10 October 2010

Second Exile

(The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court is scheduled to announce its verdict on the Ayodhya title suit on 24 September, 2010. In anticipation of the verdict going against their claim, the Sangh brigade has already begun attempts to reignite the communal fire over Ayodhya. We appeal to people to rebuff any attempt by communal forces to whip up communal frenzy over the verdict. As the verdict approaches, Kaifi Azmi’s poem ‘Doosra Vanvas’ serves to remind us of the horror of communal fascist frenzy symbolised by the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6 1992.) When Lord Ram returned home from exile in the forest He missed the forest very much as he entered the city Seeing the crazed dance in his courtyard On 6 December he must have wondered How did so many crazed followers enter my home? The pathways where Ram’s footprints had once shone Where thousands of stars of love once stretched out Those same pathways now took a turn towards hate What is their religion, what caste, who knows? If it were not for the burning house, who could identify them? You who entered my house with burning torches Your sword, my friend, is vegetarian Your stones were all flung at Babar No doubt it’s the fault of my head that, instead, it bleeds Ram hadn’t even washed his feet in the Sarju...

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Support the CPI(ML) Election Campaign in Bihar

Stand by the Fighting People of Bihar in their Battle for Real Change and Rights Five years ago, the NDA-BJP alliance headed by Nitish Kumar rode the wave of resentment against the RJD’s prolonged reign of misrule, to come to power in Bihar with promises of development, change and an end to the cycle of crime and corruption. Today as Bihar gears up for another electoral battle, the Nitish regime has little to show except the corporate media-crafted ‘Bihar Shining’ brand. Increasingly what is being underlined is the continuity between the discredited RJD regime and the much-hyped Nitish regime. The promise of a new Bihar where rapid development will be delivered along with good governance and justice has been badly belied. The most urgent agenda of land reforms and education reforms, articulated by commissions set up by the government itself has been abandoned in the face of stubborn opposition by well entrenched feudal forces and vested interests. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court appointed monitoring committee has found the rationing system in Bihar to be the most corrupt in the country while the CAG has unearthed a massive treasury fraud with unaccounted withdrawals growing every year by leaps and bounds. In this backdrop, the CPI(ML) Liberation has been waging a relentless struggle, braving all odds, to mobilise the rural poor and all progressive forces to transform the face of Bihar and...

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Obituary

Comrade Budhram Paswan Comrade Budhram Paswan, an activist of Jagdishpur, Bhojpur passed away on 16 August of cancer. He was 56. His three sons, daughter and wife too are associated with the party. Comrade Budhram was active in the party right since the phase of anti-feudal resistance in the underground period. The all-India Conference organized at the end of the rectification campaign was held at his home. After the party came over ground, he became a wholetimer and played a responsible role in the IPF campaign in the 1990 Bihar Assembly elections. He subsequently led a fierce struggle demanding recall of the renegade MLA at Jagdishpur. He was the party’s block secretary for some time. In the panchayat elections of 2001 he defeated feudal forces to be elected mukhiya. Polit Bureau members Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya and Amar and a large number of local comrades joined the condolence meeting in his village and paid homage to the departed comrade. Red Salute to Comrade Budhram Paswan! Comrade Subodh Majumdar Comrade Subodh Majumdar, a long-standing party leader in West Bengal, breathed his last at Gandhi Memorial Hospital at Kalyani after a long bout with heart trouble on 27 August. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son. Comrade Subodh was born in 1942 at a village in the Nadia district of West Bengal. During his college days in Kolkata he came...

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SA Workers’ Strike

‘Sound the Vuvus for Living Wage and Respectful Life’ (Dhiraj Nite, researcher at the University of Johannesburg, reports from South Africa on the 19-day long strike of teaching and health staff in that country.) The teaching and health staff in South Africa went on strike on August 18. The primary and secondary schools as well as health centres (excluding the emergency services) were closed and the streets of townships all over the country brimmed over with the red T-shirt-wearing men and women. They sang, danced, shouted slogans, agitated, and picketed at the gates of hospital and school and in the neighbourhoods. An expert of South African labour history and sociology, Prof. Peter Alexander, says that “these comrades sing and dance to express their anger, too.” The Vuvuzela (to which the rest of world was introduced during the world cup football series) has now become a whistle blower in the working class agitation. The strike demands included a revision in wages by 8.6 percent against the offer made by the government of 6.5 percent revision; 1000 Rand housing allowance against the government’s offer of 650 Rand; and uniform and universal medical care to all. The African National Congress (ANC) government, led by the president Jacob Zuma, has invoked financial constraints to explain its inability to meet these demands of public sector workers. In response, the South African Democratic Teachers Union...

