Friday, December 12, 2014

ML Update | No. 50 | 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.  17 | No. 50 | 9 - 15 DEC 2014

Hate-Speech Reflects BJP's Ideology and Politics, Not Niranjan Jyoti's Social Background

Campaigning for the BJP towards the Delhi Assembly elections, the Modi Government's Minister of State for Food Processing, asked voters to choose between a Government of 'Ramzade' (sons of Ram) and 'Haramzade' (bastards). This was not just a case of the use of an abusive word. Questioned by a journalist, she elaborated her meaning on camera. She said that "Muslims and Christians are also sons of Ram – and if they don't believe this, they can't believe in the nation either".

As an outcry rose nationally demanding the sacking of this Minister, the Minister issued a vague and general 'apology' in case she had 'hurt anyone's feelings'. Subsequently, the Prime Minister told the Parliament to forgive and forget the Minister's lapse, since she was a novice, a first-time MP, and a village woman. The BJP also hinted that the Minister was being singled out and targeted by the Opposition because she was from an extremely backward caste.

The Prime Minister's explanation is an insult to the women of India's villages. Niranjan Jyoti's foul-mouthed hate-speech was not learnt by her in any village. It is systematically imparted by the RSS through its network of outfits. And this can easily be proved by looking at the track record of utterances of various BJP and Sangh leaders.

On 21 November 2013, a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, Ram Pratap Chauhan made remarks identical to Niranjan Jyoti's – at the Vijay Shankhnaad Rally in Agra in the presence of Narendra Modi. Modi had also addressed the same rally, held to felicitate Muzaffarnagar riots accused Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana. Modi, at the time, made no objection to Chauhan's 'Ramzade/Haramzade' remark and his distinction between 'nationalist Muslims' who are devotees of Ram, and the anti-national ones who do not identify with Ram.

Ram Pratap Chauhan also repeated the very same 'action-reaction' hate-speech formula that Modi himself had voiced to justify the Gujarat 2002 communal pogrom.

In 2011, Subramaniam Swamy wrote an article in an English daily, advocating to "declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus". In 2013, Swamy joined the BJP and is one of their most-seen faces on national television.

In July 2014, Goa's Deputy CM from the BJP, Francis D'Souza, said that "India is already a Hindu nation and all Indians in Hindustan are Hindus".  

What is most offensive and unpardonable about Niranjan Jyoti's words is not just the abusive word 'bastards'. It is her declaration that non-Hindus who fail to identify as descendants of Ram, are not true citizens of India. This declaration goes against the spirit of India's Constitution. And this declaration is one that is routinely made by BJP leaders, including Ram Pratap Chauhan, Subramaniam Swamy or Francis D'Souza.

These are not random rants by individual maverick leaders. They reflect the core ideology of the RSS. The second RSS Sarsanghchalak, M.S. Golwalkar had written, "the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen's rights". What Swamy or Niranjan Jyoti or Ram Pratap Chauhan say, is a mere paraphrasing of this openly fascist declaration by their hero, the RSS chief Golwalkar.

Golwalkar's successor, the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat said in August 2014, "Hindustan is a Hindu nation... the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture".

The divisive idea of a Hindu Rashtra where religious minorities will be denied equal citizenship, is a core principle and goal of the RSS and the BJP. But Modi as PM has to ask Niranjan Jyoto to avoid such utterances, thanks to the fact that this idea is violently at odds with India's Constitution. Niranjan Jyoti, addressing a rally in Trilokpuri in Delhi, an area recovering from communal violence fomented by the BJP, mocked at people who "took offence" to her remarks, and said that her message remained the same, but "a gesture is enough for the intelligent".   

What emboldens hate-speech in India, is the fact that it has gone unpunished, even in the most blatant of instances.

Addressing an election meeting during Lok Sabha campaigns, the BJP President Amit Shah referred to Muslims as "the community that rapes our mothers and daughters". In the same election campaign, Modi himself referred to the Muslim community as "those who slaughter cows" (failing to mention, of course, that Hindu ritual in Nepal demands the mass annual slaughter of buffaloes).

In September 2002, during the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra post the 2002 pogrom, Modi himself asked, "Do we go and run relief camps? Should we open child producing centres? Hum paanch, humare pachees (We five, our 25) Is family planning not necessary in Gujarat? Where does religion come in its way? Where does community come in its way?" Modi, now India's Prime Minister, made this offensive reference to the relief camps for the riot-affected Muslims!

By allowing Niranjan Jyoti to remain in her post as Minister, Modi and his Government have proved that behind all their talk of 'development', sowing hate to reap votes remains a staple strategy of the BJP and its parent Sangh Parivar. The struggle to resist the politics of hatemongering and assert a robust democratic commitment to the Constitutional equality and rights for people of all faiths, will continue. 

