Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ML Update | No. 33 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 33 | 12 - 18 AUG 2014

BJP Agenda Unfolds:

Communal Politics and Corporate-Dictated Economic Policy 

The BJP's National Council meeting was held last week, sending clear signals about the agenda and ambitions of the BJP and the Modi Government.

The new BJP President Amit Shah outlined the plan to repeat the BJP's spectacular UP success story, ensure BJP victories all over the country, and achieve dominance and hegemony for the BJP's ideology. Enumerating the reasons for the BJP's UP success, Shah cited the BJP's "right approach in social engineering." Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, breaking a two month long silence with his speech at the BJP National Council meet, referred to concerns about communal polarization in UP, as "vote bank politics." The obvious question here, of course, is this: in what way is what Amit Shah hails as "social engineering," different from what Modi calls "vote bank politics'? 

The exact nature of the BJP's "social engineering" can be gauged by the investigative reports by an English daily about communal conflicts in UP. The paper found that there have been more than 600 plus instances of communal tension in UP since the Lok Sabha polls, mostly around the 12 constituencies where by-elections are shortly due.  The paper documented how loudspeakers, kids' bicycles, dhaba bills and runaway lovers have all become pretexts  for flaring up of communal polarisation and potential riots. The paper reported that a vast number of these 'engineered' conflicts have been between Dalits and Muslims. The BJP's 'social engineering' has involved the deliberate efforts to sow the seeds of hatred among Dalits against Muslims, in order to reap a harvest of votes later.  

One of the key tools of this saffron "social engineering" has been to communalize consensual relationships and rape cases alike, to promote the bogey of "love jehad" by Muslim men against Hindu women. Towards this, the RSS launched a vicious campaign to use the Rakshabandhan festival as an occasion to tie Rakhis to lakhs of Hindu men, asking them to pledge to protect their sisters from Muslim men and "love jehad," and the VHP runs a 'helpline' urging Hindus to approach them "if your daughter is being harassed by Muslim boys." The Supreme Court has had to warn against attempts to communalize rape allegations in Western UP that threaten to destroy the secular fabric of the country. 

What is the ideology that Amit Shah for which seeks to achieve unchallenged dominance? The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has underlined the true nature of that ideology in a recent statement, that the inhabitants of Hindustan are all Hindus. This refrain of the RSS is based on the false suggestion that 'Hindustan' is the land of the followers of the 'Hindu' faith. The fact is that the word 'Hindustan' (and likewise the word 'Hindu' and 'Indian' both) derive from the Persian word for the land and the people around the Sindhu river. These words themselves are testimony to India's composite culture, that the RSS' myth-making cannot erase. Much like the RSS chief, the Goa Deputy Chief Minister also recently declared that "India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus," and a Goa minister Dipak Dhavalikar declared, "We should support Modi as he will develop India into a Hindu nation." These statements make it very clear that the "social engineering" of the RSS and BJP involves creating a Hindu "vote bank", in fact a "Hindu nation", one in which people of other faiths will be subordinated and subjected to humiliation and violence. This agenda was outlined long back by the RSS founders, but Indian people have rejected it till now. Under the Modi Government, the RSS and BJP dream of actually achieving that agenda. After Gujarat, UP is the next saffron laboratory, and the BJP hopes to repeat UP on a larger scale all over the country.       

The problem is that the Modi Government was not elected primarily for its communal plank. It rode the dissatisfactions and anger of the people against the Congress regime. And now, the Modi Government is widely perceived as continuing the Congress-UPA's policies of corporate appeasement and ant-people policies. In fact, Amit Shah's speech indicates that even the few rights and entitlements that the people's movements wrested from the UPA Government, such as right to employment (MNREGA) or the Land Acquisition legislation, will now be rolled back. Rubbishing what he called 'entitlement based policies', Shah declared that for the BJP, 'empowerment' came first and 'entitlement' would flow naturally from 'empowerment' and 'good governance.' He specifically said that the Modi Government consider "neither framing of an act nor an agitation by the people" as required to ensure people's rights, which should flow "automatically" from the "right conditions." This corporate- and imperialism-inspired economic and political philosophy was expressed even more blatantly by BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy in a talk recently, where he referred to the poor as "parasites on the state."

