2008

CPI(ML) 8th Congress Pays Tribute to 1857 and Bhagat Singh

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of India’s first war of independence in 1857, the CPI(ML) pays respectful tributes to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who heroically laid down their lives in the struggle to emancipate colonial India from the yoke of British imperialism. Far from being a revolt of a few disgruntled kings, queens and feudal lords, 1857 was a national uprising of peasants whether in soldiers’ uniforms or without, artisans and small traders, and other sections of the Indian people cutting across caste and creed. The great rebellion gave us the first dream of free India and also the first glimpse of a modern India in its embryonic stage. The Party also pays homage to the memory of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh in his birth centenary and his comrades Sukhdev and Rajguru who kissed the gallows along with Bhagat Singh on 23 March 1931. While the Indian National Congress formed in 1885 with British blessings could never come to terms with the spirit of the First War of Independence, Bhagat Singh and his comrades resurrected the legacy of 1857 and gave it a firm anti-imperialist and socialist orientation. Bhagat Singh represented the conceptual transition from revolutionary nationalism to communism, developing a basically correct programmatic orientation of Indian revolution, identifying its basic class forces and creatively combining different forms of struggle and organisation to rouse...

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Tribute to Poet Trilochan Shastri

On the very eve of our 8th Congress, on 9 December 2007, people’s poet and former National President of Jan Sanskriti Manch Trilochan Shastri passed away at the age of 91. He was an immensely influential figure in Hindi literature and he was deeply sympathetic to the revolutionary communist movement all his life. He had been associated with a variety of people’s movements, starting with his involvement in the freedom struggle against British colonialism up to his support for the battle of the oppressed masses of rural India for land and justice. He had been National President of JSM for almost a decade. Apart from being famous for introducing the sonnet form of poetry in Hindi Trilochan has also worked on the compilation of various dictionaries and is renowned as a major expert on various Indian languages. He had met with the CPI(ML) General Secretary not long before his demise and expressed his good wishes for the Party Congress. His passing is an immeasurable loss for Hindi literature and the progressive democratic movement. Hindi kavita unki hai jinki sanson ko araam nahin Main us janpath ka kavi hun jo bhukha-dukha hai Hindi poetry belongs To those who don’t breathe easy I’m a poet of the land Of hunger and sorrow –...

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Political-Organisational Report: Major highlights

(Since all documents as amended and adopted in the eighth party Congress will be released shortly, here we bring to the readers the more important points covered in this report in a summarised form and under subheads supplied by us. Space constraints have compelled us to leave out the parts dealing with reports and review of our work on the women’s, cultural, students’ and the youth fronts altogether. — Editor) AGRARIAN FRONT The introduction of NREGA by the UPA government has had little impact in terms of stopping starvation deaths or mitigating unemployment or acute poverty among the rural poor, but it has objectively facilitated the process of organization and mobilization of agricultural and other rural labourers as a class force in the countryside. Recognising this ‘dangerous’ potential of the Act, the state has been quick to unleash systematic repression on the rural poor’s movement for strict implementation of the NREGA. For the rural poor NREGA and BPL remain very much like lotteries and all claims of guaranteed entitlement for the poor and the unemployed have proved to be a cruel joke. Recent periods have therefore witnessed powerful agitations against this injustice and the All India Agricultural Labour Association (AIALA) led by our Party has been in the forefront of this movement in many parts of the country. Alongside the basic issues of land, wages and dignity, the question...

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SOLIDARITY MESSAGES

Sent on the occasion of the 8th Congress of the CPI(ML) From 1857 Committee, UK 2007 has been a momentous year for the peoples of the sub-continent. It marked 150 years of our struggles against imperialism. In marking the 150th anniversary of the events of 1857, at meetings and conferences here in Britain attended by members of your party, we recognised the similarities of the battles that the peoples of the sub-continent faced in 1857 to the ones we face today. The sub-continent then faced the East India Company, appropriately described as the first multinational corporation. Today the peoples of India and indeed others in the sub-continent face similar threats from multinationals. In India we salute the struggles of the people in Nandigram and other areas of India affected by the Special Economic Zones and the role played by your party in supporting and strengthening this resistance. Here in Britain we have been actively involved in the campaign to publicise and build support for these struggles, and have set up the anti-SEZs group in Birmingham. Globalisation and indeed the “War on Terror” are also having a devastating impact on the peoples of the sub-continent. In India itself it has obvious repercussions as erosion of civil liberties from their already limited position. In other countries in the sub-continent, especially in Pakistan, it has led to a situation where the army...

