A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 3; No.48;6-12-2000
Reaffirm the Commitment to Secularism and Democracy and Unite to Defeat Communal Fascism
Every year since 1992, December 6 reminds us of the darkest day in the post-independence Indian history when the social fabric of our national unity and integrity was torn asunder and the very foundation of our secular democracy was shaken to the core by communal vandals. Every year since then Left and progressive forces observe the day to renew their commitment to the twin ideals of secularism and democracy. This year, however, observance of the day has gathered an added significance because, feeling comfortable with the so-called relative stability of Vajpayee-led NDA government, Sangh Parivar has moved considerably forward on the course to found a Hindu Rashtra.
Firstly, the RSS chief on the 75th anniversary of this mother organisation of Sangh Parivar audaciously sermonised Christians and Muslims to Indianise (read Hinduise) themselves following the lead from China and Malaysia. Secondly, physical attacks on Churches and other Christians institutions have increased in frequency and spread, while Muslims in their turn, apart from facing by now common attacks on their religious sites, are being threatened in a regular periodicity with construction of the temple at the site of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Recently RSS has announced to hold "Sankalp Diwas" at Ayodhya on 6 December to further heighten the tension in an already charged atmosphere of UP. Thirdly, not only persons accused and jailed in Babri Masjid demolition case, against whom a commission is still holding enquiry, are adorning the seats of Home Minister and Human Resource Development Minister, recently the government has still more brazenly awarded gubernatorial post to a co-accused in the demolition case. Prabhat Kumar, the Home Secretary of UP during Babri Masjid demolition days and now governor of the newly formed state of Jharkhand, has thus been immunized from facing a commission of enquiry.
It has already been vindicated that "Swadeshi" of the RSS does in no way stand in contradiction with US-worship and "videshikaran" of our economy (making it run by foreign forces in their own interest) pushing aside self-reliance. One after another act of surrender to the multinationals is being staged at the corridors of Union Cabinet and people in both cities and countryside are ruthlessly being made victim of this draconian drama.
However, the craze for the BJP rule has taken a steep decline in the meantime. Public resentments and outbursts can be witnessed in the streets anywhere and everywhere. On its own home front, not only Kalyan Singh, the chief architect of December 6 demolition in capacity of the then BJP chief minister of UP, has deserted the BJP, there are incidences of dissidence and desertions galore within.
Sangh Parivar by its nature can never be expected to make a retreat on its basic agenda, the agenda by now seventy-five years old. The more it becomes desperate on disinvestment, the more it would push the Mandir agenda to the fore in hundred and one ways. Expression of apparent uneasiness, though not by way of disapproval, over occasionally odd utterances of RSS, by a few senior BJP leaders including Mr. Vajpayee in the initial days are no more forthcoming nowadays. Rather BJP spokesmen endorsed the RSS chief on Indianisation of Muslims and Christians. Thus, there can be no justification in downplaying the significance of secular-democratic assetion to counter the newer communal stratagems being hatched by Sangh Parivar under the shadow of Union government. Nor can one allow turning the observance of December 6 into a ritual in any respect. In the context of building a modern state in India, it is becoming increasingly clearer that there is no dichotomy between "secular" and democratic". Left, democratic and patriotic forces throughout the country must renew their alertness and determination to strengthen mutual bonds, an effort CPI(ML) welcomes wholeheartedly and shares too.
CPI(ML) Condemns Killings in Assam
Party strongly condemned the killings in Bongaigaon and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam on Dec.1 by murderous anti-people gangs ULFA and UPDS. Party also criticised the Assam government for its total failure in providing minimum safety and security to the common people and demanded a time-bound enquiry on the underhand relations of Cong(I), BJP and AGP leaders with the so-called extremist groups in Assam. The murder of J.M. Basumatary, an Executive Member of Autonomous District Council of Karbi Anglong, in his official flat in the heart of the district headquarter town of Diphu is a pointer to the fact that no life is safe there. Party suspects this might be result of a dangerous gameplan of our political opponents who are working hand in glove with the so-called extremist UPDS and are desperate to destabilize the CPI(ML)-ASDC dominated autonomous council by hook or by crook. Party and ASDC observed "jail bharo" on Dec.1 and called upon the people of Karbi Anglong to observe bandh on Dec.3 as a mark of protest against Basumatary's killing.
AICCTU Supports Nationwide Postal Strike
All-India Central Council of Trade Unions expressed full support and solidarity to the nationwide strike of postal employees called by Joint Council of Action on 5 December and condemned the government for going back on the commitments made before Parliament and the Postal unions, particularly leaving the demands of over three lakh rural postmen or extra-departmental staff totally unaddressed.