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Mosque at Ground Zero: Islamophobia in the US

In Gainesville, Florida, Terry Jones, a pastor of a small insignificant church with hardly any following called for the “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11th to mark 9/11. He threatened to burn 50 copies of the Quran, which is also his maximum number of following. His purported action was a manifestation of his hatred towards Islam which culminated in this threat over the proposed building of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero. The US Army and Obama Administration opposed this primarily on the grounds that it would endanger US troops abroad, swell the ranks of Al-Quaeda and jeopardise national security. President Obama also urged for religious tolerance. Eventually the public outcry and administrative pressure forced the pastor to call off his plan. Before putting this incident more in context, let us first examine how all this came about. It started with the growing ruckus in the US over building of an Islamic center and a mosque near ground zero in New York City. The site already has a building which has been a center of cultural activity for Muslim population in the city for decades. The proposed building of this mosque has now become a rallying point for the political right in the US, championed by the Tea Party led by Sarah Palin. One year back, the New York Times carried a front page article on the...

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Peepli Incorporated

While Peepli (Live) is a story set in Madhya Pradesh, 500-odd real Peepli villages exist. Anoushka Rizvi’s Peepli Live, the satirical film ostensibly on farmer’s suicide is remarkable, predictable and sad. I will start with the remarkable aspects. The film is able to paste the ethos of the nukkad natak on to a cinematic frame. There is wit, sarcasm, morality play symbolism, all played out in the exaggerated decibel of a street performance, such as the media jamboree and the close reading of Natha’s shit. The symbolism comes through in its deliberate allusion to characters named after Premchand’s village epic Godaan. The chief protagonist in Premchand’s novel, the long suffering but ritual- and status-conscious Hori Mahato belonging to a middle caste is transposed here into a marginal character who is resigned to his fate of a wage labourer digging an unending pit, which will turn out to be his grave, thus invoking the longer and more symbolic tradition of farmer suicides as an inevitable fact within the semi-feudal and semi-colonial Indian context. Premchand’s Hori had died not simply as a result of the backbreaking labour under a blistering summer sun, but his death was a direct outcome of his inability to swallow the humiliation of losing his land and being reduced to a pauper. Hori’s defiant wife Dhania is retained in the film as Natha’s big mouth wife who...

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Report on the Exodus of Madigas from Budihalli

(In March 2010, Liberation had carried a fact-finding report on atrocities against Dalits in Budihalli, Karnataka. Months later, another team of women activists of PUCL-Karnataka, HRFDL, AIPWA, Samata and Stree Jagruti Samiti investigated reports that 35 Dalit families had fled Budihalli on 18 August 2010. The team (in which AIPWA was represented by Rati Rao, Poarkodi and Rachel) visited Venkateshwaranagar slum of Challakere taluk, Chitradurga district, on 5 September 2010 A summary of their findings is below – Ed/-) In Budihalli village, humiliation of Dalit Madigas by the dominant Nayakas and Gollas, especially harassment and exploitation of Madiga women, is common. On 22 December 2009, when Madiga people cleared the woods for cultivation in 4 acres of government grazing land (bagarhukum), the Nayakas and Gollas had attacked them and even attempted to rape a Madiga girl. Cases were registered in Parashurampura Police Station on 26 Dec 2009 (FIR No 0147) and a protest was held. In the meanwhile, Dalits were booked for rioting on the same issue and police was stationed in the village. Since then, the Madigas have been facing social boycott and public humiliation. The community members have been denied any kind of employment in the village. Recently, a married Nayak man managed to take Sumithra, a Class XII student, of Madiga community to Bangalore and marry her. After a fortnight he brought her back to Budihalli...

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Updates

Protest at Parliament Street on CWG On September 15, Delhi’s construction workers, street vendors, slum-dwellers, rickshaw pullers and various sections of Delhi’s struggling poor and working class as well as students held a massive protest under the banner of CPI(ML) at Jantar Mantar in protest against exploitation of the poor and massive corruption in the name of Commonwealth Games. A protest march was held culminating in a public meeting at Jantar Mantar. The protest was led by party CCM and AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee, CPI(ML)’s Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, CCM Kavita Krishnan, Delhi AICCTU leader Santosh Roy, General Secretary of AISA Ravi Rai, CPI(ML) Delhi State Committee members Amarnath Tiwary, Delhi Building Workers’ Union General Secretary VKS Gautam, Delhi Khokha-Patri Mahasangh General Secretary Shyamkishore, All India General Kamgar Union leader Mathura Paswan, DTC Workers’ Unity Centre leader Shankaran and many others including Comrade Ramkishan, National Convener of All India Health Workers’ Federation. The protestors demanded punishment of corrupt officials, strict implementation of labour laws and prosecution of those contractors and officials responsible for violation of labour and safety laws, and guarantee of rehabilitation and employment of displaced people. AISA Torchlight Procession in Batla House On 19 September this year, to mark the second anniversary of the killing of two youths at Batla House in an ‘encounter,’ AISA held a massive procession at Batla House. The procession protested...