The BJP's pro-corporate policies call the bluff of its own election-time pro-poor posturing, and the sinister communal agenda of the RSS and BJP threaten the basic fabric of democracy in India.    

Gana Mancha Convention in Kolkata

Five left political organisations, namely CPI-ML(Liberation), Left Collective, Samajik Nyay Vichar Mancha, Mazdoor Kranti Parishad and Radical Socialist, came together in West Bengal to form a united platform for 'working people's movement for democracy and secularism' (abbreviated as 'Gana Mancha' in Bengali, which loosely translates into People's Platform) through a joint convention held in Kolkata on August 7, 2014. The convention adopted a resolution which will serve as guideline for coordinated action by the five organisations in the upcoming days. The convention was held at Phani Bhushan Mancha, near Bagbazar, in the state capital. The convention called for building mass political struggles against corporate-fascist offensives of the NDA government at the centre and against anti-people policies and undemocratic measures of the TMC government in West Bengal. 

Partha Ghosh, State Secretary of CPI-ML, in his speech rejected the notion peddled by a section of the media, that this platform is being built by some 'disgruntled/dissident CPI-M workers'. He said, this is a platform for struggle, for taking effective action against the anti-people policies of the government. "One after another factories are getting closed, and the owners keep getting away with looting PF and gratuity dues of the workers. Yet the government keeps mum. This platform must take up issues like this", said Comrade Ghosh. He spoke on starvation deaths in the tea-gardens, on how peasants in Singur and Nandigram are yet to get justice, and how the rights of dalits, adivasis and muslims are being trampled upon in the state. Speaking on the threat of corporate communal fascism, he said we must take up the challenge to build the broadest co-ordinated movement to defend both democracy and secularism. "Some in the left camp are still pained about Singur, and sympathize with Tata. They must apologize to the people" he said. Comrade Rezzak Mollah said that we are planting a sapling today which will grow into a big tree in the future. He called out to the youth of the state to build a powerful movement against the oppressive anti-youth policies of the centre and state. Comrade Prasenjit Bose of the Left Collective said the so-called 'Gujrat model' of development followed by the erstwhile ruling left in Bengal produced an environment where a dictatorial party like the TMC could usurp power. Building people's movement in the streets is the need of the hour.

Amitabha Chakravarty of the MKP, and Kunal Chattopadhyay of the Radical Socialist also spoke on the occasion. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of CPM Punjab who came to extend solidarity to the convention spoke of building a principled left unity in this critical time in our country. Representatives from other left organisations also extended solidarity to the initiative. Apart from Com. Pasla, Com K K Rema, wife and comrade of slain RMP leader T P Chandrasekharan along with left activists from Tamil Nadu, Maharastra and Kerala were present as guests in the convention.

Struggle Against Repression on Adivasis in Gujarat

In Gujarat's Valsad district, in the Umergaon, Kapdada, Dharmpur, Vapi and Pardi talukas, adivasis with CPI(ML)'s support have been conducting a struggle against loot of their land. The struggle has been resisting grab of adivasi land by land mafia, handover of adivasi land to industrialists by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation GIDC on various pretexts, and demanding implementation of the Forest Rights Act. In exchange for the land grabbed, the adivasis receive a pittance as compensation. The BJP Government and local Congress leadership work in tandem to facilitate the land grab.    

The terror unleashed against adivasis is enormous here, and CPI(ML) leaders too have faced murderous attacks. CPIP(ML) leader Laxmanbhai Patanwaria was attacked and injured in 2007; Kapila Ben, the CPI(ML) candidate in the Zila Panchayat polls, was attacked in 2010. A delegation led by Laxcmanbhai Patanwaria to the police thana to raise the issue, was also attacked outside the thana – no FIR was lodged by cops. The attacks took place on orders of the local BJP MLA Raman Patkar.  