Rasta Roko Campaign in North Bengal
In North Dinajpur district of West Bengal, the 'rasta roko' campaign on 20 Nov. was observed in Goalpukur, Karandighi, Itahar, Kaliaganj, Hematabad where many comrades were arrested for obstructing the highways. The campaign was launched in protest to steep hike in the prices of petroleum products. In Raiganj, a procession was taken out from the Party office and then the highway was blocked even as armed police reached the spot. District leaders including Secy. Com. Ajit Das addressed the agitators at various places.
Party in UP Urban Local Bodies Elections
In U.P., CPI(ML) for the first time participated as a recognised party in the urban local bodies elections with its election symbol, i.e., flag with three stars on it. The party made considerable efforts in launching its political propaganda wherever it fielded its candidates but this could not be translated into votes due to weakness of organisational network. For the post of Mayor, Party received 2488 votes in Kanpur, 1283 votes in Allahabad and 1243 votes in Varanasi. For the post of Chairman of Municipal Council, Party got 586, 148, 138 and 100 in Mughal Sarai, Ballia, Puranpur (Pilibhit) and Karnalganj (Gonda). And for the post of Chairman of Town Area, Party got 1018 votes in Maniar, 300 in Pipri (Sonebhadra) and 81 in Zamania (Ghazipur). There was no alliance with Left parties in these elections but interaction with ranks at the grassroots could make some headway.
In its National Council meeting recently held at Patna, AIPWA decided to observe Dec. 15 as 'Protest Day' all over the country against NDA govt. befooling the women on reservation bill. Hundreds of letters were faxed to Lok Sabha speaker on 4 Dec. demanding passage of the bill in its current session in its original form. AIPWA will launch a campaign from 4 to 18 Dec. through protest marches, dharnas and meetings to oppose price hike in petro-products.
It was decided that 3rd National Conference of AIPWA will be held in Patna in early 2001 centering on the issues of impact of globalisation and growing fascist onslaught on women. AIPWA also flayed Rabri Govt. of Bihar for scrapping the provision of 33% reservation in panchayats in the forthcoming panchayat elections saying that it is blatant violation of democracy and gender justice.
District conference of AIPWA, held in Nawada of Bihar was on 30 Nov., was inaugurated by AIPWA state secretary Com. Saroj Chaube. The central theme was equal opportunities and rights to women. A rally was also brought out before the conference. An 11-member committee was formed with Sudama Devi and Sumitra Devi as president and secretary respectively.
Jharkhand Rally in Ranchi
Party organised a massive "Jharkhand Navanirman (Reconstruction) Rally" at Morhabadi Maidan in Ranchi, the capital of the newly formed state, on 30 Nov., participated in by more than 10,000 workers, peasants, adivasis, women and youth. Addressing the rally Com. Dipankar, Gen. Secy. of CPI(ML) said, that only the militant struggle by Left and other progressive forces against communal riot-mongers and mafia-looters can really transform Jharkhand. He said that the NDA has imposed a puppet government on this belatedly formed state that is avowedly subservient to the multinational and mafias. Revealing the design of BJPgovt behind installing Prabhat Kumar as the governor of Jharkhand, he said that this man was Home Secy. of UP when Babri Masjid was demolished and later he was awarded the post of cabinet secretary. Now he has been appointed the governor of Jharkhand so that he may work as an RSS agent with immunity to infuse communal venom in this state. The BJP govt here wants to drive a wedge between Christians and adivasis on the one hand and Hindus and Muslims on the other, and it has given a free hand to multinationals and mafias. Jharkhand belongs to the toilers and not to the corrupt and dishonest politicians who have set their vulturous eyes on the newly formed state, he said while putting forth CPI(ML)'s vision of a people's Jharkhand.
Com. Jayanta Rongpi, CC member and M.P., Com. DP Buxi, Polit Bureau Member-in-charge of Jharkhand, Com. Ram Naresh Ram, PB member and leader of Bihar Legislature Party, Com. Mahendra Singh, CC member and MLA, Com. Suvendu Sen, CC member and Secy. of Jharkhand State Committee, and other leaders addressed the rally. CPI legislator Bhuneshwar Mahato also joined in the rally and addressed the meeting.
At the meeting Jharkahnd Bandh was declared on Dec. 6 to pressurize the demand of recall of the controversial governor Prabhat Kumar and protest against the communal divided being created by Sangh Parivar. An appeal was made to all the secular and progressive forces to support the call and make it a resounding success.