Massive Nationwide Protests on 22nd Anniversary Of Babri Masjid Demolition

6 December 2014 was the 22nd anniversary of the day the Babri Masjid was demolished by frenzied mobs led by leaders of the RSS, VHP, BJP, Bajrang Dal and various affiliates of the Sangh Parivar. 22 years since that horrific assault on the democratic and secular fabric of the country, the perpetrators of the Babri Masjid demolition not just remain unpunished, but are now well-entrenched in the top echelons  of power in the state machinery. Moreover, in the current climate of systematic hate-mongering and low-intensity communal conflict in Delhi towards the Assembly elections, as well as in many other states, the occasion of 6 December was extremely relevant. Across the country, massive protests were thus held this year, demanding justice and unity against communal hate-mongering and violence, against state terror and for rebuilding a just society.  The protests that resonated on 6 December this year demanded punishment for the perpetrators of the Babri demolition, radical political reforms to truly empower people and build a modern and civilized India, and for legislation and mechanisms to prevent state-organised communal violence.

In Delhi, several organizations – left parties and progressive organizations, women's groups, civil rights and human rights groups and secular and democratic individuals and organizations – came together to march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML), AIPWA, AISA, JNUSU and AICCTU, as well as Lok Raj Sangathan, Citizens for Democracy, DSF, Left Collective, SUCI (Communist), Communist Ghadar Party of India, Socialist Party of India, Association for Protection of Civil Rights, All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat, Welfare Party of India, National Patriotic Peoples Front, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Peoples Movement against UAPA and many others participated in this march which culminated in a massive gathering at Jantar Mantar. CPI(ML) politburo member Comrade Kavita Krishnan, addressing the gathering, pointed out that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's recent 'ramzada' and 'haramzada' comments were no aberration, and in fact were a clear reflection of the RSS's founding tenets. Lambasting Prime Minister Modi's efforts to characterize the sadhvi's comments as the 'inexperienced' response of a rural woman from a deprived background, Comrade Kavita said that such justifications were in fact an insult to the poor working women of this country. The sadhvi's comments were nothing to do with her rural or caste background, and everything to do with her ideological affiliation to the RSS. AISA leader Comrade Shweta also addressed the meeting, highlighting the Modi's government's efforts to rewrite history and project a communal, distorted and divisive notion of our collective histories.

In Lucknow, various Left parties – including the CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C) and Forward Block held a joint culminating in a protest demonstration at the state's Vidhan Sabha, demanding punishment to the perpetrators of the Babri demolition, and also strong actions against communal hate speech and riot mongering. An effigy of communal fascism was burnt, and the protestors also demanded the removal of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti as a Minister in the central government for her unconstitutional hate speech. The protest was led by CPI's Mohd. Khaliq, CPI(M)'s district secretary Pradeep Sharma, CPI(ML)'s district in-charge Ramesh Singh Sengar, SUCI(C)'s  Jagannath Verma and Forward Block's Radheshyam Verma.

In Kolkata, 17 Left Parties together held a grand rally along Kolkata's Central Avenue all the way from Mahajati Sadan to Rabindra Sadan on 6 December to give a strong rebuff to the Sangh Parivar fascists. This massive rally in which an estimated 50,000 people participated under the joint leadership of CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), SUCI(C), Forward Block and RSP, was held barely a week after BJP chief Amit Shah's rally in Kolkata. The rally highlighted the resistance to BJP and Sangh Parivar's attempts to flare up communal tensions and Islamophobia in the state after the Burdwan blasts on the issues of 'illegal immigrants' (an euphemism for Muslims living in areas adjacent to the Bangladesh border), 'terrorism' and 'love jihad'.

Leaders of all the left parties gave brief addresses at the culmination point. In his address CPI(ML) state secretary comrade Partha Ghosh emphasized on three points. First, he reiterated the demand for the punishment of the Sangh-BJP masterminds of Babri Masjid demolition and the ensuing riots. Second, he called the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC's anti-communalism rally (on the same day) a 'farce' since the TMC, which has been assaulting democracy and butchering democratic rights in West Bengal, cannot claim simultaneously to put up any fight against fascism. He also pointed out the TMC's abominable record of participating in the erstwhile NDA government and keeping silent after the 2002 Gujarat riots. Third, he asserted that the struggle against corporate-communal fascism cannot be won by tailing behind the Congress or other bourgeois parties which are themselves responsible for corporate loot and communal assaults on the people of India. Protests were also held in other states, and more reports of the same will be published in the forthcoming issues of the ML Update.