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Historic Moment in Nepal

[Abridged version of a note by Comrade Madhav Nepal on the Political Situation in Nepal] Nepal today has been passing through a historic transition period. The popular uprising of April 2006 has forced the autocratic monarch to surrender power to the political parties and restore the dissolved parliament. The defeat of the monarchical rule and the formation of the political parties’ government have paved the way for a dialogue process and comprehensive peace agreement with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) who have been waging armed struggle for the last decade. To consolidate and institutionalize the people’s movement, the newly formed all party government tabled a historic proclamation in the restored House of Representatives in May 206 and passed unanimously. The HoR declared itself as the sovereign body of the nation, all the executive powers are now to be vested in the Cabinet, substituting ‘His Majesty’s Government’ with ‘Nepal Government’ and declaring the country to be a secular state. The nine-point declaration of the HoR also curtailed the King’s powers. Through this declaration the Nepali people have become true masters of their nation and have ended the 237-year-old rule of the Shah dynasty. The ultimate goal and mandate of the whole people’s movement and the peace process were to hold elections to the new Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution, federalize the present central form of governance system,...

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8th Congress Concludes with Massive Rally

The 8th Party Congress culminated in a massive all-India rally for ‘People’s Resistance, Left Resurgence’ at Shahid Minar in Kolkata on December 18, on the death anniversary of the former Party General Secretary Comrade Vinod Mishra. The Rally had the main slogan of ‘Land, Livelihood, Democracy and Dignity’. The Rally was addressed by the CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, West Bengal State Secretary Kartick Pal, Communist Party of Nepal (UML) General Secretary Madhav Nepal, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Bangladesh Saiful Huq, Assistant National Secretary of the DSP, Australia, Sue Bolton, Subba Singh, leader of the Punjab Kisan Union, Kanwalpreet Pannu, leader of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Punjab, as well as Medha Thatte from the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist). The Rally called to mind the historic significance of Shahid Minar, the site of the birth of the CPI(ML), and many veterans of the Naxalbari movement of the 70s – both from W Bengal as well as from other states made it a point to attend the Rally, full of a sense of the long and arduous journey that CPI(ML) had made since 1969. The massive turnout from all over the country at the Rally was all the more remarkable because 1144 party leaders right down to district committee leaders had been delegates at Kolkata, and so the mobilisation reflected the spontaneous enthusiasm of the masses as well as...

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Tapasi We Have Not Forgotten You, We Never Will

They came from all corners of the country, they came with a warm message of solidarity. At a time when Mamta Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress is engaged in cheap and stale theatrics in the name of continuation of the Singur movement, nearly hundred women delegates attending the Eighth Congress of CPI (ML) in Kolkata marched to Singur on 17 December to pay homage to Tapasi Malik on the eve of the first anniversary (18 December) of her martyrdom. Led by Party and AIPWA leaders Kumudini Pati, Srilata Swaminathan, Mina Tiwari, Saroj Chaube, Krishna Adhikari and others, a militant procession reached Bajemelia village winding its way through ricefields and village lanes and raising slogans. The procession was attractively decorated with banners, placards etc. A memorial meeting was organised near the Ujjal Sangh club. Two minutes silence was observed and floral wreaths placed at Tapasi’s photograph. Speaking on the occasion, AIPWA general secretary Kumudini Pati and West Bengal state secretary Chaitali Sen pledged to continue the movement till the killers were brought to book and the policy of eviction of peasants in the name of industrialisation was revoked. The meeting was also address by Tapasi’s father Manoranjan Malik while her mother took part in conducting the meeting. After the meeting the procession moved again and went up to the walled construction site of Tata factory. Policemen guarding the wall were persuaded to...

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National Festival of People’s Culture at Kolkata

Paschimbanga Ganasanskriti Parisad, Jan Sanskriti Manch and Sodou Assam Janasanskriti Parisad organized an all-India cultural festival on 16 and 17 December at the historic Esplanade in Kolkata. The festival sketched out the panoramic scape of diverse cultural outfits from all over the country that embody the striving for a revolutionary people’s culture. Comrade Ramji Rai announced the inauguration of the conference from the open-air stage named the Hemango Biswas Manch on the afternoon of 16 December. Cultural workers from different provinces participated and exchanged their views. Their performances upheld the spirit of the festival’s main slogan: “culture of creation, culture of resistance, culture of people”. From the roots of folk culture to the modern aesthetic, from art to activism, the festival was full of the spirit of cultural resistance against the policy of SEZs, imperialist globalization and the bankruptcy of the politics of the ruling class. The cultural performance began with a rousing mass-song presented by the cultural team of West Bengal. Noted musician and folk singer Loknath Goswami presented Assamese folk-songs which really charmed the audience. The colour and vigour of Rangbhoomi of Begusarai, the tribal tune presented by Prerna from Jharkhand, the nimbleness and gracefully athletic leaps of the Chau dance performance by Sengel from Jharkhand, the agrarian mourning song rendered by Chandrakanta Terang of Karbi Anglong – all upheld the cultural identity of peasant life and...