Seminar on Prevention of Flood in West Bengal
On Dec.1, Deshabrati, organ of West Bengal State Committee, organised a seminar at Moulali Youth Centre, Calcutta on "Recurrent flood: reasons and prevention". Experts on river and river-tide like Tapobrata Sannyal, Bholanath Aich, Kalyan Rudra and social activist Sukhendu Bhattacharya addressed the seminar. On behalf of Deshabrati, Com. Animesh Chakraborty spoke in the seminar. While Tapobrata Sannyal stressed on building large number of small reservoirs to contain flood water instead of erecting large dams as a long term measure and as a immediate measure on promoting the 'River Research Institute' to an autonomous body for an effective and multipurpose study and research, Bholanath Aich put importance on building sufficient number of flood shelters in flood-prone areas. Kalyan Rudra opined that instead of blaming nature goverment should be blamed for its ignorance and callousness on river management. Animesh Chakraborty in his speech stressed on the need to constitute a commission comprising the experts by the state govt. to effectively prevent the flood and effective use of water resource. He appealed to create mass opinion to pressurize the govt. for this purpose. Com. Arijit Mitra presided over the seminar and thanked the participants.
Agitation Against Eviction
Left Front Govt. in collusion with Calcutta Corporation, run by Trinamul Congress, has started evicting thousands of inhabitants residing beside the 'Tally Nala' (a canal) in the name of reclamation of the canal and expansion of Metro rail. Demanding that the evicted poor families must be properly rehabilitated, ten organisations of different localities formed a 'United Forum' for launching a widespread movement. On 29th Nov. 500 people held a demonstration before a Borough office of Corporation and handed over a memorandum to the Chairman. Party District Committee member Com. Babu Dutta and Com. Subhashis Sarkar addressed the gathering. United Forum has decided to hold march to Corporation office with huge mobilisation on Dec. 7.
Agitation Against Coal Agreement-VI
The recently concluded wage agreement between Coal India management and INTUC, BMS, AITUC, and HMS has been rejected by the majority of coal miners thoughout India. Though CITU did not sign the agreement, it still continues to be part of the Joint Body (JBCCI), and it has not explained any reason for not signing it. In the South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. and Western Coalfields Ltd., there is a phenomenon of mass resignation from established unions and forming action committees at the local/subsidiaries level. Now they have initiated forming an all-India coordination body for rejection of Coal Agreement-VI, and to hold elections by secret ballot to determine the representative union. There are also reports of massive gheraos of the management and recognised union leaders at many places including Nagpur and Bilaspur of Western Coalfields Ltd. and Sanktoria of Eastern Coalfields Ltd.
Rally at Mansa
RYA-AISA organised a mass rally at district level in Mansa on 30 Nov. in which about 800 people participated. Com. Sunil Yadav, Gen. Secy. of AISA was the main speaker. The rally highlighted the issue of commercialisation and communalisation of education, rising incidents of police atrocities, issues of farmers and mounting unemployment among youth, particularly from agricultural labour and poor peasant families.
Delhi News in Brief
CPI(ML) Mandawali Committee organised a resistance meeting on 30 Nov. to protest against the eviction of small scale industries in the name of polluted units and against anti-people Master Plan and burnt the effigy of Union Urban Development Minister Jagmohan. It was addressed by AIPWA Gen. Secy. Com. Kumudini Pati, Suneeta, Shashi Bhushan, Ravindra Sharma, Samundra Paswan and others.
Street corner meetings are being held and thousands of leaflets being distributed to make the coming 12 December Delhi rally a success.
Convention on Development in Bihar
As a part of the ongoing campaign for development of Bihar, Party organised a convention on 30 Nov. at Rajendra Agricultural University, Pusa Addressing the convention Com. Ramjatan Sharma, Secy. of Bihar State Committee, said development in Bihar would remain a non-starter if it gets confined to packages. Without defeating the well-entrenched mafia-feudal forces it is not possible to ensure overall development of Bihar. This only agricultural university of Bihar was established in the phase of green revolution, but no green revolution entered the state although big landlords, kulaks and mafia turned greener. Apart from other leaders, Com. Dhirendra Jha, Party incharge of Mithilanchal region and left intellectual Prof. Surendra Singh addressed the convention.
Similar convention on development was held on 28 Nov. in Begusarai, in which issues like opening of Barauni Fertiliser Plant, development of industrial area in Barauni etc. were discussed. A movement is already going on centering these issues during which several seminars were held, bicycle march and signature campaign were organised. Com. Pawan Sharma, CC member addressed the convention, where Party announced to observe 'chakka jam' on 12 Dec. on the question of development.
Begusarai district convention of Khet Mazdoor Sabha was held on the same day and a 9-member district convening body, headed by Com. Ramashray Paswan was formed.
