It is also customary to recall the rich cultural heritage of Bihar dating back to the days of Buddha and Mahavir, Pataliputra and Nalanda. The contrast between the bright cultural past and the sordid economic present often leads to a self-renewing pattern of intellectual self-pity and every such school has its own list of culprits and scapegoats. Some people blame Bihar’s social and political landscape, some others blame the bifurcation of the state and the consequent loss of minerals and industries. I do not find myself in agreement with any of these research and analysis wings specializing in Bihar’s backwardness. Nor do I believe in the dubious mantras of deliverance dished out periodically by the World Bank or its numerous cousins or adopted children. Far away from the global meets and...

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The Politics of ‘Pay Back’: The Nuke Deal and Nandigram

Following the Congress climbdown on the Nuke Deal, we had cautioned that the “pausing” of the Deal be taken with a pinch of salt, since it was likely that negotiations on the Deal would continue behind the scenes and the Deal would be taken forward at a more opportune political moment. We had held that scrapping the Deal was the only way to ensure the death of the Deal, and had demanded that the Deal be put to vote in Parliament. It hasn’t taken long for those apprehensions to be vindicated. A fresh turn in the Nuke Deal drama comes with yet another somersault – this time by the CPI-CPI(M). As late as August 18, the CPI(M) Politburo had warned that “the government should not take the next step with regard to negotiating a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” Then, the CPI-CPI(M) had held that they considered negotiations with IAEA on India-specific safeguards to be an irrevocable step towards operationalising the Nuke Deal; a step that would force them to withdraw support from the UPA Government. A little later, the CPI-CPI(M) had relaxed their position to state that India could go to IAEA but must not however negotiate the safeguards agreement. Now, barely three months later, the CPI-CPI(M) have taken the stance that the UPA Government can go ahead and negotiate India-specific safeguards with the IAEA....

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Nandigram-III: Lessons and Challenges

The year 2007 will be remembered as the year when the CPI(M) completely unmasked itself in the mirror of Nandigram. If January 2007 was re-enacted in March, November witnessed a brutal replay of the atrocities perpetrated in March 2007. Each time the operation has been more lethal and barbaric than the previous episode. If in March, the massacre was perpetrated under the joint auspices of the police force and armed marauders patronized by the party, in November the CPI(M) chose to keep the police in the background letting the party’s armed machinery be in exclusive charge of the entire operation. But sure enough, on every occasion, the killings have been preceded by categorical commands from some central leaders of the CPI(M). The March 14-15 mayhem had followed in the wake of a televised threat issued by CPI(M) Central Committee member and peasant association leader Benoy Konar to make Nandigram a “living hell”. Likewise, the November killings too were forewarned by none other than Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha MP when she publicly advocated “Dumdum dawai” (direct physical action) to silence Nandigram. What cruel jokes history can play! The expression “Dumdum dawai” had gained popular currency in Bengal in the course of the food movement of the 1960s when the Left-led masses administered this medicine of physical action against hoarders and profiteers. Today once again, West...

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