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Peasant Suicides in W Bengal

(A CPI(ML) team comprising Polit Bureau member Comrade Kartick Pal, Burdwan district committee member comrade Paresh Banerjee, AIALA West Bengal President Sajal Pal, and West Bengal Kisan Sabha President Annada Prasad Bhatttacharya visited villages in Burdwan district on 3 September to investigate cases of peasant suicides. Below is a summary of their findings by Comrade Kartick Pal.) Burdened with debt, three peasants committed suicide on August 21 and 23 and on September 1 at Basantapur, Karotia and Purbatati villages in Block–I of Ausgram, Burdwan district in West Bengal. The area falls under the parliamentary constituency of former MP Somnath Chatterjee and is dominated by CPI(M). Burdwan is one of the districts declared drought-affected this year. This region being backward, it is a mono-crop area and cultivation is done only once in a year during the Kharif Season. The agriculture here depends mainly on loans advanced by money-lenders. Due to paucity of rain about 25% of land in this area remained uncultivated during the last year. This year many people had mortgage lands and sell off cattle to keep cultivation going. Help from the block and the panchayat authority remained elusive. Though the Village Panchayats and Panchayat Samiti have long been under CPI(M) control, people did not get more than 5-6 days’ work under NREGA. Eunus Seikh of Basantapur committed suicide on August 21. He had been taking a little...

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Nokia Workers put DMK Government in the Dock

Karunanidhi government boasts of bringing in Nokia to Tamil Nadu, pushing back states like Haryana and Maharashtra by offering attractive packages. Nokia was the third company in mobile phones production in the world after Motorola and Sony Ericsson before coming to Tamilnadu. But after coming to Tamilnadu Nokia has come to the number one position in mobile phone production. Who Benefited? Nokia, or the Workers of Tamil Nadu? A Citizens’ Research Collective report titled ‘The Public Price of Success: The costs of the Nokia Telecom SEZ in Chennai for the Government and Workers’ (EPW, Volume 44, Number 40, October 3-9, 2009) speaks of the difficulties it had to face to get access to the information through RTI on the concessions extended by the Tamilnadu government to Nokia in the MoU with Nokia. The information could be got only by exerting legal pressure on the Industry Department of Tamilnadu and through the CAG. The Tamil Nadu government is yet to come out with the details of exemptions and concessions extended to the foreign capital in a number of other MoUs. According to the report, “The special agreement between Nokia and Tamil Nadu government signed in 2005 for the SEZ located in Sriperumbudur, Kancheepuram ensures that the government will refund VAT on domestic sales to the value of Nokia’s investments in infrastructure.” Further, “the MoU reveals that the State government offered...

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Workers’ No-Confidence Motion Against UPA Govt.

The all India General Strike of September 7 called by the central Trade Unions met with an overwhelming response from the working class and the masses at large. Even sections of the media recognized it as a second ‘Bharat Bandh.’ The day after the historic September 7 All India General Strike, the Times of India carried an editorial advising unions to “shun bandh politics.” The editorial argued, “In a democratic age, bandhs have lost their pre-independence aura and have outlived their purpose. They …reek of the old style of doing politics… With rising literacy and growing economic activity, modern societies search for moderate political methods such as debate, discussions or protests that do not involve public disruption.” We wonder if the paper considers advanced capitalist countries like France and Britain to be ‘modern societies’ equipped with literacy and all other marks of modernity? What does the paper make of the fact that September 7 was ‘International Action Day’ for workers all over the world, and on that day, millions of French workers poured out on Paris streets against pension reforms, and transport workers of the London metro-rail system observed a 24-hour strike? Why are workers in these unquestionably ‘modern’ countries showing such zeal for ‘outmoded’ methods like strikes rather than ‘debate and discussion’?! The September 7 Strike was broader in scope than most previous strikes, and many new sections...

