Friday, December 16, 2016

Reject the Modi Emergency,
Resist the Demonetization Disaster!
(Pledge Day Call issued by the Central Committee of CPI-ML on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the passing of Comrade Vinod Mishra)

The Modi government at the Centre has completed half of its 5-year term. During the first two years, the government remained largely busy with populist programmes like Swachh Bharat and Digital India campaigns, Jan Dhan Yojana and so on while the extra-parliamentary complement of the new dispensation, the Sangh brigade, which has now been bestowed an unprecedentedly overt say in the functioning of the government, went on unleashing its vicious agenda, item by item, from 'love jihad' to cow vigilantism to all kinds of moral and thought policing, with the tacit and sometimes open support of the PM. With the crucial UP elections round the corner - victory in which can give the BJP a much stronger presence in the Rajya Sabha and facilitate various constitutional changes the party is known to be contemplating in accordance with the RSS agenda - the government now seems to be in a definite hurry.
The two so-called 'surgical strikes’ in the recent past, the first allegedly on terrorists across the LoC and the second apparently on black money held inside the country, have been the biggest talking points of the Modi government till date. Both have proved to be thoroughly ineffective in terms of meeting their stated objectives. Attacks on Indian bases are continuing, Nagrota being the most glaring example after Uri and soldiers continue to lose their lives. And the Sangh brigade uses these attacks either to foment jingoistic frenzy or to silence every expression of dissent and grievance of the Indian people by invoking the sacrifice of the soldiers on the border.
The second strike came in the form of a sudden scrapping of notes of the two biggest denominations of Rs 500 and 1000. The move has inflicted enormous pain on the common people, and with an acute shortage of new notes to replace the scrapped currency, the cash-dependent sections of the population, virtually 9 out of every 10, are suffering from  a debilitating cash crunch. And with every passing day it is becoming clear that the cash crunch is just the gateway to a much bigger and graver economic crisis hitting production and employment, and hence income and mass consumption across the board. The government initially talked about momentary inconvenience for a few days, but the pain is now threatening to become chronic and the damage permanent and irreparable.
The original stated purpose of the note ban exercise - neutralizing black money and counterfeit currency - now seems to be only an excuse. The government itself has offered to launder black money at just 5 per cent higher rate than the income disclosure scheme earlier on offer. People like Mahesh Shah who declared a black income of Rs 13800 crore, openly saying that the money belonged to politicians and businessmen, are being let off and the declarations dismissed without any investigation. We also know how ahead of the November 8 announcement, across the country the BJP converted huge sums of money into landed property and how BJP leaders are now being spotted with lakhs and crores of rupees in the newly introduced 2000 rupee notes. While common people had to defer weddings and were deprived of medical care owing to lack of cash, the likes of Janardan Reddy and Nitin Gadkari hosted royal weddings spending a fortune.
When the entire country complained about the utter lack of preparation of the Modi government, the Finance Minister said the preparation could not possibly have been better and Modi said only the corrupt hoarders of black money who could not make arrangements to save their black money were complaining. And now when it is becoming clear that almost the entire amount of scrapped currency is set to return to the banking system, putting paid to speculation and rumours of large-scale decimation of hoarded cash, Modi is incriminating Jan Dhan Accounts as repositories of black money. While thus inflicting immense pain and insult on the poor, Modi has however also launched a major emotional propaganda campaign to project himself as a messiah of the poor, cashing in on the poor's inherent anger against corruption and the growing inequality in society.
One important purpose behind the massive exercise of scrapping big notes seems to have been to bail out the banks which have been looted by India's big corporate houses and crooks like Vijay Mallya who was made a Rajya Sabha MP by the BJP and allowed to flee the country by the Modi government. Risky loans worth Rs 11 lakh crore have been extended over the years to the corporate sector, which are now being systematically written off in a phased manner. Note ban has sucked in all the savings of the common people, and the improved liquidity of the banks will now be translated again into cheap loans to the rich and the corrupt. Apart from injecting fresh capital into the banks, demonetization is also aimed at giving a big push to the digital India campaign and the entire gamut of pro-corporate economic reforms establishing greater corporate control over the entire economy. Everything small-scale, from small agriculture and trade to small industries and various enterprises and occupations in the informal sector, will now have to fight hard for sheer survival in the face of heightened corporate aggression.
By all indications, India is now in the grip of a veritable Modi Emergency. Police repression is on the increase everywhere, the broad daylight killing of eight young undertrials who were claimed to have escaped from the Bhopal central jail, the midnight assault on peaceful anti-eviction protesters in Barkagaon and the escalation of the war on the Kashmiri people demanding self-determination clearly announce the arrival of a police state. The systematic gagging of media freedom and citizens' right to freedom of expression, and deliberate devaluation and evasion of parliamentary accountability by the Prime Minister and his cabinet are also tell-tale signs of an autocratic regime. The advisories being issued on a daily basis also remind us of the coercive days of Indira Emergency.
Of course, the current Emergency is still formally undeclared. But that aside, we can clearly see some other major differences with the Indira-Sanjay era of 1975 Emergency. The economic discourse then revolved around the public sector, land reforms and socialistic welfare. Today it is all about land acquisition, free market and corporate-led 'development'. The foreign policy then was marked by India's close proximity to the Soviet Union, today it is all about a strategic alliance with the United States and Israel. With the victory of Trump in the American presidential election, we are going to see an unmitigated reign of racism and Islamophobia, and there is now every possibility of a rabidly Islamophobic convergence between the Trump Presidency and the Modi government, albeit in the name of a shared battle against terrorism. And last but not least, while Indira Gandhi's Emergency regime had only the Youth Congress as the extra-constitutional wing, the Modi regime has the backing of the entire Sangh brigade, with any number of RSS affiliates openly dictating and enforcing government policies and what passes for 'law and order' in the country. In fact, the government has become the implementing agency for corporate interests and the RSS agenda and the two are increasingly coalescing within a single integrated framework.
The Indian people are of course very much alive to this danger and we can see powerful resistance developing on many fronts. The land acquisition ordinance had to be consigned to the waste paper basket in the face of determined protests by the peasantry. The repressive tactic of sedition charges has been valiantly rebuffed by the student community and the democratic intelligentsia. The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the Una incident of brutal assault on four Dalit youths have given rise to a powerful new phase of Dalit awakening in the country. And as India reels under the Modi-made economic disaster of demonetization, protests have begun to intensify defying the systematic propagation of lies by the Sangh brigade whether through its own network or through the media. Revolutionary communists must work hard to bring about a growing convergence of these diverse strands of struggle in a powerful stream of popular resistance.
On the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the passing of Comrade Vinod Mishra, let us pledge our fullest might and best efforts to the task of saving India from the menace of the Modi Emergency, from the growing threat of corporate-communal fascism. The current year is also the 50th anniversary of the great Naxalbari uprising and the centenary of the Great November Revolution. It is our responsibility to carry forward the great revolutionary legacy and rise to the occasion. The year 2015 saw the Modi government suffer decisive defeats in the Assembly elections in Delhi and Bihar. 2017 begins with elections to the state Assemblies of UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur. For the people who are paying the biggest price for the Modi government's demonetization disaster, this is a great payback opportunity and we must make sure that the suffering of the people is translated into yet another roaring rebuff for the BJP.
ML Update
A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 19, No. 51, 13 ­– 19 DECEMBER 2016

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