Kisan Dharnas in Bihar
A dharna was organised by Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha in front of DM of Arrah on 30 Nov., centering on 15-point demands including opening of govt. paddy purchasing center in each block, checking prices of diesel etc. The dharna was addressed by peasant leaders Com. Rameshwa Prasad, Chandradeep Singh and others. Speakers criticised the govt. for bowing to the multinational and withdrawing subsidies on fertilizer and diesel and reducing the govt. quota of purchasing agricultural produce.
On same questions, a 'kisan dharna' was organised in Jahanabad. Agitators were addressed by peasant leaders Com. Ramadhar Singh, Pradeep Kumar and Mithilesh Yadav.
Protest Against IMF in Turkey
On Dec. 1 Turkish people staged strikes and protest demonstrations against unemployment, low wages and social security cuts, the legacy of an IMF-backed anti-inflation plan. Protesters attacked the government, but much of the anger was directed against IMF. "IMF Get Out. This country is ours!" ran the slogan on posters pinned to the chests of protesters. The public demonstrations came as the government struggled to cope with a financial crisis that threatened to ruin the IMF-backed plan and with it the hopes of curbing the rampant inflation. The stock market has fallen over 30% since the start of last week and bank rates have soared. Police had arrested several thousands, including 383 teachers in protests throughout the country. There were other protests in smaller cities. Most protests targeted an austerity budget, because wage deals for health sector workers and civil servants were based on what they called unrealistically low inflation expectations. Fears of rising unemployment if privatizations go ahead also spurred demonstrators. The official annual inflation figure was reported at 44% in October but the govt. proposed to raise pay by 10% only. Though IMF aims to bring annual inflation down to single digits by the end of 2002, but officials accept even this year’s targets of 20-25% are not likely to be met until early next year.
Australians Rally for Racial Reconciliation
Over 400,000 people marched in the southern city of Melbourne on 3 Dec. for more than 5 hours on the 'Walk for Aboriginal Reconciliation'. Tens of thousands of people took part in a similar march in Perth, capital of Western Australia. People were shouting slogans criticizing the government for its treatment of Aborigines, Australia's original inhabitants and now its most disadvantaged minority. They were carrying Aboriginal flags, home-made banners and "sorry" balloons.
Political leaders from across the spectrum joined the 3-km march, but Australia's prime minister, John Howard has angered Aborigines and many white Australians by refusing to deliver a formal government apology to the indigenous population for past mistreatment at the hands of white immigrants.
Originally scheduled to last just three hours, the march was still attracting throngs of participants more than an hour after its proposed finishing time, with road closures extended until 2 p.m. Aborigines suffered injustice since white colonisation of Australia in 1788, and now after 200 years of white settlement, they number 3,86,000, making up 2% of Australia's 19 million population. They are the poorest, least healthy and most likely to be jailed ethnic people, extremely discriminated people having average life expectancy is 20 years shorter than that of white Australians.
Fight for Secularism Must be Made Part and Parcel of Democratic Revolution
[From the Political Organisational Report adopted at 5th Party Congress (December, 1992)]
It must be clearly understood that the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is not a simple Mandir-Masjid dispute between Hindus and Muslims. The shrewd leadership of RSS and BJP has persistently projected the Babri Masjid as a monument of Muslim invasion of Hindu India, which deserves to be demolished to restore the Hindu glory. Ram Janambhoomi thus became a very specific symbol for the long-term RSS philosophy of a Hindu Rashtra, attracted a large audience from gullible Hindu masses and assumed the character of a veritable mass movement skillfully organised by the Sangh Parivar. Behind the facade of religion what really mattered was politics and ideology. The name of Ram carried the BJP to every nook and corner of the country and helped it to become the main opposition party within a short span of time. And with the BJP in power in four states, the RSS immediately began to tamper with school syllabi to convert schools into centres for disseminating the ideology of Hindu Rashtra.
The BJP has thus boldly moved to fill the ideological-political vacuum created by the retreat of Marxist and various other socialist ideals, as well as the disgrace suffered by the Congress(I), to emerge as a communal fascist alternative....
The official response to this communal offensive has remained confined to invoking the liberal Hindu plank and having recourse to legal channels. The mainstream Left response too has never been able to cross this borderline and it finally culminated in the slogan Mandir bane, Masjid rahe -- sab kanun ka palan karen. Had Marx been alive he would have commented that India is a country where all battles, whether among classes or concepts, end up in compromises. So also with secularism....
A lot of people are taken in by the other variant of BJP propaganda that India is a secular because Hindu form the majority. Implicit here is the suggestion that Hindu religion is tolerant and liberal in contrast to the fundamentalism supposedly inherent in Islam.
Secondly, secularism has nothing to do with the so-called positive assimilation of all religions or sarva dharma sambhav -- a connotation attributed to it by modern social thinkers of India under the pretext of Indianising secularism. Secularism essentially means the rejection of religion in organising the affairs of the state.