Workers' All India Protest Day Observed on 5 December

On the call of 11 Central Trade Unions, massive protest demonstrations, rallies and dharnas were held by workers across the country on the All India Protest Day on 5 December 2014, against anti-worker amendments in labour laws, further enhancing of disinvestment of PSUs including financial sectors, hiking/allowing FDI in strategic sectors such as Defence, Insurance and Railways and other anti-worker, pro-corporate measures of the Central government. The call was given by central trade unions including AICCTU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC, LPF and various independent Employees Federations and Associations of Banks, Insurance, Defence, Telecommunications and other sectors. Held at the end of 6 months of the Modi government, this was the first united action of the Indian working class at the national level, in which several thousands of workers participated. Apart from capital city, Delhi, protest programmes were held in various state capitals and other cities including Patna, Raipur, Bhuvaneshwar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Puducherry, Mumbai, Jaipur, Kanpur and Haldwani. Programmes were also held at district headquarters in various states. AICCTU was actively involved in all initiatives to ensure success of this joint protest.

During the joint protest held in Delhi, near the Parliament, trade union leaders lambasted the move of central and some state governments to amend labour laws like the Factories Act, CLARA, Apprentices Act and the ID Act and to bring in new pro-employer legislations such as the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) bill. Trade union leaders pointed out that all these amendments are aimed at empowering the employers to retrench and close industrial establishments, to have a free hand to hire and fire workers, to ensure mass scale contractualisation and to remove more than 70 per cent of industrial and service establishments out of purview of almost all labour laws. They also raised serious concerns over the move of the President of India to give assent to the recent anti-labour Rajasthan amendments made on the recommendations of the Cabinet. The leaders expressed dismay over the government's total inaction to the various demands of trade unions, including ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs 15000 per month, granting worker status to over 10 millions employed in various schemes of the government, employment generation, compulsory registration of Trade Unions and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.  AICCTU national secretary Comrade Rajiv Dimri addressed the rally in New Delhi on behalf of AICCTU.

On 5 December a joint trade union protest was also organised in front of the Raj Nivas at Puducherry. The Central Trade Unions including AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, INTUC, BMS, ATP, MLF and the BSNL Unions took part in this protest.  The protest was led by MLF leader Comrade Gabriel.  The state level leaders of  various unions, along with workers and cadres, protested against the anti labour policies of the Central and State Governments. Addressing the protest, National Secretary of AICCTU Comrade S. Balasubramanian attacked the Modi Government's so-called labour 'reforms' and demanded immediate withdrawal of all amendments recently made in various Acts and withdrawal of new Labour Bills. 

In Lucknow, various trade unions called for a march which began from the Charbagh railway station and went through Hussain Ganj to the premises of the state legislative assembly. AICCTU's Comrade Ramesh Singh Sengar as well Surendra Prasad addressed the protest. After the protest, a detailed charter of demands was handed over to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary.

AICCTU Rally in Kolkata Rejects Modimix of Labour Reforms and Communalism

On 8 December, just two days after the Babri Masjid demolition day, workers from various sectors such as tea gardens, jute, construction, hosiery, power, coliery, defence, railways and transport along with mid-day meal, ASHA, anganwadi and beedi workers, street vendors, domestic workers, government employees and workers who were employed in mills which have now been shut down, assembled on Rani Rashmani Road in the heart of Esplanade in Kolkata. Earlier in the day, several rallies – most notably those starting off from Howrah and Sealdah railway stations – brought busy city roads to a standstill and culminated at the assembly point. Pressing issues of concern in various sectors were discussed and points of struggle charted out in speeches given by leaders of the respective sectors. In the Jute sector it was resolved to defeat the Central government's buckling under pressure from the polythene lobby and its attempt to remove the government's regulatory bindings on the exclusive usage of jute bags in transporting food grains. Comrades Omprakash Rajbhar – jute worker and leader, Basudeb Bose, Atanu Chakrabarty, Kishore Sarkar, Dibakar Bhattacharjee, Meena Pal, Nabendu Dasgupta addressed the assembly, along with CPI(ML) state secretary Comrade Partha Ghosh. Four political resolutions were passed unanimously by workers. They rejected the communal polarization by the Sangh brigade and vowed to intensify working class resistance against corporate-communal fascism. It was resolved to fight back the Labour law reforms proposed by the Central government. The rally rejected undemocratic anti-labour measures of the Mamata Banerjee government like curbing the freedom of press and pledged to rollback the anti-peasant West Bengal Agricultural Marketing Bill that the state government has tabled in the state assembly. The rally also resolved to support the upcoming Taxi strike and join hands with the fighting Taxi workers. A heavy presence of women workers marked the rally.