Agaon on 2 July 2014, goons attacked Laxmanbhai Patanwaria at a bus stop, and soon after, goons surrounded and attacked his house. Because of the tremendous resistance from villagers, the goons had to beat a retreat.

The adivasis have been living on the land for generations, but few have any documents to prove land tenure. Land mafia and GIDC take advantage of this to grab the land. The surrounding area is a chemical industry hub and one of the most polluted areas in the country, and the land is very valuable for corporations.   

On 5 August, the party organized a protest march to the Collectorate demanding:

1.    Survey the forest land under the FRA and distribute the land to adivasis without delay, giving them documents for their land.  

2.    Investigate attacks on CPI(ML) leaders and punish the perpetrators and conspirators. 

3.    Stop the pollution spread by chemical corporations in collution with GIDC, punish companies for poisoning fields and drinking water, making them pay for clean-up and compensation. Close down polluting industries and set up an effective pollution control board. 

4.    Put a stop to police terror against adivasis

5.    Investigate corruption in MNREGA implementation in the whole district and punish the guilty  

The demonstration was led by CPI(ML) PB member Prabhat Kumar, the party's Gujarat in-charge Ranjan Ganguly, State leading team member Laxmanbhai Patanwaria, RYA in-charge Amit Patanwaria, youth leader Kamlesh as well as Kamla Ben and Damayanti Ben. 

Rallies in Rajasthan to Mark Quit India Day

On 9th August 2014, events were organized at Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer to mark Quit India Day.

In Pratapgarh, 300 party cadres led by CCM Mahendra Chaudhury held a rally in the city. The rally culminated in a public meeting addressed by Mahendra chaudhury, district secretary Shambhu Rawal, Zafar Husain and others, who condemned the Modi Government for selling out people's interests in favour of corporations. After the meeting, a delegation submitted a 21-point set of demands including MNREGA work and proper pay and various civic amenities; roll back of approval for GM crops and proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act.

In Udaipur, the Construction Labour Union district secretary Gautam Lal Morila and AIKM leader Chandradeo Ola addressed a mass meeting at the district administration office. A demand charter was submitted addressed to CM and President of India.  

Similar protest events were held at Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer district HQs.    

Peasants Asks GM Crops to Quit India

On 9th August, Quit India Day, All India Kisan Mahasabha held nation-wide protests against the Government's move to approve GM seeds and to roll back crucial and hard-won protections in the Land Acquisition Act.

A detailed report of the protests will be carried in the next issue.

At Karnal in Haryana, the AIKM Vice President Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat addressed the protest gathering of peasants, along with Comrades Mahindra Chopra, Rajendra Phoosgarh, Krishn Saini Asandh, Ishwar Pal, Ramu Uplana, Satyawan Valmiki, Karmvir Mistri, Natthi Kashyap Ladobagdi, Som Prakash, Ram Kumar Pal and Lalit Saini. 

Women's Tribunal In Lucknow Puts State and Central Government in the Dock

The AIPWA held a Women's Tribunal in Lucknow, attended by around 700 women from various districts across the state. The tribunal put the State and Central Governments in the dock over the unabated violence against women in the State.

Survivors of violence, and relatives of victims testified at the Tribunal. One woman from Lakhimpur Kheri spoke of the sexual harassment she faced at the hands of cops, followed by cops jailing her husband on false pretexts.

Another woman spoke of how her 11 year old daughter was raped and hung from a tree in 2011, a case in which the perpetrators are yet to be punished.

A woman from Pilibhit spoke of her daughter being killed for dowry, and the accused openly sharing sweets with cops, ensuring that no FIR was even registered in the case.

Several women from Pilibhit spoke of the harassment of peasant women in the name of the Tiger Reserve. "When we collect firewood and other small forest produce," said Halka Devi, "the forest officers and cops sexually molest us and beat us up. If we complain they say, don't come into the forest if you don't like it. How can we survive without firewood?"