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“Teach a Lesson to the Government of Loot and Lies” –

CPI(ML) Perspective in Bihar Polls (The Hindi monthly Public Agenda interviewed CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya on 13 September about CPI(ML)’s role and perspective in the upcoming Bihar polls. The text of the interview is reproduced below. – Ed/-) (1) Bihar is going to face elections in November. In your opinion what kind of issues are going to emerge in the coming elections? A: Nitish Kumar had come to power promising a New Bihar, but the old has resurfaced in a big way. The Land Reform Commission recommendations were a real test for his government. Were he really serious about taking Bihar on a new road, he could have chosen to implement the LRC recommendations and make a modest beginning towards land reforms. He has chosen to dump the report and abandon the agenda and keep the feudal forces in good humour. As far as the working people and democratic opinion are concerned, this betrayal is the core issue. Everything else – bureaucratic domination, institutionalised loot of development funds, bonhomie with communal forces – is symptomatic of this great betrayal. Even on the much-hyped ‘development’ front, agriculture has registered 17% decline last year, there is absolutely no industrial investment, no reopening of closed mills, no electricity, and young people who were employed on contract basis on minuscule ‘honorarium’ are complaining of non-payment of even such sub-minimum wages! Hunger stalks...

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Posers for the Congress ‘Crown Prince’

On the eve of the announcement of the Assembly election schedule for Bihar, the Congress ‘crown prince’ Rahul Gandhi addressed a couple of heavily publicised meetings at Saharsa and Samastipur, the nerve-centres of the Kosi and Mithila regions of Bihar. The meetings were advertised as a major milestone in Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Mission Bihar’ campaign for a grand revival of India’s grand old party in India’s poorest state. The elections will tell us if and how far the Congress has managed to regain its long lost ground, but the meetings have already thrown up a whole series of uncomfortable questions for the youth icon of the grand old party. Rahul Gandhi has been talking of infusing new blood in the Congress and recruiting fresh faces with clean images. Sharing stage with him in the Saharsa meeting were Ranjita Ranjan and Lovely Anand, two women leaders who represent the political legacies of Pappu Yadav and Anand Mohan, both currently serving life sentences as murder convicts (Pappu Yadav in the 1998 case of assassination of CPI(M) leader and Purnea MLA Ajit Sarkar and Anand Mohan in the 1993 case of murder of Gopalganj DM G Krishnaiyya) – certainly not among the cleanest and freshest of political faces in Bihar! And this is no aberration; rather this is central to the Congress gameplan of ‘reviving’ itself by recruiting turncoats and tainted elements from...

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Bihar Elections: Time for Reality Check

(In this issue, we carry a curtain-raiser for the key issues in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections, and a response to the recent much-hyped visit by Rahul Gandhi to Bihar. In the coming November issue we will carry the CPI(ML) manifesto, constituencies and candidates, as well as reports from the election campaign. – Ed/-) Beginning from October 21, Bihar will go to polls to elect its next Assembly and government. Just before the announcement of the election schedule, the state witnessed a dramatic hostage-crisis lasting one full week, when the Maoists took four policemen hostage and killed a BMP constable – Lucas Tete, a tribal from Jharkhand – before eventually releasing the other three. This gave the Election Commission ample pretext not only to stretch the Bihar elections to as many as six phases but also to reduce the polling time for several constituencies in each phase to eight hours in place of the normal duration of ten hours. There are four major political camps in these elections in Bihar – the JD(U)-BJP combine, the RJD-LJP combine, the Congress and the CPI(ML)/Left. The mainstream media would however like to reduce the entire election to a two-horse race between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, and between them these two leaders are trying their level best to make the contest as personalized as they can, diverting the people’s attention from all...

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Corporate Manoeuvres and New Government in Jharkhand

The political scene in Jharkhand has witnessed some paradoxical trends this month. Thousands of working people marched in streets throughout the state to make Jharkhand Bandh, called by CPI(ML) in support of All India General Strike call, a grand success on 7 September. This militant mass political action contrasted with frequent formalistic bandhs called by the Maoists in the state – bandhs marked by lack of mass participation and political focus. The mass action of 7 September focused on burning issues of people of Jharkhand: the recurring drought situation resulting in a famine-like state, disinvestment and loot in the coal sector and so on. But at the same time in a ‘dramatic’ development, various shady manipulations have smuggled the same alignment of political forces to power which failed to deliver a stable government earlier! The same forces, this time under the leadershiop of ex-CM Arjun Munda of BJP, went to the Governor’s House to seek to form another government. The Governor invited Arjun Munda to form government, and Munda took oath with Sudesh Mahato of AJSU and Hemant Soren of JMM as Deputy CMs and in a one-day Assembly session, won the vote of confidence. The entire process was completed within one week. The political situation in Jharkhand was in a virtual blind alley, and was certainly building towards another round of assembly elections after accomplishing the much-delayed Panchayat...

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