JNUSU Organises Convention "Re-imagining India, Reclaiming the Republic"

Onwards to 6 December, the Anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, and also the death anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, JNUSU organized a convention in JNU on 5 December on "Re-imagining India, reclaiming the Republic". In the first session of the convention, Anand Patwardhan well-acclaimed documentary 'Raam ke Naam' was screened. Prof. T.K. Oomen, Prof. Harbans Mukhia, Prof. Tanika Sarkar, Prof. Achin Vanaik, Prof. Atul Sood, Prof Jayati Ghosh and Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV addressed the second session of the convention where various contemporary concerns such as communalization of society, saffronisation of education, and pro-corporate economic policies were highlighted and discussed. Prof. Tanika Sarkar spoke on teaching pedagogy in RSS schools – elaborating on distortion of Vedic texts, vilification of Muslims and Christians and the venomous content. Prof. Harbans Mukhia pointed out the inverse relationship between geographical spread of Muslim rule in India and concentration of Muslims, and the rise in population of Muslims during the British rule in India, thus dispelling the RSS propaganda of 'Islamic conversion by the sword'. Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV talked of the corporate control over media and the ensuing challenges for democracy. Prof. Jayati Ghosh and Prof. Atul Sood elaborated on the economic priorities of the Modi government and the implications of these policies for the agricultural sector and for workers and the poor and the deprived sections of Indian society. The programme was conducted by JNUSU President Ashutosh. 

Protests against Uber Rape Case in Delhi, demanding government accountability

In the wake of a horrific rape in Delhi by a taxi driver of the Uber multinational cab service provider, AISA, AIPWA and JNUSU held protests on 7 December, demanding strong action and accountability of various Ministries of the government which routinely allow unregulated, unsafe and unlicensed service providers to operate. JNUSU called for a protest at the Delhi Police headquarters at ITO – highlighting the fact that the police had allowed not just Uber, but several other cab services to blissfully violate several established rules, regulations and norms set by the government.  

Addressing the protest, JNUSU Vice President Anant Prakash Narayan pointed out that there are many reasons why this is not just the individual rapist whom we need to hold responsible, but the Government. To begin with, the driver accused in the present case had also been accused of rape previously in 2011. Yet, the Delhi Police, which works under the Home Ministry, gave a 'character certificate' to this driver, with no accountability being fixed. Secondly, cab companies operate in India by openly floating a host of laws. Ola, Uber and Meru Genie, for instance, pose as 'software providers' and not cab operators to circumvent Central Motor Vehicles Act. These cab companies don't have permits under Delhi Radio Taxi Scheme 2006 or Economy Radio Taxi Scheme 2010. Yet, the Ministries whose job it is to regulate these companies – the Transport Ministry and the Home Ministry – remain silent and allow the companies to make profits.

AISA leader Shweta Raj pointed out that the whole issue wasn't just about Uber. It was about why an unregulated regime is provided to companies whose services directly affect the safety of Indian citizens. She asserted the need to keep asking such questions even in the context of factories and environmental regulations, because the present government is busy dismantling the meagre regulations (labour laws and environment laws) that existed, inviting companies to Make Money in India, assuring them of cheap lives, cheap labour, cheap land – in the process jeopardizing Indian citizens at workplaces and polluted habitats. JNUSU general secretary Chintu said that just as in December 2012 the government had refused to accept accountability, we are now hearing the same deafening silence from the Home Minister, Transport Minister and Prime Minister, who are washing their hands off their criminal failure to ensure safe transport in Delhi and India.

Protests in Delhi in solidarity with ongoing anti-racist protests in the US

Over the past couple of weeks, even as massive anti-racist protests have emerged on the streets of various towns and cities in the US, students and youth in Delhi have been organizing protests in solidarity. After the horrific verdict of the grand jury in Ferguson, which ruled that criminal charges would not be brought against police officer Darren Wilson who had fired 12 rounds of bullets into the body of Michael Brown, a vigil and public meeting was called on 29 November at the Ganga Dhaba in JNU by several concerned individuals and anti-racist activists. Several student groups, including AISA and the JNU Students' Union, participated in this well-attended protest meeting. After the recent verdict where yet another grand jury (this time in New York) refused to press charges against a police officer who choked another black man Eric Garner to death, a protest was called at the US embassy in Delhi on 8 December. The Delhi Police repeatedly tried to prevent the protest from happening – the bus carrying the protestors was detained no less than three times. The protestors were threatened with detention, while a truck bearing a water-canon followed the protestors' bus. Yet, the determined protestors refused to relent, and insisted on holding their protest. The protest was finally held at the Carmel Convent School near the US embassy. American as well as Indian students spoke on the rampant militarization and white-supremacy in the US, as well as revitalized casteism and racism in the Indian context.

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