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A Congress of Great Resolve for a Big Push Forward

The CPI(ML)’s 8th Congress at Kolkata, the biggest ever yet, sent out a powerful and timely message of Left resurgence against a raging agrarian crisis and the ruling class surrender to imperialism both in matters of economic and foreign policies. As the dates for the Party Congress drew near, Kolkata streets were decorated with colourful banners, hoardings and festoons declaring resistance to US imperialist offensive against India’s freedom, and calling for all revolutionary communists to unite and oppose CPI(M)’s betrayal of the Left movement. From 1-9 December, cultural activists from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal campaigned intensively all over the city. There was a fresh mood and enthusiasm among the ranks of the Left and intelligentsia of the city. On December 3, a week before the opening of the 8th Congress, the CPI(ML) organised a Seminar at the University Institute on the ‘West Bengal Situation and the Role of the Left’. This was addressed by Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI(ML), Manoj Bhattacharya, ex-MP of the RSP, Debabrata Rai, Student leader and State Committee Member of the Forward Bloc, Atanu Mukherjee, State Committee Member of the SUCI, Sujato Bhadra of the APDR, renowned Professor and writer Tarun Sanyal, Naba Dutta, Convenor, Nagarik Mancha, and Pachu Ray, freelance columnist. While Dipankar Bhattacharya stressed that W Bengal needed a radical realignment of Left forces and an alternative Left Front, the representative...

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Nandigram and CPI(M)’s Response to Its Left Critics

In Kolkata recently, Prakash Karat in a veiled reference to Sumit Sarkar said that those who compared Nandigram with Gujarat were ‘enemies of the people’. This accusation, in much the same phraseology, is elaborated in a piece by Prabhat Patnaik (henceforth PP) titled ‘The Left and its ‘Intellectual’ Detractors’. An initial statement by Noam Chomsky and a group of prominent international Left intellectuals also makes the similar point that PP’s piece does, suggesting that disunity among intellectuals with the CPI(M) over Nandigram will weaken the battle against imperialism, could “tear apart the important experiments undertaken in the state (land reforms, local self-government)”, and that since the chemical hub proposal stood withdrawn and “reconciliation” is underway in Nandigram “the basis of division no longer appears to exist”. PP’s line of argument is as follows: ‘normalcy has returned to Nandigram’; that Operation Nandigrab in November was actually a desperate act of “homecoming” for those violently dispossessed by the Opposition months ago (an echo of Buddhadeb’s line of defence that the Opposition was being ‘paid back in its coin’); that intellectuals who had allied with the ‘organised Left’ (read CPI(M)) against communal fascism are now virulently and violently against it because a) the decline of communal fascism has created space for their latent anti-leftism to come to the fore, and b) their reaction represents the destruction of politics unleashed by globalization; these...

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Lessons from Gujarat Results

The widespread factionalism in the Gujarat BJP’s ranks and the fact that on the eve of the polls Modi stood firmly indicted for his regime’s role in the Gujarat genocide and custodial killings of Sohrabuddin and others had created a uniquely favourable situation for its main contender, the Congress. If in spite of this, Modi scripted a win, there is no escaping the fact that it is the craven capitulation by the UPA Government at the Centre as well as the Congress in Gujarat on the issue of state-sponsored communal violence, accompanied by the failure to offer any meaningful alternative to Modi’s brand of neoliberal ‘development’ which is dispossessing adivasis, Muslims and rural and urban poor, that are to blame. The last minute rhetorical flourishes by Sonia Gandhi failed woefully to compensate for the bankruptcy of the Congress on the question of offering a credible and consistent challenge to the communal fascism of the Sangh Parivar and BJP. Its reliance on BJP rebels as candidates and its official embrace of the ‘soft Hindutva’ slogan further announced the Congress’ surrender on this issue. Modi has entered his third term strutting with impunity, declaring that he has always been and will always remain the CM; the BJP camp, riding the Gujarat euphoria, is already claiming that Gujarat marks ‘BJP rising’, and hopes that the ‘Modi mask’ that symbolises the Gujarat win...