AIPWA activist Saroj from Ghazipur spoke of a series of attacks on women that showed the deep nexus of cops with criminal elements. Jeera Devi was beaten by criminal Sanjay Singh, who was not arrested. Kamrunnissa and her son were beaten up by cops and warned not to complain against criminal elements.

AIPWA activist Anita from Mirzapur and Sarojini from Sitapur testified to more incidents, speaking of the experience of supporting survivors of violence. One woman from Sitapur spoke of how her 14 year old daughter was raped. She identified the rapists but the cops delayed filing a case for 2 days. On the third day they demanded Rs 8000 as a bribe. Rs 4000 was paid, and the FIR lodged, but the family was coerced into saying that no rape had occurred, and the FIR did not mention rape!  AIPWA activists and CPI(ML) took up this case and are in the process of fighting for justice, with the 14 year old survivor very bravely standing firm.

Arti Rai, AIPWA VP, also spoke of the situation in the state, where both SP and BJP, State and Central Governments seem more interested in moral policing than in defending women's rights.

Speakers discussed the experiences of the Badayun and Mohanlalganj rape and murder cases, pointing out that neither UP cops nor CBI seemed interested in justice for the victims. Instead these cases were being sensationalized and distorted. And in Meerut and Muzaffarnagar, rape complaints were being communalized by the RSS and BJP to serve the BJP's political agenda.

The main speaker was Kavita Krishnan, secretary AIPWA, who pointed out that neither state nor central governments were spending on more shelters for women and more courts to ensure speedy trials. Neither was taking action against errant cops or ensuring accountable policing. Rather, the UP Government was busy making atrocious sexist comments to make rapes appear 'normal'. While the Modi Government, to cover up its lack of action on urgent measures, was instead amending the dowry and domestic violence Acts to make it more difficult for women to get justice and protection under these Acts. She slammed the Government's move to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, saying that sending juvenile offenders to jail would only turn them into hardened criminals, and would make women no safer. Further, she pointed out that a large number of 'rape' cases involving juveniles are actually elopement cases, which have been criminalized by the raising of age of consent. Now, if the JJ Act is amended, such innocent young boys who have been affectionate with a girl of same age, might not only be booked for rape but even jailed! Kavita warned of the attempts by RSS and other groups to take away women's freedom to marry by choice, by raising the bogey of love jehad. Such a charged communal atmosphere, she said, will make it difficult for women to choose their own partners from another religion; but also make it difficult for them to complain against rape for fear of communalization.

AIPWA State President Tahira Hasan and Secretary Geeta Pande as well as AIPWA National Executive member Vidya Rajwar, and CPI(ML) CC Member Krishna Adhikari  addressed the gathering.

The event was also addressed by distinguished women's rights activists Prof Rooprekha varma, Nivedita from NFIW, Sudha from Humsafar, Anupama from Save Womnen, Naz from Bahin and Gita Singh from Domestic Workers' organization.      

Red Salute to Comrade Tripti Trivedi

Comrade Tripti Trivedi, health workers' national leader and senior CPI(ML) leader, passed away on 25 July 2014 after a battle with cancer. He was born in Murshidabad district and at a young age was drawn to rationalist ideas and progressive thought. In the late 1960s he joined the Naxalbari movement when he was studying to be a doctor in the RG Kar Medical College. 

Later he worked as a part time party organizer in Jalpaiguri town of North Bengal. He took admission in Jalpaiguri Pharmacology college from where he graduated.

In 1974-76 he began working in the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), where after some years he felt ht need to form a workers' union. This was easier said than done, but Comrade Tripti worked very hard to form Unions of CGHS all over the country. Through the union – the All India CGHS Employees Union - he helped organize workers to raise various questions of health workers. The Union affiliated itself with the AICCTU. Comrade Tripti helped establish a women's unit of the Union that worked with AIPWA and AICCTU. Eventually Comrade Triti helped establish the Health Workers' Federation nationally. Tripti da retired in 2006 and worked as the party's district secretary in Murshidabad.

Comrade Tripti Da's energy and commitment is an inspiration to us all. Long Live Comrade Tripti Da!


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