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Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-1984)

February 13 marks the birth anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Born in Sialkot (now Pakistan) in 1911, his voice served as poetic witness to the turbulent upheavals of the Indian sub-continent of his lifetime. A member of the Communist Party in undivided India, and one of the architects of the Communist movement in Pakistan, Faiz was charged by the Pakistani regime in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case in 1951, was sentenced to death and spent four years in prison before being released. He served on the National Council of the Arts by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government; and when Bhutto was overthrown by the Zia Ul Haq dictatorship, Faiz was exiled in Lebanon, where he remained till 1982. He died in Lahore in 1982. In Faiz’s voice, it is as if we can hear the voices of today – Pakistan’s and the sub-continent’s pain, its yearnings for democracy, the cries of its “orphan blood” shed by a spotless assassin, and its conviction of hope. The poems below are translated from the Urdu by Agha Shahid Ali. A Prison Evening Each star a rung, night comes down the spiral staircase of the evening. The breeze passes by so very close as if someone just happened to speak of love. In the courtyard, the trees are absorbed refugees embroidering maps of return on the sky. On the roof, the moon – lovingly, generously...

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TRIBUTE : The CIA Man With a Difference

Philip Agee, a CIA agent who went on to expose the CIA’s dirty deeds, passed away on 7 January in Havana. He was 72. Agee succumbed to a surgery for a perforated ulcer, in a hospital where he was admitted on 25 December last, according to his widow, Gisella Roberge. Granma, Leftwing daily of Cuba, described him as a “loyal friend of Cuba and staunch supporter of the peoples’ struggle for a better word”. Born in Florida on 19 July 1935 in a well-to-do family, Agee worked for the CIA in Latin American and other countries. Moved by his conscience, he left the CIA, and to make amends, he published Inside The Company: CIA Diary in 1975, naming dozens of under-cover agents. This damning expose of the CIA’s inner world was translated into 29 languages and was handy for anti-imperialists all over the globe. It was first brought out in Cuba. In an interview to Guardian of London last year, Agee said, “It was a time in the 1970s when the worst imaginable horrors were going on in Latin America – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador – they were under military dictatorships with death squads, all with the backing of CIA and the US government”. Agee had joined the CIA in 1957. Working as a case officer in several Latin American countries, Agee’s personal convictions began...

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OBITUARY

Red Salute to Comrade Rangta Murmu Comrade Rangta Murmu, a member of the Party’s Darjeeling district committee and leader of the Kharibari block committee, breathed his last in Uttarbanga Medical College Hospital, Siliguri, on 5 January. On January 1 while returning home after leading a resistance struggle against eviction of agrarian workers at Bhatajot by the land mafia, he suddenly had a cerebral attack. After struggling with death for four long days, the people’s hero departed from his comrades and the masses of Naxalbari. Survived by his life partner Comrade Bamni and two daughters and one son, he was only 48. It was in 1975-76 i.e., during the period of Party’s re-organisation, that Comrade Rangta along with others like Comrade Patal Singh joined the party as a young peasant militant. A number of women fighters also joined the movement at this time. They were all wholetime organisers of the revolutionary movement who left their homes and hearths and depended fully on the masses. That was a period of intense state repression and Comrades Rangta and Patal used to lead the night marches from one village to another. Thanks to the vanguard role played by such comrades, we were able to spread the party’s work in a number of villages in Fansideoa, Naxalbari and Kharibari areas. A regeneration of the revolutionary movement was soon witnessed among Rajbanshi, Sadri, Oraon and...

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Halla Bol – Street Theatre On the Silver Screen

Safdar Hashmi described street theatre as a militant political theatre of protest whose function is to agitate the people and to mobilize them behind fighting organizations. It was during the performance of a street play Halla Bol, on January 1, 1989 at Sahibabad, that Safdar was fatally attacked by Congress-backed goons. Halla Bol, or ‘attack’, is a slogan that the Left in the country has used to define the thrust of people’s attack: against imperialist and colonial forces. Hence when a film called Halla Bol, is released in the month that marks the beginning of the twentieth anniversary of Safdar’s murder and holds out the promise of having drawn from various contemporary events that have shaken the public consciousness, one does go to watch the film with much anticipation. Besides, when was it that a Bollywood film was promoted through a street play? There have been quite a few films that the Hindi film industry has churned out which have reflected the miseries and concerns of the middle classes or, as the media says, the opinion classes’ outrage. However in this era of NRI-oriented films, even this middle class outrage has got sidelined in the advertising hurry to promote consumption and mansion-car ambitions. But there was a change with Rang de Basanti (RDB) presenting the picture of college kids turning into crusaders of middle class outrage. While over there...

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